Obesity as a Social Problem
When a person’s weight is much greater than normal and overweight, the person is described as obese. The rise in the rates of obesity within America and in the world as a whole has led to the identification of obesity as a social problem that needs to be addressed. From changes in dietary preferences to the adoption of sedentary lifestyles, various factors have been blamed for causing obesity. The most common factor is heredity and closeness to individuals who are obese. However, the observed unprecedented increase in obesity rates in contemporary times indicates that obesity may be as a result of other factors different from genetics.
According to research carried out by Tamburlini et al (2007), the vulnerability of any individual to obesity increases if the person is in a close relationship with an obese individual. Once an individual becomes obese, one of the most common issues faced is the lack of social skills probably due to low self- esteem. In school going children, this often leads to lack of friends and may degenerate to bullying in the school context. The children thus become social misfits.
Apart from genetic factors and closeness to obese individuals, it is also reported that present day lifestyles which are more pressurizing also enhance vulnerability to obesity. This is because people are forced to work at more than one job which gives them no time to prepare healthy foods, the distance to work places forces people to drive rather than walk, advertisement by food manufacturing industries lures people to make unhealthy food choices and decline in the percentage of overall income that can be allocated for food purchase also forces people to spend less on good food (Fields, 2004).
Fields, S. (2004). The Fat of the Land: Do Agricultural Subsidies Foster Poor Health? Environ Health Perspect. Vol. 112, No. 14, p. A820-A823.
Tamburlini, G., Cartaneo, A., Knetch, S., Reinholz, J., Kenning, P. Rosen, M., Christakis, N.A. and Fowler, J.H. (2007). The Spread of Obesity in a Social Network. N Engl J Med. Vol. 357, pp. 1866-1868.
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