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Mariela Perez
Professor Vana Derohanessian
English 114B
17 February 2014
Government Tackles on Overweight Problem
Children obesity is at an all-time high and has, in fact, doubled in the past ten years.
Child obesity is caused due to many different factors that include the large use of technology that
distracts kids from being active or eating too much unhealthy foods. The United States ranks
third in the list of the world's fattest countries. (NZ Business, 2011) The government has tried to
decrease this rate by passing laws and different initiatives such as the Lets Move campaign. If
the government ignores the mounting rate of obesity by not funding healthier school lunches or
passing laws that help prevent obesity, then we as American citizens will pay the price, literally.
That is because tax money is used to cover medical expenses that are related to obesity-related
illnesses, when those who suffer from these illnesses cant afford their medication. To avoid
future health problems related to obesity, the health of children under the age of 18 should be a
responsibility assumed by the government since the country is affected by the health of each
individual.
One of the biggest reasons to why the government should be more vigilant on children
health is an increase in the obesity rate. Being obese, the condition of being very fat or
overweight is a problem since it leads to many health problems. According to the article, First
Lady says: Lets move on child obesity, About 32% of children and adolescents today 25
million kidsare obese or overweightThose extra pounds put kids at greater risk of
developingcostly diseases, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high
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cholesterol. (USA Today, 2010) Other than these health issues, obesity also leads to heart
disease, strokes, and certain kinds of cancer, some of which are the leading consequences of
death. Given that, it is reasonable to infer that kids arent eating the suggested diet or being
active the suggested time, which is sixty minutes a day. By not doing this, kids are putting
themselves at risk with these health issues. Due to these health problems, kids with obesity will
live a shorter life than their parents by two to five years, according to a study done in 2005.
The government will benefit if they regulate children health since they will grow up to
become productive individuals to our society. Due to our current economy, many families are in
debt, losing jobs, and their homes. The inexpensive restaurants like McDonalds and other fast
food places offer families with low-income fast foods at low cost. The recession is leading
families into buying cheap, fattening foods. However, our obese citizens may also be leading our
country into debt. That is because research shows that obese people have poorer memory, lower
cognitive ability, and find it harder to get a job, all of which might predispose them to debt,
(Rod, 2012) according to the editor of The Spectator, Rod Williams. Even though fast-food
restaurants are convenient, in the long run medical bills wont come cheap. Other than medical
bills, obese people will bring our labor supply down since they wont be able to have jobs.
Not just those who are overweight are affected but the whole nation is affected as well,
and that is because the obesity costs are high. Since obesity leads to over 50 other illnesses, such
as heart disease, then the patients affected would need to get treated. The way that this affects us
is because sometimes those patients cant pay the high medical bills. It is mentioned in the book,
Economic Burden of Obesity in Youths Aged 6 to 17 Years: 19791999" that the hospital costs
for obesity-related illnesses have tripled since 1981. The costs went from $35 million to 127
million per year. (Dietz, Hammond, Wang, 2002) The amount of money it costs hospitals due to
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obesity is clearly high considering that it only includes ages 6 to 17. When patients aren't able to
pay these prices, tax money is used to cover the difference. (Dietz, Hammond, Wang, 2002) Tax
payers shouldnt have to pay for obesity related illnesses since our country is able to dramatically
decrease the obesity rate by funding schools so that schools dont feel forced to cut physical
education classes due to budget cuts. Having a decrease in child obesity would benefit us all
since the money offered to cover obesity illnesses could be spent on unpreventable diseases such
as cancer. With the obesity rate increasing health care spending will increase, the labor supply
will reduce, and public assistance will increase. By providing kids with a healthier lifestyle, we
can actually help the U.S. decrease the debt we are currently in because healthy children will
reduce the obesity rate.
If obesity continues, the impact it has on our economy will continue to grow as well.
Researchers found that our economy is impacted by obesity in three major ways- direct medical
costs, productivity costs, and transportation costs. Medical insurance doesnt pay for obesity
itself but the illnesses that come from obesity are. With more people getting type 2 diabetes, the
direct medical spending to cover diagnosis and treatment for people with type 2 diabetes and
other illnesses will increase. Obesity will lead to five major diseases, hypertension,
hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, CHD, and stroke, all of which are covered by
direct medical spending. (Dietz, Hammond, Wang, 2002) Other than direct medical spending,
productivity loss has also been affected by obesity, mainly absenteeism and presenteeism.
Absenteeism is productivity costs due to employees being absent from work for obesity-related
health reasons and presenteeism is decreased productivity of employees while at work. Labor in
the workforce will decrease and companies will have to pay more health insurance. Another way
obesity affects our economy is the transportation needed to transport obese people. Obese people
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typically need more fuel and sometimes even bigger cars to transport themselves. For example,
for each additional pound of the average passenger weight, 39 million additional gallons of fuel
(worth $105 million at current prices) are needed annually. (Dietz, Hammond, Wang, 2002).
Obesity and the related illnesses that come with obesity have proven to be a burden to our
society. Not only with our economy but with the productivity ill citizens lack in our workforce.
It is up to the government to make sure kids grow up in a healthy environment in order
for them to grow up into successful individuals, so they can contribute to our society. In hopes of
reducing the obesity rate, first lady, Michelle Obama has started the Lets Move, anti-obesity
campaign. The campaign's goal is to help parents deal with this national crisis and to eliminate
obesity in this generation of young kids. Obamas campaign encourages and promotes healthy
eating and exercise in elementary schools by growing fruit and vegetable gardens in urban city
environments as well as other elements that need approval in Congress due to the funding
needed. Such elements could be $25 million for schools to renovate their kitchens and $10
billion over a10 year period for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act." Congress has been
recommended getting rid of junk foods after being advised that about 31 million kids eat lunch
at school every day, and 11 million eat breakfast. Overall, kids consume about 30% to 50% of
their calories in school. (USA Today, 2010) Since kids spend half their days at school and eat
half of their calories at school, it reasonably follows that they should be given healthier foods in
order to achieve a healthier lifestyle which will help decrease the child obesity rate.
I understand that the government may find it almost impossible to regulate the well-being
of every child in the U.S., that funding schools to improve their kitchens and provide healthier,
more expensive lunches for schools may be extremely costly considering our economic status,
and that thirdly, it shouldnt be a government duty to make sure these kids are healthy, but a
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parental duty. However, we as a nation cannot rely on the irresponsibility of some parents who
feed their children unwisely because some parents might not have the knowledge, resources, or
sufficient money to provide a healthy lifestyle for their children. It is up to the government to
assume their position so that our country can improve economically wise, improve our health
status, and give our children, the future of this country, the best health possible.
If the government were to take responsibility for this national issue and focus more on the
health of children under the age of 18, we can start solving many problems our country is facing
today. For example, we now understand the financial cost of being obese. The government pays
thousands a year to help those who cant afford medication due to their obesity. Being obese also
prevents citizens from contributing to our society. By having the government provide the
financial aid by funding schools through initiatives like the Lets Move campaign, then these
young children can grow up living a healthy, productive life.












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Works Cited
"Businessman takes on obesity epidemic." NZ Business May 2011: 5. General OneFile. Web. 18
Feb. 2014.
Dietz, William Hammond., and Guijing Wang. "Economic burden of obesity in youths aged 6 to
17 years: 1979-1999." Pediatrics May 2002: 949+. General OneFile. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
First lady says: 'Let's move' on child obesity. (2010, February 9). USA Today, p. 01A.
Williams, Rod. "Fat society: Debt and obesity are twin evils." Spectator 11 Aug. 2012:
18+. General OneFile. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.