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IELTS essay about obesity and its causes and solutions

by Manjusha Nambiar · Published January 24, 2017 · Updated August 12, 2023

Essay topic

The number of people who are at risk of serious health problems due to being overweight is increasing. What is the reason for the growth in overweight people in society? How can this problem be solved?

Sample essay

Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of overweight people in the world. This can be attributed to unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity. Obesity is a major health problem. It is a risk factor for diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Excessive consumption of junk foods is the number one cause of obesity. Junk or fast foods are rich in calories and unhealthy fats. When we consume more calories than our body can burn, it will convert the excess calories into fat. As a result people who consume calorie rich foods on a regular basis gain weight. Late night dinners are another cause of weight gain. When we have a heavy meal immediately before going to bed, the body does not get an opportunity to burn it. Our sedentary lifestyle is also to blame. Most of us have jobs that allow us to spend our entire day in a chair. This lack of physical activity reduces our requirement for calories. Still, we are consuming more calories than we need.

Limiting the consumption of calories and making physical activity an important part of your routine is the only way to combat obesity. Our bodies are designed to move. When we exercise, we not only burn the excess calories but also reduce our risk for a variety of illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. We need to make proper changes to our eating habits too. We must make a conscious effort to stay away from fatty foods. We must also ensure that we are having low calorie healthy meals at regular intervals.

To conclude, while it is true that the number of obese people is on the rise this problem can be tackled by making appropriate changes to our lifestyle and eating habits.

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obesity problem solution essay

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Problem-solution essays Situation-problem-solution-evaluation

Problem-solution essays are a common essay type, especially for short essays such as subject exams or IELTS . The page gives information on what they are , how to structure this type of essay, and gives an example problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and fitness levels.

What are problem-solution essays?

Problem-solution

Problem-solution essays consider the problems of a particular situation, and give solutions to those problems. They are in some ways similar to cause and effect essays , especially in terms of structure (see below). Problem-solution essays are actually a sub-type of another type of essay, which has the following four components:

The 'situation' may be included in the essay prompt, in which case it will not be needed in the main body. If it is needed, it can often be included in the introduction, especially for short essays, as with the example essay below . The 'evaluation' may be included as part of the conclusion (also as in the example below), or omitted altogether, especially for short essays. For these reasons, problem-solution essays are more common than situation-problem-solution-evaluation essays (or SPSE essays).

There are two main ways to structure a problem-solution essay. These are similar to the ways to structure cause and effect essays , namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the problems are listed first, and all of the solutions are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each problem is followed immediately by the solution to that problem. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any solutions you present relate directly to the problems you have given.

The two types of structure, block and chain , are shown in the diagram below. This is for a short essay, which includes the 'situation' in the introduction and 'evaluation' in the conclusion. A longer essay, for example one of around 1,000 words, with citations , would probably have these two sections as separate paragraphs in the main body.

Example essay

Below is a problem-solution essay on the topic of obesity and poor fitness . It uses the block structure . Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also (for problems and solutions) the thesis statement and summary , as these repeat the problems and solutions contained in the main body.

Consumption of processed and convenience foods and our dependence on the car have led to an increase in obesity and reduction in the fitness level of the adult population. In some countries, especially industrialized ones, the number of obese people can amount to one third of the population. This is significant as obesity and poor fitness lead to a decrease in life expectancy , and it is therefore important for individuals and governments to work together to tackle this issue and improve their citizens' diet and fitness. Obesity and poor fitness decrease life expectancy. Overweight people are more likely to have serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which can result in premature death. It is well known that regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, which means that those with poor fitness levels are at an increased risk of suffering from those problems. Changes by individuals to their diet and their physical activity can increase life expectancy. There is a reliance today on the consumption of processed foods, which have a high fat and sugar content. By preparing their own foods, and consuming more fruit and vegetables, people could ensure that their diets are healthier and more balanced, which could lead to a reduction in obesity levels. In order to improve fitness levels, people could choose to walk or cycle to work or to the shops rather than taking the car. They could also choose to walk up stairs instead of taking the lift. These simple changes could lead to a significant improvement in fitness levels. Governments could also implement initiatives to improve their citizens' eating and exercise habits. This could be done through education, for example by adding classes to the curriculum about healthy diet and lifestyles. Governments could also do more to encourage their citizens to walk or cycle instead of taking the car, for instance by building more cycle lanes or increasing vehicle taxes. While some might argue that increased taxes are a negative way to solve the problem, it is no different from the high taxes imposed on cigarettes to reduce cigarette consumption. In short, obesity and poor fitness are a significant problem in modern life, leading to lower life expectancy . Individuals and governments can work together to tackle this problem and so improve diet and fitness . Of the solutions suggested, those made by individuals themselves are likely to have more impact, though it is clear that a concerted effort with the government is essential for success. With obesity levels in industrialized and industrializing countries continuing to rise, it is essential that we take action now to deal with this problem.

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 22 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

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7.5: Obesity Epidemic - Causes and Solutions

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The figure shows three maps of the U.S. with states color-coded based on the percent of the their population estimated to be obese. In 1990, all of the states are a blue color, indicating 10-14 percent of their populations were obese. In 2000, many states are a darker blue color, indicating 15-19 percent obesity, and about half of a beige color, indicating 20 to 24 percent obesity. In 2010, there are still some beige states but no blue ones, and many are orange or red, indicating 25 to 30+ percent obesity.

Since the 1980s, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rising obesity across the nation, state-by-state. 1

The methods used by the CDC to collect the data changed in 2011, so we can’t make direct comparisons between the periods before and after that change, but the trend has continued. Every year, more and more people in the U.S. are obese.

A map of the U.S. showing obesity prevalence color-coded by state. States are about evenly split between green (20-25% obesity), yellow (25-30% obesity), or red (30-35% obesity).

These trends are unmistakable, and they’re not just occurring in adults. Childhood obesity has seen similar increases over the last few decades—perhaps an even greater concern as the metabolic and health effects of carrying too much weight can be compounded over a person’s entire lifetime.

A line graph shows the prevalence of obesity trending upwards between the years 1999-2000 and 2015-2016 in both children and adults. In this time span, the prevalence of obesity in children increased from 13.9 to 18.5 percent. In adults, it increased from 30.5 to 39.6 percent.

While obesity is a problem across the United States, it affects some groups of people more than others. Based on 2015-2016 data, obesity rates are higher among Hispanic (47 percent) and Black adults (47 percent) compared with white adults (38 percent). Non-Hispanic Asians have the lowest obesity rate (13 percent). And overall, people who are college-educated and have a higher income are less likely to be obese. 2  These health disparities point to the importance of looking at social context when examining causes and solutions. Not everyone has the same opportunity for good health, or an equal ability to make changes to their circumstances, because of factors like poverty and longstanding inequities in how resources are invested in communities. These factors are called “ social determinants of health. ” 3

The obesity epidemic is also not unique to the United States. Obesity is rising around the globe, and in 2015, it was estimated to affect 2 billion people worldwide, making it one of the largest factors affecting poor health in most countries . 4 Globally, among children aged 5 to 19 years old, the rate of overweight increased from 10.3 percent in 2000 to 18.4 percent in 2018. Previously, overweight and obesity mainly affected high-income countries, but some of the most dramatic increases in childhood overweight over the last decade have been in low income countries, such as those in Africa and South Asia, corresponding to a greater availability of inexpensive, processed foods. 5

Despite the gravity of the problem, no country has yet been able to implement policies that have reversed the trend and brought about a decrease in obesity. This represents “one of the biggest population health failures of our time,” wrote an international group of researchers in the journal The Lancet in 2019. 6  The World Health Organization has set a target of stopping the rise of obesity by 2025. Doing so requires understanding what is causing the obesity epidemic; it is only when these causes are addressed that change can start to occur.

Causes of the Obesity Epidemic

If obesity was an infectious disease sweeping the globe, affecting billions of people’s health, longevity, and productivity, we surely would have addressed it by now. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies would have worked furiously to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and cure this disease. But the causes of obesity are much more complex than a single bacteria or virus, and solving this problem means recognizing and addressing a multitude of factors that lead to weight gain in a population.

At its core, rising obesity is caused by a chronic shift towards positive energy balance—consuming more energy or calories than one expends each day, leading to an often gradual but persistent increase in body weight. People often assume that this is an individual problem, that those who weigh more simply need to change their behavior to eat less and exercise more, and if this doesn’t work, it must be because of a personal failing, such as a lack of self-control or motivation. While behavior patterns such as diet and exercise can certainly impact a person’s risk of developing obesity (as we’ll cover later in this chapter), the environments where we live also have a big impact on our behavior and can make it much harder to maintain energy balance.

Environment

Many of us live in what researchers and public health experts call “ obesogenic environments. ” That is, the ways in which our neighborhoods are built and our lives are structured influence our physical activity and food intake to encourage weight gain. 7 Human physiology and metabolism evolved in a world where obtaining enough food for survival required significant energy investment in hunting or gathering—very different from today’s world where more people earn their living in sedentary occupations. From household chores, to workplace productivity, to daily transportation, getting things done requires fewer calories than it did in past generations.

The image shows three photos. Left to right: a group of well-dressed Black women sit at a work conference table, with laptops in front of them; 4 vending machines sell snacks and soft drinks; and cars jamming a freeway.

Our jobs have become more and more sedentary, with fewer opportunities for non-exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) throughout the day. There’s less time in the school day for recess and physical activity, and fears about neighborhood safety limit kids’ ability to get out and play after the school day is over. Our towns and cities are built more for cars than for walking or biking. We can’t turn back the clock on human progress, and finding a way to stay healthy in obesogenic environments is a significant challenge.

Our environments can also impact our food choices. We’re surrounded by vending machines, fast food restaurants, coffeeshops, and convenience stores that offer quick and inexpensive access to calories. These foods are also heavily advertised, and especially when people are stretched thin by working long hours or multiple jobs, they can be a welcome convenience. However, they tend to be calorie-dense (and less nutrient-dense) and more heavily processed, with amounts of sugar, fat, and salt optimized to make us want to eat more, compared with home-cooked food. In addition, portion sizes at restaurants, especially fast food chains, have increased over the decades, and people are eating at restaurants more and cooking at home less.

Poverty and Food Insecurity

Living in poverty usually means living in a more obesogenic environment. Consider the fact that some of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States—with some of the highest rates of obesity—are often not safe or pleasant places to walk, play, or exercise. They may have busy traffic and polluted air, and they may lack sidewalks, green spaces, and playgrounds. A person living in this type of neighborhood will find it much more challenging to get adequate physical activity compared with someone living in a neighborhood where it’s safe to walk to school or work, play at a park, ride a bike, or go for a run.

In addition, poor neighborhoods often lack a grocery store where people can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and basic ingredients necessary for cooking at home. Such areas are called “ food deserts ”—where healthy foods simply aren’t available or easily accessible.

Another concept useful in discussions of obesity risk is “food insecurity.”  Food security  means “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” 8  Food insecurity  means an inability to consistently obtain adequate food. It may seem counter-intuitive, but in the United States, food insecurity is linked to obesity. That is, people who have difficulty obtaining enough food are more likely to become obese and to suffer from diabetes and hypertension. This is likely related to the fact that inexpensive foods tend to be high in calories but low in nutrients, and when these foods form the foundation of a person’s diet, they can cause both obesity and nutrient deficiencies. It’s estimated that 12 percent of U.S. households are food insecure, and food insecurity is higher among Black (22 percent) and Latino (18 percent) households. 3

What about genetics? While it’s true that our genes can influence our susceptibility to becoming obese, researchers say they can’t be a cause of the obesity epidemic. Genes take many generations to evolve, and the obesity epidemic has occurred over just the last 40 to 50 years—only a few generations. When our grandparents were children, they were much less likely to become obese than our own children. That’s not because their genes were different, but rather because they grew up in a different environment. However, it is true that a person’s genes can influence their susceptibility to becoming obese in this obesogenic environment, and obesity is more prevalent in some families. A person’s genetic make-up can make it more difficult to maintain energy balance in an obesogenic environment, because certain genes may make you feel more hungry or slow your energy expenditure. 2

Solutions to the Obesity Epidemic

Given the multiple causes of obesity, solving this problem will also require many solutions at different levels. Because obesity affects people over the lifespan and is difficult to reverse, the focus of many of these efforts is prevention, starting as early as the first years of life. We’ll discuss individual weight management strategies later in this chapter. Here, we’ll review some strategies happening in schools, communities, and at the state and federal levels.

