Trend of Obesity in the United States

Introduction

Diet and physical activity often change due to environmental and social factors. Their contribution to obesity is more significant than genetic predisposition, approximately six times (Ghosh & Bouchard, 2017). The first studies showing disastrous results were carried out in the distant 1960s; by the early 1980s, this figure exceeded 30% (Flegal et al., 2016). Between 1970 and 2000, US residents began to eat 162% more cheese, 102% more poultry, and drink 18% more alcohol and 109% more lemonade (Flegal et al., 2016). A sedentary lifestyle and the full availability of added sugar and processed foods are the main reasons.

Restaurants’ Contribution to the Obesity Problem

Frequent visits to the restaurant are associated with obesity. Despite the growing popularity of healthy food and people’s desire to control their eating habits, professional chefs do not aim to prepare low-calorie or low-fat dishes. The food offered in cafes and restaurants is often full of sugar, salt, fats, and artificial additives (Goodarzi, 2018). There are many mid-range restaurants in the US with proper service and delicious food, which allows every middle-class representative to afford to go to a restaurant one or two times per week.

People who live near fast food outlets or drive near them on their way home tend to obtain a higher body mass index than their city’s typical residents. Dornelles suggested (2019) that the amount and distance to sources of healthy and unhealthy foods will strongly influence the likelihood of excess weight and other obesity-related health problems. On the other hand, full-fledged restaurants and stores selling low-calorie and diet foods lowered body mass index (Mylona et al., 2020). In particular, each such establishment’s appearance reduced BMI by 0.13 points, while fast-food restaurants increased it by 0.7 points (Qian et al., 2017). Nevertheless, most city residents, returning from work, prefer to buy food or eat at any restaurants, cafes, and other catering establishments.

Obesity is a Public Health Problem

Critical indicators of worker health and well-being programs are absenteeism and presenteeism. The American economy suffers from absenteeism due to the increase in the number of employees being overweight. The figures vary by state wealth, from $ 14.4 million in Wyoming to $ 907 million in California (Fitzgerald et al., 2016). According to the study, obesity rate in the United States correlates with 9.3% of all absenteeism losses nationwide (Fitzgerald et al., 2016). Obese Americans are more likely to miss work due to ill health.

Obesity Rates

The problem of obesity starts concerning all the social groups. Experts have found that almost 40% of adults and one fifth of children are overweight (Hales et al., 2018). According to the study, obesity might be observed in adults aged 40 to 59 (Asp et al., 2017). For the population aged 20–39, the problem is also acute (Chooi et al., 2019). As for the gender factor, women are more concerned about being overweight than men – the difference is 3-5% and varies depending on the age group (Chooi et al., 2019). The study found that overweight is most often present in Hispanics and African Americans. Whites are in third place, while Asian Americans are least likely to be obese.

The term “food desert” refers to poor areas (urban, suburban, and rural), where there is limited access to fresh fruits, grains, and vegetables – to places where convenience foods are widespread. A food desert store that sells healthy meals can be 10-15 miles away, and a convenience store or low-cost store selling processed food may be located next to the house (Cooksey-Stowers et al., 2017). For many Americans, alternative healthy eating is an unaffordable luxury. Physicians and nutritionists recently found that fast food makes people forget what they have already eaten and contributes to the development of infertility among women, almost tripling the likelihood of losing fertility compared to a healthy diet (Juul et al., 2018). Besides, processed foods have been found to disrupt metabolism, leading to overeating in itself.

Eat-in Restaurants

Role of Menu Design

From a marketing standpoint, the menu is probably the most crucial seller in a restaurant. A well-made one should promote the sale of dishes by capturing visitors’ attention, increasing the likelihood of making a purchase, and containing mouth-watering descriptions of meals. For example, instead of the word “fried,” it is better to use words like “crispy” or “golden” in the description (Filimonau & Krivcova, 2017). It usually contributes to ordering food without regard to excessive fat. Besides, a detailed seating plan can significantly speed up table turnover. The middle of the room is the restaurant’s busiest place, so placing tables away from corners and walls encourages guests to eat faster.

Effects of Noise and Music

Experts have carried out many studies confirming the suggestion that music and noise are critical in terms of speed and length of time. The intensity of the taste, such as salty or sweet foods, decreases with increasing sound, and the meal appears hard and crispy (Biswas et al., 2019). In the restaurants with the noise, people tend to order twice as much as in the place with the softest sounds (Torlak et al., 2019). That is, the more a person is focused on food, the less the risk of overeating. People who are more focused on the sounds of food fill up faster.

Eating with pleasant music becomes enjoyable, and a person begins to experience more pleasure from the meal process. Visitors spend less time eating and more drinking when fast music plays in the room, while loud sounds increase the demand for fast food by 20% (Biswas et al., 2019). Experts believe this is due to an increased heart rate (Biswas et al., 2019). A person whose body is irritated by loud music tends to choose unhealthy foods. Slow music, on the other hand, allows people to think carefully about their choice.

Light and Decor Impact

Concerning the light and decor effects, if there are not enough light fixtures in the room, the body begins to relax, and hunger appears. The reason is that a lack of light reduces the production of vitamin D (Spence, 2017). Scientists could prove that the interior can both positively and negatively affect a person’s weight (Mead & Richerson, 2018). The evidence is that specific colors or objects contribute to an increase in appetite or gastric acid secretion (Wardono et al., 2017). For example, orange and yellow increase the secretion of gastric juice, increasing appetite (Minich, 2019). Purple and red can cause stress, and when stressed, people often feel hungry, while blue and beige can reduce appetite (Minich, 2019). Meanwhile, nutritionists believe that the clock should be in front of the eyes while eating (Spence et al., 2016). It helps to control the time of eating and establish a specific routine that will help with the diet. In restaurants that are replete with mirrors, they cause the urge to speed up the meal, which leads to overeating.

Conclusion

Obesity is one of the consequences of America’s poor work-life balance. Americans overwork and suffer from stress; moreover, they are more abused than in the 1960s. Continually increasing demands at work leaves people with little time to take care of their health and rest. The immediate cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance, in which the caloric content of food in the diet exceeds the energy requirements of the body. Moreover, the factors that might determine the risk of overeating are habits, social circumstances, and the restaurant’s marketing.

References

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