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OBESITY. A Collaborative Presentation. THE ISSUE:. The problem of obesity is a major dilemma that the United States and the World must confront. What is obesity and how does it relate to standards of health? What are the economic costs and implications associated with obesity?

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A Collaborative Presentation

the issue

The problem of obesity is a major dilemma that the United States and the World must confront.

  • What is obesity and how does it relate to standards of health?
  • What are the economic costs and implications associated with obesity?
  • How does obesity affect us on the local level, especially in the Christian context of Bluffton?
  • What are the broader implications of obesity, particularly on the global level?
  • What are solutions to the problem of obesity in relation to each of these four areas?

Health Standards

Defining Obesity


Government Standards


Defining Obesity

What constitutes obesity?

  • "a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body” – Webster’s Dictionary
  • Obesity in Children: At or above the 95% percentile when it comes to BMI (Body Mass Index)
    • BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight (kg.) and dividing by their height squared (m.), however the measurements must be metric.
  • In Adults: Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25-29, or being 30% above recommended weight for size


  • Obesity has been linked to: Hypertension, Coronary Heart Disease, Adult Onset Diabetes, Stroke, Gall Bladder Disease, Osteoarthritis, Sleep Apnea, Respiratory Problems, Endometrial, Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancers, Dyslipidemia, steatohepatitis, insulin resistance, breathlessness, Asthma, Hyperuricaemia, reproductive hormone abnormalities, polycystic ovarian syndrome, impaired fertility and lower back pain
assessing your behavior and environment adopting healthy habits


Strategies to Prevent Obesity

Assessing Your Behavior and Environment

Adopting Healthy Habits


Assessing Your Behavior

and Environment

  • Knowing the amount and type of food you eat
  • Knowing your physical activity habits
  • If you live in a environment dominated by speed and convenience you will need to set time aside for exercise
  • Avoid high calorie foods if possible
assessing your behavior and environment examples
Assessing Your Behavior and Environment examples
  • Keep a daily food diary and activity diary
    • This allows you to see how much food you intake and how much physical activity you endure throughout the day.
  • Shopping Guide
    • Knowing healthy food before going to the store can save time and improve eating habits
adopting healthy habits
Adopting Healthy Habits
  • Physical Activity
    • An increase in physical activity is an important part of weight management
    • Exercise can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes which can be caused by obesity
    • All adults should have at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Healthy Diet
    • Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake
    • Fat Free does not mean calorie free check to see calorie per serving
behaviors that will help you prevent obesity
Behaviors that will help you prevent obesity.
  • Set the Right Goals
    • Effective goals are 1)specific 2)attainable and 3)forgiving
      • Example: Walk 30 minutes five days each week.
  • Balance your food
    • Make sure to include all food groups during your day
    • Keep track of the caloric intake
  • Knowing when your full
    • It takes 15 minutes for your body to know its full
    • Slowing the rate of eating allows fullness to set in
    • Eating a lot of vegetables can make you feel fuller



National and State



  • National standards currently do exist for Physical Education, however they are severely limited (7 standards, 1 benchmark apiece)
    • These standards come from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education
  • The national standards for Health Education are a little more in-depth (8 standards, 1 benchmark apiece, 2-10 indicators apiece)
    • These standards come from the American Cancer Society



  • Adult Obesity exceeds 20% in 41 states
  • Alabama ranked as heaviest state (28.4%)
  • Colorado ranked least heaviest (16%)
  • Only 4 states regulate type of food sold in schools (California, Hawaii, Texas, West Virginia)

Possible Solution

“Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation to amend the No Child Left Behind education law to require content and performance standards for physical education beginning in school year 2006-2007 as part of a state plan for compliance under the law. By the 2008-2009 school year, states would also have to assess student progress in physical education.”