Support Healthy Dietary Patterns

Interventions that support healthy dietary patterns, especially among people more vulnerable because of food insecurity or poverty, may reduce obesity. In some cases, studies have shown that they have an impact, and in other cases, it’s too soon to know. Here are some examples:

  • Implement and support better nutrition standards for childcare, schools, hospitals, and worksites. 9
  • Limit marketing of processed foods, especially ads targeted towards children.
  • Provide incentives for supermarkets or farmers markets to establish businesses in underserved areas. 9

Two photos from farmers' markets. On the left, people are shown selecting fresh fruits and vegetables in a busy marketplace, with tall buildings rising above the market stands. On the right, a closeup of a farmers' market stand, showing enticing fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.

Figure 9.21. Farmers markets can expand healthy food options for neighborhoods and build connections between consumers and local farmers.

  • Place nutrition and calorie content on restaurant and fast food menus to raise awareness of food choices. 9 Beginning in 2018, as part of the Affordable Care Act, chain restaurants with more than 20 locations were required to add calorie information to their menus, and some had already done so voluntarily. There isn’t yet enough research to say whether having this information improves customers’ choices; some studies show an effect and others don’t. 10 Many factors influence people’s decisions, and the type of restaurant, customer needs, and menu presentation all likely matter. For example, some studies show that health-conscious consumers choose lower calorie menu items when presented with nutrition information, but people with food insecurity may understandably choose higher calorie items to get more “bang for their buck”. 11 Research has also shown that adding interpretative images—like a stoplight image labeling menu choices as green or red as shorthand for high or low nutrient density—can help. And a 2018 study found that when calorie counts are on the left side of English-language menus, people order lower-calorie menu items. Putting calorie counts on the right side of the menu (as is more common) doesn’t have this effect, likely because the English language is read from left to right. 12 Some studies have also found that restaurants that implement menu labeling offer lower-calorie and more nutrient-dense options, indicating that menu labeling may push restaurants to look more closely at the food they serve. 10,13

A menu sign at a Nathan's hotdog stand displays calorie countrs

  • Increase access to food assistance programs and align them with nutrition recommendations. For example, in 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised the food packages for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new packages emphasized more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and decreased the availability of juice. After this change, there was a decrease in the obesity rate of children in the WIC program. Similar progress may be made by increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in order to reduce food insecurity. Many farmers’ markets now accept SNAP benefits for the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables. 3
  • Tax sugary drinks, such as soda and sports drinks, which contribute significant empty calories to the U.S. diet and are associated with childhood obesity. Local taxes on soda and other sugary drinks are often controversial, and soda companies lobby to prevent them from passing. However, early research in U.S. cities with soda taxes show that they do work to decrease soda consumption. 3 In the U.S., soda has only been taxed at the local level, and the tax has been paid by consumers. The United Kingdom has taken a different approach: They started taxing soft drink manufacturers for the sugar content of the products they sell. Between 2015 and 2018, the average sugar content of soda sold in the U.K. dropped by 29 percent. 14

Support Greater Physical Activity

Increasing physical activity increases the energy expended during the day. This can help maintain energy balance, thus preventing weight gain. It may also help to shift a person into negative energy balance and facilitate weight loss if needed. But simply adding an exercise session—a run or a trip to the gym, say—often doesn’t shift energy balance (though it’s certainly good for health). Why? Exercise can increase hunger, and there’s only so many calories a person can burn in 30 or 60 minutes. That’s why it’s also important to look for opportunities for non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT); that is, find ways to increase movement throughout the day.

  • P rioritize physical education and recess time in schools. In addition to helping kids stay healthy, movement also helps them learn.  
  • Make neighborhoods safer and more accessible for walking, cycling, and playing.
  • When safe, encourage kids to walk or bike to school.
  • Build family and community activities around physical activity, such as trips to the park, walks together, and community walking and exercise groups.
  • Facilitate more movement in the workday by encouraging walking meetings, movement breaks, and treadmill desks.
  • Find ways to move that are enjoyable to you and fit your life. Yard work, walking your dog, playing tag with your kids, and going out dancing all count!

alt

VIDEO: “ James Levine: ‘I Came Alive as a Person’ “ by NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, YouTube (April 24, 2014), 3:04 minutes. This short video explains some of the research on NEAT and efforts to increase it in our lives

VIDEO: “ The Weight of the Nation: Poverty and Obesity” by HBO Docs, YouTube (May 14, 2012), 24:05 minutes.

VIDEO: “ The Weight of the Nation: Healthy Foods and Obesity Prevention” by HBO Docs, YouTube (May 14, 2012), 31:11 minutes. These segments from the HBO documentary series, “The Weight of the Nation,” explore some of the causes and potential solutions for obesity.

References:

  • 1 CDC. (2019, September 12). New Adult Obesity Maps. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html
  • 2 CDC. (2019, January 31). Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  • 3 Trust for America’s Health. (2019). The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America . Retrieved from https://www.tfah.org/report-details/stateofobesity2019/
  • 4 Swinburn, B. A., Kraak, V. I., Allender, S., Atkins, V. J., Baker, P. I., Bogard, J. R., … Dietz, W. H. (2019). The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report. The Lancet , 393 (10173), 791–846. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32822-8
  • 5 UNICEF. (2019). The State of the World’s Children 2019. Children, Food and Nutrition: Growing well in a changing world . New York.
  • 6 Jaacks, L. M., Vandevijvere, S., Pan, A., McGowan, C. J., Wallace, C., Imamura, F., … Ezzati, M. (2019). The obesity transition: Stages of the global epidemic. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology , 7 (3), 231–240. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30026-9
  • 7 Townshend, T., & Lake, A. (2017). Obesogenic environments: Current evidence of the built and food environments. Perspectives in Public Health , 137 (1), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913916679860
  • 8 Pan, L., Sherry, B., Njai, R., & Blanck, H. M. (2012). Food Insecurity Is Associated with Obesity among US Adults in 12 States. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , 112 (9), 1403–1409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.06.011
  • 9 CDC. (2019, June 18). Community Efforts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/community.html
  • 10 Bleich, S. N., Economos, C. D., Spiker, M. L., Vercammen, K. A., VanEpps, E. M., Block, J. P., … Roberto, C. A. (2017). A Systematic Review of Calorie Labeling and Modified Calorie Labeling Interventions: Impact on Consumer and Restaurant Behavior. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) , 25 (12), 2018–2044. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21940
  • 11 Berry, C., Burton, S., Howlett, E., & Newman, C. L. (2019). Understanding the Calorie Labeling Paradox in Chain Restaurants: Why Menu Calorie Labeling Alone May Not Affect Average Calories Ordered. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing , 38 (2), 192–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743915619827013
  • 12 Dallas, S. K., Liu, P. J., & Ubel, P. A. (2019). Don’t Count Calorie Labeling Out: Calorie Counts on the Left Side of Menu Items Lead to Lower Calorie Food Choices. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29(1), 60–69. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1053
  • 13 Theis, D. R. Z., & Adams, J. (2019). Differences in energy and nutritional content of menu items served by popular UK chain restaurants with versus without voluntary menu labelling: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE , 14 (10), e0222773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222773
  • 14 Public Health England. (2019). Sugar reduction: Report on progress between 2015 and 2018 . Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/832182/Sugar_reduction__Yr2_progress_report.pdf

Image Credits

  • Figure 9.17. “Obesity Trends Among U.S. Adults, BRFSS, 1990-2010” by Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 9.18. “Prevalence of self-reported obesity among U.S. adults in 2011 and 2018” by Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 9.19. “Trends in obesity prevalence” by National Center for Health Statistics is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 9.20. Elements of obesogenic environment: “wocintech” by WOCinTech Cha is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ; “Perfect timing” by Tamara Menzi , Unsplash is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “Vending machines” by Purchase College Library is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
  • Figure 9.21. Farmers markets. “group of people standing near vegetables” by Megan Markham is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “Veggies at Corvallis Farmers Market” by Friends of Family Farmers is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Figure 9.22. Menu labeling. “Ballpark Calorie Counting” by Kevin Harber is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • Figure 9.23. Increasing physical activity. “Early bird” by Jorge Vasconez is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “boy running to the future” by Rafaela Biazi is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “people riding bicycles inside bicycle lane beside skyscraper” by Steinar Engeland is in the Public Domain, CC0

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Obesity: causes, consequences, treatments, and challenges

Obesity has become a global epidemic and is one of today’s most public health problems worldwide. Obesity poses a major risk for a variety of serious diseases including diabetes mellitus, non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer ( Bluher, 2019 ).

Obesity is mainly caused by imbalanced energy intake and expenditure due to a sedentary lifestyle coupled with overnutrition. Excess nutrients are stored in adipose tissue (AT) in the form of triglycerides, which will be utilized as nutrients by other tissues through lipolysis under nutrient deficit conditions. There are two major types of AT, white AT (WAT) and brown AT, the latter is a specialized form of fat depot that participates in non-shivering thermogenesis through lipid oxidation-mediated heat generation. While WAT has been historically considered merely an energy reservoir, this fat depot is now well known to function as an endocrine organ that produces and secretes various hormones, cytokines, and metabolites (termed as adipokines) to control systemic energy balance. Studies over the past decade also show that WAT, especially subcutaneous WAT, could undergo ‘beiging’ remodeling in response to environmental or hormonal perturbation. In the first paper of this special issue, Cheong and Xu (2021) systematically review the recent progress on the factors, pathways, and mechanisms that regulate the intercellular and inter-organ crosstalks in the beiging of WAT. A critical but still not fully addressed issue in the adipose research field is the origin of the beige cells. Although beige adipocytes are known to have distinct cellular origins from brown and while adipocytes, it remains unclear on whether the cells are from pre-existing mature white adipocytes through a transdifferentiation process or from de novo differentiation of precursor cells. AT is a heterogeneous tissue composed of not only adipocytes but also nonadipocyte cell populations, including fibroblasts, as well as endothelial, blood, stromal, and adipocyte precursor cells ( Ruan, 2020 ). The authors examined evidence to show that heterogeneity contributes to different browning capacities among fat depots and even within the same depot. The local microenvironment in WAT, which is dynamically and coordinately controlled by inputs from the heterogeneous cell types, plays a critical role in the beige adipogenesis process. The authors also examined key regulators of the AT microenvironment, including vascularization, the sympathetic nerve system, immune cells, peptide hormones, exosomes, and gut microbiota-derived metabolites. Given that increasing beige fat function enhances energy expenditure and consequently reduces body weight gain, identification and characterization of novel regulators and understanding their mechanisms of action in the beiging process has a therapeutic potential to combat obesity and its associated diseases. However, as noticed by the authors, most of the current pre-clinical research on ‘beiging’ are done in rodent models, which may not represent the exact phenomenon in humans ( Cheong and Xu, 2021 ). Thus, further investigations will be needed to translate the findings from bench to clinic.

While both social–environmental factors and genetic preposition have been recognized to play important roles in obesity epidemic, Gao et al. (2021) present evidence showing that epigenetic changes may be a key factor to explain interindividual differences in obesity. The authors examined data on the function of DNA methylation in regulating the expression of key genes involved in metabolism. They also summarize the roles of histone modifications as well as various RNAs such as microRNAs, long noncoding RNAs, and circular RNAs in regulating metabolic gene expression in metabolic organs in response to environmental cues. Lastly, the authors discuss the effect of lifestyle modification and therapeutic agents on epigenetic regulation of energy homeostasis. Understanding the mechanisms by which lifestyles such as diet and exercise modulate the expression and function of epigenetic factors in metabolism should be essential for developing novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of obesity and its associated metabolic diseases.

