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America has an obesity problem that much is certain, nearly 33% of adults within the U.S. are obese which represents a 60% increase over a 20 year period with the rate for child obesity not far behind at nearly triple what it was 30 years ago (Chappell, 2010). What these figures represent is nearly 300,000 deaths a year from obesity related illnesses and maladies, billions of dollars spent on health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure etc (Obesity in America, 2006).
It is a growing epidemic that is continuing to proliferate itself throughout the nation affecting not only adults but children as well. International popular culture representations of the U.S. have depicted an unflattering image of the U.S. population as being a culture for the morbidly obese with cartoonish representations often showing an obese man using a tiny scooter in order to line up at the nearest McDonald’s.
Unfortunately this representation of the American people is closer to the truth than most people realize. Junk food is the primary contributor to the obesity problem in America due its convenience and prevalence which has resulted in the current obesity problem that Americans now face.
The Age of the Junk Food Culture
Junk food in the form of chips, dips, burgers, fries, sodas, candies and ice cream have become such a part of America’s culture that the most prevalent cultural distinction for American today is that of the “Junk Food” culture (Burner, n.d.).
In nearly every town, city and state groceries, shopping malls and fast food restaurants carry some form of junk food that is rapidly consumed by a voracious public that enjoys the taste and convenience of such products. Unfortunately, this cultural distinction is actually slowly killing the American population due to resulting effects such food types have one the body.
The recommended daily allowance of nutritional calories that a body should have in a single day as recommended by the American Medical Association is roughly 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day (Burner, n.d.). The problem with junk food is that due to their convenience and serving size most people aren’t away that on average they consume more than 3,000 calories a day from the various forms of junk food they eat (Menifield et al., 2008).
An average adult male in the U.S. should consume only 65 grams of fat and 2,500 calories in a single day yet a burger and fries combo meal with a large coke available at the local McDonald’s is equivalent to more than 50 grams of fat and 1500 calories within a single sitting (Menifield et al., 2008).
This would not be a problem should that be the only large meal they eat throughout the day however this meal is supplemented by various chips, sodas and various other unhealthy options throughout the day which brings the total calorie count to 4,000 calories or more.
The Human Body and Excess Consumption
On average the human body only requires 2,000 to 2,500 calories within a single day to properly function any excess calories is usually stored as fat by body for future use. With diets often exceeding the daily allotted calories needed by the body this results in a large proportion of the consumed calories to be turned into fat (Obesity in America, 2006).
Not only that habits developed early on in childhood have been shown to carry well into adulthood. As such children who are currently overweight now will be at risk for obesity as they grow older (Chappell, 2010), K. (2010). It is the combination of these factors that are behind the current problems regarding obesity in the U.S. today.
Obesity and Popular Culture
While many people state that an obese person becomes that way by choice this paper states that they are made that way due to external influences that affects their ability to think. On average nearly 10,000 TV ads appear within a given year which focus on promoting the products of various restaurants and companies (Burner, n.d.).
Children in particular are targeted by fancy commercials advertising sugary sweets through the use of cleverly crafted cartoonish elements in the commercial itself. Since TV advertisements are an extension of popular culture it can be seen that popular culture is one of the primary reasons behind the obesity problem America now faces due to this patronage of products that are not only unhealthy but cause people to become obese as a result of their consumption (Burner, n.d.).
The power of advertising should not be underestimated since it has been shown that TV ads are one of the best ways to convince people to buy a certain product. From this it can be seen that the causes behind obesity is not merely the fast food culture that Americans find themselves in but also the actions of various corporations that promote with wild abandon their products without taking into consideration the possible ramification on the population.
Based on the given information it can be seen that while junk food is behind the current obesity problem in the U.S. it is not the only cause.
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The unmitigated marketing practices employed by various corporations that seek to influence Americans to buy their products is actually a prime contributing factor to the problem of obesity that America now faces due to its prevalence in popular culture which influences people to such an extent that it causes them to buy the products of these companies.
The combination of these factors is actually the primary reason behind the prevalence of obesity and as such they must be controlled in order to prevent the problem of obesity from getting worse.
Burner, J. (n.d). Want Fries with That Obesity and the Supersizing of America. School Library Journal, 52(1), 152-153. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Chappell, K. (2010). SAVING OUR CHILDREN FROM THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC IN BLACK AMERICA. Ebony, 65(7), 78. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Menifield, C. E., Doty, N., & Fletcher, A. (2008). Obesity in America. ABNF Journal, 19(3), 83-88. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Obesity in America. (2006). Large portions, large proportions. Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 10(6), 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.