Obesity in America

The scholarly peer- reviewed article that I read on obesity in America discusses how America have higher rates of obesity than any other country in the world.  Americans are exposed to so much luxury and an abundance of food that is processed and cheap that it is easy to gain excess weight.  Also poorer Americans are shown to be more likely to have obesity, due to not having the money to buy healthier foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Also if people live in an unsafe community they most likely do not go outside for exercise because it would put them in danger. Not having money for healthy food and not having a safe place to exercise to stay in shape leads to weight gain and therefore obesity. Biologically obesity can be passed down if the family history is to be on the heavier side and have a slower metabolism, but obesity can still be prevented even if it does run in the family. It is more of a cycle of bad habits that need to be broken. If Americans enforced health care for all and had healthier food in systems like food funds, that the less fortunate use Americans would have a less likely chance of developing this illness. More recently attention is being brought to the illness. Due to more and more children developing obesity in America doctors and nutritionists are making a greater efforts to bring awareness to the situation. There are many more fit clubs in public schools and children are learning earlier about the need to eat healthy foods and exercise every day. I think with more awareness and the education of the youth, obesity can be lowered. There are such simple solutions to such a large culture bound syndrome that as a country we need to concern ourselves with this issue to make Americans healthier.

Bray, George. “Obesity in America”. Hathi Trust Digital Library. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015000308091;view=1up;seq=1 (July 18th, 2014).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Albert Tamayo says:

    To me, culture is an all-encompassing term for the similar beliefs and traditions of a group of people. It can be considered a way of life for that group and can be used to distinguish those people from another group, often as a source of pride.

    I do believe that obesity in America should be considered a culture-bound syndrome. Our lifestyle here in the States is much more stressful than we let on to the rest of the world. As stated above, our eating habits and food systems are the primary sources of blame and our growing economic disparity is only worsening the situation. Some advantages of looking at obesity as a CBS are that we can attempt to employ resolutions that have large effects on our population as a whole and we can gather information about the epidemic by region to tweak national regulations around food consumption. The main disadvantages of thinking about obesity as a CBS are that America is made up of many different cultures, and we are more likely to ignore the other causes of the disease. Genetics, neighborhood violence, inadequate access to healthy foods are all other possible causes of obesity that may share equal or even greater blame than traditional eating habits.

    A different approach to studying obesity in America could be the experiential approach. This approach could be used by anthropologists to discover how people look at obesity (e.g. Do they even consider obesity to be an illness?), the stories that people tell about it, and how people understand the illness. The information gleaned from this type of study would allow anthropologists to tackle the mentality behind the disease in America and develop treatments that might not have otherwise worked through other methods. Other cultures may also attempt to improve the spiritual health of obese patients to get rid of the illness. An example of this would be the practices of shamanism around the world that we learned about from different articles this week.

  2. Mohkam Singh says:

    I believe culture is a definition of the practices that encompass the actions and practices of a certain group of people. We have American culture, but within that we have southern culture, Midwest culture, east coast, west coast, etc… I do believe obesity is a culture-based syndrome for Americans. In our country, we have a virtually unlimited supply of food. Restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, all of these outlets surround our everyday and are just part of our American society. We take food for granted and tend to eat the most food in the world. As stated in the analysis of the obesity peer reviewed article by Meredith, lower income American families tend to see the highest rates of obesity. This is because while we have an abundance of good, nutritious food, we have even more unhealthy food surrounding us everywhere we go. McDonalds serves millions of customers’ nationwide everyday but has close to zero nutritional value in its food. Yet, McDonalds is part of American culture. Treating obesity as a CBS has many advantages. We can compare Americans to other nations and show how unhealthy our eating habits are compared to other nations. This can help raise awareness and influence education geared to removing obesity as such a big issue in our society. As an Indian American, my cousins from India and Europe perceive our obesity epidemic as a direct result of American privilege. They see the size of our meals and think that Americans are all unhealthy and have no control over our intake. They compare our eating habits to America’s constant influence in other societies. Something we pride that others despise.

