Obesity in America: Calling a Crisis a Crisis

By Devin Russo, Opinion Writer

The culture of modern America is one that is not rightfully blunt entooough sensitive to outwardly address a sensitive  issue. We as a nation have become too concerned about the feelings of everyone to call a crisis a crisis, too concerned with the obvious uncomfortable backlash that will come from people who take direct offense to the statements. What it is being alluded to here, is the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the United States.

Currently in the United States, 35.7% of American adults are considered obese according to the National Institute of Diabetes, with 6.3% of the total adult populace being classified as morbidly obese. These numbers are staggering when you look at them in a greater context to what obesity entails. These numbers indicate that over a third of the nation is at an enhanced risk of suffering from heart disease, from high cholesterol, respiratory failure, and advanced diabetes. No other health issue that effects over a third of the nation would be treated so gingerly by either party.  It would be beyond the realm of the imagination that our government would not address 35.7% of the adult population suffering from cancer, yet that is the attitude they hold towards this health issue. This is a national health epidemic that we as a nation refuse to address on a bipartisan basis.

To the Democratic Party, to accurately depict anyone as obese would be to “fat shame”, and this offense would be the most egregious sin one could commit against anyone as it would be damaging to their “self-esteem”. To the Republican Party, to trytrying to an implement any provisions to promote a healthier way of life that could help improve this health issue is an assault on the individual liberty of the American citizen. Most notably and notoriously we have seen this argument come to fruition when Senator Rand Paul brought with him a Big Gulp soda to protest a New York City law that Mayor Mike Bloomberg tried to implement that would have limited the size of sugary drinks that could be sold to his constituents.

Our nation is suffering from a systemic duedoublel-edged sword where we neither properly call a crisis a crisis, nor put forward any legislation to address it. Sometimes doing what is best for the nation is not going to be popular. It is not going to be clean or without tears. The reality is that America is dangerously overweight and it is adversely affecting the health and productivity of the nation. While we all grandstand and yell about the need for healthcare reform, whether that be single-payer or market oriented, we ignore the harsh reality that the cost of either will be astronomical unless we reign in this crisis. The cost for the government to cover a population where over a third is suffering from perpetual weight-based adverse health would be astounding. Market costs to cover individuals with poor health due to weight issues can only be high as their risk to the health market is systemically high as their subsequent list of diseases amass.

This is not an attempt for me to stand on a soapbox and uphold an image of a model and proclaim them to be what we must all strive for, this is merely a plea to the masses to take personal initiative and responsibility with their body.  A healthier lifestyle can prolong one’s life and limit the costs, both monetary and other, that come from poor health choices. The facts stand that we as a nation need to take initiative to stop caring about the feelings of everyone and start working to help improve this nation’s overall health. We no longer tolerate smoking and the damages that come from it, we often ostracize smokers today, and that same anti-smoking attitude must now be placed towards the new health crisis in this nation, combatting obesity and finally labeling a crisis a crisis.    

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.

Contact Devin at



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