United States leading in obesity rates

By Kendrick Jackson, Contributing Writer

Can you guess what the United States is leading the world in? Many would say that America has the largest economy in the world; while this is true, China is destined to surpass us in that category by 2030. Unfortunately, the U.S. now holds the record as the most adult obese nation in the world.

Currently, the U.S. population is well over 320,000,000. According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, the obesity rate for Americans over the age of 15 is 38.4 percent.

Tailing closely behind the U.S. at number two is Mexico, with a 32.4 percent obesity rate of citizens ages 15 and older. The three biggest countries in North America sit within the top 10 of the highest obesity rates in the world, with Canada coming at number seven.

Taking a deeper look into the U.S., a recent study has determined the most overweight cities in the nation. While reading over the study conducted by WalletHub, I was astonished to see my hometown, Winston-Salem, N.C., ranked ninth on the list.

With 14 McDonalds located in my hometown alone, it’s no shocker on why my birthplace made the cut. Winston-Salem also ranked fourth in the cities with the highest percentage of adults with high cholesterol, a result of obesity.

Obesity is also a growing concern for today’s youth in the world, as one in three children, ages 2-19, are either overweight or obese. Research now suggests that today’s youth could possibly face a shorter lifespan than their parents due to excessive weight or obesity.

There is a major difference between the two. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a universal tool used to measure both overweight and obesity. If a person is between the 85th and 95th percentile, he or she is considered overweight. If a person exceeds the 95th percentile, he or she is considered obese.

Overweight is defined as excess body weight for a particular height. This could result from fat, muscle, water, or a combination of those factors. On the other hand, obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

So how does America resolve the problem of obesity? It’s simple; just follow what former President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  

Take the stairs instead of the elevator the next time you go shopping. If you begin to experience hunger, drink water rather than eating a snack. Drinking plenty of water daily will increase your metabolic rate, and water is also calorie-free.

Revise your diet by including more veggies and fruits whiles avoiding foods high in fats and sugars. Also make sure to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Experts also suggest children need at least one hour of exercise per day.

However, according to a report written by the Huffington Post, only six states require physical education at every grade level. Although West Virginia didn’t make the cut, the state was only one of the three states to mandate 225 minutes of P.E. per week, the national requirement.

The repercussions of our country’s actions have caused obesity and overweight to become the second-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., only behind tobacco use. With an estimation of 300,000 deaths per year, this is now a global epidemic.

We must ALL work together in unity to end this global epidemic. Educators should do away with exemptions/waivers, and enforce ALL students at ALL grade levels to have P.E. at least 30 minutes per day. Parents should restrict their children to a limited amount of television and cell-phone use per day to encourage them to play outside.

Not everyone has to be a size zero, but the death rate caused by obesity and overweight needs to be. Regardless of your size, be happy with yourself, and always remember you are beautiful!

Photo credit: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Twitter

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