Obesity is a grave concern in the health sector since over the years it has become prevalent with the increasing population and the increasing chemicals and fats in the foods we eat. In the United States there are more than a third of adults who are obese and around a fifth of youth between the age of two and nineteen who are obese. That makes it a total of seventy-eight million people who are obesity issues. An individual is obese if he or she has a body mass index which is greater than 30 kg/m2. Although obesity is high for all demographic groups, results indicate that there are continuing disparities between the sexes and racial and ethnic groups (Rosenheck, 2012). Obesity is a major concern since it does not only affect an individual but also the society at large. This is because many obese people are at a high risk of contracting more chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Therefore, this leads to the deterioration of health in the United States and incurring costs in the health care sector as much is spent in the hospitals to treat obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.1% of total United States’ medical expenditures, which may be as high as $78.5 billion, in 1998 were medical expenses attributed to overweight and obesity (Jeffery & French, 2015). As a result, the state and federal governments have established various policies and programs that address the disease. For example, the federal government has established policies that regulate food chains and distribution of foods. Furthermore, both the federal and state governments are collaborating to make improvements in the health sector in schools demanding food hawkers in schools to sell only those foods that meet the requirements of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and recommending the schools to encourage a school heath program. this will promote the fight of obesity at all costs. Moreover, the federal and the local governments have developed Medicare and Medicaid programs that cover for some of the issues in obesity.
Medicaid and Medicare coverage for obesity
Medicare covers for screenings of obesity and the sessions for counseling. According to the Medicare Coverage Manual, gastric bypass surgery, which is a variation of the gastrojejunostomy, is performed for patients with extreme obesity and will be covered if it is medically appropriate for the individual to have such surgery (Jeffery & French, 2015). Under Medicare, the general practitioners and hospital services for the treatment of obesity are exempted except for other co-existing situations. Medicare will cover: One face-to-face visit every week for the first month; One face-to-face visit every other week during months 2-6; One face-to-face visit every month during months seven to twelve, if the beneficiary loses 6.6 lbs. within the first six months, at your 6th-month visit, you will be re-screened for obesity (Rosenheck, 2012). Moreover, if the physicians make the conclusion that a patient is obese, he or she recommends him or her to behavioral counseling and therapy. The purpose of the behavioral counseling is to enable a person to lose weight and be able to tolerate the weight loss and maintain it through good diet and proper exercises. After six months of diet and exercises, the patient must visit the doctor to be re-screened thus determining how much weight has been lost. This Medicare program facilitates weight loss and thus decreasing the levels of obesity in the United States.
On the other hand, Medicaid covers for weight loss surgery and visits associated with the surgery. In order to qualify for surgery, a patient must be over thirteen years of age for females and more than fifteen years for males. In addition, the patient must have a Body Mass Index of thirty-five for persons above twenty-one years and BMI of 40 for patients under the age of twenty-one. Moreover, the patient should have a letter from his or her physician stating that weight loss through surgery is necessary since he or she tried to lose weight through other methods but it failed. The patient must complete and show documentation that he or she participated in a medically supervised weight loss program for 6 months and it happened within the last 12 months prior to surgery (Apple, 2015). Medicaid also covers for pre and post psychological and nutritional services. Consequently, patients are required to observe their diets and live a healthy lifestyle after the surgery. However, patients who have other chronic diseases such as pancreatitis and Malignant Cancer Inflammatory bowel diseases do not qualify for surgery. Moreover, pregnant women and patients with medical complication do not qualify for surgery either. Medicaid also covers for gastric Bypass, lap gastric bands, and gastric sleeve surgery (Rosenheck, 2012). Medicaid requires hospitals offering surgery to be have achieved a level of excellence in bariatric surgery and thus accredited as a Bariatric Center of Excellence.
