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Obesity is an issue of the United States, with a projection of 78.5% (Wang, 2008) of the
country being either overweight or obese in 2020. The root cause of obesity in the United States
isn’t a clear, and I originally thought that it was a more of a product of a majority Americans
accepting a sedentary lifestyle more than other factors that can be associated with obesity. I
found through my research is that it’s not just an issue of a sedentary lifestyle, but a mix of a
sedentary lifestyle with poor diet choices. Both of these issues are two of the major issues that
seem to be affecting the American obesity epidemic that is currently rising in the US.
Sedentary life styles are becoming more prevalent in the United States, compared to
previous generations, we have spending more amounts of time engaged in activities that require
us to sit or expend little energy (Owen, 2010) Activities like this are simple things – sitting at
desk all day for work, going places in the car, watching TV/video games/reading a book for
entertainment are becoming more common, over 58% percent of adult’s time was spent in
activities considered sedentary behavior in 2010 according to Owen in a study on sedentary
behavior. From my own personal experience, I have a desk job where I sit at a computer for most
of the day, go home and sit at the computer doing homework, and my free time activities consist
of TV, games and other sedentary behaviors.
There is a risk of these types of activities when it comes to weight gain and obesity. In an
Australian study done in 2008, found significant associations with a high amount of sedentary
life style and larger waist circumference. I found myself gaining weight after I moved from a job
that had a lot of moving around – running around a store I normally hit a goal of ten-thousand
steps a shift and then to barely hitting two-thousand when I started sitting all day. Sedentary
activities are a risk for adolescents too. Adolescents have higher risks then adults for facing long
term obesity problems when they have higher rates of sedentary behavior (Boone, 2007). Why
this may be the case wasn’t specified, but I would think that this might cause long term
behavioral choices that extend into adult hood, and cause them to keep up sedentary behaviors.
Another factor in rises in obesity are issues in poor dietary choices. While over eating
may be an issue, there should be more of a focus on what you eat versus how much you eat.
What exactly are poor food choices, though? Generally, when I think of poor food choices, I
think of junk food (potato chips, cookies, fries), sugary beverages like soda. twelve year study
that found in four year intervals that the foods that there was a strong association with increased
weight when potatoes, red meats (processed and unprocessed) and sugary beverages were
consumed in that period (Mozaffarian 2011). In the same study, the foods that normally had an
inverse affect were yogurt, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
When both of these are regulated (reducing poor food choices, higher physical activity)
and behavioral lifestyle changes are made when trying to prevent weight gain, it was found that
they helped reduce weight in obese participants (Wadden, 2012). If reducing them can help
reduce obesity, there could a cause for obesity with poor food choices and less physical activity
in an adult’s life. These two factors in obesity to me, are the two main factors in why the United
States is currently in an epidemic of obesity.

J. Munnerlyn
Boone, J. E., Gordon-Larsen, P., Adair, L. S., & Popkin, B. M. (2007). Screen time and physical
activity during adolescence: longitudinal effects on obesity in young adulthood. International
Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,4(1), 26. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-26
Healy, G. N., Wijndaele, K., Dunstan, D. W., Shaw, J. E., Salmon, J., Zimmet, P. Z., & Owen, N.
(2008). Objectively Measured Sedentary Time, Physical Activity, and Metabolic Risk: The
Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Diabetes Care,31(2), 369-371.
Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2011). Changes in Diet and
Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. New England Journal of
Medicine,364(25), 2392-2404. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1014296
Owen, N., Sparling, P. B., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., & Matthews, C. E. (2010). Sedentary
Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings,85(12), 1138-
1141. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0444
Wadden, T. A., Webb, V. L., Moran, C. H., & Bailer, B. A. (2012). Lifestyle Modification for
Obesity: New Developments in Diet, Physical Activity, and Behavior Therapy. Circulation,
125(9), 1157-1170. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.111.039453
Wang, Y., Beydoun, M. A., Liang, L., Caballero, B., & Kumanyika, S. K. (2009). Will all
Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity
epidemic. Obesity and metabolism, (2), 54. doi:10.14341/2071-8713-5324

J. Munnerlyn