Most Americans are well aware that our country has a problem with obesity. Over one third of American adults are obese, that’s over 100 million people. Many of these people may not even consider themselves obese, denying that they have a problem at all. Obesity can lead to a long list of related conditions; high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and psychosocial effects. What most Americans don’t know is how obesity affects your brain. Overeating and poor nutrition can lead to damaging brain diseases and harsh cognitive effects.
There are neurons in our brain that are responsible for signaling that makes us “feel full,” mainly POMC and AgRP. Signals arriving at neurons such as leptin and insulin are responsible for activating or deactivating POMC and AgRP. When people overeat or eat food high in fat, this throws off leptin and insulin signaling, causing us to not feel full when we should. To make matters worse, scientists are starting to see that children may be born with an inclination to unhealthy eating. If mothers eat unhealthy and high in fat when they are pregnant, children will have a higher inclination to these same unhealthy foods. These unhealthy foods are causing problems in our brain that have recently been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been shown that obesity can lead to shrinkage of brain matter. The brains of obese people are physically smaller. By eating healthier, our country could become an overall healthier nation. Healthy foods are not only good for your body in general, but they can also help you feel more full and satisfied with less food.
The foods that America is producing are possibly the root of the issue here. We’ve become such a high speed nation that we no longer make time to take care of our bodies. Eating healthy is not easy, it takes time to prepare healthy meals, and many Americans no longer make time to do this. There are countless food products out there specifically designed to be prepared quickly, but how healthy are these products? Large companies are capitalizing on how addictive unhealthy foods are, and they are using this information to produce products such as potato chips that you physically “cannot eat just one.” If this problem is truly going to get fixed we need to fix our system deep down and make time for healthier foods. We need to get rid of our millions of unhealthy fast food chains and make America aware of how detrimental unhealthy eating can be, both physically and mentally.
Besides becoming a healthier nation both physically and mentally, by fighting obesity our country could save millions of dollars. In 2008 the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion, with the medical costs for people who are obese being $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. By becoming healthier citizens, we could save billions on health care.