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Obesity can be defined as a condition of having excess fatness in the body; here fatness is expressed in relation to body weight. An average adult male usually has 20 percent fat weight while an average female has 30 percent fat. Boys and girls who are at prepubertal stage normally have fat weight constituting about 15 percent of their body weight. Clinically body fat is determined using variety procedures such as electrical impendence, body densitometry and skin-fold thickness. Studies indicate that obesity is caused by a number of factors all of which lead to excess caloric intake as compared to body's energy or calories expenditure when at rest, during activity and in childhood and adolescence, for growth. Calories that are in excess are converted to fat. Studies have indicated that factors that lead to development of obesity arise from causes that are within our control. Some of these causes are: poor self-regulation consumption calories, obese eating styles for instance rapid eating (Bray 1998).
Obesity is closely correlated to very adverse medical conditions such as heart attack, strokes, type II diabetes, cancer and others. Obesity has also been found to affect the endocrine system thus resulting to changes in adrenal hormones, sex hormones an ability to regulate insulin. Obesity has also been found to lead to a number of psychological consequences for instance low self esteem and depression. Studies indicate that obesity particularly amongst the American and British population is continuously increasing. According to studies, about 22 percent of British adults are obese and about 75 percent are overweight. In US more than 60 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese. The question on who to blame about the rising cases of obesity in America and other developed country such as Britain, depends who the question is directed to. But evaluating the risky factors that can lead to development of obesity suggests that although many people are to blame, individuals are largely to blame (Bray 2004).
According to studies by the booming diet and fitness industry, many people are well aware of the problem and would want to lose weight. The rate at which this epidemic is spreading gives a suggestion that there must be other cause other than overindulgence and laziness. The main blame has been directed to food industry. Some critiques argue that fast food chains and huge supermarkets are playing a great in the spread of obesity by making easy accessibility of foods that are not healthy. They have contributed to replacement of fresh health foods with cheap ready meals that are not health and that are advertised to target ignorant children. Some critiques argue that the groceries stores have played a role in increasing the rates of obesity among the population of developed countries especially in America where fast foods take huge proportion of their stocks as compared to vegetable and fruits. These groceries have failed to give emphasis on eating health. Although this accusation against restaurants and groceries can be true to some extent, the food industry has defended itself from this blame by arguing that they are supplying the population what it is demanding. Some health experts argue that although it is true that most fast food restaurants across America sell food with high content of unhealthy fats, an individual has a freedom to choose (Bray 1998).
Studies indicate the population particularly in the US and Britain has continued to grow fat and the food industry is dominated by large multinational corporations which some have accused they are being driven by the desire to realize greater profit margins and in the process they have ignored their responsibility of ensuring that the health of the consumer is uphold. In reality it can be argued that the food industry are doing what is expected of them, that is; supplying the consumers what they want. For instance, the demand of tasty chocolate bars and pizza are some of the foods that have high demand but can have adverse effects to the health of an individual due to their high sugar and fat content (Ogden, Carrol, and Curtin & McDowell 2009).
The blame largely goes to individuals because there appears to be no emphasis on personal responsibility. Individuals usually pay less attention in ensuring what they are eating is health. For instance, despite majority of adults knowing the best ways to stay health by exercising more, eating less and health and losing excess weight; they are often victims of obesity because the rarely practice these ways. Children have always found themselves victims of unhealthy eating. Children do not have the same access to information resources as adults and cannot make the same informed decision about what they eat. Some studies suggest that children in America are less active and spend most of their time either watching TV or playing video games. These are some of the factors that make obesity prevalent among children in America and in other developed countries. According to a survey that was carried out indicate that around 15.5 percent of adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years in America are obese and about 15.3 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years are obese (Ogden, Carrol, Curtin & McDowell 2009).
Experts argue an adult individual is highly responsible for the amount of calories they ingest and burn daily. They can stay from obesity by engaging in activities that lower calories and fat levels in the body for instance by engaging in exercises daily. Therefore it is an individual who determines the quantity of food that he should ingest and whether the food will be stored in their bodies as fat or burned as fuel (Stein & Colditz 2004). Some have suggested that parents are highly responsible for the increasing obese incidences among children. This is because parents play a critical role in influencing nutritional habits and health of their children. For instance parents who practice unhealthy eating habits and do not exercise are high likely to influence their children to do the same thus making them highly vulnerable to developing obesity (Stein &Colditz 2004).
