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Shreyaa Nagajothi

Mrs. Barnes

English 112

10 May 2017

Obesity: A Deadly Epidemic

The ongoing war against obesity has ravaged humanity for a long time. Both the causes

and effects of obesity have ingratiated themselves into society, to the point where it seems

normal. This must change. It is unacceptable that even after seeing all of the disastrous effects of

obesity, people turn the other cheek. It is crucial to understand that the obesity epidemic is a very

serious issue that plagues society, and further steps must be taken to address it.

A key facet of conquering obesity is addressing the root causes of the issue. A major

cause of obesity is the marketing of the foods that lead to it. Food companies want to make their

products seem delicious and easily obtainable. It is much cheaper to acquire junk food, and it is

better tasting as well. Companies try to highlight these aspects of the food while pushing the true

nutritional value under the rug. Not only does this apply to food, but beverages as well. Sugary

beverages such as soda have been known to play a large role in the epidemic too (Obesity).

This deceitful marketing is mainly targeted at children and adolescents. They are not as educated

about the issue, and are less mindful of their weight and overall health (Unhealthy Food). 28

out of 30 medical professionals surveyed stated that if society was more educated about how to

live a healthy lifestyle, the severity of the obesity epidemic would decrease (Nagajothi).

According to Dr. Vidhya Ramachandran, pediatrician, the best way to overcome obesity is to

educate patients on how to lead a healthy life by eating healthy and exercising regularly
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(Ramachandran). This cannot be done if the food and beverage industry continues to glorify junk

food, and consumers continue to believe it. The Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed

to Children has created clearer nutrition standards for companies to solve this problem. But the

food and beverage industry is against this plan. The industry lives off of marketing unhealthy

foods to children and exacerbating the obesity epidemic (Unhealthy Food).

Many food and beverage companies claim that they have the health of the people in

mind when it comes to their products and advertising. However, the statistics say otherwise. The

industry spends approximately $2 billion annually marketing to juveniles, who watch an average

of over ten of these food-related ads every day. 98% of the food advertisements viewed by

children are for products that are low in nutritional value and have high amounts of sugar,

sodium, and fat. It is obvious that food and beverage companies spend an exorbitant amount of

money to deceive the public about the nutritional value of their food. Unfortunately, this

deplorable advertising is working. Nearly 40% of children's diets come from added sugars and

bad fats, and only 21% of youth from ages 6-19 eat the daily recommendation of at least five

servings of fruits and vegetables. When children are exposed to television content with food

advertising, they consume 45 percent more food than children exposed to content with non-food

advertising (Unhealthy Food). In marketing to every generation of children, the food industry

is causing many kids to become obese, and these conditions often translate to adulthood.

Ramachandran states that the majority of her obese patients have obese parents, so there is

obvious correlation that extends through all age groups (Ramachandran). The media exalts junk

food, and that is a major player in the obesity epidemic.

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Many people dont understand the effects that obesity has on emotional and physical

health. A meta analysis by the University of Cambridge shows that severe obesity can reduce a

lifespan by as much as a decade (Obesity). The World Health Organization states that at least

600 million people in the world are obese. Scientists have linked obesity to diabetes, stroke, high

blood pressure, heart disease, infertility, cancer, gallbladder disease, and osteoarthritis

(Obesity). Not only is this extremely detrimental physically, but financially. A report in 2010

by the Society of Actuaries estimated that obesity costs the U.S economy $270 billion per year

(Obesity). This is an extremely large burden. According to a 2012 study by Cornell University,

obesity contributes to 21% of U.S healthcare costs (Kelley). Unfortunately, these numbers climb

higher every year (Obesity). As the obesity epidemic exacerbates, both the economy and the

health of the people suffer greatly.

It is clear that the obesity epidemic and its effects are extremely severe. However, it is

important to see that there are potential solutions. According to Ramachandran, ways to prevent

the obesity epidemic from worsening include serving healthier lunches in school, and educating

kids and parents about how the obesity epidemic is rapidly worsening and ways to prevent it

(Ramachandran). Education is a major component in defeating obesity. Being honest with the

public about how the foods they eat affect them, rather than extolling junk food, would help

tremendously. For example, many people dont understand the effects that sugar has on the

body. But a study published in 2013 by the Harvard School of Public Health exploited some

shocking truths. It showed that the excessive consumption of sugar-added beverages links to the

deaths of 180,000 people per year. (Obesity). This is very serious, and these numbers are far
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too high. People must be better educated about the truth behind their foods and beverages for the

obesity epidemic to diminish.

Luckily, some major health organizations are responding to the crisis. The American

Heart Association realized what a large issue obesity truly is in 2016, and they reacted by

publishing recommendations for sugar consumption in order to avoid obesity and health issues

(Obesity). The 5 a Day for Better Health program was founded to increase fruit and vegetable

consumption. Its objectives are "to increase public awareness of the importance of eating five or

more servings of fruits and vegetables every day for better health; and to provide consumers with

specific information about how to include more servings of fruits and vegetables into daily eating

patterns"(Wexler). It is becoming increasingly obvious to health organizations that educating the

public about how to live a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits of doing so, is crucial to ending the

obesity epidemic.

Another potential solution to the obesity epidemic is raising taxes on foods that contain

high levels of fat and sugar. In 2012, researchers from the University of California at San

Francisco released an article in the scientific journal Nature that claimed that taxing foods and

beverages with a high sugar and/or fat content would be a productive step in conquering obesity.

The researchers stated that governments should regulate added sugars, just as they regulate

alcohol consumption, because of the health risks involved. Other nations are jumping on this

bandwagon as well. In 2012, France instituted a tax on soda. Denmark and Hungary currently

tax foods high in saturated fat (Obesity). The world is starting to realize that obesity is not

something that should be taken lightly, and it is crucial that further steps be taken to eradicate the

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In conclusion, the obesity epidemic is an issue that must be dealt with seriously. After

analyzing the preventable causes and deadly effects of obesity, it is clear that it is a curable

plague. Society must be better educated about how to live a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of

doing so, stop glorifying junk food, and agree to take whatever steps are necessary to defeat

obesity. If the severity of the obesity epidemic is recognized and dealt with accordingly,

humanity will be benefited greatly.

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Works Cited

Kelley, BySusan. Obesity accounts for 21 percent of U.S. health care costs | Cornell Chronicle.

N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2017.

Nagajothi, Shreyaa. Research Survey. Survey.

"Obesity."Global Issues in Context Online Collection, Gale, 2016. Global Issues in Context,

Accessed 9 Jan. 2017.

Ramachandran, Vidhya. Personal interview. 11 Mar. 2017.

"Unhealthy Food Should Not Be Marketed to Children." "Unhealthy Food Should Not Be

Marketed to Children." Childhood Obesity, edited by Tamara Thompson, Greenhaven

Press, 2016. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,

Accessed 9 Jan. 2017. Originally published as "The Facts on Junk Food Marketing and

Kids,", 2012.

Wexler, Barbara. "Preventing Overweight and Obesity." Weight in America: Obesity, Eating

Disorders, and Other Health Risks, 2010 ed., Gale, 2010. Information Plus Reference

Series. Student Resources in Context,