June 25, 2018
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A Maine high school student’s view: Focus on health

By Malloree Workman, Special to the BDN

Do I think there is an obesity problem? Yes, I do. I see children carrying candy with their stomachs hanging out of their shirts because they don’t have clothes to fit them.

Obesity has been rising steadily since the 1970s. Obesity has doubled among boys and girls ages 2-5, and tripled among boys and girls ages 6-11, from the early 1970s to 2000.

What’s causing adults in the United States to get obese is the American lifestyle — it’s busy, so people eat foods that are convenient. Fast food is cheap, and people think it tastes good. And the makers of the fast food restaurants are putting things in foods that are getting people addicted to them. Many believe that fast food is addictive due to the large amount of sugar, fat and salt each serving of food contains.

Portion size has also increased over the years, leading to supersize meals at McDonalds. People spend less time at home cooking meals than they did years ago.

There are many consequences that come with obesity. People can develop Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and some cancers. Individuals are more likely to experience social stigmatization and discrimination, such as in education, employment, social relationships and health care. Obesity is also associated with low self-esteem, body-image disorders, anxiety and depression.

I agree with the Sept. 28 Bangor Daily News editorial when it says, “Losing weight is difficult and doing so requires a change in lifestyle — not a quick fix. Everyone knows that weight loss requires eating less and exercising more; but actually doing so is a real challenge.”

Losing weight will be a challenge, but people have to be willing to work hard, so they can get a better life when the weight is lost.

To prevent obesity, people need to avoid high intakes of fat. The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests no more than 30 percent of the calories people eat should come from fats. A good way to monitor one’s diet is to keep a detailed food diary and also stay active and exercise. Activity is the only way calories are used up.

Children should learn early in their lives the value of a healthy diet and exercise. Controlling intake of calories and planning activities that will burn the calories up can usually avoid the problems of obesity.

I conclude by saying that people need to start caring about being healthier, and they definitely need to start exercising. Even if you’re not obese, go out to a gym and work out; go outside, or even go on a treadmill at home so you don’t get to the obese stage and lose confidence or start getting health problems.

Also, families need to start making time to cook meals at home instead of just grabbing something quick on their way home. That way they are eating healthier, and families can actually sit down and have family time and talk about things that go on, so if there are any problems they can be helped, and they won’t turn to food because of depression.

Obesity is a huge problem, and it needs to be stopped to save lives.

Malloree Workman, 14, lives in Lincoln and is a freshman at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland.

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