The culture-bound syndrome I chose to examine was obesity. Obesity, by definition, is when the body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more. It is the cause of various health conditions, some of which include: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and more. Obesity is the most prevalent condition in the United States with at least two in every three American adults being overweight or obese. In the I found discussing the obesity epidemic in America they discuss some causes of obesity which include genetics and lifestyle choices which include physical activity, eating habits and portion control. The article continues to discuss ways to lower the risk of obesity and being overweight.
From a biological standpoint, obesity could be caused by various genetic factors causing some people to have a predisposition for obesity. These factors would include metabolic and hormonal factors that could slow down the digestion of food and the metabolism of fats. Research on this aspect of obesity is still being conducted. When observing obesity from a cultural standpoint, it becomes evident why Americans are so susceptible to obesity; most of us live a sedentary lifestyle and consume more calories than we expend leading to weight gain. According to the article, the average American spends 55 percent of their waking hours sitting down. Experts are contributing this fact to the internet and the various options available for entertainment that do not involve physical activity (Netflix, TV, the internet, smartphones, etc.). During this time, Americans are subjected to advertisements for junk food and other snacks.
Another aspect contributing to obesity are the eating habits of Americans. Portions of food served in most restaurants and fast food chains are larger than the recommended daily caloric intake. Portions at your local Applebee’s or Olive Garden are often more than one person can eat. With the rise in food portions the caloric intake also rises. All of these factors, however, depend on the individual. It depends on whether they are physically active, their eating habits, their environment, and also how they feel. Some people eat more due to stressful situations that occur in their everyday life or because of mental illnesses like depression.
There are medical practices that can “fix” obesity that involves invasive surgery and sketchy diet pills. However, the best way to prevent obesity is to change one’s lifestyle. More exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes a day, could greatly help lower the risk of obesity. This idea, long with healthier food choices and education to help teach people the correct amounts of food they should consume, can go a long way in preventing what has become a crisis in our country.
Harvard Health Publications. “Obesity in America: What’s Driving the Epidemic?” MSN Healthy Living. 2014. Web. 18 July 2014. http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/obesity-in-america-whats-driving-the-epidemic-1?pageart=2