Impact of Obesity in the United States population
Obesity’s health effects are deep and vast and they have a real and lasting impact on communities, on nations, and most importantly, on individuals, today and across future generations. It has caused an increase in death rates in the United States since it leads to other prevalent diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, kidney stones, infertility, and cancers which are leukemia, breast, and colon cancer (Aballay, Eynard, del Pilar Díaz, Navarro & Muñoz, 2013). These diseases lead to extra expenses in the medical centers so as to acquire treatment thus decreasing the economy of the United States. In 2005, the medical expenses for obesity were more than one hundred and ninety billion which is a very high rate for a country (Katz, 2014). Obesity costs do not only include money spent directly on medical treatment and obesity prescription drugs but also other costs which are related to reduced workforce. Obese people are discriminated by other people in the society resulting in inequality. Therefore, discrimination leads to stress and depression thus leading to the low labor force. This leads to lower wages and incomes since many people suffering from obesity take many leave days to attend treatments. Besides, obese people do less work thus decreasing productivity in the United States. Furthermore, they have to spend more on transportation since they will require more fuel and larger cars. Conversely, obesity leads to higher insurance premiums thus decreasing the living standards of Americans. Countries that have low obesity rates spend less in the medical sector thus their economy is high. Therefore, Americans should strive to live a healthy life in order to decrease the obesity rates.
Most obese people also suffer from stress and depressions obtained from discriminations and thus may lose the meaning of life. This, therefore, lowers the quality of life. many people commit suicide due to obesity issues and thus leading to high mortality rates. Consequently, diseases caused by obesity leads to many death rates thus decreasing the population of the United States.
Strategies that are in place to educate and promote prevention of obesity through public health at the federal and state levels
Even though obesity is a prevalent disease, it is preventable through education and other practices. The obesity rates have continued to increase at an alarming rate over the past years thus leading to high mortality rates. Many young people are obese since more than fifteen percent of the youths are overweight and another fifteen percent are at a greater risk of being obese. Moreover, more than fifteen percent of young children are obese. Therefore, through targeting the youth and children in the prevention of obesity, it can lead to decrease in the levels of obesity. Since children spend a substantial amount of time in school, it has been argued that public schools should have a responsibility to teach children about the importance of good nutrition, regular physical activity, and health consciousness (Apple, 2015). In addition, the youth should be educated on the importance of good physical exercise and proper diets in order to reduce the prevalence of the disease among youths and children. Consequently, the older adults should also be educated on how exercise and diets are significant in their daily lives since they help prevent many diseases. Schools should promote good health through physical exercises and proper nutrition. School-based nutrition, physical education, and after-school activity programs could play a major role in reducing the inactive behavior of American youth. This can be done through two ways which include the primary and secondary prevention. Primary prevention targets all groups of students thus preventing onset obesity whereas secondary prevention focuses on the overweight students thus helping them reduce weight through exercises and diets and prevent more weight gain that might lead to obesity. On the other hand, the federal and local states have come with policies that lead to an elimination of foods that are not rich in nutrients and encouraging exercises that help reduce obesity among students. In addition, congress has passed some legislations such as zoning laws that regulate the number of fast food joints in a particular area. Through the reduction of fast food joints, the rate of obesity will decrease since many people will not have the ability to access them. Besides, results from lawsuits against fast-food chains such as Perlman vs. McDonalds Corp. are shaping United States policy with respect to regulation in food distribution (Katz, 2014). Through the efforts made by the local and federal states, obesity can be fought at all costs and thus promote a safe and healthy environment for all Americans and even future generations.
Challenges experienced while trying to prevent and reduce health risks associated with obesity and the progress that have been made
An increase of fast food joints such as such as KFC, New York Pizza, Lee Donut, and Taqueria that have encouraged the United States population to consume more junk foods because the joints are easily accessible. These unhealthy eating habits have put most of the people in America at risk of obesity. This is a great challenge to reduce health risks associated with obesity since many people are continuing to consume junk foods. Moreover, many young children are exposed to junk foods at a tender age thus the increase in the rates of obesity in young children. Many people work until late night and thus upon reaching their homes, they are tired and thus order pizza or other junk foods. In addition, in the pursue to compensate for their children for the time they missed to spend together, parents order junk foods as a way to bribe them. Consequently, many Americans lack to exercise and thus this leads to accumulation of fats in the body, therefore, leading to obesity. Due to the current trends in the economy and the improved living standards, many people now own cars and thus hardly walk. This decreases the levels of exercising and thus increasing the rates of obesity. Moreover, many people are working for long hours, some even take two jobs, in order to provide to their families. Therefore, they lack time to go to the gyms or even work out at homes since after work they are very tired. As a result, many people have gained a lot of weight because of sitting in the office all day, with no physical exercises.
