New Generation and Obesity

The term overweight or obese is no stranger today and neither is diet. There are certain individuals who have underlying causes that makes it hard to lose weight. However, there are many people, despite not having any medical issues, who still fall into the category of obese, thus making it a public health problem. Obesity has been a growing problem in America but also in other underdeveloped nations. It has become an epidemic, where insurances do not want to cover medications or procedures because they find it to be a preventable issue. There are many causes as to why it has become an epidemic but just as important are finding solutions to prevent it. Prevention helps the complications and cost of surgeries or treatment. Some preventative methods include exercising, healthy eating, and other solutions like increasing awareness of mental illness. 

First, we should make our neighborhoods safer in order to be outside. Parents fear their children going outside and playing due to the needless deaths of our children, caused by accidental deaths or kidnapping. This leads to an increase in screen time (i.e. watching television, playing video games or computer games), also known as electronic screen syndrome. Exercise also boosts mood through releasing endorphins, which will decrease the sluggish mood most children these days face and increase their productivity. Change would involve reducing the pollution in neighborhoods where children can be outside so they will be able to breathe in cleaner air. With more outdoor activity and less screen time, the chances of obesity among children will likely decrease as caloric output will surely increase.

Next, having well-balanced meals throughout the day is crucial in order to keep up the metabolism leading to weight loss. Unfortunately, a healthy lifestyle can be expensive. Most of the population that fall under the category of overweight or obese tend to be economically unstable; hence, fast food might be the only option for them. The cheapest fast foods are usually the unhealthiest. Nonetheless, there have been changes to many fast food chains to implement healthy foods. This becomes a challenge for people to change their behavior.

Mental illness is often seen as an instigator for obesity, so increasing the awareness about mental illness could also do wonders for many. Depression and overeating have been proven to be linked for a long time, though it is not definitive which comes first. However, it has been established that binge-eating is often used as a coping mechanism for mental illness. Regardless, one should not have to hide or be ashamed. The first step in getting help is to acknowledge that they have a problem or disorder, it allows them to understand that they must seek help. Mental illness is something that is often a topic that is seldom talked about, as the stigma of not being part of a society (whether it be to hold a job or get married) still holds. Eliminating such pervasive stigma through mental health education can quell the fears of those suffering from mental illness.

Lastly, there is pain involved with carrying extra weight. The extra weight is a burden on joints, hence those who are overweight or obese tend to get osteoarthritis. Not only are the joints going to be under pressure, but so are the nerves. When nerves are damaged, there is damage to joints, muscles, skin and most everything that the nerve innervates.  On top of carrying the extra weight, there is mental illness associated with pain which may indirectly be associated with weight gain. This can happen through decreased activity and increased eating, all of which contribute to obesity.

It is imperative to incorporate healthy habits back into our lives. Allowing a safe environment for our future generations, eating a well-balanced diet, getting help with emotional disorders, managing pain, and less screen time will allow us to take control of our weight. This will decrease further complications from obesity and reduce costs from the repercussions. Underlying medical issues or not, we need to take care of our bodies. As Senator Mike Johanns said, “We are very concerned with the level of childhood obesity, … we don’t want this generation of young people to live fewer than their parents.”


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Divya Narala