Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – The Obesity Epidemic

Name: Isabella Poma

The Obesity Epidemic



Obesity Epidemic

Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell. Aside from being some of the most
successful and profitable restaurant chains in the world, what do
these and many more establishments have in common? They offer and
serve cheap, quick, additive food to hundreds of millions of global

with many other addictive substances like alcohol or coffee, there is
a balance of when a substance is beneficial or harmless. Whether it
is a glass of wine at a party or a morning coffee, negative effects
will not be seen unless a physical dependency is formed for a
substance. However a lesser-known but much more popular type of
addiction is the everlasting addiction to food. As defined by, a food addiction is an addiction or fixation to junk
food that is comparable to drug addiction. It is a lack of control
when feeding oneself that can lead to obesity and weight-related
health issues that can easily shorten a life. Diabetes, heart
disease, sleep apnea, and certain cancers are only a short list.

but we all need food. How do we know this is a problem.”

new global obesity epidemic is consistently present and has been
since the 2000’s started. According to the American Psychological
Association, in the 1960s and 1970s, “only 13% of adults and 5-7%
of children were obese” (Johnson). Now, the CDC reports a rate of
42.4% obesity in 2017-2018 and 18.5% in children. This means that
obesity rates have tripled in the last 40 years. While this is still
less than half of the US, there were 71.6% of adults in the US
labelled as overweight in 2015-2016, and the numbers, fearfully,
continue to grow into 2020. There is undeniable evidence that US
citizens are becoming heavier than many generations ago.

have been many factors contributing to this epidemic. examines three main factors of US weight gain:
larger and unhealthier portions, less activity, and diet culture.
Americans today are both moving less and consuming many more calories
per day. This translates to less calories being used up as energy in
the body, and it is then stored in fat. What is worse is that weight
conscious people may use diet pills, weight-loss programs, or
restriction for quick weight loss. However, while this may
temporarily solve their weight issue, they are often not a long-term,
sustainable solution. When the body is deprived of nutrients for long
periods of time, it holds on to the food that it does receive for
maximum use. Then, after the hunger becomes too much to bear, a
person can easily drive or order from a fast-food joint near their
house and buy a bunch of food that they have been craving. The body,
that has been starved of essential nutrients, continues to hold onto
calories, and this results in concerning and ironic weight gain. This
restrict-binge cycle is the underlying issue in many eating
disorders, which takes food addiction to a deeper, psychological

is also reinforced by what many restaurants use as marketing tactics
to drive sales. Restaurants gain success by profiting off of customer
hunger, so it is no surprise that they want citizens to buy more. Red
and yellow have been associated with a heightened heart rate and an
increase in hunger, which is why it is a common color used in fast
food logos. But besides eye-catching commercials, logos, and catchy
jingles, the food itself can draw a consumer in. Many fast food
locations accompany food with soda, and according to the US National
Library of Medicine, “sugar addiction, including tolerance and
withdrawal, has been demonstrated in rodents.” There is also
limited evidence on salt content and high fat foods being addictive
and encouraging overeating. While this evidence is not completely
proven, the sheer accessibility of unhealthy foods is enough to
question whether food addiction is able to be stopped.

have already been many campaigns and movements to tackle obesity,
especially in children because habits and behaviors are much easier
to change while the brain is still developing. Michelle Obama, as a
first lady, began the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, where she
introduced healthier foods in public school cafeterias. Companies
like ChooseMyPlate focus on not directly changing food accessibility
but educating on nutrition. TV shows and documentaries like the
Biggest Loser, My 600-lb Life, and Too Fat For Fifteen are also not
uncommon. While dramatized for the viewer, there is motivation to
maintain a healthy lifestyle from both inspirational and educational
programs about real-life overweight and obese Americans. Overall, the
obesity issue begins with children being increasingly educated about
nutrition and well-protected in their families.

If more families are simply aware of the dangers of fast-food, they
can limit their intake to emergencies and pass on healthy habits to
their children who will become healthier and happier.