Obesity has clearly become one of the most prevalent issues affecting the health of many United States citizens.  It affects nearly every family in this nation and has no preference regarding age, race, or economic status.  In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (2004), it was concluded that thirty-two percent of U.S. adults and seventeen percent of U.S. children were overweight or obese.

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Dr. Youfa Wang, an assistant professor at John Hopkins University, said that if the percentages of overweight and obese individuals continued to rise at its current rate, seventy-five percent of adults and twenty-four percent of children in the United States would be overweight or obese by the year 2015 (Wang & Beydoun, 2007).  Based on this alarming statistic, it is obvious that we must act now to change this outcome.

There are many different questions, assumptions, points of view, and solutions regarding the best way to combat obesity.  Although there is no one answer that is either right or wrong and this question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no reply, I do believe that through proper reasoning and research, a feasible solution can be reached.  Through research, asking questions, and evaluating the opinions and evidence of others, I have come to realize that the ability to stop obesity lies within the obese individual.  Through a joint effort, we can attack this epidemic and eventually overcome it.

Various View Points

While there are various points of view regarding obesity and the best way to combat the dilemma, these viewpoints do not always welcome unbiased critical thinking.  One group’s point of view is quite simple.  As individuals, as well as a nation, Americans eat too much and have become lazy.  Many of us spend eight hours sitting behind a desk, grab some fast food on the way home from work, and then complain that we are too tired to do anything but sit on the couch watching television.

Our laziness and unwillingness to exercise greatly contributes to the problem of obesity.  Many of the people that make

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up this group would have us to believe that overweight people choose to be that way.  George Hawley, a research associate for the Center of Individual Freedom, and Nanci Hellmich, a reporter for USA Today, believe that obesity is the fault of the individual and nothing more.  Hawley claims that obesity is caused by an individual’s lack of self-control, while Hellmich contributes laziness and increasing portion sizes to the growing rates of obesity.

Dr. Marlene Schwartz (2003), a Yale University researcher, reports that many health professionals associate the stereotypes of stupid, lazy, and worthless with obese people.  According to those with this point of view, obese individuals ultimately decide not to exercise or eat right, so they choose to be fat.

Another point of view comes from those individuals who believe that obesity is best targeted by the use of a variety of weight-loss treatments.  The members who fall into this group believe that weight-loss treatments such as surgeries and diet pills will greatly reduce obesity levels.  They believe that if the obese use weight-loss treatments to lose weight and follow the recommendations that accompany these methods, the obese will not only lose weight but will be able to keep most of that weight off long term.  People with this point of view believe that in addition to weight loss, these treatments may improve many of the conditions associated with obesity such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.

These weight-loss treatments are also believed to improve mobility and the quality of life for obese people.  The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) recently reported that new findings had been released to suggest that gastric bypass surgery reduced the risk of certain types of cancer (Wade, 2008), while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, believes that the FDA can add many additional safe and effective weight-loss drugs to those already in use.

Currently, there are over five medications, with FDA approval, available to aid in weight-loss.  Although the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHSP) reports that the net weight loss of those using weight-loss drugs is only around ten pounds per year, they agree that this amount may still be clinically significant in reducing diabetes and high

blood pressure.  The ASHSP also reports that an average of 89 percent of people undergoing a bariatric surgery have a significantly reduced risk of death (2004).

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