( )



  • Ranks 10th in the country in Obesity (24.9%)
  • The state spent an estimated $289 per person in 2003 on medical-costs related to obesity
  • Academic Content Standards in Phys. Ed.? There currently aren’t any…

Possible Solutions

Pending Bills

  • SB44 – Physical Education Standards
    • Adopt Phys. Ed. Content standards
  • HB105 – Physical Education
    • Adopt Phys. Ed. Content standards
  • HB173 – Physical Fitness
    • Create Physical Fitness and Wellness Advisory Board
  • HB435 – Athletic Trainers
    • Require licensed Athletic Trainer on staff

Possible Solutions


  • More Gym class time/recess time
  • More regular health check-ups to monitor students weight/health (state/school provided)
  • More “Fast Food ordinances” (city of Waterville, OH does not allow any Fast food restaurant to be built within city limits)
  • The Nintendo Wii: video games meets exercise (motion sensor video game system), although not a substitute for exercise


¥ $ ¤€ £

the cost of food
The Cost of Food
  • 9.8% of income in 1989 to around 13% in 2004 in the US.
  • $193.60 per week on groceries or $839.00 per month or $10,068 per year
  • Canada is spending 11.3% of there income on food where as the people in Cyprus were spending 30.1%, people in Honduras were spending 41.3%, people in Sri Lanka spent 49.9%, and the country that spent the most of their income on food were the people of the Philippines at 52.8%
food waste
Food Waste
  • United States wastes 189.8 pounds per person a year or nationally 27.6 million tons.
  • United Kingdom the average household wastes 200 kilograms of food per year.
  • Japanese approximately 800 grams per year.
  • Korea and Norway waste about 4 million tons per year.
  • cruise ships, throwing away approximately 3.5 kilograms per passenger per day.
the cost of obesity

The Cost of Obesity

  • Americans $12.8 billion out of pocket
  • $28.1 billion through private insurance
  • $14.1 billion through Medicaid
  • $23.5 billion through Medicare
  • for a total cost of $78.5 billion for the year of 1998
  • Ohio accounts for just over $5 billion of that money
  • Stop publicly funding illnesses associated with obesity
  • More physical activity in the schools
  • Warning labels for food, like those found on cigarettes
  • stop funding illnesses caused directly from over eating. If people had to pay the medical bills associated with their overeating, they might reconsider their excessive habits.
  • Eat locally vs. exporting and importing goods (commercially prepared vs. fresh foods)
  • Reduce waste (the waste from the excess foods we eat in one day would be enough to feed a person from a third world country for a week)
the freshmen 15
“The Freshmen 15”
  • All entering students fear, or have at least heard of the “freshmen 15,” which researchers suggest is the result of “the same phenomenon that is contributing to the epidemic of obesity among all Americans -- that a relatively small increase in calories each day or week has the profound cumulative effect of adding a significant amount of weight over the years” (Lang 1).
  • It is not gaining an extra ten or fifteen pounds during their first year at college that will cause most students to become obese; it can be more closely tied to the decision-making patterns they are developing.
According to a study by David A. Levitsky, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences and psychology at Cornell University, of the students studied, the average weight gain during their freshman year at college was on average 20 times more than the average American adult (Davis 1).
the dining halls levitsky found were a major contributor to this problem
The dining halls, Levitsky found, were a major contributor to this problem

As quoted by Jeanie Davis, Levitsky concluded, “Although the use of all-you-can-eat dining halls may be effective as a recruiting technique for colleges, these food bars may be responsible for much of the weight gain we see in freshmen. (Davis 2)”

While it is true that such dining hall “food bars” are available, it is ultimately the students themselves who are choosing what they eat and how much they eat .

why the weight gain and what does it mean
Why the weight gain and what does it mean?

Possible explanations include drinking (alcohol contains lots of empty calories), more socializing that involves eating, high-fat foods in dorms and cafeterias and less physical activity. (Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)

College students are also often stressed, low on cash and pressed for time meaning several things…

