Guns Don’t Kill People, Double Bacon Onion Ring Cheeseburgers Do

You’re driving down the street and you come to a stop light. On your left there’s a McDonald’s right next to a Burger King, on your right there’s a Wendy’s, and right down the street there’s a Taco Bell not too far from an Arby’s. “No wonder we have an obesity problem inAmerica,” you think to yourself.

 Little do you know that it’s not just a problem, it’s a growing epidemic.

“We’re a food-driven society,” says junior Marissa Manley “Think about it, you can’t go four seconds without hearing or seeing a fast food advertisement.”  She’s right.  Think of all the billboards you see driving down the highway, commercials you hear on the radio in the morning while you’re getting ready for school, or commercials you see every day when you watch TV. Fast food companies drill awareness of their product into our heads, whether we like it or not.

This is killingAmerica, literally. About 400,000 annual deaths are caused by poor diet. This is due to the fact that 130 million adults are overweight in America. That’s almost half of all adults. Rates of obesity have increased two-fold over the past two decades. Today, twelve states have a population of obesity that is 30% or more, when just four years ago only one state did. Adults aren’t the only ones to worry about, because we also have to worry about the adults of tomorrow. In recent years, childhood obesity has grown at a dramatic rate. Obesity has doubled in kids two to five years old, tripled in six to eleven year olds, and more than tripled for kids twelve to nineteen years old. Today, one in every four kids is overweight.

You may be asking yourself, where does this problem start? It starts with convenience. People find it more convenient to go through a drive-thru and consume a 900-calorie burger than make a sandwich in their own kitchen. We also live in a very fast-paced society, where people feel like they just don’t have time to make their own meals anymore since they’re running from work, practice, or school.

Children are reliant on the decisions of their parents. If parents keep a lot of soda in the house, then the kids are going to drink a soda instead of a glass of water. That is 100 calories that can be avoided, and ten pounds of fat per year that can be kept off. Most kids these days are also likely to grab a pack of Oreos or a bag of chips, rather than an apple.

“I know I don’t eat as much fruit as I should. But everything else looks so good! Also my mom doesn’t seem to buy as much fruits and vegetables as she should,” said junior Kristin Visentin.

Through all of this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, states are starting to crack down on the foods students intake, and New Jersey’s standards are now stricter when it comes to school lunches.New Jerseyis now the ninth least obese state in the country, because of the action they are taking.

Thanks to organizations like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and movies like Supersize Me, people are starting to educate themselves about what they are putting into their bodies.  A currently running multi-part documentary about obesity on HBO sheds a lot of light on the issue, exploring its causes and potential solutions.  In short, obesity is getting to be seen for the epidemic demanding our national attention that it now is. 

“You are what you eat. If you eat healthy, you’ll feel healthy and great; if you eat junk, you’ll feel like junk.” said junior Jill Cumming.