Sociological Imagination: Overweight and Obesity
When viewed from the perspective of the causes of obesity, it can be concluded that obesity is indeed a social problem. The main causes of obesity in the current society are social related since they are based on interactions, not only with friends and family but also with the larger population. It is reported that the growing rates of obesity is because of increase in pressure exerted on people to purchase various unhealthy foods due to advertisement, poor lifestyle choices such as inability to cook at homes, wide availability of food from cafeterias and other fast food outlets and difficulty in walking from place to place (Center for Disease Control, 2010). All these factors drive people towards more consumption and less energy expenditure, the result being obesity.
Besides these causes that result from societal pressure, other causes of obesity are also linked to social factors such as lack of exercise, social eating, availability of group transportation which prevents people from walking and closeness with obese friends and relatives. On the other hand, individual causes of obesity also exist such as overconsumption of foods with more calories stored in sugar sweetening and watching advertisements for food products through the media. As are the causes of obesity, the impacts are also both at the social and the individual level. According to Fields (2004), obesity results in low self-esteem, which can lead to depression and eventually death.
Being a challenging problem, obesity can be described based on various theories. The conflict theory best describes obesity as a social problem while the functionalist theory and the social interactions theory focus on obesity as a problem based on the investigator’s values and on the causes of obesity being inclined to social networks respectively.
Center for Disease Control (2010). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved 27 February 2013 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
Fields, S. (2004). The Fat of the Land: Do Agricultural Subsidies Foster Poor Health? Environ Health Perspect. Vol. 112, No. 14, p. A820-A823.
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