A major consequence of obesity is type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when body cannot use and produce insulin effectively. Diabetes profoundly and adversely affects the vasculature, leading to various cardiovascular-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, arteriosclerotic, and microvascular diseases, which have been recognized as the most common causes of death in people with diabetes ( Cho et al., 2018 ). Love et al. (2021) systematically review the roles and regulation of endothelial insulin resistance in diabetes complications, focusing mainly on vascular dysfunction. The authors review the vasoprotective functions and the mechanisms of action of endothelial insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling pathways. They also examined the contribution and impart of endothelial insulin resistance to diabetes complications from both biochemical and physiological perspectives and evaluated the beneficial roles of many of the medications currently used for T2D treatment in vascular management, including metformin, thiazolidinediones, glucagon-like receptor agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, sodium-glucose cotransporter inhibitors, as well as exercise. The authors present evidence to suggest that sex differences and racial/ethnic disparities contribute significantly to vascular dysfunction in the setting of diabetes. Lastly, the authors raise a number of very important questions with regard to the role and connection of endothelial insulin resistance to metabolic dysfunction in other major metabolic organs/tissues and suggest several insightful directions in this area for future investigation.

Following on from the theme of obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction, Xia et al. (2021) review the latest progresses on the role of membrane-type I matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), a zinc-dependent endopeptidase that proteolytically cleaves extracellular matrix components and non-matrix proteins, in lipid metabolism. The authors examined data on the transcriptional and post-translational modification regulation of MT1-MMP gene expression and function. They also present evidence showing that the functions of MT1-MMP in lipid metabolism are cell specific as it may either promote or suppress inflammation and atherosclerosis depending on its presence in distinct cells. MT1-MMP appears to exert a complex role in obesity for that the molecule delays the progression of early obesity but exacerbates obesity at the advanced stage. Because inhibition of MT1-MMP can potentially lower the circulating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cancer metastasis and atherosclerosis, the protein has been viewed as a very promising therapeutic target. However, challenges remain in developing MT1-MMP-based therapies due to the tissue-specific roles of MT1-MMP and the lack of specific inhibitors for this molecule. Further investigations are needed to address these questions and to develop MT1-MMP-based therapeutic interventions.

Lastly, Huang et al. (2021) present new findings on a critical role of puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase (PSA), an integral non-transmembrane enzyme that catalyzes the cleavage of amino acids near the N-terminus of polypeptides, in NAFLD. NAFLD, ranging from simple nonalcoholic fatty liver to the more aggressive subtype nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, has now become the leading chronic liver disease worldwide ( Loomba et al., 2021 ). At present, no effective drugs are available for NAFLD management in the clinic mainly due to the lack of a complete understanding of the mechanisms underlying the disease progress, reinforcing the urgent need to identify and validate novel targets and to elucidate their mechanisms of action in NAFLD development and pathogenesis. Huang et al. (2021) found that PSA expression levels were greatly reduced in the livers of obese mouse models and that the decreased PSA expression correlated with the progression of NAFLD in humans. They also found that PSA levels were negatively correlated with triglyceride accumulation in cultured hepatocytes and in the liver of ob/ob mice. Moreover, PSA suppresses steatosis by promoting lipogenesis and attenuating fatty acid β-oxidation in hepatocytes and protects oxidative stress and lipid overload in the liver by activating the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2, the master regulator of antioxidant response. These studies identify PSA as a pivotal regulator of hepatic lipid metabolism and suggest that PSA may be a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for treating NAFLD.

In summary, papers in this issue review our current knowledge on the causes, consequences, and interventions of obesity and its associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, NAFLD, and cardiovascular disease ( Cheong and Xu, 2021 ; Gao et al., 2021 ; Love et al., 2021 ). Potential targets for the treatment of dyslipidemia and NAFLD are also discussed, as exemplified by MT1-MMP and PSA ( Huang et al., 2021 ; Xia et al., 2021 ). It is noted that despite enormous effect, few pharmacological interventions are currently available in the clinic to effectively treat obesity. In addition, while enhancing energy expenditure by browning/beiging of WAT has been demonstrated as a promising alternative approach to alleviate obesity in rodent models, it remains to be determined on whether such WAT reprogramming is effective in combating obesity in humans ( Cheong and Xu, 2021 ). Better understanding the mechanisms by which obesity induces various medical consequences and identification and characterization of novel anti-obesity secreted factors/soluble molecules would be helpful for developing effective therapeutic treatments for obesity and its associated medical complications.

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  • Cho N.H., Shaw J.E., Karuranga S., et al. (2018). IDF Diabetes Atlas: global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2017 and projections for 2045 . Diabetes Res. Clin. Pract . 138 , 271–281. [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Gao W., Liu J.-L., Lu X., et al. (2021). Epigenetic regulation of energy metabolism in obesity . J. Mol. Cell Biol . 13 , 480–499. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Huang B., Xiong X., Zhang L., et al. (2021). PSA controls hepatic lipid metabolism by regulating the NRF2 signaling pathway . J. Mol. Cell Biol . 13 , 527–539. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Loomba R., Friedman S.L., Shulman G.I. (2021). Mechanisms and disease consequences of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease . Cell 184 , 2537–2564. [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Love K.M., Barrett E.J., Malin S.K., et al. (2021). Diabetes pathogenesis and management: the endothelium comes of age . J. Mol. Cell Biol . 13 , 500–512. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Ruan H.-B. (2020). Developmental and functional heterogeneity of thermogenic adipose tissue . J. Mol. Cell Biol . 12 , 775–784. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Xia X.-D., Alabi A., Wang M., et al. (2021). Membrane-type I matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), lipid metabolism, and therapeutic implications . J. Mol. Cell Biol . 13 , 513–526. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]

obesity problem solution essay

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IELTS essay, topic: Children these days are suffering from obesity, why and how can it be solved?

  • IELTS Essays - Band 8

Modern children are suffering from the diseases that were once considered to be meant for adults only. Obesity is a major disease prevalent among children. What are its causes and what solutions can be offered?

Nowadays, the increasing rate of overweight children and adults is a worldwide health issue. Obesity is a major problem which is increasing day by day in children. There are various reasons behind it. This essay will discuss the causes of obesity and offer some solutions.

The first cause of obesity is junk food. It is often seen that mostly children are fond of burgers, pizzas, noodles and . These types of foods are easily available to them in school canteens. Children love to purchase chips, , ice-cream for lunch. Moreover, in this modern era, parents are working and they do not have time to cook at home. Parents often buy dinner for their children instead of preparing food at home. This calorie-rich diet is making children obese. This problem can be solved by teaching children to cook healthy foods for themselves and banning junk foods and fizzy drinks in schools. This diet can be replaced by milk, juice and fruits for lunch.

obesity problem solution essay

The second cause of obesity is . It is true that the use of computers and television is increasing children. They spend most of their time watching television or playing video games on a computer. This technological advancement has reduced the level of physical activity in this specific age group. This issue can be resolved by encouraging children to do physical exercises. Parents can take their children to park to encourage playing with friends. Furthermore, schools can add sports in their curriculum to maintain physical fitness in their students.

To sum up, it is clear that main causes of obesity are unhealthy eating and not enough physical activities. This ailment can be prevented and treated by healthy eating and physical exercises.

This is a good essay. There are only a few minor errors that could have been easily prevented by proofreading this essay one last time before submission (mouse over the words underlined in blue shows corrections). Overall, this work seems worthy of IELTS Band 8. Keep up the good work! Click here to see more IELTS essays of Band 8

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7 thoughts on “IELTS essay, topic: Children these days are suffering from obesity, why and how can it be solved?”

This is nice… I need 8 + standard writing task t material… Plz help me

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Obesity Essay

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

Obesity Essay: A Complete Guide and Topics

By: Nova A.

11 min read

Reviewed By: Jacklyn H.

Published on: Aug 31, 2021

Obesity Essay

Are you assigned to write an essay about obesity? The first step is to define obesity.

The obesity epidemic is a major issue facing our country right now. It's complicated- it could be genetic or due to your environment, but either way, there are ways that you can fix it!

Learn all about what causes weight gain and get tips on how you can get healthy again.

Obesity Essay

On this Page

What is Obesity

What is obesity? Obesity and BMI (body mass index) are both tools of measurement that are used by doctors to assess body fat according to the height, age, and gender of a person. If the BMI is between 25 to 29.9, that means the person has excess weight and body fat.

If the BMI exceeds 30, that means the person is obese. Obesity is a condition that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and even some types of cancer.

Obesity Definition

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization as an accumulation of abnormal and excess body fat that comes with several risk factors. It is measured by the body mass index BMI, body weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of a person’s height (in meters).

Obesity in America

Obesity is on the verge of becoming an epidemic as 1 in every 3 Americans can be categorized as overweight and obese. Currently, America is an obese country, and it continues to get worse.

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Paper Due? Why Suffer? That's our Job!

Causes of obesity

Do you see any obese or overweight people around you?

You likely do.

This is because fast-food chains are becoming more and more common, people are less active, and fruits and vegetables are more expensive than processed foods, thus making them less available to the majority of society. These are the primary causes of obesity.

Obesity is a disease that affects all age groups, including children and elderly people.

Now that you are familiar with the topic of obesity, writing an essay won’t be that difficult for you.

How to Write an Obesity Essay

The format of an obesity essay is similar to writing any other essay. If you need help regarding how to write an obesity essay, it is the same as writing any other essay.

Obesity Essay Introduction

The trick is to start your essay with an interesting and catchy sentence. This will help attract the reader's attention and motivate them to read further. You don’t want to lose the reader’s interest in the beginning and leave a bad impression, especially if the reader is your teacher.

A hook sentence is usually used to open the introductory paragraph of an essay in order to make it interesting. When writing an essay on obesity, the hook sentence can be in the form of an interesting fact or statistic.

Head on to this detailed article on hook examples to get a better idea.

Once you have hooked the reader, the next step is to provide them with relevant background information about the topic. Don’t give away too much at this stage or bombard them with excess information that the reader ends up getting bored with. Only share information that is necessary for the reader to understand your topic.

Next, write a strong thesis statement at the end of your essay, be sure that your thesis identifies the purpose of your essay in a clear and concise manner. Also, keep in mind that the thesis statement should be easy to justify as the body of your essay will revolve around it.

Body Paragraphs

The details related to your topic are to be included in the body paragraphs of your essay. You can use statistics, facts, and figures related to obesity to reinforce your thesis throughout your essay.

If you are writing a cause-and-effect obesity essay, you can mention different causes of obesity and how it can affect a person’s overall health. The number of body paragraphs can increase depending on the parameters of the assignment as set forth by your instructor.

Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence that is the crux of its content. It is necessary to write an engaging topic sentence as it helps grab the reader’s interest. Check out this detailed blog on writing a topic sentence to further understand it.

End your essay with a conclusion by restating your research and tying it to your thesis statement. You can also propose possible solutions to control obesity in your conclusion. Make sure that your conclusion is short yet powerful.

Obesity Essay Examples

Essay about Obesity (PDF)

Childhood Obesity Essay (PDF)

Obesity in America Essay (PDF)

Essay about Obesity Cause and Effects (PDF)

Satire Essay on Obesity (PDF) 

Obesity Argumentative Essay (PDF)

Obesity Essay Topics

Choosing a topic might seem an overwhelming task as you may have many ideas for your assignment. Brainstorm different ideas and narrow them down to one, quality topic.

If you need some examples to help you with your essay topic related to obesity, dive into this article and choose from the list of obesity essay topics.

Childhood Obesity

As mentioned earlier, obesity can affect any age group, including children. Obesity can cause several future health problems as children age.

Here are a few topics you can choose from and discuss for your childhood obesity essay:

  • What are the causes of increasing obesity in children?
  • Obese parents may be at risk for having children with obesity.
  • What is the ratio of obesity between adults and children?
  • What are the possible treatments for obese children?
  • Are there any social programs that can help children with combating obesity?
  • Has technology boosted the rate of obesity in children?
  • Are children spending more time on gadgets instead of playing outside?
  • Schools should encourage regular exercises and sports for children.
  • How can sports and other physical activities protect children from becoming obese?
  • Can childhood abuse be a cause of obesity among children?
  • What is the relationship between neglect in childhood and obesity in adulthood?
  • Does obesity have any effect on the psychological condition and well-being of a child?
  • Are electronic medical records effective in diagnosing obesity among children?
  • Obesity can affect the academic performance of your child.
  • Do you believe that children who are raised by a single parent can be vulnerable to obesity?
  • You can promote interesting exercises to encourage children.
  • What is the main cause of obesity, and why is it increasing with every passing day?
  • Schools and colleges should work harder to develop methodologies to decrease childhood obesity.
  • The government should not allow schools and colleges to include sweet or fatty snacks as a part of their lunch.
  • If a mother is obese, can it affect the health of the child?
  • Children who gain weight frequently can develop chronic diseases.

