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Obesity in the Modern World - Essay Example

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Obesity turned into one of the major public health concerns and one of the prevalent nutritional diseases in the US long time ago. Thus, already three decades ago The Lancet addressed obesity as "the most important nutritional disease in the affluent countries of the world" (Lancet, 1974)…
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Obesity in the Modern World
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Download file to see previous pages The IOM notes 11% of children ages 2-11 years of age are obese. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES) indicate 21%-24% of children ages 6 to 8 years are overweight or obese (Yackel, 2003). Other data notes obese children weigh significantly more than obese children 30 years ago (IOM, 2004). Children from lower income families, southern United States, African American, Hispanic, and American Indian descent have a greater incidence of obesity (Betz, 2000).
One of the most common scholarly definitions of obesity is the following: "obesity is a chronic condition that develops when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, resulting in excessive body weight" (Kibbe, 2003: 1). Although other authors define the condition using slightly different terminology, the core problem contributing to obesity is commonly known: an excessive accumulation of body fat.
While the most common way to define obesity is the well-known weight-for-height proportion, professionals normally use skin-fold measure to determine the amount of fat more accurately. Triceps, triceps and subscapular, triceps and calf, and calf alone are used to obtain skin-fold measure of fatness (Lohman, 1987: 101). Other methods of measuring the percentage of body fat include densitometry (underwater weighing), multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Clearly, the latter two, together with skin-fold measuring, represent the least accurate methods, which, nevertheless, help effectively identify the risk of obesity (Dehghan et al, 2005).
The mechanisms of obesity development still have to be studied, although majority of scholars believe that energy intake exceeding energy expenditures is the common cause for accumulation of excessive weight. A number of studies carried out in the US and abroad clearly demonstrate that contemporary society promotes sedentary life with levels of physical activity decreasing, as children grow older (Styne, 2005). Thus, they report a strong relation between time spent watching TV - arguably the most common sedentary behavior in the U.S. these days - and Body Mass Index (BMI) values (Ludwig & Gormaker, 2004).
Despite apparent relationship between physical activity and obesity, this relationship is not a cause-and-effect one. The major problem is that scholars lack methods to adequately and reliably measure slight change in physical activity and nutrition. Therefore, the prevalent opinion is that etiologies of obesity are multiple, while any attempt to understand obesity by addressing a single etiology will hardly be successful. These multiple factors include genetic and familial influences, energy imbalance, nutrition factors, physical activity levels, sociocultural background and environment.
Genetic factors
Obese individuals often tend to accuse genetic factors of excessive weight accumulation. Twin studies prove that around 50 to 70 percent of obesity cases may be due to genetics. Obesity can be a result of leptin deficiency or inherited medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and growth hormone deficiency. Family studies also demonstrate that obesity is often inherited from parents or grandparent. For example, the well-known study of obesity carried out by S. Garn and D. Clark as early as ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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