Obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States. Estimations of the number of obese adults in the past 15 years have nearly doubled from around 19% to approximately 34%. In addition to the many personal problems that obesity and obesity-related health issues bring, the direct medical cost of obesity and indirect economic loss due to obesity combined to cost the US over 200 billion dollars in 2000. Further, diabetes, which is often correlated with obesity, has become the 7th leading cause of death in the US. Obesity, a problem primarily affecting adults, has frighteningly begun spreading to the young at a rapid pace. In Mississippi, the “fattest” state in the US, obesity in adults has risen to a shocking 67.4%, while childhood obesity has risen to nearly 18%. Bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and an abundance of over-processed and unhealthy foods have contributed to this massively growing problem.
While the many factors that contribute to obesity including genetics, age, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices make it impossible to pinpoint a single cause of obesity, it is hard to disagree that the primary problem is energy balance (too many calories consumed and too few expended). However, many people are starting to recognize the dangerous nature of this often-referred to “epidemic” and are taking steps to fight the problem through promotion of daily exercise and healthful eating. People such as the First Lady Michelle Obama have started health programs like “Let’s Move”, and national organizations such as the YMCA have joined the fight against childhood obesity and diabetes. States like California and Connecticut have even passed bans against the sale of high-fat snack foods and sugary soft drinks on school campuses. This fight against obesity places fitness professionals in a strong position to help through providing effective and safe training programs and promoting healthy eating habits.