Obesity Argumentative Essay Topics

Do you want to write an argumentative essay on the topic of obesity?

The following list can help you with that!

Here are some examples you can choose from for your argumentative essay about obesity:

  • Can vegetables and fruits decrease the chances of obesity?
  • Should you go for surgery to overcome obesity?
  • Are there any harmful side effects?
  • Can obesity be related to the mental condition of an individual?
  • Are parents responsible for controlling obesity in childhood?
  • What are the most effective measures to prevent the increase in the obesity rate?
  • Why is the obesity rate increasing in the United States?
  • Can the lifestyle of a person be a cause of obesity?
  • Does the economic situation of a country affect the obesity rate?
  • How is obesity considered an international health issue?
  • Can technology and gadgets affect obesity rates?
  • What can be the possible reasons for obesity in a school?
  • How can we address the issue of obesity?
  • Is obesity a chronic disease?
  • Is obesity a major cause of heart attacks?
  • Are the junk food chains causing an increase in obesity?
  • Do nutritional programs help in reducing the obesity rate?
  • How can the right type of diet help with obesity?
  • Why should we encourage sports activities in schools and colleges?
  • Can obesity affect a person’s behavior?

Health Related Topics for Research Paper

If you are writing a research paper, you can explain the cause and effect of obesity.

Here are a few topics that link to the cause and effects of obesity.Review the literature of previous articles related to obesity. Describe the ideas presented in the previous papers.

  • Can family history cause obesity in future generations?
  • Can we predict obesity through genetic testing?
  • What is the cause of the increasing obesity rate?
  • Do you think the increase in fast-food restaurants is a cause of the rising obesity rate?
  • Is the ratio of obese women greater than obese men?
  • Why are women more prone to be obese as compared to men?
  • Stress can be a cause of obesity. Mention the reasons how mental health can be related to physical health.
  • Is urban life a cause of the increasing obesity rate?
  • People from cities are prone to be obese as compared to people from the countryside.
  • How obesity affects the life expectancy of people? What are possible solutions to decrease the obesity rate?
  • Do family eating habits affect or trigger obesity?
  • How do eating habits affect the health of an individual?
  • How can obesity affect the future of a child?
  • Obese children are more prone to get bullied in high school and college.
  • Why should schools encourage more sports and exercise for children?

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Topics for Essay on Obesity as a Problem

Do you think a rise in obesity rate can affect the economy of a country?

Here are some topics for your assistance regarding your economics related obesity essay.

  • Does socioeconomic status affect the possibility of obesity in an individual?
  • Analyze the film and write a review on “Fed Up” – an obesity epidemic.
  • Share your reviews on the movie “The Weight of The Nation.”
  • Should we increase the prices of fast food and decrease the prices of fruits and vegetables to decrease obesity?
  • Do you think healthy food prices can be a cause of obesity?
  • Describe what measures other countries have taken in order to control obesity?
  • The government should play an important role in controlling obesity. What precautions should they take?
  • Do you think obesity can be one of the reasons children get bullied?
  • Do obese people experience any sort of discrimination or inappropriate behavior due to their weight?
  • Are there any legal protections for people who suffer from discrimination due to their weight?
  • Which communities have a higher percentage of obesity in the United States?
  • Discuss the side effects of the fast-food industry and their advertisements on children.
  • Describe how the increasing obesity rate has affected the economic condition of the United States.
  • What is the current percentage of obesity all over the world? Is the obesity rate increasing with every passing day?
  • Why is the obesity rate higher in the United States as compared to other countries?
  • Do Asians have a greater percentage of obese people as compared to Europe?
  • Does the cultural difference affect the eating habits of an individual?
  • Obesity and body shaming.
  • Why is a skinny body considered to be ideal? Is it an effective way to reduce the obesity rate?

Obesity Solution Essay Topics

With all the developments in medicine and technology, we still don’t have exact measures to treat obesity.

Here are some insights you can discuss in your essay:

  • How do obese people suffer from metabolic complications?
  • Describe the fat distribution in obese people.
  • Is type 2 diabetes related to obesity?
  • Are obese people more prone to suffer from diabetes in the future?
  • How are cardiac diseases related to obesity?
  • Can obesity affect a woman’s childbearing time phase?
  • Describe the digestive diseases related to obesity.
  • Obesity may be genetic.
  • Obesity can cause a higher risk of suffering a heart attack.
  • What are the causes of obesity? What health problems can be caused if an individual suffers from obesity?
  • What are the side effects of surgery to overcome obesity?
  • Which drugs are effective when it comes to the treatment of obesity?
  • Is there a difference between being obese and overweight?
  • Can obesity affect the sociological perspective of an individual?
  • Explain how an obesity treatment works.
  • How can the government help people to lose weight and improve public health?

Writing an essay is a challenging yet rewarding task. All you need is to be organized and clear when it comes to academic writing.

  • Choose a topic you would like to write on.
  • Organize your thoughts.
  • Pen down your ideas.
  • Compose a perfect essay that will help you ace your subject.
  • Proofread and revise your paper.

Were the topics useful for you? We hope so!

However, if you are still struggling to write your paper, you can pick any of the topics from this list, and our essay writer will help you craft a perfect essay.

Are you struggling to write an effective essay?

If writing an essay is the actual problem and not just the topic, you can always hire an essay writing service for your help. Essay experts at 5StarEssays can help compose an impressive essay within your deadline.

All you have to do is contact us. We will get started on your paper while you can sit back and relax.

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Nova A.

Marketing, Thesis

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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454 Obesity Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Looking for obesity essay topics? Being a serious problem, obesity is definitely worth writing about.

The Problem of Obesity Among College Students and Solutions to Combat It

  • Categories: Obesity Student University

About this sample

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Words: 1469 |

Published: Dec 18, 2018

Words: 1469 | Page: 1 | 8 min read

Table of contents

Introduction, problems associated with obesity, proposed solutions to combat obesity among college students, physical fitness and nutrition course.

  • Importance of physical fitness and good nutrition in physical development
  • Examination of physical and psychological wellness
  • Emphasis on disease prevention, stress management, sleep improvement, and weight control
  • Attention to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Healthy Eating on Campus

Support for obese and at-risk obese students.

  • California State University, Northridge. (2019). 2019-2020 Fall and Spring Cost of Attendance. Financial Aid Basics. Retrieved from https://www.csun.edu/financialaid/2019-2020-fall-and-spring-cost-attendance
  • Clarke University. (2019). 10 Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Students. Retrieved from https://www.clarke.edu/campus-life/health-wellness/counseling/articles-advice/10-healthy-eating-tips-for-the-busy-college-student/
  • Harvard University of Public Health. (2019). Weight problems take a hefty toll on body and mind. Health Risks. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/health-effects/
  • Lee, B.Y. (2018). College Food Needs To Get Better, This PHA Initiative is Helping. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2018/09/02/college-food-needs-to-get-better-this-pha-initiative-is-helping/
  • Miller, K.G., Hartman, J.M. (2019). Influence of physical activity on weight status during the first year of college. Journal of American College Health, 1-5. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1539398
  • Pope, L., Hansen, D., Harvey, J. (2017). Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, (49)2, 137-141.
  • Public Health. (2019). What are the consequences? Health Guide. Retrieved from https://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/obesity/consequences/

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The Problem of Obesity Among College Students and Solutions to Combat It Essay

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obesity problem solution essay

Childhood Obesity Problem Solution

As a means of solving the previously discussed problem of childhood obesity, the author of the research proposes to develop custom healthy menus for schools under a program called “Soul Food.” This solution will work better than others because the menu will be based on the preferences of the children’s parents. This fact distinguishes Soul Food from other solutions in that it will eventually help the government and parents join forces in tackling such a challenging issue. The solution will ultimately be successful because it embraces parental love, healthy food, and effective administrative policies.

To address the problem of childhood obesity properly, it is essential to examine its roots as well as to identify specific ways to effectively create positive change. Because the problem of childhood obesity is so complex, both families and school staff should be involved in resolving it. Soul Food is the best solution because it offers an innovative approach to a relatively new problem. The secret behind it lies in the fact that parents will be involved in the project as the main actors, along with the willing cooperation of school administration.

The uniqueness of such an approach sets this solution apart from most of the other equally good solutions. The aspect that is missing from other solutions is an understanding of how to make children eat healthily without imposing it on them at the same time. It is a known psychological fact that children are more likely to eat healthy food if it is presented in the form of a cheeseburger or some other popular type of junk food. Some people think that the solution to childhood obesity lies in using tort law to sue McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and other corporations, but suing a company is not going to solve the essential causes of the problem (Sugarman & Sandman, 2007).

Although the Soul Food solution is still untested, researchers will be able to collect data carefully, process it, and reach a verdict that is reasonable and factual. This solution has a greater chance for success because it combines not only the parents’ opinion on the school menu but also the school administration’s approval. This solution is unique and represents an idea of how schools can serve smaller portions of healthier food that looks like junk food—effectively tricking children into eating healthier food because they love the unhealthy food it mimics (Singh & Davidson, 2015).

To successfully implement this solution, the initial step that must be taken is the written approval of the school where the project will take place. The second step is the writing, elaboration, and ratification of the menu itself. The solution will be implemented by the school’s administration under the guidance of a food-processing expert, a professional nutritionist, and a qualified pediatrician.

When the solution is implemented, all kinds of possible positive and negative outcomes are expected so that the program could be adapted to the current situation on the fly.

The investment required to implement Soul Food is worthwhile because children are the future of our country, and childhood obesity is a significant problem that affects not only their physical health but their mental state as well (Söderback, 2015). The essential resource the research relies on is money. In this section of your draft, you will expand on these ideas, specifically organizing your paper according to the aspects detailed below.

The plan is worthwhile in terms of time, energy, and money, and it will ultimately result in a reduced number of children with heart disease and other health problems that arise as a result of consuming junk food. Soul Food’s fight against obesity will start on a local scale, but if the strategy turns out to be effective, it should be applied to all the schools within the state. To determine the benefits of the solution, the author of the research analyzed the benefits of the program to prove what he outlined earlier in the thesis.

To make the solution a successful reality, researchers must first survey the parents to identify the meals that the majority of the parents would like to see on their children’s plates. Assuming that parents will most likely have a preference for natural food products, school budget costs will increase due to the purchase of natural products.

Cost of Current School Menu vs. Proposed School Menu.

Figure 1: This chart shows the cost of the current school menu (in millions of dollars) in blue in the first, second, and third years of the program. The cost of the proposed new menu is shown in red for the same three years.

To conclude the research, the expenses of the Soul Food program will be worth the effort if the plan works out. As shown above, in Figure 1, the proposed system will save thousands (and even millions) of dollars in the short term as well as in the long term. Moreover, because the solution includes the active participation of both parties, the idea will likely appeal to both pupils’ parents and the school administration. If it does not, the plan can be easily adapted to the needs of the school and rerun under the watchful supervision of the experts.

It is important to understand that the problem of childhood obesity will not be resolved overnight. However, the methodology described in this research shows a good example of a new way to look at the issue as a whole and offers one specific potential solution to a serious health problem that affects children, families, and schools all over the country.

Singh, D. J., & Davidson, J. (2015). Controlling Child Obesity – Keeping Your Children Healthy . London: Mendon Cottage Books.

Söderback, I. (2015). International Handbook of Occupational Therapy Interventions . Berlin: Springer.

Sugarman, S., & Sandman, N. (2007). Fighting Childhood Obesity through Performance-Based Regulation of the Food Industry . Duke Law Journal, 56 (6), 1403-1490. Web.

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04 Mar 2021

Solving the obesity crisis

Dr Renata Micha Chair of the Global Nutrition Report's Independent Expert Group and Associate Professor in Human Nutrition at the University of Thessaly, Greece

On World Obesity Day, Dr Renata Micha outlines the scale of the world’s obesity crisis, and explains why 2021 is a crucial year for authorities if they are to solve a growing crisis.

