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Obesity Epidemic

January 31, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 4
Can Americans change their self-destructive habits?
By Alan Greenblatt

Introduction

Twelve-year-old Cody Maples of Chicago takes his morning run at New Image Weight Loss Camp in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, where campers learn to lose weight through proper exercise and good nutrition. (Getty Images/ William Thomas Cain) Twelve-year-old Cody Maples of Chicago takes his morning run at New Image Weight Loss Camp in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, where campers learn to lose weight through proper exercise and good nutrition. (Getty Images/ William Thomas Cain)

The percentage of overweight American children and teens has more than doubled in the past decade. Moreover, two-thirds of the adults are either overweight or obese, and at least 300,000 Americans die each year from obesity-related diseases. The reasons aren't hard to fathom. The U.S. food industry aggressively markets high-fat, high-sugar, super-sized foods. Modern communities encourage driving rather than walking. Physical education is being dropped by schools even as fattening snack foods are welcomed onto campus. And children are spending more time playing computer games than sports. The question for policymakers is whether the weight gain is just a matter of individual responsibility, or whether a society that makes it so easy to get fat should be retooled. At stake is not only the health of millions of Americans but also $117 billion in annual health-treatment costs.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Nutrition and Health
Aug. 08, 2014  Global Hunger
Oct. 01, 2010  Preventing Obesity
Apr. 07, 2006  Rising Health Costs
Feb. 10, 2006  Eating DisordersUpdated
Sep. 03, 2004  Dietary Supplements
Jan. 31, 2003  Obesity Epidemic
Feb. 23, 2001  Diet and Health
Jan. 15, 1999  Obesity and Health
Sep. 26, 1997  Youth Fitness
Apr. 14, 1995  Dieting and Health
Dec. 18, 1992  Eating Disorders
Nov. 06, 1992  Physical Fitness
Jul. 31, 1992  Infant Mortality
Oct. 25, 1991  World Hunger
Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
Apr. 29, 1988  How America Eats
Sep. 06, 1985  Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders
May 18, 1984  Dining in America
Aug. 26, 1983  Staying Healthy
Nov. 19, 1982  Weight Control: A National Obsession
Oct. 17, 1980  Caffeine Controversy
Apr. 14, 1978  Physical Fitness Boom
Jun. 17, 1977  Obesity and Health
Feb. 22, 1974  Heart Research
Aug. 01, 1973  Nutrition in America
Dec. 02, 1970  Infant Health
Nov. 15, 1967  Overweight and Health
Aug. 10, 1966  Dental Health
Jul. 13, 1966  Prolongation of Life
May 09, 1962  Outdoor Recreation
Nov. 26, 1958  Dieting and Health
Jul. 13, 1949  Recreation for Millions
May 13, 1941  Nutrition and National Health
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Maternal and Child Health Care
Nutrition
Obesity and Weight Control
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