Advances in medicine have helped us all live much longer and better. The life expectancy in the United States has grown to over 78 years old and looks to be increasing. On the surface it seems like things are going well for Americans in terms of health, but we have seen a dramatic increase in obesity that presents a problem for public health experts.
Much of the problem of obesity stems from the traditional American diet. A lot of our favorite foods such as doughnuts, pizza, and French fries may taste good but are not good for us. Many Americans also eat a diet high in processed foods; Snack foods, processed meat and cheese, canned and boxed products are unfortunately a major part of many diets because they often require little to no preparation. These foods are almost always high in sodium and in the case of most snack foods, or meals sold in a box, high in carbohydrates and fat.
All of this contributes to the problem of obesity, or extreme weight gain. Reports say that the United States has the highest rate of obesity in the developed world. Over one-third of the population is estimated to be obese according to the Center for Disease Control. Another one-third of Americans are estimated to be overweight, meaning they weigh more than the ideal amount for their height.
Obesity is a serious concern because excess weight is a major contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol, among others. Excess weight is also seen as a contributing factor to cancer in the colon, pancreas, kidney, and thyroid. The U.S. government is particularly concerned as these health problems cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year in medical costs and loss of worker productivity.
The problem of who pays for health care is a major topic in the United States right now. At this time, most Americans who have health insurance are covered through a plan provided through their jobs. This is a problem for people who are unemployed or those whose employers do not offer an insurance plan. Treatment by a doctor or hospital is very expensive and those who are uninsured usually end up with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills that leave them in debt.
In 2010, President Barack Obama passed a wide sweeping health care reform package that aims to insure all of those living in the United States without coverage. The goal of the plan is to make health insurance affordable for people who cannot afford it and to provide government-assisted coverage for people who do not have money to pay for insurance at all. Most of these changes go into effect in 2014, and many Americans hope that the plan delivers on its promise.
As we hope that the problems of obesity get better, the best we can do is follow a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and make sure to stay active by exercising or playing sports. At the end of the day, your health is determined by your lifestyle. Living healthy is not difficult but for those who are unhealthy, taking time to change habits is not easy. It makes all of the difference, however, for your health.
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Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.