Obesity is on the rise, and current initiatives and policies aimed at fighting it have been insufficient to reverse the trend. The success of tackling the obesity pandemic depends on governments, businesses and civil society working together to fix inadequacies in our food and health systems, focusing on better nutrition and diets for all.

This year, on World Obesity Day , it has never been more important to recognise that improving nutrition and addressing poor diets needs to be at the forefront of collective efforts to tackle obesity. The Covid-19 pandemic is interlinked with the slower, yet no less devastating, pandemic of food and nutrition insecurity, obesity, diabetes and other diet-related conditions. The top predictors of severe Covid-19 complications, other than age, are diet-related risks such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In fact, a recent global analysis suggests that being obese doubles the risk of hospital treatment and increases the risk of dying from Covid-19 by nearly 50%.

Obesity is no longer just an issue in wealthier countries. Levels are on the rise in most countries, with a dramatic knock-on effect on health, quality of life, productivity, inequities and healthcare costs. According to the latest data from the Global Nutrition Report , one in three people globally are overweight or obese, while no country is on course to halt the rise of obesity. In the last two decades, the number of children categorised as overweight or obese has more than doubled on a global scale, with data showing an increase of 3.3% to 7.8% among boys aged five to 19, and 2.5% to 5.6% among girls of the same age.

Countries can no longer afford to neglect the global nutrition crisis that has led to the obesity pandemic. At least 2.8 million people around the world die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. At the same time, the global medical costs of treating the consequences of obesity are staggering and expected to rise to $1.2 trillion annually by 2025. Good nutrition is central to tackling obesity and to building healthier, more resilient populations that are better equipped against Covid-19 and future pandemics. 

A shift in mindset

To stop the obesity pandemic, the world needs a shift in mindset, recognising that this is not simply a matter of individual choices but a systemic issue that governments, civil society and businesses can and should solve.

Access to healthy, affordable food depends on our food systems, which are currently contributing to poor diets, food insecurity, rising obesity levels, growing inequities and environmental pressures. Even with the unprecedented rise in diet-related diseases, in many parts of the world, agricultural production still focuses on staple commodities, rather than a broader range of more diverse, healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Fresh, perishable foods are often less accessible and affordable compared to staple foods, meaning that for many, eating healthily is not a viable option. Meanwhile, junk food is widely available, cheap and intensively marketed, with advertising often targeting children and lower income communities.

Solutions that work are emerging around the world to help address food and nutrition. Governments are implementing fiscal incentives and disincentives, such as subsidies for fruits and vegetables and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. Regulations around point-of-purchase labelling, such as those adopted by Chile , marketing restrictions such as the UK’s recent proposal to ban online junk food advertising, as well as added sugar and sodium reduction targets for the food industry released in the US , all go a long way towards promoting healthier diets and reducing diet-related diseases.

These solutions now need to be scaled up dramatically, along with new evidence-based policies that go beyond educational policy measures to transform food systems and address obesity. This will require mobilisation from the academic community to prioritise research on innovative food and nutrition strategies. Crucially, it requires concerted action and investments from governments, businesses and civil society, working across sectors, to implement food and nutrition priorities that benefit all.

Better integration of nutrition into healthcare systems is also critical. Even before Covid-19, healthcare systems were overwhelmed by diet-related diseases. Yet, in many parts of the world, nutrition care is entirely absent from healthcare systems. Nutrition care needs to be made universally available, given the role it plays in determining our health and wellbeing.

A year for action

With key moments including the UN Food Systems Summit and the Tokyo Nutrition For Growth Summit on the horizon, 2021 provides a unique opportunity for governments, civil society and the private sector to work together to tackle food and nutrition through strong and measurable commitments.  

This will require acting at every step of the food and nutrition chain – from the way we produce and market food, to the way we help individuals adapt behaviours, make healthier choices and improve their health. Governments, civil society and the private sector will need to recognise the role they can play in this process and will be expected to make the bold commitments that nutrition deserves.

Renata Micha is Chair of the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report and Associate Professor in Human Nutrition at the University of Thessaly, Greece. This blog was originally published as an op-ed in the New Food Magazine.

From the report

2020 global nutrition report, chapter 02: inequalities in the global burden of malnutrition.

Learn about how the burden of malnutrition is unequally distributed by examining factors such as location, age, sex, wealth and education. What progress is being made towards meeting nutrition targets at the global, regional and national levels?

Chapter 03: Mainstreaming nutrition within universal health coverage

Nutrition care should form part of the wider package of primary healthcare. The commitment to provide universal health coverage presents an opportunity to make this a reality. Explore the benefits and challenges of mainstreaming nutrition care using the health system framework.

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17 Dec 2019

Tackling the global obesity epidemic: Fiscal policies and the secret to a successful sugar tax

Danielle Edge Policy and Public Affairs Manager at World Cancer Research Fund International

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Nutrition and COVID-19: Malnutrition is a threat-multiplier

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Learning from success: What’s working in the fight against malnutrition?

Dr Mariachiara Di Cesare Member of the Global Nutrition Report's Independent Expert Group, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Middlesex University and Honorary Research Fellow, Imperial College London

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Essay on Obesity

List of essays on obesity, essay on obesity – short essay (essay 1 – 150 words), essay on obesity (essay 2 – 250 words), essay on obesity – written in english (essay 3 – 300 words), essay on obesity – for school students (class 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 standard) (essay 4 – 400 words), essay on obesity – for college students (essay 5 – 500 words), essay on obesity – with causes and treatment (essay 6 – 600 words), essay on obesity – for science students (essay 7 – 750 words), essay on obesity – long essay for medical students (essay 8 – 1000 words).

Obesity is a chronic health condition in which the body fat reaches abnormal level. Obesity occurs when we consume much more amount of food than our body really needs on a daily basis. In other words, when the intake of calories is greater than the calories we burn out, it gives rise to obesity.

Audience: The below given essays are exclusively written for school students (Class 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 Standard), college, science and medical students.

Introduction:

Obesity means being excessively fat. A person would be said to be obese if his or her body mass index is beyond 30. Such a person has a body fat rate that is disproportionate to his body mass.

Obesity and the Body Mass Index:

The body mass index is calculated considering the weight and height of a person. Thus, it is a scientific way of determining the appropriate weight of any person. When the body mass index of a person indicates that he or she is obese, it exposes the person to make health risk.

Stopping Obesity:

There are two major ways to get the body mass index of a person to a moderate rate. The first is to maintain a strict diet. The second is to engage in regular physical exercise. These two approaches are aimed at reducing the amount of fat in the body.

Conclusion:

Obesity can lead to sudden death, heart attack, diabetes and may unwanted illnesses. Stop it by making healthy choices.

Obesity has become a big concern for the youth of today’s generation. Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which an individual gains excessive body fat. When the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a person is over 30, he/ she is termed as obese.

Obesity can be a genetic problem or a disorder that is caused due to unhealthy lifestyle habits of a person. Physical inactivity and the environment in which an individual lives, are also the factors that leads to obesity. It is also seen that when some individuals are in stress or depression, they start cultivating unhealthy eating habits which eventually leads to obesity. Medications like steroids is yet another reason for obesity.

Obesity has several serious health issues associated with it. Some of the impacts of obesity are diabetes, increase of cholesterol level, high blood pressure, etc. Social impacts of obesity includes loss of confidence in an individual, lowering of self-esteem, etc.

The risks of obesity needs to be prevented. This can be done by adopting healthy eating habits, doing some physical exercise regularly, avoiding stress, etc. Individuals should work on weight reduction in order to avoid obesity.

Obesity is indeed a health concern and needs to be prioritized. The management of obesity revolves around healthy eating habits and physical activity. Obesity, if not controlled in its initial stage can cause many severe health issues. So it is wiser to exercise daily and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than being the victim of obesity.

Obesity can be defined as the clinical condition where accumulation of excessive fat takes place in the adipose tissue leading to worsening of health condition. Usually, the fat is deposited around the trunk and also the waist of the body or even around the periphery.

Obesity is actually a disease that has been spreading far and wide. It is preventable and certain measures are to be taken to curb it to a greater extend. Both in the developing and developed countries, obesity has been growing far and wide affecting the young and the old equally.

The alarming increase in obesity has resulted in stimulated death rate and health issues among the people. There are several methods adopted to lose weight and they include different diet types, physical activity and certain changes in the current lifestyle. Many of the companies are into minting money with the concept of inviting people to fight obesity.

In patients associated with increased risk factor related to obesity, there are certain drug therapies and other procedures adopted to lose weight. There are certain cost effective ways introduced by several companies to enable clinic-based weight loss programs.

Obesity can lead to premature death and even cause Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Cardiovascular diseases have also become the part and parcel of obese people. It includes stroke, hypertension, gall bladder disease, coronary heart disease and even cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer and colon cancer. Other less severe arising due to obesity includes osteoarthritis, gastro-esophageal reflux disease and even infertility.

Hence, serious measures are to be taken to fight against this dreadful phenomenon that is spreading its wings far and wide. Giving proper education on benefits of staying fit and mindful eating is as important as curbing this issue. Utmost importance must be given to healthy eating habits right from the small age so that they follow the same until the end of their life.

Obesity is majorly a lifestyle disease attributed to the extra accumulation of fat in the body leading to negative health effects on a person. Ironically, although prevalent at a large scale in many countries, including India, it is one of the most neglect health problems. It is more often ignored even if told by the doctor that the person is obese. Only when people start acquiring other health issues such as heart disease, blood pressure or diabetes, they start taking the problem of obesity seriously.

Obesity Statistics in India:

As per a report, India happens to figure as the third country in the world with the most obese people. This should be a troubling fact for India. However, we are yet to see concrete measures being adopted by the people to remain fit.

Causes of Obesity:

Sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, junk food, medications and some diseases such as hypothyroidism are considered as the factors which lead to obesity. Even children seem to be glued to televisions, laptops and video games which have taken away the urge for physical activities from them. Adding to this, the consumption of junk food has further aggravated the growing problem of obesity in children.

In the case of adults, most of the professions of today make use of computers which again makes people sit for long hours in one place. Also, the hectic lifestyle of today makes it difficult for people to spare time for physical activities and people usually remain stressed most of the times. All this has contributed significantly to the rise of obesity in India.

Obesity and BMI:

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the measure which allows a person to calculate how to fit he or she is. In other words, the BMI tells you if you are obese or not. BMI is calculated by dividing the weight of a person in kg with the square of his / her height in metres. The number thus obtained is called the BMI. A BMI of less than 25 is considered optimal. However, if a person has a BMI over 30 he/she is termed as obese.

What is a matter of concern is that with growing urbanisation there has been a rapid increase of obese people in India? It is of utmost importance to consider this health issue a serious threat to the future of our country as a healthy body is important for a healthy soul. We should all be mindful of what we eat and what effect it has on our body. It is our utmost duty to educate not just ourselves but others as well about this serious health hazard.

Obesity can be defined as a condition (medical) that is the accumulation of body fat to an extent that the excess fat begins to have a lot of negative effects on the health of the individual. Obesity is determined by examining the body mass index (BMI) of the person. The BMI is gotten by dividing the weight of the person in kilogram by the height of the person squared.

When the BMI of a person is more than 30, the person is classified as being obese, when the BMI falls between 25 and 30, the person is said to be overweight. In a few countries in East Asia, lower values for the BMI are used. Obesity has been proven to influence the likelihood and risk of many conditions and disease, most especially diabetes of type 2, cardiovascular diseases, sleeplessness that is obstructive, depression, osteoarthritis and some cancer types.

In most cases, obesity is caused through a combination of genetic susceptibility, a lack of or inadequate physical activity, excessive intake of food. Some cases of obesity are primarily caused by mental disorder, medications, endocrine disorders or genes. There is no medical data to support the fact that people suffering from obesity eat very little but gain a lot of weight because of slower metabolism. It has been discovered that an obese person usually expends much more energy than other people as a result of the required energy that is needed to maintain a body mass that is increased.

It is very possible to prevent obesity with a combination of personal choices and social changes. The major treatments are exercising and a change in diet. We can improve the quality of our diet by reducing our consumption of foods that are energy-dense like those that are high in sugars or fat and by trying to increase our dietary fibre intake.