Most studies concur that a sedentary life style is to blame for this ever spreading epidemic. An agriculture society that was active in the past generations in America for instance helped in keeping the population lean and health because individuals spent long hours of hard labor in the fields. But this has radically changed; the current cyberspace society has produced an inactive generation where individuals spend most of their time sitting in front of computers. Instead of making adjustment to their dietary requirements by consuming foods that are lower in calories to match their less physical lifestyle; consumption of foods rich in calories and fats s drastically increasing consequently making obese prevalent among the current generation especially in developed countries (Bray 1998).
Some have also suggested that blame should also extend to the American government for the prevalence of obesity. They argue that although currently the government has taken some measures to curb this epidemic, they are not enough as already many people in America are obese. They should have put in place regulation and monitoring mechanisms long time ago when the problems was serious (Stein &Colditz 2004).
It has been suggested that obesity is basically the consequence by our life-style decisions about eating, drinking and exercising. Therefore this means that is not caused by factors that are beyond our control such as genetic condition. According to a survey that was carried out in 2001 by grocery manufacturers association in America, 83 percent of the respondents said that developing obesity was based on personal decisions. Some of the main factors that were cited during this study that are responsible for putting individuals at a higher risk of developing obesity are: individual choice, watching TV and lack of exercise. From this study, 4 percent of the respondents were of the opinion that manufacturers of fast foods are responsible for the ever increasing cases of obesity. 78 percent of respondents from this survey strongly agreed that the obese Americans should not direct blame to anyone but they should have themselves to blame. From this survey, 6 percent of the respondents strongly had the opinion that individual Americans are not solely to blame but blame should also extend to restaurants and groceries whom they think have failed to offer enough health foods alternatives (Stein &Colditz 2004).
While some health experts have been directing blame to individuals, families and fast food for the ever increasing rates of obesity, some companies have moved forward to make sure individuals take personal responsibility for being overweight or obese. For instance Lincoln University made an attempt to make sure that individuals get rid of some pound of their overweight bodies. There is a policy in North Carolina that require state employees who are not willing to lose weight to take part in a health plan that is more expensive. Some airlines for instance south west require passengers who are obese to pay for two seats instead of one (Lowe 2003).
Many critics have stated that schools are highly responsible for prevalence of obesity among American children. This is because schools in America through government organizations such as department of human services and department of Agriculture are bestowed with the responsibility of ensuring that children have access to health diets. Therefore according to these critics; since children spend most of their time in schools they should make sure that they provide nutritious meals to children and ensure that they are adequately engaging in physical activities. Therefore schools and parents share equal blame for the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity (Lowe 2003).
What is the way forward?
Health professional argue Parents will play a critical role in prevention of obesity especially among children because they have a great influence on their children than anyone else. They can do this by emphasizing health eating habits and in ensuring that their children engage themselves in adequate physical exercises. They should prepare meals that are nutritious- those rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. They should ensure fast foods are only limited to special occasions. Schools will have an indispensable role to play especially in controlling obesity among children. They can do this by ensuring students adopt and maintain eating habits that are healthy. They should also ensure that students are adequately engaged in physical activities. Schools can do this by ensuring that school policies on nutrition and physical activities are strengthened (Lowe 2003).
Studies indicate that prevention of obesity is to a great degree a personal responsibility. For instance and individual should ensure that they stay away from unhealthy diets such as fast foods or junk that are characterized by high calories and unhealthy fats. Individuals should also ensure that they effectively engaged in physical exercise to burn any excess calories. Families can engage their family doctors to help them design diets that are health. An individual should also regularly watch his or her weight to ensure that they do not become overweight. The government can also give a helping hand by coming up with or encouraging projects that are intended to fight obesity (Lowe 2003).
No matter how someone argues about who to blame for this obesity menace, individuals are the ones who should bear the ultimate responsibility. Although other parties such as groceries, video game industries, government etc. are partly to blame, individuals have the responsibility of practicing health eating habits and effectively engaging in physical activities to burn excess calories. Parents and schools are largely to blame for the increase of obesity among children. This is because the two especially the parents have a great influence on eating habits of their children. The two can also ensure that children engage adequately in physical activities. Therefore to win the fight against this epidemic, it is time we made obesity a personal responsibility.