Mokdad et al., (1999) in his study found that the issue of unhealthy weight, overweight and obesity are perhaps one of the rising concerns for the Americans in the 21st century as more and more U.S. citizens become vulnerable to the circumstantial risks and dangers of the phenomenon (Mokdad et al., 1999). It is usually the body mass indexes (BMI) that indicate whether a person is actually overweight or not. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) carried out a study for the years 1999 to 2002 using the BMI phenomenon and concluded that about 65% of U.S. citizens in the adulthood years were categorized under the overweight group because of their BMI (Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2005).
To understand the phenomenon of obesity and its rise, it's important to understand the core meaning of the word. The most common and perhaps the most clear definition of obesity can be explained as the proportionate relation between body fat and the lean body mass; the higher the body fat difference in relation to the lean body mass, the higher the risks of being overweight (Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention, 2002). Furthermore, the effects of obesity amongst the adult population can vary from the elevated threat of chronic ailments that can also comprise of hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Publication, 1988). Olshansky et al. (2005) carried out a study on the growth rate of obesity within the United States and concluded that there was an obvious pattern of decreased infant life expectancy between 4-9 months due to the increase of obesity ratios. This is a more disturbing statistics then the one that exists for life expectancy ratios of road accidents (Olshansky et al. 2005).
A concise description of BMI
Body Mass Indexes or BMI as mentioned before is the main component to determine whether someone is overweight or obese. BMI is basically an arithmetical equation that divides an individual's overall weight (Kg) with the individual's overall height which is taken in meters. It is important to note here that BMI is heavily dependent on the overall fat percentage in the body and also depends upon the age as a decisive variable. The generalized consensus for an individual who is 18 years of age or older is that they are overweight if he/she has a BMI between 25.0 or 29.9 and is a victim of obesity if his/her BMI level rises above 30 (Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2005).
A concise description of Energy Balance
Energy Balance or EB is another arithmetical comparison between the energy that is used up during basal metabolism, specific dynamic action (S.D.A.) of food, bodily or mental exertions i.e. SPA with the energy levels that were built up or stored in the body due to the consumption of different foods. Basal metabolism is calculated using the Basal Metabolism Rate (BMR) and can be generally defined as the energy that is used up by a body to efficiently regulate its bodily functions like digesting, recollections, emotional drains, etc. (Whitney, Cataldo, & Roffes, 2002).
A concise description of Specific Dynamic Action
Specific Dynamic Action or S.D.A. Of food can be simply defined as the level of energy that is consumed by the body to execute the entire breaking down of the food which includes breaking it down, digesting, storing, dividing into different parts, etc. (Whitney et al., 2002). Usually, the energy used up during SDA can be measured by taking into account 10% of the total energy that's used up during the processes of SPA and basal metabolism (Guthrie, 1983). This is so because SPA and basal metabolism encompass basically all internal and external functions of the body that could require the distribution of the food nutrients to necessary parts as well as all bone or muscle movements (Whitney et al., 2002).
A concise description of energy consumption
Everyone understands that the more active you are, the more calories you end up burning. The objective on calculating energy levels follows the above statement as the energy that is used up during a bodily exertion will heavily depend on the extent, depth and rate of recurrence of the exertion. If all three i.e. extent, depth and rate of recurrence are high, then more calories will obviously be used up. A general consensus shows that the energy consumption levels are divided as: 10% for SDA, 30% for SPA and 60% for basal metabolism (Tam et al., 1996). It is important to note here that the main task of EB is to analyze, monitor and point out the weight changes in an individual's body, hence a steadily rising percentage of EB can lead an individual to be overweight and the opposite can lead an individual to be underweight (Groff, Gropper, & Hunt, 1995; Swinburn & Ravussin, 1994).
Obesity rates amongst minority ethnic groups in America
Since high rates of coronary heart disease have been linked directly to obesity, it is important to here that the death ratio caused by coronary heart diseases is very high amongst the U.S. citizens e.g. It is 29% amongst the Hispanic-Americans and as high as 35% amongst the Asian-Americans (National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, 2005). Furthermore, the ratio for the Asians and Hispanics to get Non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM, or Type II Diabetes) is two to six times higher than those of non-Hispanic white Americans within the U.S. (Carter, Pugh, & Monterrosa, 1996). The Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans Ratios are important to note here because they make up a majority of the U.S. minority population (Bureau of Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1982 & 1992). For case in point, a study conducted in 2003 for the student proportions with the California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) showed that the Latinos (Hispanics) made up 52.4% of the student strength, the Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders made up 22.1% of the student strength, while the white Americans made up 16.2% and African-Americans made up 9.2% of the student strength (Office of Institutional Research and Public Affairs, CSULA, 2003). This study and the proportions presented can be deemed as a micro representation of the overall population structure of Los Angeles as a whole.
Numerous studies have shown that for the minorities, the phenomenon of obesity is far more serious and effective then amongst the majorities. Studies have shown that the African and Mexican-Americans are more vulnerable to obesity than their white, non-Hispanic compatriots. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that was carried out for the years 1999 to 2000 showed that within the last 10 years, both Mexican and African-Americans showed an amazing increase in the obesity ratio so much so that the percentage had doubled over the years. The study showed that the Mexican-Americans who were obese rose 13.8% in the ten years to have a total percentage of 23.4% while the African-Americans rose 13.4% in the ten years to have a total percentage of 23.6% who suffered form obesity (Ogden et al. 2002) while the overall percentage of white, non-Hispanic-Americans suffering from obesity are only a total of 12.7%.
Numerous studies have concentrated on the rate and the vulnerability of college students towards heart diseases (O'Connor, Gurbel, & Serebruany, 2000). There are a number of reasons for the higher rates of heart problems observed amongst students and they can vary from academic pressures to social differences, environmental adjustments or financial tensions amongst many (Ross, 1999). While some studies concentrated on the gender differences when dealing with dietary atherogenicities, energy balance, and the extent of bodily exertions (Tam et al., 1996) other studies concentrated on the combined impact of bodily exertions and dietary kcal configurations within the familial environment and how having parents and siblings with the same BMI, energy balances (EB) and specific physical activities (SPA) under the same roof affected the students entering adulthood.
Another study conducted by the National Institutes of Health concluded that if individuals 18 years of age or above have a BMI level of 25 or above then their risks towards suffering from related heart or other diseases is far more then those with a normal BMI and they have a higher tendency of increasing their overall BMI level above 30 (National Institutes of Health, 1998). The rising concern within the U.S. with regards to obesity and all related health risks is the reason why we have seen a steady and consistent rise in the promotion/marketing of maintaining a healthy diet and body weight throughout their lives with respect to their age and gender (U.S. Department of Agriculture & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDA & USDHHS], 2005).
Origins of Obesity and the urban/suburban environment
As mentioned earlier, perhaps one of the biggest concerns that are rising in the United States is the phenomenon of obesity. This…