We can also accompany the appropriate diet with the use of medications to help in reducing appetite and decreasing the absorption of fat. If medication, exercise and diet are not yielding any positive results, surgery or gastric balloon can also be carried out to decrease the volume of the stomach and also reduce the intestines’ length which leads to the feel of the person get full early or a reduction in the ability to get and absorb different nutrients from a food.

Obesity is the leading cause of ill-health and death all over the world that is preventable. The rate of obesity in children and adults has drastically increased. In 2015, a whopping 12 percent of adults which is about 600 million and about 100 million children all around the world were found to be obese.

It has also been discovered that women are more obese than men. A lot of government and private institutions and bodies have stated that obesity is top of the list of the most difficult and serious problems of public health that we have in the world today. In the world we live today, there is a lot of stigmatisation of obese people.

We all know how troubling the problem of obesity truly is. It is mainly a form of a medical condition wherein the body tends to accumulate excessive fat which in turn has negative repercussions on the health of an individual.

Given the current lifestyle and dietary style, it has become more common than ever. More and more people are being diagnosed with obesity. Such is its prevalence that it has been termed as an epidemic in the USA. Those who suffer from obesity are at a much higher risk of diabetes, heart diseases and even cancer.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of obesity, it is important to learn what the key causes of obesity are. In a layman term, if your calorie consumption exceeds what you burn because of daily activities and exercises, it is likely to lead to obesity. It is caused over a prolonged period of time when your calorie intake keeps exceeding the calories burned.

Here are some of the key causes which are known to be the driving factors for obesity.

If your diet tends to be rich in fat and contains massive calorie intake, you are all set to suffer from obesity.

Sedentary Lifestyle:

With most people sticking to their desk jobs and living a sedentary lifestyle, the body tends to get obese easily.

Of course, the genetic framework has a lot to do with obesity. If your parents are obese, the chance of you being obese is quite high.

The weight which women gain during their pregnancy can be very hard to shed and this is often one of the top causes of obesity.

Sleep Cycle:

If you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep, it can have an impact on the hormones which might trigger hunger signals. Overall, these linked events tend to make you obese.

Hormonal Disorder:

There are several hormonal changes which are known to be direct causes of obesity. The imbalance of the thyroid stimulating hormone, for instance, is one of the key factors when it comes to obesity.

Now that we know the key causes, let us look at the possible ways by which you can handle it.

Treatment for Obesity:

As strange as it may sound, the treatment for obesity is really simple. All you need to do is follow the right diet and back it with an adequate amount of exercise. If you can succeed in doing so, it will give you the perfect head-start into your journey of getting in shape and bidding goodbye to obesity.

There are a lot of different kinds and styles of diet plans for obesity which are available. You can choose the one which you deem fit. We recommend not opting for crash dieting as it is known to have several repercussions and can make your body terribly weak.

The key here is to stick to a balanced diet which can help you retain the essential nutrients, minerals, and, vitamins and shed the unwanted fat and carbs.

Just like the diet, there are several workout plans for obesity which are available. It is upon you to find out which of the workout plan seems to be apt for you. Choose cardio exercises and dance routines like Zumba to shed the unwanted body weight. Yoga is yet another method to get rid of obesity.

So, follow a blend of these and you will be able to deal with the trouble of obesity in no time. We believe that following these tips will help you get rid of obesity and stay in shape.

Obesity and overweight is a top health concern in the world due to the impact it has on the lives of individuals. Obesity is defined as a condition in which an individual has excessive body fat and is measured using the body mass index (BMI) such that, when an individual’s BMI is above 30, he or she is termed obese. The BMI is calculated using body weight and height and it is different for all individuals.

Obesity has been determined as a risk factor for many diseases. It results from dietary habits, genetics, and lifestyle habits including physical inactivity. Obesity can be prevented so that individuals do not end up having serious complications and health problems. Chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart diseases and relate to obesity in terms of causes and complications.

Factors Influencing Obesity:

Obesity is not only as a result of lifestyle habits as most people put it. There are other important factors that influence obesity. Genetics is one of those factors. A person could be born with genes that predispose them to obesity and they will also have difficulty in losing weight because it is an inborn factor.

The environment also influences obesity because the diet is similar in certain environs. In certain environments, like school, the food available is fast foods and the chances of getting healthy foods is very low, leading to obesity. Also, physical inactivity is an environmental factor for obesity because some places have no fields or tracks where people can jog or maybe the place is very unsafe and people rarely go out to exercise.

Mental health affects the eating habits of individuals. There is a habit of stress eating when a person is depressed and it could result in overweight or obesity if the person remains unhealthy for long period of time.

The overall health of individuals also matter. If a person is unwell and is prescribed with steroids, they may end up being obese. Steroidal medications enable weight gain as a side effect.

Complications of Obesity:

Obesity is a health concern because its complications are severe. Significant social and health problems are experienced by obese people. Socially, they will be bullied and their self-esteem will be low as they will perceive themselves as unworthy.

Chronic illnesses like diabetes results from obesity. Diabetes type 2 has been directly linked to obesity. This condition involves the increased blood sugars in the body and body cells are not responding to insulin as they should. The insulin in the body could also be inadequate due to decreased production. High blood sugar concentrations result in symptoms like frequent hunger, thirst and urination. The symptoms of complicated stages of diabetes type 2 include loss of vision, renal failure and heart failure and eventually death. The importance of having a normal BMI is the ability of the body to control blood sugars.

Another complication is the heightened blood pressures. Obesity has been defined as excessive body fat. The body fat accumulates in blood vessels making them narrow. Narrow blood vessels cause the blood pressures to rise. Increased blood pressure causes the heart to start failing in its physiological functions. Heart failure is the end result in this condition of increased blood pressures.

There is a significant increase in cholesterol in blood of people who are obese. High blood cholesterol levels causes the deposition of fats in various parts of the body and organs. Deposition of fats in the heart and blood vessels result in heart diseases. There are other conditions that result from hypercholesterolemia.

Other chronic illnesses like cancer can also arise from obesity because inflammation of body cells and tissues occurs in order to store fats in obese people. This could result in abnormal growths and alteration of cell morphology. The abnormal growths could be cancerous.

Management of Obesity:

For the people at risk of developing obesity, prevention methods can be implemented. Prevention included a healthy diet and physical activity. The diet and physical activity patterns should be regular and realizable to avoid strains that could result in complications.

Some risk factors for obesity are non-modifiable for example genetics. When a person in genetically predisposed, the lifestyle modifications may be have help.

For the individuals who are already obese, they can work on weight reduction through healthy diets and physical exercises.

In conclusion, obesity is indeed a major health concern because the health complications are very serious. Factors influencing obesity are both modifiable and non-modifiable. The management of obesity revolves around diet and physical activity and so it is important to remain fit.

In olden days, obesity used to affect only adults. However, in the present time, obesity has become a worldwide problem that hits the kids as well. Let’s find out the most prevalent causes of obesity.

Factors Causing Obesity:

Obesity can be due to genetic factors. If a person’s family has a history of obesity, chances are high that he/ she would also be affected by obesity, sooner or later in life.

The second reason is having a poor lifestyle. Now, there are a variety of factors that fall under the category of poor lifestyle. An excessive diet, i.e., eating more than you need is a definite way to attain the stage of obesity. Needless to say, the extra calories are changed into fat and cause obesity.

Junk foods, fried foods, refined foods with high fats and sugar are also responsible for causing obesity in both adults and kids. Lack of physical activity prevents the burning of extra calories, again, leading us all to the path of obesity.

But sometimes, there may also be some indirect causes of obesity. The secondary reasons could be related to our mental and psychological health. Depression, anxiety, stress, and emotional troubles are well-known factors of obesity.

Physical ailments such as hypothyroidism, ovarian cysts, and diabetes often complicate the physical condition and play a massive role in abnormal weight gain.

Moreover, certain medications, such as steroids, antidepressants, and contraceptive pills, have been seen interfering with the metabolic activities of the body. As a result, the long-term use of such drugs can cause obesity. Adding to that, regular consumption of alcohol and smoking are also connected to the condition of obesity.

Harmful Effects of Obesity:

On the surface, obesity may look like a single problem. But, in reality, it is the mother of several major health issues. Obesity simply means excessive fat depositing into our body including the arteries. The drastic consequence of such high cholesterol levels shows up in the form of heart attacks and other life-threatening cardiac troubles.

The fat deposition also hampers the elasticity of the arteries. That means obesity can cause havoc in our body by altering the blood pressure to an abnormal range. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Obesity is known to create an endless list of problems.

In extreme cases, this disorder gives birth to acute diseases like diabetes and cancer. The weight gain due to obesity puts a lot of pressure on the bones of the body, especially of the legs. This, in turn, makes our bones weak and disturbs their smooth movement. A person suffering from obesity also has higher chances of developing infertility issues and sleep troubles.

Many obese people are seen to be struggling with breathing problems too. In the chronic form, the condition can grow into asthma. The psychological effects of obesity are another serious topic. You can say that obesity and depression form a loop. The more a person is obese, the worse is his/ her depression stage.

How to Control and Treat Obesity:

The simplest and most effective way, to begin with, is changing our diet. There are two factors to consider in the diet plan. First is what and what not to eat. Second is how much to eat.

If you really want to get rid of obesity, include more and more green vegetables in your diet. Spinach, beans, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, etc., have enough vitamins and minerals and quite low calories. Other healthier options are mushrooms, pumpkin, beetroots, and sweet potatoes, etc.

Opt for fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, and berries. Oranges, grapes, pomegranate, pineapple, cherries, strawberries, lime, and cranberries are good for the body. They have low sugar content and are also helpful in strengthening our immune system. Eating the whole fruits is a more preferable way in comparison to gulping the fruit juices. Fruits, when eaten whole, have more fibers and less sugar.

Consuming a big bowl of salad is also great for dealing with the obesity problem. A salad that includes fibrous foods such as carrots, radish, lettuce, tomatoes, works better at satiating the hunger pangs without the risk of weight gain.

A high protein diet of eggs, fish, lean meats, etc., is an excellent choice to get rid of obesity. Take enough of omega fatty acids. Remember to drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated is a smart way to avoid overeating. Water also helps in removing the toxins and excess fat from the body.

As much as possible, avoid fats, sugars, refined flours, and oily foods to keep the weight in control. Control your portion size. Replace the three heavy meals with small and frequent meals during the day. Snacking on sugarless smoothies, dry fruits, etc., is much recommended.

Regular exercise plays an indispensable role in tackling the obesity problem. Whenever possible, walk to the market, take stairs instead of a lift. Physical activity can be in any other form. It could be a favorite hobby like swimming, cycling, lawn tennis, or light jogging.

Meditation and yoga are quite powerful practices to drive away the stress, depression and thus, obesity. But in more serious cases, meeting a physician is the most appropriate strategy. Sometimes, the right medicines and surgical procedures are necessary to control the health condition.

Obesity is spreading like an epidemic, haunting both the adults and the kids. Although genetic factors and other physical ailments play a role, the problem is mostly caused by a reckless lifestyle.

By changing our way of living, we can surely take control of our health. In other words, it would be possible to eliminate the condition of obesity from our lives completely by leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Obesity Epidemic: Causes and Solutions

Since the 1980s, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rising obesity across the nation, state-by-state . 1

The figure shows three maps of the U.S. with states color-coded based on the percent of the their population estimated to be obese. In 1990, all of the states are a blue color, indicating 10-14 percent of their populations were obese. In 2000, many states are a darker blue color, indicating 15-19 percent obesity, and about half of a beige color, indicating 20 to 24 percent obesity. In 2010, there are still some beige states but no blue ones, and many are orange or red, indicating 25 to 30+ percent obesity.

Figure 7.17. Each year since 1990, the CDC has published maps of the United States in which states are color-coded based on the percentage of their population estimated to be obese. The maps show a clear increase in the prevalence of obesity between 1990 and 2010.

The methods used by the CDC to collect the data changed in 2011, so we can’t make direct comparisons between the periods before and after that change, but the trend has continued. Every year, more and more people in the U.S. are obese.

A map of the U.S. showing obesity prevalence color-coded by state. States are about evenly split between green (20-25% obesity), yellow (25-30% obesity), or red (30-35% obesity).

Figure 7.18. The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults has continued to rise between 2011 and 2018.

