Obesity: An American Epidemic Essay

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The last decade has welcomed, with open arms, a new epidemic: obesity. Currently in the United States, more than one-third of adults, 35.7%, and approximately 17% of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is not only a problem in the US but also worldwide with its prevalence doubling in high income and economically advanced countries and is also growing in under-developed areas. Its incidence rate is continually increasing with each successive generation and in each age group, including the elderly (Byles, 2009; Dorner and Rieder, 2011).
An individual is often labeled “obese” when his or her weight is greater than what is considered to be healthy for his or her given height. The individual’s body mass index (BMI) is a reliable
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On a molecular level, fat tissue is normally the largest organ in humans and is involved in mechanisms and pathways that deal with longevity. Fat tissue is not only involved in energy storage but is also important in immune and endocrine function, thermoregulation, mechanical protection, and tissue regeneration (Tchkonia et al., 2010). Adipose tissue is able to protect against infection and trauma. It is also able to produce and activate hormones, including IL-6, IGF-1, and glucocorticoids, as well as prevent heat loss (Tchkonia et al., 2010). Throughout life, changes in fat distribution and function is constantly occurring and in older individuals, these changes correspond to a number of health disorders like hypertension, cancers, cognitive dysfunction, and diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes, as previously noted (Tchkonia et al., 2010). As people age, their body composition increases in fat mass and decreases in muscle mass, regardless of their body weight or BMI (Dorner and Rieder, 2011).
As more research is conducted, it has been found that, contrary to popular belief, obesity in aging individuals has been associated with increased survival time. This phenomenon is referred to as the “obesity paradox” (Childers and Allison, 2010). An unexpected finding has shown that people who are 65-years-old and over have a slower rate of mortality if they are overweight
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