Some cities such as New York City have come up with various initiatives that have facilitated in the identification and reduction of some of the factors that lead to obesity. For example, New York City has thrived in passing laws and statutes to decrease or eliminate trans-fat diets, from residents’ foods. A lot of focus have been put in the prevention of obesity through various policies and programs. Through Medicare and Medicaid, there have been a lot of progress in the reduction of obesity levels since many people can now receive surgeries and treatments for obesity. Those groups that cannot afford medical care, are helped by the insurance programs since they cater for therapies, counseling, screenings and surgeries. This helps in the treatment of obesity and thus decreasing the levels of obesity in the United States. The experience gained with previous epidemiologic problems such as smoking should help involved parties to expand needed health initiatives and increase the likelihood of preventing future generations from suffering the consequences of obesity (Aballay, Eynard, del Pilar Díaz, Navarro & Muñoz, 2013).
Strategies that may increase awareness, education, and prevention of obesity
There are various strategies that may increase awareness, education, and prevention of obesity. These methods include community efforts, healthy living and state and local programs.
The society should focus on the reduction of obesity levels through promoting nutritional diets and physical exercises through the establishment of gyms, selling healthy foods in food joints and also educating one another on the importance of healthy living. This can be done through writing articles about obesity on magazines, journals, websites and even novels. Moreover, the community can help in the prevention of obesity through education in schools, early childhood care, offering proper hospital services in the treatment of obesity and through farming and planting and selling foods that are rich in nutrients such as whole grains and vegetables. On the other hand, machines for weighing and those that calculate body mass index have increased and thus individuals should be encouraged to know the body mass indexes and thus achieve and maintain healthy living through physical exercises and proper nutritional diets.
State and local programs
The federal and state governments have established Medicare and Medicaid programs that cover some costs associated with obesity. Resources are available to help disseminate consistent public health recommendations and evidence-based practices for state, local, territorial and tribal public health organizations, grantees, and practitioners (Katz, 2014).
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not short-term dietary changes; it’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity (Aballay, Eynard, del Pilar Díaz, Navarro & Muñoz, 2013). Therefore, individuals should aim at living healthily through assessing their weights. A person will know he or she is at a high risk of obesity through an increased body mass index which mostly above 30kgs/m2 or through an increased waist circumference. Moreover, individuals can promote a healthy lifestyle through a proportioned intake of nutrients. People should take a lot of vegetables and whole grains and also balance the intake of vitamins, proteins, and starch and avoid junk foods. A healthy eating leads to a healthy living thus a person has very low risks of being obese. In addition, parents should help their children adopt a healthy behavior through feeding them properly with low junks and high nutrients. They should also know about the seriousness of childhood obesity and avoid it at all costs. Individuals should also practice a healthy lifestyle through physical exercises. Morning runs can help reduce obesity through reduction of calories in the body. Moreover, individuals should visit the gyms or exercise in the house. Consequently. People should plan their diets as well as drink a lot of water in order to prevent obesity.
In conclusion, obesity is a very serious medical condition which leads to other chronic and life threatening situations. It executes enormous monetary burdens on health care systems and the society at large. Obesity prevalence is increasing at a very high rate and thus raising a major concern. Therefore, individuals, societies and the federal and state governments should put more effort in order to help in the prevention of obesity and promote a healthy living.
Aballay, L. R., Eynard, A. R., del Pilar Díaz, M., Navarro, A., & Muñoz, S. E. (2013). Overweight and obesity: a review of their relationship to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in South America. Nutrition reviews, 71(3), 168-179.
Apple, R. D. (2015). Childhood Obesity in America: Biography of an Epidemic.
Jeffery, R. W., & French, S. A. (2015). Epidemic obesity in the United States: are fast foods and television viewing contributing? American journal of public health, 88(2), 277-280.
Katz, D. (2014). Childhood Obesity in America: Biography of an Epidemic. Nature, 510(7503), 34-34.
Rosenheck, R. (2012). Fast food consumption and increased caloric intake: a systematic review of a trajectory towards weight gain and obesity risk. Obesity Reviews, 9(6), 535-547.
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