These trends are unmistakable, and they’re not just occurring in adults. Childhood obesity has seen similar increases over the last few decades—perhaps an even greater concern as the metabolic and health effects of carrying too much weight can be compounded over a person’s entire lifetime.

A line graph shows the prevalence of obesity trending upwards between the years 1999-2000 and 2015-2016 in both children and adults. In this time span, the prevalence of obesity in children increased from 13.9 to 18.5 percent. In adults, it increased from 30.5 to 39.6 percent.

Figure 7.19. Between 1999 and 2016, the prevalence of obesity in both children and adults has risen steadily.

While obesity is a problem across the United States, it affects some groups of people more than others. Based on 2015-2016 data, obesity rates are higher among Hispanic (47 percent) and Black adults (47 percent) compared with white adults (38 percent). Non-Hispanic Asians have the lowest obesity rate (13 percent). And overall, people who are college-educated and have a higher income are less likely to be obese. 2 These health disparities point to the importance of looking at social context when examining causes and solutions. Not everyone has the same opportunity for good health, or an equal ability to make changes to their circumstances, because of factors like poverty and longstanding inequities in how resources are invested in communities. These factors are called “ social determinants of health . ” 3

The obesity epidemic is also not unique to the United States. Obesity is rising around the globe, and in 2015, it was estimated to affect 2 billion people worldwide, making it one of the largest factors affecting poor health in most countries . 4 Globally, among children aged 5 to 19 years old, the rate of overweight increased from 10.3 percent in 2000 to 18.4 percent in 2018. Previously, overweight and obesity mainly affected high-income countries, but some of the most dramatic increases in childhood overweight over the last decade have been in low income countries, such as those in Africa and South Asia, corresponding to a greater availability of inexpensive, processed foods. 5

Despite the gravity of the problem, no country has yet been able to implement policies that have reversed the trend and brought about a decrease in obesity. This represents “one of the biggest population health failures of our time,” wrote an international group of researchers in the journal  The Lancet  in 2019 . 6 The World Health Organization has set a target of stopping the rise of obesity by 2025. Doing so requires understanding what is causing the obesity epidemic; it is only when these causes are addressed that change can start to occur.

Causes of the Obesity Epidemic

If obesity was an infectious disease sweeping the globe, affecting billions of people’s health, longevity, and productivity, we surely would have addressed it by now. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies would have worked furiously to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and cure this disease. But the causes of obesity are much more complex than a single bacteria or virus, and solving this problem means recognizing and addressing a multitude of factors that lead to weight gain in a population.

At its core, rising obesity is caused by a chronic shift towards positive energy balance—consuming more energy or calories than one expends each day, leading to an often gradual but persistent increase in body weight. People often assume that this is an individual problem, that those who weigh more simply need to change their behavior to eat less and exercise more, and if this doesn’t work, it must be because of a personal failing, such as a lack of self-control or motivation. While behavior patterns such as diet and exercise can certainly impact a person’s risk of developing obesity (as we’ll cover later in this chapter), the environments where we live also have a big impact on our behavior and can make it much harder to maintain energy balance.

Environment

Many of us live in what researchers and public health experts call “ obesogenic environments. ” That is, the ways in which our neighborhoods are built and our lives are structured influence our physical activity and food intake to encourage weight gain . 7 Human physiology and metabolism evolved in a world where obtaining enough food for survival required significant energy investment in hunting or gathering—very different from today’s world where more people earn their living in sedentary occupations. From household chores, to workplace productivity, to daily transportation, getting things done requires fewer calories than it did in past generations.

The image shows three photos. Left to right: a group of well-dressed Black women sit at a work conference table, with laptops in front of them; 4 vending machines sell snacks and soft drinks; and cars jamming a freeway.

Figure 7.20. Some elements of our environment that may make it easier to gain weight include sedentary jobs, easy access to inexpensive calories, and cities built more for car travel than for physical activity.

Our jobs have become more and more sedentary, with fewer opportunities for non-exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) throughout the day. There’s less time in the school day for recess and physical activity, and fears about neighborhood safety limit kids’ ability to get out and play after the school day is over. Our towns and cities are built more for cars than for walking or biking. We can’t turn back the clock on human progress, and finding a way to stay healthy in obesogenic environments is a significant challenge.

Our environments  can also impact our food choices. We’re surrounded by vending machines, fast food restaurants, coffeeshops, and convenience stores that offer quick and inexpensive access to calories. These foods are also heavily advertised, and especially when people are stretched thin by working long hours or multiple jobs, they can be a welcome convenience. However, they tend to be calorie-dense (and less nutrient-dense) and more heavily processed, with amounts of sugar, fat, and salt optimized to make us want to eat more, compared with home-cooked food. In addition, portion sizes at restaurants, especially fast food chains, have increased over the decades, and people are eating at restaurants more and cooking at home less.

Poverty and Food Insecurity

Living in poverty usually means living in a more obesogenic environment. Consider the fact that some of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States—with some of the highest rates of obesity—are often not safe or pleasant places to walk, play, or exercise. They may have busy traffic and polluted air, and they may lack sidewalks, green spaces, and playgrounds. A person living in this type of neighborhood will find it much more challenging to get adequate physical activity compared with someone living in a neighborhood where it’s safe to walk to school or work, play at a park, ride a bike, or go for a run.

In addition, poor neighborhoods often lack a grocery store where people can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and basic ingredients necessary for cooking at home. Such areas are called “ food deserts ”—where healthy foods simply aren’t available or easily accessible.

Another concept useful in discussions of obesity risk is “food insecurity.”  Food security means “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” 8  Food insecurity   means an inability to consistently obtain adequate food. It may seem counter-intuitive, but in the United States, food insecurity is linked to obesity. That is, people who have difficulty obtaining enough food are more likely to become obese and to suffer from diabetes and hypertension. This is likely related to the fact that inexpensive foods tend to be high in calories but low in nutrients, and when these foods form the foundation of a person’s diet, they can cause both obesity and nutrient deficiencies. It’s estimated that 12 percent of U.S. households are food insecure, and food insecurity is higher among Black (22 percent) and Latino (18 percent) households. 3

What about genetics? While it’s true that our genes can influence our susceptibility to becoming obese, researchers say they can’t be a cause of the obesity epidemic. Genes take many generations to evolve, and the obesity epidemic has occurred over just the last 40 to 50 years—only a few generations. When our grandparents were children, they were much less likely to become obese than our own children. That’s not because their genes were different, but rather because they grew up in a different environment. However, it is true that a person’s genes can influence their susceptibility to becoming obese in this obesogenic environment, and obesity is more prevalent in some families. A person’s genetic make-up can make it more difficult to maintain energy balance in an obesogenic environment, because certain genes may make you feel more hungry or slow your energy expenditure. 2

Solutions to the Obesity Epidemic

Given the multiple causes of obesity, solving this problem will also require many solutions at different levels. Because obesity affects people over the lifespan and is difficult to reverse, the focus of many of these efforts is prevention , starting as early as the first years of life. We’ll discuss individual weight management strategies later in this chapter. Here, we’ll review some strategies happening in schools, communities, and at the state and federal levels.

Support Healthy Dietary Patterns

Interventions that support healthy dietary patterns, especially among people more vulnerable because of food insecurity or poverty, may reduce obesity. In some cases, studies have shown that they have an impact, and in other cases, it’s too soon to know. Here are some examples:

  • Implement and support better nutrition standards for childcare, schools, hospitals, and worksites. 9
  • Limit marketing of processed foods, especially ads targeted towards children.
  • Provide incentives for supermarkets or farmers markets to establish businesses in underserved areas. 9

Two photos from farmers' markets. On the left, people are shown selecting fresh fruits and vegetables in a busy marketplace, with tall buildings rising above the market stands. On the right, a closeup of a farmers' market stand, showing enticing fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.

  • Place nutrition and calorie content on restaurant and fast food menus  to raise awareness of food choices. 9 Beginning in 2018, as part of the Affordable Care Act, chain restaurants with more than 20 locations were required to add calorie information to their menus, and some had already done so voluntarily. There isn’t yet enough research to say whether having this information improves customers’ choices; some studies show an effect and others don’t. 10 Many factors influence people’s decisions, and the type of restaurant, customer needs, and menu presentation all likely matter. For example, some studies show that health-conscious consumers choose lower calorie menu items when presented with nutrition information, but people with food insecurity may understandably choose higher calorie items to get more “bang for their buck”. 11 Research has also shown that adding interpretative images—like a stoplight image labeling menu choices as green or red as shorthand for high or low nutrient density—can help. And a 2018 study found that when calorie counts are on the left side of English-language menus, people order lower-calorie menu items. Putting calorie counts on the right side of the menu (as is more common) doesn’t have this effect, likely because the English language is read from left to right. 12 Some studies have also found that restaurants that implement menu labeling offer lower-calorie and more nutrient-dense options, indicating that menu labeling may push restaurants to look more closely at the food they serve. 10,13

A menu sign at a Nathan's hotdog stand displays calorie countrs

Figure 7.22. As of 2018, restaurant chains and some other food vendors are required to list calorie counts on their menus. Would these make you pause before ordering?

  • Increase access to food assistance programs and align them with nutrition recommendations. For example, in 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised the food packages for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new packages emphasized more  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and decreased the availability of juice. After this change, there was a decrease in the obesity rate of children in the WIC program. Similar progress may be made by increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in order to reduce food insecurity. Many farmers’ markets now accept SNAP benefits for the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables. 3
  • Tax sugary drinks, such as soda and sports drinks, which contribute significant empty calories to the U.S. diet and are associated with childhood obesity. Local taxes on soda and other sugary drinks are often controversial, and soda companies lobby to prevent them from passing. However, early research in U.S. cities with soda taxes show that they do work to decrease soda consumption. 3 In the U.S., soda has only been taxed at the local level, and the tax has been paid by consumers. The United Kingdom has taken a different approach: They started taxing soft drink manufacturers for the sugar content of the products they sell. Between 2015 and 2018, the average sugar content of soda sold in the U.K. dropped by 29 percent. 14

Support Greater Physical Activity

Increasing physical activity increases the energy expended during the day. This can help maintain energy balance, thus preventing weight gain. It may also help to shift a person into negative energy balance and facilitate weight loss if needed. But simply adding an exercise session—a run or a trip to the gym, say—often doesn’t shift energy balance (though it’s certainly good for health). Why? Exercise can increase hunger, and there’s only so many calories a person can burn in 30 or 60 minutes. That’s why it’s also important to look for opportunities for non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT); that is, find ways to increase movement throughout the day.  

  • P rioritize physical education and recess time in schools. In addition to helping kids stay healthy, movement also helps them learn.
  • Make neighborhoods safer and more accessible for walking, cycling, and playing.
  • When safe, encourage kids to walk or bike to school.
  • Build family and community activities around physical activity, such as trips to the park, walks together, and community walking and exercise groups.
  • Facilitate more movement in the workday by encouraging walking meetings, movement breaks, and treadmill desks.
  • Find ways to move that are enjoyable to you and fit your life. Yard work, walking your dog, playing tag with your kids, and going out dancing all count!

obesity problem solution essay

Figure 7.23. There are lots of ways to increase physical activity, including walking to work, playing with friends, and going for a bike ride.

VIDEO:  “ James Levine: ‘I Came Alive as a Person’ “  by  NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, YouTube (April 24, 2014), 3:04 minutes. This short video explains some of the research on NEAT and efforts to increase it in our lives.

VIDEO:  “ The Weight of the Nation: Poverty and Obesity”  by HBO Docs, YouTube (May 14, 2012), 24:05 minutes. 

VIDEO: “ The Weight of the Nation: Healthy Foods and Obesity Prevention”  by HBO Docs, YouTube (May 14, 2012), 31:11 minutes.  These segments from the HBO documentary series, “The Weight of the Nation,” explore  some of the causes and potential solutions for obesity.

