Obesity and the College Student Research Paper

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Obesity and the College Student


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Waking up in the morning realizing that there is already little time left for the class is nothing new for a college student. As a result, grabbing a donut along with a cup of coffee is the only option left. Reaching college and studying for consecutive hours make the student actually get hold of something fast, affordable and filling. The cafeteria is full of options and huge servings which would tempt any passer buyer. Fast food is to the rescue. Once the day at college is over, the student is already too exhausted to take a step ahead. At this moment, it is the candy bar from the vending machine which would probably energize him. At this time, he is unaware of the consequences that the future awaits due to his unhealthy lifestyle. In such circumstances when practicing similar unhealthy routines with depending on high calorie food, he is likely to gain a huge amount of weight and invite a risky future.

Obesity is a condition where body fat has accumulated in such a greater extent that it poses serious health risks. It is the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is the comparison between the weight and the height of a person that would help in identifying obese cases. For BMI's exceeding 25, an individual would be considered overweight whereas people with a BMI of over 30 would be labeled as obese. In this regard, several countries face this risk where in America, the number of obese adults have drastically increased by 50% as compared to obese individuals during the 1970s (Chou S, 2004). Apart from the variations in the figure, obesity results in fatal diseases like cancer along with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, Diabetes, osteoarthritis and many more. However, the recent studies suggest that in 2008, more than half a billion people of the world were obese. These results also shocked the Americans where in 2008, approximately 68% of the Americans were overweight and almost 30% were obese. These studies also suggest, that obesity patterns were not only limited for the rich class but it was widespread regardless of the level of poverty or the country being a developing nation (IBTimes, 2011).

There are a number of reasons because of which obesity arise. For normal population, these include factors like lack or little sleep, a polluted environment, heredity, the use of drugs and so on. However, for obesity in college students, the major factors include the little exercise, unhealthy eating patterns and the environment. This paper would look into each of these factors in order to grasp the situation more coherently.

Media is an attractive force in guiding the way to obesity. This is mainly because of the way it depicts delicious food and scrumptious delights which tempts the youth. This is done via TV shows and especially the TV advertisements. In this regard, research suggests that just by eating the products being advertised on the television, a person could consume his monthly sugar requirement in a single day. For this purpose, researchers have closely analyzed the TV commercials over a period of approximately 28 days viewing channels such FOX, ABC, NBS and more. The result showed that these channels aired about 3500 advertisements during this time period out of which 600 included different food products. These researchers also calculated the nutritional value of these food products and compared it against the government's dietary guidelines. Consequently, they found that the diet being aired incorporated 20 times the appropriate recommended amount of fat along with the sugar content which was 25 times more than the recommended amount. In addition, these TV ads were stressing less on the importance of consuming vegetables and other healthy essentials like calcium. For this reason, it was noted that in 2004, the food industry spent over $11 billion on Television commercials (IBTimes, 2011).

In a similar manner, the way media plays an important role in the increased levels of obesity, could also be attributed to the radio advertisements. This is mainly because of the fact that it is able to reach out to the right target population at the right time and at the right cost. So it is not only the visuals which tempt the college students towards an unhealthy eating lifestyle but it is also the auditory function which aids this lifestyle in a closely similar manner. This is conspicuous from approximately 13,000 radio stations broadcasting across U.S. reaching almost 94% of the American population. The offers, promotions, new restaurant deals, chocolates are all key parts of radio advertisement. The use of the particular sound, the music, the simplicity of words depicting emotions is done in such a manner that it influences the cognitions inviting people to the attractions awaiting them (White R, 2006).

While talking about the college students, most of them are left on their own when they enter this phase. Regardless of their studies, their sleeping patterns, and other behaviors which they come across, most affected is their diet. This is because many of these college students suffer from poor diet patterns which either result in serious weight gains or being a target of malnutrition. These students consume junk food in high quantities especially during their lunch breaks. Moreover, getting into drinking habits worsen their diet patterns. Many of them skip breakfast or consume a lot. This becomes the major reason for them gaining weight where everyone is well aware of the Freshman 15 term where college students gain about 15 kilograms in their first year.

The reason for obesity amongst college students can be attributed to unhealthy eating merely because of the fast paced American life. Students spend a substantial amount of time at college or at social gatherings which leave only a limited time period being spent at home. Consequently, they are at a great distance from the healthy meals which otherwise could have been prepared at home. These students rarely eat at home due to which they are left with limited eating options outside. It is not only the trends, the media advertisements, the bill boards and the promotions which attract them towards unhealthy food such as junk, snacks, and fizzy drinks, but also the busy lifestyle and the issue of affordability. Many a times, the junk or the comfort food are easy to reach, affordable and the trend being followed around. As a matter of fact, these college students are spending over 12 to 16 hours in their college where they are away from home and are unable to cook food themselves. The easiest to access place during this time is the cafeteria which provides a number of dishes in huge servings. Thus, students choose whatever they like and consume in numerous quantities. This not only keeps them away from the healthy eating but also results in obesity which contributes to several future health problems (Sparling B. 2007).

While talking about the cafeterias as the significant player in contributing to the weight gain trends in college students, it is also essential to focus on restaurants providing different food dishes. As a matter of fact, the location of these restaurants also is a contributing factor in the weight gain since studies suggest that having fast food restaurants near schools and colleges are directly correlated with the increase in the rates of obesity. Deals such as the ones being provided with the Wendy's Value Meal and McDonalds are actually high calorie food. Adding a value sized drink or fries with a burger further enriches it with excess fat and carbohydrates (Hodge J, 2008).

The presence of healthy and unhealthy food choices at restaurants in America is key characteristic to examine in order to study the level of obesity and the way to combat it. Restaurants…[continue]

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