Along with stress comes a certain tendency to focus entirely on oneself and one’s own desire for success, whatever that may mean for each individual.
  • While it is important to care for oneself, such a narrow view can be seen as self-centeredness which surprisingly enough has self-destructive qualities – obesity is a serious health risk as has been explained.
how is this problem unique for bluffton
How is this problem unique for Bluffton?
  • “Generation XL” as we have been called by some researchers and nutritionists, describes many aspects of our over-consumption but mainly refers to over-indulgence in food and related resources. This reflects a certain self-serving mindset inseparable from moral and ethical implications and is especially true as part of an institution so deeply rooted in Christian principles.
wait is gluttony really a sin
Wait…is “gluttony” really a “sin”?
  • Purdue sociology professor Kenneth Ferraro, when he released a study on the relationship between weight and religious denominations, said that while the religious lifestyle had "long been considered a healthy one, with its constraints on sexual promiscuity, alcohol and tobacco use, overeating may be one sin that pastors and priests regularly overlook."
our bodies as temples
Our Bodies as Temples
  • According to Jesuit theologian Thomas Rausch, rather than lecturing people to cut down on food, the better approach is St. Paul's - "the temple of the Holy Spirit image for the body. Paul had a good theology of the body, that because the body is destined for the Resurrection, it should be treated with reverence and respect.”
  • Rausch also asserts, "when Paul says in Corinthians, 'I don't want to be enslaved by anything,' it is that certain moderation … should be exercised over food, drink and over bodily appetite."
no man or woman is an island
no man – or woman – is an island
  • As Bluffton students, we are part of a long Christian tradition which is based on certain principles. While we may not be obese, the freshmen 15 and over-eating may be symptoms of a deeper problem. We need to be always aware of the decisions we make – whether it’s who to vote for or how much to take in the food line – because we are all connected and we have a responsibility to that connection.
Over-consumption is not only abusing our bodies, but it is hogging resources that could – and should – be shared.
U.S. over-consumption affects other countries.
  • Over-consumption results in buying many exports of food from poorer countries.
  • Over-consumption of beef results in less grain for the world (Source 1: 162)
  • Packaging and waste from over- consumption pollute the environment.
Food has become a commodity.
  • Countries with poor people who need food will export cash food crops to the U.S. because the U.S. will pay money for these products then the countries would make growing staple foods (Source 1: 161).
  • The needs of the poor in the country are not met (Source 2).
Americans are eating large amounts of meat.
  • Grain that is fed to livestock cannot be used to feed those who are hungry in the world.
  • Livestock production also negatively impacts the environment.
U.S. over-consumption affects not only other people in the world but also the environment.
  • Many products involve packaging, which result in waste.
  • Over-consumption results in an excess waste of products and energy to produce those products.

1. Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Nashville, Tennessee: W Publishing Group, 1997), 161-162.

2.John Isbister, Promises Not Kept: Poverty and the Betrayal of Third World Development (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., 2003), 167.



A Global Phenomenon

the facts
The Facts
  • Obesity is a complex disease in which having too much body fat increases a person's risk for developing other health problems. Obesity generally is measured by body mass index (BMI), a calculation that shows weight in relation to height. The higher the BMI level the higher the chance of health complications and risk, an adult person that has a BMI index of 30 or higher is considered to be obese. Where fat gathers in a person is important to the type of health risks that are pertinent to their obesity. For example, If fat accumulates mostly around the abdomen (central obesity, sometimes called apple-shaped), a person is at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and CAD.
  • Obesity is calculated by taking a persons weight and dividing it by the height squared. For example, say a person weighs 120 pounds and is 5 feet tall. It would be 120 divided by 5(2), and the result would have a BMI index of 23.4, they would not be considered obese.
the facts cont
The Facts (cont.)
  • Types of health risks concerned with being obese are diabetes Type 2, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, hypertensive disease, osteoarthritis, and certain types of cancers. There are approximately 350 million obese people (BMI ≥30.0) and over 1 billion overweight people (BMI ≥25) in the world. Over all about 2.5 millions deaths are attributed to overweight/obesity worldwide. Obesity is not just present in America, it’s present all over the world.
  • To break that down a bit more, the percentage of obese men in Finland is 19, obese women is also 19. In France, men are 9.6 and women are 10.5. In Australia, the percentage of men is 18 and the women are also 18. In a study of 30 different countries the highest percentage of obesity was in Nauru, while the smallest percentage was in India. America came in at the seventh highest. In the United States though, the highest amount of people that are obese generally inhabit the lower portions of America, places like Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
  • Obesity is a worldwide problem, it is prevalent in many countries, America may have a large problem when it comes to obesity, it is not the only country nor is it the most prevalent here. It is important for people to eat right and to remain active, that is the only way to combat obesity.

