Obesity in modern Cultures

Since it is also the focus of my Weebly website, I thought it was only appropriate that I look at obesity as a culture bound syndrome. It will probably come as no surprise that there is a link between more “modern” societies and obesity. The United States is obviously no exception to this correlation. The article I found took a look at some of the potential causes for our countries weight problem and what we can do to stop it from becoming an even worse problem.

One suggestion that I found particularly interesting is the idea that we may be conditioning ourselves from a young age to be unhealthy adults. As children, if we sit and watch television or play video games all day instead of participating in physical activity we may actually be shaping the mold for our lifestyle as adults.

The article looks at the current proposed solutions that are marketed as “simple” and easy. Basically, these solutions boil down to a more appropriate energy balance: Eat less, do more. This is easier said than done, and ironically, people sit and watch Dr. Oz and other awful daytime TV to find out about the new diet that is going to bring them health. Aside from those fad diet shysters, the article also comments that certain food industries may have a hand in propagating misinformation that can further muddy the waters of what is a healthy diet for those who actually are trying to eat healthier.

As I mentioned earlier, the article took interest in the development of the lifestyle that leads to obesity. Culturally, a modern society embraces new technology such as video games and motorized transportation that reduces the need for energy expenditure, thus making us fatter. Though some blame still lies with the individual: stairs vs. elevator, drive to the store or walk? Once obesity develops, the treatment is diet and exercise, or have a drastic stomach band surgery. The article concludes that the best treatment is to prevent obesity by providing education about a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Contaldo, Franco, and Fabrizio Pasanisi. “Obesity epidemics: simple or simplicistic answers?.” Clinical Nutrition 24, no. 1 (2005): 1-4.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Tyler Lambert says:

    Culture is the individual beliefs, traditions, customs, and ways of life for a particular group of people. Culture has a variety of influences, family, environment, technology, healthcare and religion to name a few. Obesity in modern or western cultures would be considered a cultured-bound syndrome in my opinion. The strong relationship between a sedimentary lifestyle, fast food, increased portion size and other technological advances making life “easier” for us, has led to a cultural norm in western cultures of obesity.

    There are many advantages to considering obesity as a CBS. Recognizing the cultural influences that have led to the increased prevalence of obesity is the first step towards making a positive impact. By altering some of the cultural influences towards a healthier lifestyle, eventually change across the culture will be seen. A few examples that could help alter the culture of obesity seen in western societies include; offering healthier choices/proportion sizes at restaurants specifically fast food, and or promoting physical activity and education regarding health for school aged children. I don’t see any disadvantages to classifying obesity in western cultures as a CBS. Obesity is not nearly as prevalent in cultures where there is less accessibility to fast food and less developed modes of transportation, forcing more individual physical activity. Cultures less infatuated with body image may consider a large physique as a sign of power, good health or masculinity.

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