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Fat Nation

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Mikaela D. Laney

Senior Seminar

Mr. Schwandt (Advisor), Ms. Bressler, Mr. Dow

May 3, 2007

Fat Nation

A typical solution for America’s growing weight problem might sound something like this: “Do you hate the way you look? Are you tired of being made fun of or laughed at? If so, this is the diet pill for you! Fat Buster 4,000 will help you shed that unwanted flab in no time at all. All it takes is three (3) simple steps. One (1) get your credit card handy, two(2) call the number at the bottom of your television screen, and three (3) talk to the operator who is waiting for your call so that you can start changing your life. You, our company, and this miracle pill can help you lose all of that unwanted fat. All you have to do is call. It is that easy! With our help you can look fabulous not flab-u-lous. Call now!”

Everyday thousands of people flock to the phone or the World Wide Web, to order and use diet pills that will only help them deal with their issues of weight for a while or sometimes not at all.

Our society in the West in general and America in particular is being negatively impacted on several levels by the challenges of obesity and the health issues that accompany it. In this paper we will examine and explore what it means to be fat and what is happening to our “fat nation”. What is the human cost in terms of economic impact on the gross domestic product of our nation? How does being fat affect our psyche and our self image of ourselves in media, magazines, and movies and what is the price that many are willing to pay to look a certain way? And finally as a “society of flabby folks” how do we think about ourselves and others; are we willing to make adjustments to our risky lifestyles and change our habits, moving from destructive ones to healthier choices, so that we can be transformed from a “fat nation” to a “fit nation.”

Obesity is frequently linked to matters of how we feel about ourselves. Low self-esteem drives people to drastic and even life threatening matters. Not all of the American public who are ordering these diet pills are obese, but the majority are. What is the problem? There are a couple of them. For one Americans in the 21st century are not exercising enough. We spend way too much time laying or sitting around watching television or playing videogames. As a nation we are very poor eaters. We have developed some bad eating habits and those of us who eat a steady diet of healthy and nutritious foods are becoming fewer and harder to find. The speed of our lives is moving so quickly that many do not take the time, or feel they have the time to sit down to a make a wholesome meal. With a growing number of single parents and dual working families finding themselves squeezed for time, all roads seem to lead to: Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, or Taco Bell. Fast food chains have now become international and are drawing more people to their doors than ever before. Perhaps it appears that all that needs to be done is for the citizens of America to exercise regularly and increase our intake of healthy foods and eat less fast food products but it is much larger problem than this.

What is the definition of obesity? References to being obese or obesity in this paper, is defined as “the condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat” (“Obese…”).

According to the American Heart Association, obesity is defined simply as “too much body fat.” Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially in your waist area — you're at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke (“American Heart Assoc…”).

Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks. Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease. It also harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It's a major cause of gallstones and can worsen degenerative joint disease. Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life. When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. That raises their risk of heart disease. Waist circumference measurement and body mass index (BMI) are the recommended ways to estimate body fat. According to the American Heart Association, “a high-risk

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