The obesity epidemic has risen to frightening levels all across the nation and is continually growing. According to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of all adults in the United States are obese and children and adolescents aged 2-19 years have a 17% (12.7 million) rate of obesity. Diseases related to obesity such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers are quickly rising and are the leading cause of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in the year 2008. There are many different opinions about what is causing the obesity problem. There have been different theories shown to society to solve the problem but there has not been much success. In this literature review, I will talk about several topics relating to the obesity epidemic in the United States and how the government should not be involved whatsoever in a person's personal diet. These topics will include the fast-food industry, childhood obesity, and regulation versus personal responsibility.
There are many opinions on whether or not the fast-food industry is the cause for the obesity epidemic. Some research published in the American Journal of Public Health titled "The Contribution of Expanding Portion Sizes to the US Obesity Epidemic," by Lisa R. Young and Marion Nestle, who are with the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, found that fast-food availability has increased compared to other decades. The study showed that portion sizes contribute to the obesity problem and that they have gotten bigger since the year 1970. To illustrate, McDonald's french fries used to be available in only one size. Today, that French fry is the smallest available size at the restaurant. Americans aren't only eating out more, they are also continually being exposed to new and larger products.