In the article I reviewed, the anthropologist studied the Samoan community in relation to obesity. The Samoan population is considered to be the “fattest” population. This article studies the impact media has on society and their viewpoints on obesity both from an outsider’s perspective and the person that is considered obese. According to Lang, obesity is portrayed by the media to be “one of the worst things.” Obesity according to this article is a culture-bound syndrome as it cannot be considered independent of the group it is identified in.
Biologically, obesity occurs when a person’s BMI is outside and standardized marker. These markers are provided and used based on height, age and weight. There’s been controversy over BMI markers and if they are able to be used universally without any other factors being included. Culturally, obesity is all over the spectrum as in how people feel about it and deal with it. As mentioned in the article, media portrays obesity as shameful, even if a person is not obese, according to the standards of the media, they may as well be. Depending on what culture you are a part of, obesity may not be a bad thing. Even more so, it might not even been looked at as obesity. In the Samoan culture, being overweight is the norm and is actually part of their culture. On an individual level, people may feel influenced by those surrounding them in their communities. If the consensus in their community is that obesity is normal and part of life, they might have a positive self-image. If they life in a society where obesity is looked at to be lazy people and shameful, well then that individual may believe that and have poor self image and view themselves as worthless. These negative self-images can lead to poor health as well.
The Samoan culture is being evaluated to see how they view overweight people within their own culture. The research will focus on if the media has encroached on their societies feelings and understandings of the obesity. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see after the research is complete if the Samoan community will try and lose weight and become healthier, or make a small change to curb the rate of obesity in their culture.
Matro, Amy. “ASU Professor Looks at Cultural Factors in Obesity .” The State Press,
April 11, 2011.