Understanding Childhood Obesity

By J. Clinton Smith | Go to book overview

1.
Why Is Obesity
an Important Health
Problem in America?

Leave gormandizing. Know the grave doth gape For thee thrice wider than for other men.

William Shakespeare,
Henry IV, Part II (quoted in Bray 1985)

Twentieth-century Americans have enjoyed a standard of living unparalleled in history. We are well nourished, we live in attractive and affordable houses, we have clean water and milk and good sewage systems, and we are largely free from the scourges suffered by so much of the rest of the world, such as malaria, yellow fever, rheumatic fever, blindness due to parasites, and malnutrition. We are a well-educated nation. Many of us work 40-hour weeks, have guaranteed vacations, and are free to enjoy the fruits of our labor before we grow too old. Our health care system has provided us with powerful drugs and technologies that cure illnesses and prolong lives.

Yet we are not entirely well. The health problems dominating the early part of this century have been replaced by a new morbidity—diseases brought on by our living habits. Like other industrialized countries, we now have high rates of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and obesity. Nearly 60 million American adults between the ages of 20 and 75 years—1 in 3—are obese. One of every 4 U. S. adults smokes cigarettes regularly, a habit usually

-3-

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Understanding Childhood Obesity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Understanding Childhood Obesity 1
  • 1. - Why is Obesity an Important Health Problem in America? 3
  • 2. - Who is Obese, and How Do We Know? 17
  • 3. - How Our Bodies Obtain Energy 33
  • 4. - Obesity: a Disorder of Energy 50
  • 5. - Some Factors That May Determine Obesity 64
  • 6. - What Can Be Done to Prevent Childhood Obesity? 81
  • 7. - If Prevention Doesn't Work 99
  • 8. - The Great Beyond: New Frontiers in the Treatment of Obesity 122
  • Notes 131
  • Glossary 135
  • References 140
  • Index 149
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