Sample English Essay Paper on Article Summary and Analysisof Why are we so fat by Elizabeth Kolbert

Article summary and analysis

One of the greatest challenges in the modern world is obesity. Research indicates that the number of obese persons in the U.S. and other parts of the world including Asia, Africa, and South America is on the rise. The increase in the global obese population can be attributed to factors such as the consumption of food with high fat and protein content. The article XXXL: Why are we so fat by Elizabeth Kolbert (2016) explores obesity as one of the greatest challenges in contemporary American society with a focus on its causes and why it is likely to be on the rise in the coming years. Kolbert (2016) argues that in the early nineteen-sixties, only 24.3 percent of American adults were overweight, a perspective defined as having a body-mass index greater than twenty-seven. In the nineteen-seventies, America’s obese adult population had increased to 25 percent. In the late nineteen-seventies, 25.4 percent of American adults were obese. This worsened in the nineteen-eighties when 33.3 percent of American adults qualified as overweight. Today, obesity among American adults has risen significantly with research showing that men are now on average seventeen pounds heavier than they were in the nineteen-seventies and women are nineteen pounds higher. Kolbert (2016) attributes this to the fact that people effortlessly obtain calories in America today, which is not like before. Food outlets and companies have resorted to increasing the calorie content and increasing the size of food packs to attract customers. This has played a significant role in the rise in America’s obese adult population. This essay analyzes Kolbert’s article in depth with a specific focus on different elements such as its intended audience, the literary techniques used to convey the message, and the tone used.

Clearly, the article’s intended audience is America’s obese population. In its title, the article asks the question “Why are we so fat?” Of course, this question targets America’s obese population demanding some of the factors or reasons why Americans are so fat. Also, the argument that the article targets America’s obese population as its primary audience is because it explores the practices of American adults causing the condition and why the practices ought to be avoided. The article points out that Americans’ obesity today can be attributed to the fact that they effortlessly access and obtain calories. Further, the article argues that Americans prefer to buy food products such as pasta and sauce in big rather than small packages. Undoubtedly, food products sold in big packages contain high calories contents than those sold in small packages, which is a factor causing the rise in obesity in the American adult population. In the real sense, the article’s content and message revolves around obese American population, and therefore, the conclusion that this is the intended audience cannot be doubted.

The article uses various literary techniques or devices to pass its message to readers. One of the literary techniques used in the article is epigraph, which refers to an author’s reference to or inclusion of a quotation from some other work to support his or her arguments. Obesity is one of the most sensitive issues in contemporary American society, and therefore, it is important for authors to support their arguments on the topic with valid data or information, especially from other work. Kolbert includes several quotations from other works to support her arguments on obesity such as that of Kathleen LeBesco, who points out that “Fat people are widely represented in popular culture and in interpersonal interactions as revolting; they are agents of abhorrence and disgust.” The use of literary techniques or devices such as epigraph is pivotal in the article’s delivery of the intended message to readers.

This article’s diction is what makes it unique and different from other articles. Diction often refers to an author’s choice of words when describing events, an issue, or story. In this article, Kolbert carefully chooses words that would tie the readers’ attention to the topic of obesity. Some of the words that denote or tie the article to the topic of obesity include overweight adults, overweight children, obese, body fat, calories, tubby, fattening, and several others. Seemingly, most of these words cannot be used when discussing or exploring topics other than obesity due to their relatedness or close connection to obesity. The diction used in this article maintains relevance to the issue of obesity, which is the primary point of discussion.

In a nutshell, this article gives insight into the topic of obesity, which remains a challenge for the American population as well as the global population. One of the strengths of the article is that it provides data from other sources to support the arguments on the issue of obesity. For instance, in support of the arguments, Kolbert gives references to several past studies such as a 2002 study by Marion Nestle that examined the offerings at American supermarkets and how they cause obesity. Of course, arguments on obesity must be supported by valid and reliable data due to the sensitivity of the topic. However, the article exhibits several weaknesses such as the use of long and complexed sentences that may make it hard for the intended audience or reader to understand the message.


Kolbert, E. (2016, March 07). XXXL: Why are we so fat? The New Yorker.  Retrieved March 16, 2017, from