Obesity in our society.
There is something growing in almost every household in society, it’s the waistline. Obesity is becoming a big problem in modern day cultures. People are becoming fatter and fatter. In America, One of three is considered obese and two out of three are overweight. People who are obese are stigmatized as being lazy and weak-willed. Media outlets have taken obesity and turned it into a buzz word and use it for ratings. The government has added to the problem by being bought out by the sugar and food lobbyists. In the not so distant past, very few people were obese. Most homes were filled with active people who worked in a blue collar job for a living. Meals were made by someone at home and fast food was a once in a while treat, not a way of life. That is no longer the case. In this paper, I will be looking at the impact of obesity on the quality of life and the general perception of the general public on obesity.
People are becoming obese at an alarming rate. A person who is not considered obese today, through eating the standard American diet can become obese in as little as four years. With the dwindling of habitual exercise, the consumption of sugar laden foods and the advancements in technology, many people don’t have to leave their office or couch to work, eat or be entertained day and night. Becoming obese is a growing problem. When a person becomes obese there is scientific research to show that once a person becomes obese, the tendency is to stay obese. The discriminating notion that an obese person is lazy or weak-willed tends to lead that person to stay obese. Negative attitudes towards obese people bring about psychological consequences often leading to an obese person to consume more and more calories as they are consoled in the eating of food (Sutin, Terracino, 2013). Jobs are at times hard to come by for obese individuals, Thereby increasing anxiety and perceived self-worth. Socioeconomic factors then often come into play. Sugar loaded, nutrient lacking food is cheaper and easier to come by than healthy food. Many employers prefer healthy looking individuals to represent their companies. Insurance is also cheaper for employers whose employees are not considered health risks. Obesity carries with it many health risks. Obesity is not a condition that can be hidden. Mental and some physical disorders can be hidden from society and employers. Being heavy is not something that can be suppressed in public, fat is always with the obese person. While discrimination for obesity exists, it is hard to prove in a world that discriminates for just about everything. Pinpointing obesity discrimination is almost impossible when people are discriminated against for age, race, and religion. Not to mention a lot of obese people don’t think they are obese.
The medical and media communities have teamed up to fight obesity through commercials and ad campaigns. Although the intentions are probably for the best, the obesity message is sometimes an offensive topic. Many ad campaigns are seen as derogatory or negative in nature. One slogan chosen in Georgia is “fat kids become fat adults”, and another is “chubby kids may not outlive their parents”. The intent of these messages is good and the message is true, but it is not well received at times by an already defensive sub culture. Sixty percent of the participants who were surveyed, had a BMI of over 25. 25 is overweight and over 30 is obese (Puhl, Peterson, and Luedicke, 2013). The ad campaigns to shame people into a healthier lifestyle are all too real. Despite criticism, many health organizations feel that the attention to the obesity epidemic needs to be addressed at all costs, and are ok with hurting someone’s feelings as long as their message is heard. Culture believes a different story is unfolding. Many believe media uses obesity studies to dramatize life and use obesity to boost their ratings. Almost weekly there is a breaking story on fat and how to fix it in the news. These stories are dramatized to no end and the promise of a quick fix is typically followed up by some study conducted that has a biased outcome. Usually some data has been sifted through and only points that can be taken out of context for dramatic effect are used. The media stigmatizes obese people with their “easy” fixes to obesity.
Being a part of certain cultures can lead to being or becoming obese. Many Christian church goers shun the partaking of alcohol, in doing so they tend to rally around food as the focal point of gatherings. The church potluck is typically full of sugary foods and calorie laden goodies. In a study that followed religious communities over eight years in three waves, researchers tried to discern if being a part of a religious society lends itself to becoming obese (Cline, Ferraro, 2006). The study included 3617 people of different denominations. The study concluded that the Baptist denomination is the denomination to join if you want to get fat. They seem to be a more social group and shun alcohol. The study seems to lead to more women being obese when they started attending church. Women may feel socially accepted in a church setting than in the “outside” world. Churches are places in society where many who are different from society’s norms are accepted. The study shows that women who stayed in the church for the duration of the study and participate in religious services regularly, were more likely to become obese. However, men who came to religion for consolation were less likely to become obese. The researchers concluded that men may be turning to religion instead of food as a form of comfort, while women embrace the food aspect as well as the comradery of other women and religion. The religious culture is a tight knit group that includes God and food, without condemnation.
The American soldier was at one point in history the poster child for health. There is a fear in some parts of our culture that one day obesity will deplete the armed forces. The armed forces have strict criteria for entrance into the military services. These include weight restrictions. As American males continue to become obese, some may be too heavy to join (Gagnon, Stevens, 2015). A military that is weakened by low numbers or that is too fat to fight is not good for a society that is supposed to be a super power in the modern world. The military may have to change entry qualifications to allow obese men into the military. As the American male gets fatter and fatter, the testosterone levels in these men decreases. So not only are the males getting bigger around the waist, they are losing the male hormone that is linked to the ability to build muscle and to recover from strenuous activity (Mazur, Westerman, Mueller, 2013). A society that has a military with obese, testosterone depleted men, is not good for a free society. This could have devastating effects on the American way of life. Culture as it is known could be changed forever if a foreign country thought they could beat the American military due to these findings. The constants for average male testosterone have been documented for years. Weight plays a significant role in testosterone depletion. Is obesity to blame for the metrosexual and the murse in recent years? Due to the decline of the male hormone, culture is changing to be softer and more gender neutral. Part of this shift in culture may be attributed to less testosterone in males.
It’s always the next chapter to fight obesity, while the media never addresses the true root of bad food and bad habits of fat individuals. It’s never discussed how the government is lobbied by the big food companies. It’s never discussed how food is spiked with sugar to make it taste more appealing and also becomes addicting (Boero,2013). Media outlets are supposed to be places that people can trust for honest unbiased information and help. Most traditional media has been bought by big money that backs certain political and moral values. If society would rely on big media only to help curb the obesity epidemic, almost everyone would be obese and on drugs to help with their weight induced diseases. The media and medical community should not exploit obesity. Money is the driving factor behind these unethical actions. The more obese, sick people there are the more money to be made by media and the medical community. The obesity epidemic will probably never be solved. It’s too profitable. The uphill battle of beating obesity will come from have to come from a paradigm shift in society. Parents will have to educate themselves and their families on the causes and prevention of obesity. The perception of society has to become one that realizes the negative effects on the quality of life due to obesity. Changes in culture and society must be made on a personal level. Depending on society and media to educate about obesity is not the answer.
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