Why Are Americans Obese?


Quick Answer

Factors that contribute to America's widespread obesity include access to cheap, unhealthy food and its sedentary culture that discourages exercise. Obesity is primarily caused by a combination of social and environmental factors.

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Full Answer

Mass-produced foods, such as chips, candy bars, fast food and soda, are one of the biggest factors affecting American obesity. These convenient, widely available snacks make it easy to eat on the go, but they typically contain high calories and offer little nutritional value. The low prices of these foods, however, make them appealing to many consumers. Obesity is more commonly found among low-income Americans, and NBC reports that as of 2014, fruit and vegetable prices have risen disproportionately in relation to other foods. These snacks are also aggressively marketed to consumers, particularly children, leading to lifelong habits of unhealthiness.

The United States is also characterized by a culture that discourages physical activity. Many areas of the country lack adequate sidewalks, bike paths or public transportation routes that would encourage increased physical activity. Physically inactive office jobs contribute to increased weight gain, and long hours and commutes often leave people with less time to exercise. The increasing prevalence of digital entertainment, such as television and video games, is also a major factor in obesity. According to the National Institute of Health, more than two hours of daily television viewing has been linked to obesity.

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