Obesity Rates Skyrocketing; Leads to Health and Legal Problems

The number of American citizens who are at least 100 pounds overweight has skyrocketed in the last decade, according to a report released Oct. 3.

In 2010, a total of 7% of US adults were classified as severely obese, which was about 15 million people. This was an increase of almost 4% from 2000, according to the study from the RAND Corp. They study showed beyond a doubt that severe obesity is rapidly increasing in this country. It also is beyond question that severe obesity has serious health consequences, including heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and more.

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The study also found that about ⅔ of US citizens are obese or overweight. A person is thought to be obese if their body mass index (BMI) is more than 30. People are thought to be extremely obese if their BMI is 40 or more.

According to the study, moderate obesity has serious health effects, but severe obesity causes severe health problems. People with this condition have extremely complex health problems and cause many problems in the health care system.

As always, there are many questions why obesity rates are rising. One of the biggest issues is the great availability of inexpensive, high calorie, low nutriient foods all over the country. The wide availability of sugared sodas, candy, chips, crackers, cookies and other low-nutrient fare definitely is helping to cause people to eat more. Also, America is more sedentary than ever, with millions of people refraining from outdoor activities. Instead, they surf the Internet, watch television and play video games.

With more obesity  in the US comes many problems with it. For example, in this report, there are signs that there are more law suits being filed due to obesity discrimination in the workplace.

Some obese people appear to face limits on their upward mobility in organizations because of their size and weight. In some cases, people have even been fired for being too overweight. This has led Congress to recently amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to now extend to people who are morbidly obese.

Before this happened, most courts rejected the idea that there was such a thing as obesity discrimination. However, now that the federal government has called morbid obesity a disability, this will change how courts view the issue.

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So, what should be done about the obesity problem? There is strong evidence that obesity runs in families. Some of this may be genetic, but a good amount of it likely is behavioral. Parents should make sure that they  practice healthy eating habits, and that they get enough exercise. They should model appropriate behaviors for their children, and ensure that they do the same. Only with appropriate parental involvement can the country hope to begin to cut down on obesity, and all of the societal problems that happen because of it.

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