The United States is a prosperous country where everyone has the opportunity to realize their plans and dreams. There is an opinion that the United States has such a high standard of living that even the poor are obese. However, the high obesity statistics reflect the decline in the country and emphasize that the quality of life is deteriorating for most of the US population. This disease is encouraged by the environment – in the modern American way of life; there are many things that contribute to weight gains, such as fast food and the food desert.
I chose this topic because, today, this problem affects many people, including my surrounding. According to statistics, 39% of adults and 18% of the youth were overweight in 2016, and one in three had some degree of obesity (Hales, 2017). Scientists, doctors and nutritionists, who are trying to stop the process of obesity of the nation, are engaged in questions of the reasons that led to such a deplorable situation. The causes and consequences of the spread interested me personally, and I believe that it is necessary to know all possible information about this disease in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The significance of obesity is determined by the threat of disability of young patients and a decrease in overall life expectancy due to the systematic development of severe concomitant diseases. These include diabetes, arterial hypertension, and reproductive dysfunction (Rosenthal et al., 2017). Obesity reduces resistance to colds and infectious diseases and dramatically increases the risk of complications during surgical interventions and injuries. The more weight a person has, the more seriously the internal organs are deformed, the more time it takes for treatment and recovery.
Psychosomatic causes are established in many diseases, also including obesity. It is believed that the development of pathology is based on the body’s reaction to an emotional experience. First, it causes functional changes that are easily corrected when the problem is fixed and then pathological disorders. Psychologists explain that an unresolved internal conflict, a situation that is emotionally unpleasant to a person, can go into the subconscious and remain unresolved. Nevertheless, it remains at an unconscious level and leads to eating disorders or problems with other organs. Obesity can also have a negative impact on how people interact with the world around them. Subconsciously, obese people begin to think that others may feel disgusted and dislike them because of their problems. This cognitive model hinders active socialization and can lead to consequences such as depression and anxiety.
Due to the job insecurity, high unemployment rate in the current coronavirus pandemic and broken health insurance system life in the United States is becoming more and more nervous. Research shows a strong link between stress and obesity. People who are under severe stress can resort to overeating and gluttony. There are many scientific studies that have shown that stress can disrupt metabolic processes. Tomiyama (2019) released a study that showed that stress not only causes short-term effects but can also cause long-term metabolic changes, making it easier to gain weight and more challenging to lose it. Therefore, even if people train and refrain from gluttony, they will still gain extra weight if they succumb to such a psychological trigger as stress.
The other reason for the growing obesity problem in the country is the food desert. Allcott et al. (2017) define them as “areas with low availability or high prices of healthy foods.” A food desert store that sells healthy food may be a few dozen miles away, and convenience or a department store that sells dangerous and unhealthy food are located near the houses. There are many food deserts in America, and the USDA even has a map showing where to find them. In such an environment, to eat healthy food and stay slim, people need to spend a lot more time and effort. Thus, they are deprived of the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid obesity.
Americans are trying to fight this problem in all ways. The government is trying to change the way citizens approach nutrition. Some companies prohibit the distribution of fast food products in their buildings, and some even pay annual bonuses to their successfully dieting employees. However, all this does not solve the massive problem of obesity in the United States. The establishment of proper nutrition occupies a central, defining place in the treatment of obesity. Only a gradual, long-term change like the diet, the established food habits, and not a temporary restriction of the use of certain products can lead to successful weight loss.
Obesity is not just an eating disorder, but a way of life, a mean of protection; it becomes part of a vast system of regulating existence also on an unconscious level. Appearance can mask more severe disorders, interpersonal tension, and impulsive reactivity. The approach to the psychological aspects of obesity is part of the multidisciplinary treatment of the patient, showing attention to their needs from an organic, psychological, family, and social point of view.
Allcott, H., Diamond, R., & Dubé, J. P. (2017). The geography of poverty and nutrition: Food deserts and food choices across the United States. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Hales, C. M., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., & Ogden, C. L. (2017). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS data brief , (288).
Rosenthal, R. J., Morton, J., Brethauer, S., Mattar, S., De Maria, E., Benz, J. K.,… & Sterrett, D. (2017). Obesity in America. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 13(10), 1643-1650.
Tomiyama, A. J. (2019). Stress and obesity. Annual review of psychology, 70 (1), 703-718.