Obesity and the many negative health effects that come with it have been growing rapidly in our society throughout the past decade. Our lifestyles have led us toward eating fast food for nearly every meal and go away from the now know as “old fashioned” home-cooked meal. Our society as a whole has also become so wrapped up in trying to do everything by sitting in one place, with our phones, rather than getting up and doing the physical activity to accomplish the task. Technology has been a very major factor in this rise in obesity as increases in technology have made it possible to get so much work done while simply sitting in an office as well as allowing kids to be entertained with video games for hours while sitting in one place. Each of these things I have mentioned and many more have led to the sedentary lifestyles that have become much more common in our society and ultimately leading to a more obese America. Now the real question is, what is causing this obesity, and is there any way we could come up with a way to prevent people from becoming obese?
In class we analyzed a scientific paper that looked at two of the main appetite hormones in the body and learned just what it is that they do to make us feel hungry or full. The paper itself went much more in-depth into the full mechanism of action for insulin and leptin signaling but I will briefly describe their effects. First of all, leptin and insulin act on two different neurons in the arcuate nucleus in the brain, the POMC neuron and the NPY/AGRP neuron. Decreased levels of insulin and leptin, ultimately stimulating food intake, stimulate the NPY/AGRP neurons. On the other hand, increased levels of insulin and leptin stimulate the POMC neurons, telling your body that it is full.
Now that we know a little bit about how our body works in terms of appetite we will be able to understand how fast food restaurants and other food companies can target our brain to make us eat even when our stomachs are full. With the increasing use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our society today some negative effects have also been exposed. HFCS is very cheap for food producers to use in their foods to make them taste much better. Since HFCS is so cheap it is used in nearly everything we consume today. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it didn’t have such drastic effects on our appetite. HFCS actually decreases our levels of leptin as we eat making our bodies feel hungry even when we are full, ultimately causing us to eat much more than we should. This is a very bad thing as fast food chains can also use this to their advantage and sell more of their food that negatively affects our bodies.
Now the real question is what should be done about this growing problem in our society? It is very clear that there is a problem and scientists are researching different drugs that might be able to counteract this obesity and give people an easy way to stay thin while still eating all of these bad foods and living a sedentary lifestyle. I personally believe this would have very negative effects on our society. This would give people an easy way to avoid eating healthy and exercising, both things that are still very important when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. I think that a better option would be to promote healthy eating and exercising to kids as well as the parents of these kids in order to promote them to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It will be very interesting to see if scientists will in fact be able to come up with a pill that could stop obesity and just what sort of affect this would have on our society.