What Public Health Issue/Why?
According to the CDC (2013) obesity, with particular emphasis on adult obesity, is a growing issue with approximately 35.7 percent or one-third of adults in the U.S. formerly labeled with obesity, and more individuals diagnosed each passing day. Further the deaths of individuals related to obesity, including conditions resulting from obesity continues to rise. These conditions include heart-related diseases including heart attack and stroke, along with cancers and type 2 diabetes (CDC, 2013). These deaths are preventable.
How Long Prevalent in Community?
Obesity has been prevalent for decades, although, in recent years, the prevalence of this condition has been rising. Studies suggest that the prevalence in 2012 ranged according to state, with approximately 20.5 percent of individuals obese in the Midwest in regions including Colorado, with 34.7 percent of respondents obese in regions including Louisiana (CDC, 2013). Approximately 9 states in the U.S. reported rates of obesity up to 25 percent while thirteen reported obesity rates greater than 30 percent (CDC, 2013). Rates have risen steadily from 1990 and beyond, with all states failing to meet a goal set by Healthy People 2010 with the goal of lowering the obesity rates in the states to 15 percent (CDC, 2013). In fact, some states increased their obesity rates during this time.
What Factors Caused Issue to Become Public Issue?
Socioeconomic factors may contribute to obesity. Statistics provided from the CDC suggest that individuals “with college degrees are less likely to be obese” (CDC, 2013). Additionally higher income women are less likely to report incidents of obesity than those living in lower-income regions (CDC, 2013). In certain populations of ethnic origin, among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, according to the CDC, individuals living with higher earnings tend to have greater reported incidents of obesity than those with lower incomes (CDC, 2013).
Social Implications of Issue? Why/Why Not?
Obesity carries with it a social stigma. Individuals with obesity carry a greater risk for discrimination associated with their weight. Polls of individuals that were obese or fell into the morbidly obese category demonstrate that being overweight affected the lives of individuals in their daily social lives and in their working lives (Gardner, 2012). Individuals that were obese reported feeling discriminated against (52 percent) when applying for jobs or promotions at their jobs (Gardner, 2012). Obese individuals also felt discriminated against in ordinary social settings including trying to find seating in public places, or reserve seating during flights and under other conditions (Gardner, 2012). Polls also suggested that people generally do not consider making negative or derogatory marks against individuals that are overweight or obese to be discriminatory in nature (Gardner, 2012). Over 61 percent of respondents suggested that such remarks were not discriminatory. The poll suggests that employers may associate obesity with lack of education and lack of discipline, which may act as a discriminatory factor when hiring individuals that are obese (Gardner, 2012).
Prevention and Intervention Measures Implemented to Address Issue in Community?
The CDC, working with HealthyPeople.gov, a science-based company that establishes objectives with the intent of improving the health of Americans and communities. One of the objectives set for 2010 was to lower the obesity rates of Americans to 15 percent (CDC, 2013). While this did not happen, Health People is still working to create new objectives for 2020. Health People works with healthcare providers and government agencies in many sectors of communities and other representatives in an effort to help increase awareness of risk factors that can contribute toward unhealthy living and obesity. In addition the company promotes events that can stimulate physical fitness and testing that can help individuals understand their starting point, and set goals for improving their health for the future.
Any Issues Not Being Adequately Addressed? Support with Research
In this particular issue, there is the lack of attention to obesity causes. There is adequate research, however, by the CDC on childhood obesity in other articles. Undoubtedly childhood obesity is a contributing factor to adult obesity. However, even with children, there must be a contributing factor to obesity. Obesity risk factors must include lack of activity, or increasing food intake and less physical activity. Clearly the amount of food one consumes, and considerably less physical activity contributes to obesity. The CDC might mention what initiatives if any it is working on to help improve awareness of food consumption and physical activity. It is not clear whether there are partnerships or incentives with employers or other companies to raise awareness of physical fitness in the workplace.
This may be an avenue for prevention, and one the government and other agencies may work on as a starting point to help develop awareness. One campaign that may prove useful is incentives for employees to actively participate in work initiatives to stay and be fit. These may be linked to work incentives, or benefits, or some other stimulus to help improve health. While the initial output may seem costly to the employer or government or other agency, in the long-term this would prove far less costly than the cost of caring for an obese individual. The high costs of healthcare associated with obesity, including the long-term costs of caring from chronic illnesses including heart-disease or stroke, are far more expensive than efforts aimed at awareness and incentives built to help prevent or reduce obesity. Agencies can measure whether such programs may be beneficial or truly helpful if pursued with vigor and appropriate initiative.
- CDC. (2013 August). Adult Obesity Facts. Retrieved from:
- Gardner, Amanda. (2012). Many Obese Americans Struggle With Stigma, Discrimination Poll Finds. HealthDay. Retrieved from: http://health.usnews.com
- HealthyPeople.gov. (2013). About Healthy People. Retrieved from: