obesity causes and solutions


Causes and Solutions



extra pound (3) resolution (2)
obese flood (2) additional
crisis stand (2) two-thirds
grade epidemic overweight
proud pack (3) report card
burden sponsor moderate (2)
triple evidence life expectancy
gauge upset (2) MASH unit
reveal battle (2) battery (4)
risk alarming regulation
artery coronary emergency
face (2) treat (2) blood pressure
avoid convince approach (2)
set up order (3) support (3)
scary struggle association
luxury subsidize seemingly
federal board (3) sweetener
idyllic tough (3) quarter (2)
root (2) consume convenience
guilty forefront grassroots
flag (2) stock (2) drive-through window
pain staple (2) ingredient
phys ed tobacco mandatory
distort influence parallel (2)
cardiac shed (2) bombarded (2)
related waistline responsibility
drastic beverage consumption
fail innovate experiment
cripple trajectory tough sell
poll oppose produce (2)
PE recipe (2)






Resolutions to lose some extra pounds are common this time of year, and they couldn’t come soon enough: as we begin a new decade, the country is facing a dangerous weight problem.

Consider this: in the late 1970s, fifteen percent (15%) of American adults were obese. By the early nineties, that number had jumped to 23%. And most recent-ly, 35%.

So how do we reduce our waistlines and turn to a healthier state?

Seth Doane traveled the nation and weigh what’s being done about this growing crisis, as CBS reports, “Where America Stands”.

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The evidence of the epidemic is everywhere: two-thirds, 190 million Americans, are overweight or obese.

Reporter: “If you had to grade the United States when it comes to obesity . . . “
Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “Oh, I’d give us an ‘F’.”

A national report card no one is proud of.

Obesity related diseases are a nearly $150 medical burden every year.

Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “We’re going to end up as a nation of cardi-ac cripples.”

Childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years. This could be the first gen-eration since the Civil War to have a shorter life expectancy.

To gauge the problem, a team of doctors and cardiologists from Houston’s Memorial Herman Hospital set up a MASH unit of sorts in a middle school gym.

Running a battery of tests on ninety-seven seemingly healthy children. But the results reveal an alarming reality here.

Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “Three out of every four children are either overweight or obese.”

That means about seventy (70) of these children are on a high-risk trajectory for coronary-artery disease by their thirties and forties.

Dr. Joshua Samuels treats kids with a blood pressure level of an unhealthy adult.

Back at his clinic, eleven (11) year old Wesley Randall has dangerously high-blood pressure and is sixty (60) pounds overweight (27.2 kg).

Wesley Randall, Eleven-year-old: “I just eat to solve my problems.”

Joshua Samuels, MD: “A few years down the road, these are going to be the people flooding into our hospitals and emergency rooms.”

Fifteen-year-old Emily Allan is trying to avoid just that.

Emily Allan, Fifteen-Year-Old: “I just want to look like what I used to look like, now. It kind of upsets me.”

The Hudson, Michigan teen was healthy at age five. But by ten, she had become obese, and could no longer fit into kid’s clothing.

Reporter: “It seems to me that there was some degree of pain in you.”
Emily Allan, Fifteen-Year-Old: “Guilt.”
Reporter: “Guilt? Why guilt?”
Emily Allan, Fifteen-Year-Old: “I just feel guilty I couldn’t change earlier.”

On doctors’ orders, Emily joined a weight-loss program, called “M-Power” at the University of Michigan, where she’s already lost twenty-six (26) pounds.

Thanks in part to the support of other teens, like sixteen (16) year-old Amber Bell, who’s in an even scarier, life-and-death struggle: she shed sixty pound, but still weighs nearly four-hundred.

Reporter: “What made you say, ‘I’m going to make a change’?”
Amber Bell, Sixteen-Year-Old: “I didn’t want my parents to feel they were a fail-ure and I wanted to have friends.”

For Amber, Emily and so many families, the battle started with money.

Mother of Amber Bell: “We started having to buy cheaper foods.”
Reporter: “And that’s when you started gaining weight?”
Amber Bell, Sixteen-Year-Old: “Yeah.”

Reporter: “Is it a luxury to be able to eat healthy foods?”
Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “It’s becoming more of a luxury.

Kelly Brownell studies obesity at Yale University, and says the government does not help by subsidizing corn, an ingredient in virtually every sweetener. Corn farmers were paid sixty billion dollars ($60 billion) over the last ten years by the federal government to grow their crop.

Produce farmers, not a dime.

Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “If you go to McDonald’s today, you can buy a quarter-pounder with cheese meal, which includes a large drink and a large French fries, for less than it costs to buy a salad and a bottle of water.

There’s something wrong with that picture.”

We all remember that idyllic Norman Rockwell picture of 1950s America — but that has certainly changed.

Today, we consume five-hundred (500) extra calories a day, than a quarter century ago. It’s easy to see why in a place like Baldwin Park, California, population, eight-one thousand, with six fast food restaurants or convenience stores for every one place that offers fresh produce, this community might seem like the root of the problem.

But in fact, it’s at a forefront of a grassroots solution.

Here, they’re trying to innovate: Connie Gonzalez and her mother Maria volunteer with the program, Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities. The group pushed for a ban on new drive-through windows. Since 2006, not a single fast-food restaurant has opened.

Fresh produce is now stocked in stores that never carried it. And Maria flags the healthy food for shoppers.

Connie helped convince the school board to make salad bars a staple, and one hundred minutes of phys ed is now mandatory.

With all this, in five years, one-hundred and thirty-five kids here are no longer overweight.

Reporter: “Why does it take a whole community?”
Connie Gonzalez, Community Activist: “Because one individual can’t change much. But if a whole city comes together, we can change a whole lot.”

But that’s not enough, said Kelly Brownell; he likens the war on obesity to the one against tobacco.

Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “The parallels are stunning: marketing to children, distorting the science, influencing policy-makers and the like.”

The consumer is bombarded by the food industry, which spent $30 billion on ad-vertising last year.

And even the world’s largest nutrition group, the American Dietetic Association, has a list of sponsors that include the very companies selling unhealthy products.

Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “The single best thing to fight tobacco was high taxes on cigarettes.”

Those taxes increased the cost for a pack of cigarettes, and let to a drastic drop in smoking. Brownell’s studies show that a penny per ounce tax on sugar bever-ages like soda, would cut consumption, and raise billions that could fight obesity.

Reporter: “Isn’t it our own responsibility to moderate our own behavior?”
Kelly Brownell, Medical Researcher: “The personal responsibility approach is a fine place to start. But we’ve been doing that for forty years now. And we’re losing the battle with obesity. It’s been an experiment that’s FAILED.”

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Seth Doane, Reporter: “But additional taxes and more regulation are certainly a tough sell: a CBS News poll just released minutes ago shows that sixty percent (60%) of people oppose a tax on junk food.

So while we agree on something must be done in this battle against obesity, Katie, we do not agree on what.

Katie Couric, News Anchor: “Junk food and no PE seem like a recipe for disaster for so many kids in this country. And good luck to all those kids.”

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1. Has the rate of obesity in the US been increasing, decreasing or remaining the same? How have things changed since the late 1970s?

2. Did the reporter only investigate large cities, such as New York City?

3. Obesity is a problem only among middle-aged people. Is this right or wrong? What may happen to obese children when they become adults?

4. Is there a program for overweight kids?

5. Obesity only affects rich, affluent people, while poor people remain thin (skinny). Is this correct or incorrect?

6. Do politics and economics play a role in people’s health?

7. Have there been some success stories in some cities? What have activists done?

8. Is there precedence in fighting obesity? Will it be easy to implement?


A. Is obesity a concern in your city or country? Yes, it’s a very serious problem. It is somewhat of a problem. Yes and no, in the middle, it depends. It is not major issue. Or it’s not a problem at all.

B. Has the situation changed over the decades?

C. What are some causes of obesity?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. What should people and governments do?

F. Are there many health, fitness and weight-loss books, programs and experts?

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