Obesity in the US

Obesity within the United States culture fits in to the current definition of what a culture bound illness is. It is a health problem that is extremely prevalent in our culture in the United States and some other westernized cultures but not in other cultures. The biological dimension of this illness includes all the symptoms and results of it. There are some very obvious symptoms such as the person being extremely overweight for the person’s height. There are, however, other symptoms that are less visually obvious but also very serious such a increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Another biological problem that is often the result in people who are obese in the united states culture is the development of type two diabetes which has a whole other set of health issues. There is a rather negative cultural dimension of obesity despite the fact that it has become so common in recent years throughout the culture. People who are obese in the united states are often looked down upon by others who are not affected by the disease. People with obesity are often blamed by others who believe that these people brought the issue on themselves by living a grossly unhealthy lifestyle with poor diet and lack of exercise, which is sometimes true and other times not true. Another cultural and somewhat individual dimension of this illness is that it disproportionately affects poorer people. People who are obese often can not afford proper nutrition to stay a health weight and also can not afford proper health care in order to treat the illness. This leads us into how it is currently being evaluated and treated in the different medical models within the united states culture. More recently, obesity has been treated as an actual illness within western medicine which can be treated various ways. There are various surgeries and medications that are used to treat the symptoms and overall issue but they do not have a very high success rate and are often very expensive methods. A more holistic approach is minimal medications only for problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure in concurrence with improved diet plan and physical exertion.

Ritenbaugh, Cheryl. “Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome – Springer.” Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome – Springer. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00118882#page-1 (accessed July 18, 2014).

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Jenny Hallesy says:

    Hi Victoria,

    • I really enjoyed your explanations on why you believe that obesity is a culture bound illness. When I think of culture, I think of a group or population that is connected by language, history, beliefs, and customs which is why I find myself leaning a little more towards believing that obesity in the United States is not a culturally bound illness. While I do agree with you that obesity can be found more often in those closer to poverty in the U.S., it is something that can be found all over the world regardless of social standing or wealth. In the United States, for example, it is not uncommon to see a person that is obese who happens to be wealthy or at least far from poverty. In our country, it is much easier and convenient to get fast and unhealthy food, which many people with busy schedules turn to for a quick meal as opposed to throwing together a healthy meal. For many countries that have extreme poverty, obesity may rarely exist due to the extreme lack of food, healthy or not. In these same poverty stricken countries, obesity may be a sign of wealth and looked upon as a good thing, whereas it is frowned upon in the U.S.

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