I genuinely tried to find a better case of extreme medicalization in Western (particularly American) society, but the provided topic of obesity was an irrefutably superior example. Not only has the prevalence of this condition dramatically increased in the last two decades, the alleviation of this disease is made a top priority by a host of new public health movements and policies. The biomedicalization of obesity then, is quite understandable. With so much newly well-funded research published on the subject of obesity’s genetic influence, treatment protocols have taken a step away from holistic life style-mediating techniques and towards treating the condition with medication. This might not necessarily be a bad thing; however, this may over simplify the effective means of treatment for obesity. For example, while hormone pills may have an impact on one’s weight, or weight-loss surgery may provide a quick fix, life style changes such as those in diet and activity are often also useful in reaching a healthy weight. This all perpetuates the ideology that health and well-being is only just a pill away. This all isn’t to say that weight loss drugs (or at least the science behind them) are illegitimate; rather, I believe their emergence onto the scene of treatment options for America’s growing number of obese citizens is indicative of a positive step in understanding the nature of our biology. But it is important that we understand that conditions such as obesity do not arise in a vacuum, and their treatment should not be administered in one either.


The link above is for the weight loss medication, BELVIQ (it was the first Google search result and therefore is likely the medication online shoppers are the most drawn to—thus a good example). The drug is presented as treatment for both of obesity’s relevant negativities: social stigma and the onset of various co-morbid conditions. Obese individuals are depicted as those who are unable to fulfil their everyday duties to those around them such as parenting or socializing (BELVIQ tacitly will help with these two ends). The people in this medication’s website are happy and good looking—the type with the condition that allows them to uncannily look both un- and somehow healthy at the same time (nobody is riding in one of those Meijer power scooters pitifully hooked to an oxygen tank). These people are probably those most likely to glean the benefit of BELVIQ’s reported 2% boost in weight loss. Generally speaking the drug’s site is in a mildly pleasant color scheme and very user friendly; relevant medical information such as side effects or a BMI calculator are easily accessible. The general sense I get from this website is that it intends to be as comforting and non-judgmental as possible.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anya Odabasic says:

    Obesity has increasingly become a bigger and bigger problem. “It’s about more than fitting into your clothes, and all the cultural noise out there about weight. It’s about your life.” as stated by a doctor at Cleveland Clinic. Although I do agree with this statement, the social stigma around obesity is what drives people to seek help. Nobody wants to be viewed as fat or made fun of when they go out in public. Until recently, I don’t think most people understood the detrimental affects of extra body weight. Now it is no big news to hear that extra weight causes an increased risk for almost every illness in the book. Along with the increased publicity of obesity came an increase in the number of “treatments”. As you stated, Americans want fast results. We are used to having everything at our beckon so why not weight loss?
    Historically, body image prestige has been around for a very long time. Earlier in the semester we read an article about the weird rituals done long ago for body improvements. Since dieting has been around for such a long time it is inevitable that some sort of medicinal influence wouldn’t take place. The increasing awareness has not only led to individual people taking control but also higher authorities. Since the new healthcare movement there is talk of increasing insurance costs for the overweight. Since obesity is now classified as an illness, this gives rights to increase costs for the un-fit citizens of the country. They are sicker more often and prone to more diseases resulting in higher healthcare costs for themselves.

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