Obesity in the United States

Obesity is typically defined as the abnormal accumulation of body fat, which is in turn usually defined as 20% or more over an individual’s ideal body weight. 20-40% is considered mild obesity, 40-100% over is considered moderate obesity, and greater than a 100% more than ideal weight is considered to be morbid obesity. Ideal weight is defined as the weight corresponding to the lowest death rate for individuals of a specific height, gender, and age. The treatment and study of obesity is known as bariatric medicine.

The article I chose is “The Worldwide Obesity Epidemic”, an article published by Philip T. James, Rachel Leach, Eleni Kalamara, and Maraym Shayeghi.


The major cause of obesity (at least in my opinion) is a hybrid of social and economic issues which have proven to be an effective combination for causing obesity. Specifically, I believe that the position processed foods have taken in our lives has profoundly affected obesity. Since the rise of processed food which is nearly always simultaneously packed with overly high levels of sodium and fats and an extreme lack of actual nutrition. There are many individuals in the United States who are malnourished not because they do not have enough to eat, but because the food that is widely available is not nutritious. This is made especially worse by the fact that these processed foods are incredibly cheap compared to food that is actually nutritious; because of this poverty is positively associated with higher obesity rates. Finally, this is also made worse by the extremely sedentary lifestyle that has emerged in the post-industrial United States.

In my opinion, not enough is being done towards the treatment and evaluation of obesity. Quick fix remedies are being extensively researched and marketed to individuals, but few work very well. Instead of convincing individuals that they need to change their lifestyle we try to provide them with drugs to solve their problems without having to change a thing(all the while making a tidy profit to boot) Unfortunately, I do not know what can be done to remedy this situation. The processed/fast food industry is too large and profitable for any action- such as the ban or taxing of processed fat, etc., etc. to ever occur. While we are still perfectly capable of simply changing our habits and eating healthier without government regulations ensuring it, this is not such an easy thing to do for those in poverty.

4 thoughts on “Obesity in the United States

    • Hi Chris – I went in and changed it for you. When you copy and paste your post from a MS word file, instead of hitting ctrl + v, use the button in the blog form that is “paste from word” (clipboard with a “w” on it). Then all the formatting should be the same. Also, you can highlight everything and then choose the dark grey font color so its all uniform.

  1. The title, “Obesity in the United States” really caught my eye for the reason it is clearly, such a huge problem. Thousands of Americans are at least overweigh, struggling with a weight problem, or on their way to becoming obese. Looking at some of the maps and charts that were posted in last week’s blog, it is startling to see the rising numbers continuing to increase, epidemically. I think obesity should be considered a Culture Bound Syndrome. Just going based off my own knowledge and observations, western cultures, such as the United States, show the patterns of rising obesity rates. Although obesity can be seen as a problem around the world, I think it is very culture specific. I don’t think we see obesity rates rising as much as they are in western cultures because of previous traditions. I agree with you, in that the unhealthy ways of living are learned. Children learn from their families to eat processed foods, and choose to lack enough exercise. A disadvantage is there is no one cure for obesity. We all know of the recommendations for a healthy lifestyle; exercise, eating right, efficient amount of sleep. But, our culture today doesn’t take time to highlight on those important aspects.

  2. Very interesting post and I do agree that obesity is a big problem in the United States. American culture is plagued by obesity and the rates of people being affected by obesity have steadily increased over the years. I think our society faces a big challenge when it comes to obesity because we constantly try to find the solution to try to stop obesity. I am from New York City, and more recently Mayor Bloomberg has decided to create a proposal to ban sweetened beverages that are greater than 16 ounces. The Mayor’s proposal would ban any type of drinks that contain sugar, any type of caloric sweetener, and 20 ounces bottles of soda as well. I understand that the mayor wants to promote healthy choices. However, banning a product is not the only step that needs to be done in promoting healthy diet and food choices for people. People have the freedom to purchase any type of beverage and food product that they want, even if it is not the most healthy choice for them. For example, Americans continue to buy and smoke cigarettes even though they are aware that cigarettes can cause lung cancer in the long run. Living a healthy lifestyle means being active as well and your the food choices that you make is only part of the battle in dealing with obesity.

    Obesity is a Culture Bound Syndrome(CBS) and many Americans suffer from obesity at alarming rates. Obesity is so prevalent in America because AMericans have an unlimited access to a variety of fast food chains and processed foods. As mentioned in your post these fast foods are cheap. However, on the down side most fast foods in America have high sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and very fattening foods. This is why I believe society as a whole needs to change. There are millions of dollars wasted on fast food companies to promote their food and when it comes to healthy foods like vegetables and fruits there is a lack of promotion. Parents also need to step up to the plate to guide and help their children make healthier choices that they can carry for a lifetime and hopefully past on to their children.

    It is very interesting that many other cultures do not suffer from obesity as greatly as the United States does. Perhaps, America needs to embrace the ideas and ways of other culture to help them slow down the rates of obesity in America. Some Americans today find it easy to just go to a fast food restaurant and pick up food because they do not have to cook, it is time saving, and they do not have to spend a ton of money on groceries to prepare a meal. However, preparing your meals yourself is a healthier and smarter choice because you know exactly what is being put into your food because your are preparing it yourself. Overall, I think society is trained and program in a way to flock and crave more sugary foods and beverages. Ultimately, it does come down to the choices that you make. However, I believe that through education people can gain proper knowledge of what eating healthy really means. It is okay to indulge once in awhile, but there should be a balance.

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