  3. Hannah Weiss says:

    I define culture as the traditions and social norms a group of people have in common. Culture throughout this class has been shown by where people live. Depending on where they live depends on what kind of cultural influence was formed by the people that inhabited that area. For instance, what you eat and drink is apart of culture and can lead to cultural disorders. Obesity in America truly is an illness and a culture bound syndrome. Americans are becoming increasingly unhealthy. Obesity is cultural bound because people in this environment and culture eat the same foods and live in the same ways. Americans have a certain lifestyle that leads to the culture becoming obese. Eating bad foods and not exercising leads to this illness. In a different culture this illness might be explained as laziness for Americans being inactive. The poor food quality that is served in America is a contributing factor. This condition seen by another group of people could be explained in terms of different diet’s and activities. People may see this illness of obesity as having an easy cure but Americans live such stressful fast paced lives that money and wealth became more important than health.

  4. Kayla Lumpkin says:

    I define culture as the beliefs, customs, and way of life of a certain group of common people. A culture bound syndrome according to Wikipedia can be defined as combination of psychiatric and somatic synonyms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture . I do believe that obesity is a culture bound syndrome because in the United States we have a surplus of food, and to make matters worst, fast food. McDonald’s is one of the most popular fast food restaurants in America and it is definitely part of our culture. America is one of the fattest countries and I believe that this proves that this helps support the fact that obesity is a culture bound illness. Obesity being a culture bound illness is an advantage because we can use our downfall of being unhealthy as a way to get people to be more aware of the issue. It is a disadvantage because as Americans it is difficult to focus on health instead on money and jobs. Also, our health continues to get worse because of the health care issues going on in America. In other cultures, they may explain obesity as not being a culture bound syndrome because they could just easily say that we can change that and become more healthy. Americans love to eat and other cultures believe that our portion sizes are too big.

  5. Taylor Smith says:

    To me, culture is a way of life of a group of connected people. This includes spiritual beliefs and practices, family and community structure, economic organization, educational structure and many other aspects. I think it is hard to label obesity as a cultural bound syndrome for a few reasons. First, obesity does not just occur in the US, all though there are higher rates here in America. Second, there are many different cultures present in the United States, so looking at the US as whole when thinking of a cultural disease can be misleading. However, I do think there are many aspects of our culture that promote and encourage the prevalence of this disease that make sense for it to be labeled as a cultural bound syndrome. I do not believe that there is a strong genetic determinant for obesity, I believe strongly that it is all about what we eat and the way of life we live that determines whether or not a person will suffer from obesity.
    We can see statistically that those in poverty are at a higher risk for obesity because they cannot afford healthy food, but we do not see this problem nearly as much in very poor nations all over the world. I think this reason would make people from a different culture believe that it is not genetics or economic status, but rather the way of life in America that many find excessive and lazy.

  6. Josh Williams says:

    I believe that culture is culmination of all of the different traits, values, morals and habits a person develops throughout their lifetime, based upon their environment, heritage, family and personal experiences as they grown into an adult. I do think that obesity truly is a culture bound illness created from the westernized culture, not only specific to the United States but also other westernized cultures as well such as Australia while other cultures such as certain technologically un-advanced tribes find being overweight to be a positive trait that signifies wealth and sustainability. I think that obesity however, should not be considered a culture bound illness because it has severe detrimental side effects on the body no matter what culture or background a person has. The advantages of labeling this a culture bound illness is that it can make some Americans begin to understand that the way we live can be very unhealthy in excess and may teach some to moderate their activities more. The disadvantages of this being labeled a culture bound illness is that some people not of the western culture may think that it is not possible for them to experience obesity until it is too late. This concept would be difficult to explain in developing countries because it is hard to explain that eating too much regularly can be a negative thing, but the best way would be to explain it in a sense of lack of physical activity in combination can cause serious health issues that would reduce one’s quality of life.

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