A State-by-State Comparison of Rates of Obesity

Percent of Population Classified as Obese


Research has revealed a number of correlations between obesity and poverty. In a survey of more than 100 separate studies, Canadian researchers found that the socioeconomic situations in which people live “are the major factors determining whether they develop cardiovascular disease.” (Source 1)

The impoverished are more likely to become obese because their access to healthy food is limited and they are forced to purchase and consume unhealthy food. Thus, the poor are at a greater risk of developing heart disease because their poverty limits their access to heart healthy food. (Sources 1 & 2)
Poor people living in urban areas are also at a disadvantage because they do not have close access to grocery stores and retailers that sell healthy food. (Source 2)
Thus, the urban poor are often doomed to eat innutritious food which is less expensive than healthy food and is much more widely available for purchase. (Sources 3 & 4)
The generally lower level of education among impoverished people leads to higher rates of obesity. (Source 5)
When people are not educated as to the relationship between balanced eating and maintaining a healthy weight, they tend to give little thought to what the implications of eating unhealthy food might mean for their health. (Source 6)
the historical background of limted access to healthy food
The Historical Background of Limted Access to Healthy Food

Within recent decades, low-income households have become the victims of the globalization that has delocalized food production, increasing the prices of fresh, healthy foods that now need to be transported over long distances, leaving high-fat, processed food as the only nourishment that the poor can afford (Source 7).

another historical consideration exercise access and poverty
Another Historical Consideration:Exercise, Access and Poverty

Childhood obesity rates for the impoverished have increased over the last decade because children in low-income households have less access to safe venues (such as parks) where they can participate in physical activities and these youth also have more limited access to team sports because of the financial constraints of their parents (Source 8).

Thus, as this evidence has testified, there is a correlation between obesity and poverty which is rooted in multiple socioeconomic phenomena.
works cited
Works Cited
  • 1. Wayne Kondro, “Poverty is the Main Predictor of Heart Disease, says Canadian Repot,” The Lancet 359, no. 9318 (May 2002): 1679.
  • 2. Elizabeth Dowler, “Food and Poverty: Insights from the ‘North,’” Development Policy Review 21, nos. 5-6 (September 2003): 571.
  • 3. “Poverty Linked to Obesity, Says New Research,” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 22, no. 15 (September 2005): 16.
  • 4. Pat MacDonald, “The Obesity Crisis…It’s not just about Diets,” Practice Nurse 29, no. 8 (April 2005): 19.
  • 5. Amy Winterfield, “Overfed but Undernourished,” State Legislatures 31, no. 4 (April 2005): 34.
  • 6. L. McArthur, M. Peña and D. Holbert, “Effects of Socioeconomic Status on the Obesity Knowledge of Adolescents from Six Latin American Cities,” International Journal of Obesity 25, no. 8 (August 2001): 1267.
  • 7. Dowler, 571.
  • 8. “Poverty Linked to Obesity,” 16.
Reduced consumption of red meat in economically developed countries, especially the US. This could be accomplished by educating the public about the negative health effects of over-consumption of red meat. In addition to helping to reduce the obesity problem, this method would also be ecologically responsible, as the large amount of energy and grain resources used to produce red meat would be drastically reduced.
Institute educational programs informing people about the dangers of over-consumption of food. Begin an anti-overeating campaign that is similar to the anti-tobacco campaign.
Enact a “sin” tax on sales at fast-food establishments and tax foods with large amounts of trans-fat and cholesterol.
Offer low-income persons monetary subsidies so that they will be more ably equipped to purchase healthy foods that often carry higher prices.
Institute a campaign to inform consumers about preservatives. Begin placing warning labels on cans and warnings on menus at restaurants.
  • Encourage people everywhere, particularly in economically developed countries to use motorized transportation less and to start using walking, running and bicycling as alternative forms of transport.