References:

  • 1 CDC. (2019, September 12). New Adult Obesity Maps. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html
  • 2 CDC. (2019, January 31). Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  • 3 Trust for America’s Health. (2019). The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America . Retrieved from https://www.tfah.org/report-details/stateofobesity2019/
  • 4 Swinburn, B. A., Kraak, V. I., Allender, S., Atkins, V. J., Baker, P. I., Bogard, J. R., … Dietz, W. H. (2019). The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report. The Lancet , 393 (10173), 791–846. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32822-8
  • 5 UNICEF. (2019). The State of the World’s Children 2019. Children, Food and Nutrition: Growing well in a changing world . New York.
  • 6 Jaacks, L. M., Vandevijvere, S., Pan, A., McGowan, C. J., Wallace, C., Imamura, F., … Ezzati, M. (2019). The obesity transition: Stages of the global epidemic. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology , 7 (3), 231–240. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30026-9
  • 7 Townshend, T., & Lake, A. (2017). Obesogenic environments: Current evidence of the built and food environments. Perspectives in Public Health , 137 (1), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913916679860
  • 8 Pan, L., Sherry, B., Njai, R., & Blanck, H. M. (2012). Food Insecurity Is Associated with Obesity among US Adults in 12 States. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , 112 (9), 1403–1409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.06.011
  • 9 CDC. (2019, June 18). Community Efforts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/community.html
  • 10 Bleich, S. N., Economos, C. D., Spiker, M. L., Vercammen, K. A., VanEpps, E. M., Block, J. P., … Roberto, C. A. (2017). A Systematic Review of Calorie Labeling and Modified Calorie Labeling Interventions: Impact on Consumer and Restaurant Behavior. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) , 25 (12), 2018–2044. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21940
  • 11 Berry, C., Burton, S., Howlett, E., & Newman, C. L. (2019). Understanding the Calorie Labeling Paradox in Chain Restaurants: Why Menu Calorie Labeling Alone May Not Affect Average Calories Ordered. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing , 38 (2), 192–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743915619827013
  • 12 Dallas, S. K., Liu, P. J., & Ubel, P. A. (2019). Don’t Count Calorie Labeling Out: Calorie Counts on the Left Side of Menu Items Lead to Lower Calorie Food Choices. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29(1), 60–69. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1053
  • 13 Theis, D. R. Z., & Adams, J. (2019). Differences in energy and nutritional content of menu items served by popular UK chain restaurants with versus without voluntary menu labelling: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE , 14 (10), e0222773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222773
  • 14 Public Health England. (2019). Sugar reduction: Report on progress between 2015 and 2018 . Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/832182/Sugar_reduction__Yr2_progress_report.pdf

Image Credits

  • Figure 7.17. “Obesity Trends Among U.S. Adults, BRFSS, 1990-2010” by Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 7.18. “Prevalence of self-reported obesity among U.S. adults in 2011 and 2018”  by Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 7.19. “Trends in obesity prevalence”  by National Center for Health Statistics is in the Public Domain
  • Figure 7.20. Elements of obesogenic environment: “wocintech”  by WOCinTech Cha  is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ; “Perfect timing”  by Tamara Menzi , Unsplash is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “Vending machines”  by Purchase College Library  is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
  • Figure 7.21. Farmers markets. “group of people standing near vegetables”  by Megan Markham  is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “Veggies at Corvallis Farmers Market” by Friends of Family Farmers is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Figure 7.22. Menu labeling. “Ballpark Calorie Counting”  by Kevin Harber  is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • Figure 7.23. Increasing physical activity. “Early bird” by Jorge Vasconez  is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “boy running to the future”  by Rafaela Biazi  is in the Public Domain, CC0 ; “people riding bicycles inside bicycle lane beside skyscraper” by Steinar Engeland  is in the Public Domain, CC0

Economic and social circumstances, such as poverty and racism, that impact health.

Built environments that promote weight gain by encouraging food intake and limiting physical activity.

Areas where healthy foods simply aren’t available or easily accessible.

Having consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Having inconsistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application, v. 1.0 Copyright © 2020 by Alice Callahan, PhD; Heather Leonard, MEd, RDN; and Tamberly Powell, MS, RDN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What Can Be Done

Obesity is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Neighborhood design, access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages, and access to safe and convenient places for physical activity can all impact obesity. Racial and ethnic disparities in obesity underscore the need to address social determinants of health such as poverty, education, and housing to remove barriers to health. Equitable access to obesity prevention and treatment is also needed to slow the obesity epidemic. Policy makers and community leaders can work to ensure that their communities, environments, and systems support a healthy, active lifestyle for all.

A man hiking

The Federal government is

  • Studying what works in communities to make it easier for people to be more physically active and have a healthier diet.
  • Measuring trends in obesity and related risk factors.
  • Developing and promoting guidelines on dietary patterns  and amounts of physical activity Americans need for good health .
  • Helping  families with lower incomes get affordable, nutritious foods  through programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, and farm-to-education programs.
  • Supporting children and families who are at higher risk for obesity through services at Federally Qualified Health Centers, Head Start, WIC, and other service agencies.
  • Funding programs and providing training and resources for initiatives that promote healthy eating, food and nutrition security, and physical activity .

A woman shopping for fresh  produce

Some states and communities are

  • Making it easier to choose healthy food options where people live, work, learn, and play.
  • Making healthy foods more available by connecting local producers with retailers and organizations such as childcare, schools, hospitals, and food hubs.
  • Promoting nutrition standards in early care and education settings, food pantries, and faith-based organizations.
  • Partnering with business and civic leaders to plan and carry-out local, culturally tailored interventions to address poor nutrition, and physical inactivity and tobacco use.
  • Designing communities that connect sidewalks, bicycle routes, and public transportation with homes, early care and education settings, schools, parks, and workplaces.

Healthcare providers can

  • Measure patients’ weight, height, and body mass index, and counsel them on keeping a healthy weight and its role in disease prevention.
  • Screen children and adults for overweight and obesity and refer patients with obesity to intensive programs, including family healthy weight programs and the Diabetes Prevention Program .
  • Counsel patients about nutrition, physical activity, and optimal sleep.
  • Use respectful and non-stigmatizing, person-first language with all individuals in weight-related discussions.
  • Connect patients and families with community services to help them have easier access to healthy food and ways to be active.
  • Discuss the use of medications and other treatments for excess weight.
  • Seek out continuing medical education on the latest on obesity science.

A man with a salad

Everyone can

  • Eat a healthy diet by following the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Get the amount of physical activity recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2 nd edition.
  • Get involved in community efforts to improve options for healthier foods and physical activity.
  • Lose weight, if they weigh more than recommended, to help reduce risk for many chronic diseases.
  • Get enough sleep .
  • Manage stress .
  • Talk to their healthcare providers about available obesity prevention and treatment options to help reduce potential health risks.

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Childhood Obesity: Solutions that Fit the Problem

For nearly 20 years, childhood obesity has been considered a public health crisis in the U.S. And yet, more children than ever before are struggling with weight management. Nearly 42 percent of teens between 16 and 19 are overweight or obese, and the repercussions are determining their future right now.

Obese children are at nearly twice the risk of having three or more co-morbidities, when compared to children who are not overweight, according to research led by Dr. Neal Halfon , Professor at the Fielding School of Public Health (FSPH), the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Luskin School of Public Affairs. These kids don’t just bring the potential for depression, ADHD or a learning disability to school with them; they could bring all three or a number of other associated conditions. Any one of these co-morbidities on its own can seriously limit a child’s academic progress and transition into adulthood. But for some of these children, the idea of moving into a career is the last thing on their mind. They’re far more concerned with other pressing realities, like bullying and thoughts of suicide.

While the scourge of childhood obesity has become entrenched in our society, progress has been made to untangle its complexities and root it out. Through a combination of research and hands-on community involvement, UCLA and partners are helping our children find the solutions that fit their unique challenges.

Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

A healthy appetite for water-rich, fiber-rich produce plays a crucial role in curbing food cravings and reducing obesity in children. But these choices have become harder to find in many day-to-day environments, especially for those who need healthy options the most.

More than 42 million people in the U.S. are food insecure. They lack reliable access to food that is both affordable and nutritious, like fresh produce. Instead, when they walk to and from school or go out for lunch on the weekend, they find themselves choosing from an abundance of fast food and convenience store snacks.

“The gut microbiome research suggests that the quality of what one eats is an important influence on satiety. People who need to economize when it comes to food choices buy low-cost foods that are fiber-poor and calorie-rich, and because the lack of fiber reaching the gut microbiota depresses satiety signaling, it also means they need more calories to feel satisfied than people with diets high in fruits and vegetables,” explains Dr. William McCarthy , Adjunct Professor in the FSPH Department of Health Policy and Management.  

While the food insecurity situation can be dismaying, Dr. McCarthy knows there is hope. His research has shown that even if children don’t make the healthy choice right away, just giving them the option will develop their appetite. "Schools need to be patient and tolerate some plate waste … but students will not expand their liking for fruits and vegetables if they don't at least taste the food."

One way UCLA is making the healthy choice the easy choice is through Good Food for Local Schools (GFFLS). The national school lunch program feeds almost half of all kids in the U.S. That’s 31 million hungry bellies every day. GFFLS provides school districts with a comprehensive tool kit of resources for supporting healthy, sustainable food in pre-K–12 schools. This includes curriculum, operational resources, policy, research, and services that help our school districts make informed, systemic change.

Break a Sweat to Change a Life

Children also need to balance the calories they consume with enough physical activity. But it’s no secret that they are living increasingly sedentary lives, attached to digital devices. Activities that could be fun and full of exercise are greeted with moans of aversion.

For generations, Physical Education (P.E.) was the front line of defense against inactivity. This was especially true for inner-city youth. However, funding cuts and pressure to perform well on standardized tests have made P.E. an afterthought for many districts. The situation is currently so bad that the median P.E. budget is only $1.50 per student a year, in a school of 500 students. The result is that many students in this generation are growing up without adequate fitness equipment, a motivational fitness curriculum, and professional development for their teachers.

UCLA has an active presence in thousands of schools across the nation. The Sound Body Sound Mind (SBSM) program is one example of how our research can combine with action to create change. The program, which serves more than 185,000 students a year, is unique in that it develops both the body and the mind to enjoy physical activity. Most of the children in the program don’t start off thinking of themselves as athletic. But after they’ve been in the program for a while, they report higher levels of confidence and perform better on fitness tests. As the SBSM cofounder Professor William E. Simon likes to say, “exercise is preventive medicine.”

One Size Does Not Fit All

While it’s clear that programs targeting nutrition and exercise help, it isn’t clear why results aren’t easy to replicate from one zip code to another ... yet.   

“Looking at our data it became very clear that we have families in census tracts right next to each other with very different obesity rates—one community where the trajectory was going up right next to another where it was going down, for reasons that weren’t clear,” says Dr. Shannon Whaley, Director of Research and Evaluation at Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC (PHFE WIC). “Up to now, no study that I’m aware of has looked at the interplay between community-level environmental issues and early childhood obesity rates.”

What the public health community and concerned agencies have been lacking is a tool that can help them understand the myriad of cultural factors at play. And that’s exactly what a team of researchers at the FSPH is creating.    

“We want to understand which strategies are most effective within the context of a specific neighborhood,” says Dr. May C. Wang , Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences at the FSPH. The result is an NIH-funded interdisciplinary project led by Wang and Dr. Michael Prelip of UCLA, in partnership with Whaley of PHFE WIC and others, called the Early Childhood Obesity Systems Science Study (ECOSyS).

ECOSyS innovatively applies methods from the field of systems science, to better understand the impact of various intervention strategies on childhood obesity in diverse neighborhood or community settings, and has the potential to advance knowledge about replicating and scaling-up interventions. For instance, preliminary findings suggest that interventions that promote breast-feeding may influence the effectiveness of child nutrition and physical activity programs on child growth.

“Rather than examine one program or policy at a time to see its impact, with systems science we can examine a collection of programs and policies all at once to determine their impact on obesity among the 2- to 5-year-old population,” says Dr. Prelip , Professor and Chair of Community Health Sciences at FSPH. It’s a breakthrough that promises to help agencies across the nation coordinate their efforts and utilize their finite resources on well-informed, comprehensive change.

The Choice is Ours

In less than a single lifetime, childhood obesity has become one of the greatest threats to our children. The causes are numerous, but more than ever before, our understanding of them is clear. With the knowledge gained through research and civic action, we can fight back together. It will take community-wide support as well as individual determination to create the systemic change our children need. But it is possible, and within our power, to help them make their next choice their best choice.

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