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Obesity is a common but deadly disease that happens when a person regularly takes in more calories than required. The body stores these excess calories as body fat, and, over time, the extra pounds add up. Despite several public health efforts to promote healthy behaviors and to improve living environments in the United States, childhood obesity is becoming more common especially among children. A study regarding this subject was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study indicates that approximately 40 per cent of today's high school students are experiencing obesity. The data found out by researchers suggests that this has become a serious epidemic especially in the United States. Being obese from a very young age can cause serious health diseases that patients might have to struggle with at a later stage as well.
For the purpose of the study, researchers analyzed the age at which children in the US are most likely to develop obesity and which children are at the highest risk. They found that children born in the 2000s experienced rates of obesity at higher levels than children born 12 years earlier. Obesity has become a widespread problem among kids despite public health campaigns and interventions aimed at preventing it.
Obesity is a factor, which is influenced by one's lifestyle, genes and environment. Following are the reasons why it is a serious health cause in the US.
Genes play a major role in determining a person's body type, metabolism and tendency to be obese. A parent who has a tendency to gain weight faster might pass on similar genes to their children. However, it plays the least important role as compared to other factors like lifestyle, etc.
Pregnant mothers who smoke or who are overweight may have children who are more likely to grow up to be obese adults. Excessive weight gain during infancy also raises the risk of adult obesity, while being breastfed may lower the risk.
What's become the typical Western diet - frequent, large meals high in refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks - plays one of the largest roles in obesity. Foods that are lacking in Western diet - whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts - seem to help with weight control, and also help prevent chronic disease.
Physical activity can protect against weight gain, but globally, people just aren't doing enough of it. Lack of sleep, another hallmark of Western lifestyle, is also emerging as a risk factor for obesity. Excessive usage of electronic devices like laptops and especially televisions is hindering outdoor physical activities. Moreover, people tend to snack on junk and processed beverages while watching television. This increases as the hours of watching TV increases.
The physical and social environment in which people live plays a huge role in the food and activity choices they make. And, unfortunately, in the US, and increasingly around the globe, this environment has become toxic to healthy living. The incessant and unavoidable marketing of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, the lack of safe areas for exercising and high junk food consumption make things worse. USA also used to be the world's largest manufacturer of corn, a food that leads to weight gain, which is another reason why obesity is so high in the country.
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