W3 Activity: Obesity as CBS in the United States

The article I chose to summarize talks about obesity as a culture-bound syndrome and what culture-bound syndrome actually is. It is thought that these syndromes fall into categories that are defined by the native users and reflect real life experiences. It is talked about how in other societies is seen to be beautiful and a sign of having a lot of wealth. Yet, in the United States it is seen to be the exact opposite; unhealthy and often signs of poverty. In the United States, obesity is actually looked at and categorized as a disease. Obesity has become such a studied topic in biomedical research in the West because they are “closely tied to core societal values”(Ritenbaugh). At such a young age in Western culture the value of thinness is put into place. It is talked about how thinness today is related to wealth and being able to afford the best foods when a long time ago it used to be the opposite. Today, you can buy cheap foods that are not nutrient-dense which is likely for many people that are in poverty or just cannot afford healthy foods. For instance, anybody can go to McDonald’s and get a meal for under five dollars compared to going to the store and buying—let’s say ground turkey meat and fruits and veggies, which would cost more than double that amount. There are so many fast food chains in our nation that influences our culture and overall health. Furthermore, patients that exhibited obesity at first were in denial of their state! However, with the help of doctors they began to recognize and accept their condition.

There are many ways that people attempt to treat obesity such as: diet pills, surgery, weight-loss programs, and behavioral therapies, along with strict diet and exercise. However, many people are still considered obese according to their BMI. I have learned through other courses that BMI is not always an accurate way to categorize whether someone is obese or not. For instance, somebody who is a professional athlete is probably considered obese but they may be in perfect health.


Ritenbugh, C. (n.d.). Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/content/r2434r5278261km7/fulltext.pd

2 thoughts on “W3 Activity: Obesity as CBS in the United States

  1. Hey again Landyn,

    To me, culture is behavioral patterns learned but a common social group. I never would have categorized obesity as a Culturally bound syndrome. From this definition of culture I do think that obesity is a CBS. At first I wouldn’t regard obesity as a culturally bound syndrome because there are people all over the world that are obese, but then I thought about the CBS that I studied and that happens in my culture also, we just don’t really acknowledge it on the level that their culture does. I personally feel as this condition is described the same in all cultures. I’m not sure of the statistics and all but I don’t think other cultures really deal with obesity as we do here in the US. Eating habits are different, even work ethic is different in other cultures. Here in the US, we eat a lot of unhealthy foods and we are just down right lazy. Sad, but true. I think other cultures would suggest changing a persons diet, and exercise habits to lose weight just as we do in the United States though. I’m not really sure what categorizes a person as technically obese, maybe that aspect is different in other cultures.

  2. Looking at your topic of obesity in the US as a CBS is an interesting challenge; yes it’s an issue here and worldwide but I think we look at it differently and more extreme here in the US that most countries do. I agree with your posting for the most part and like you said and I quote “There are many ways that people attempt to treat obesity such as: diet pills, surgery, weight-loss programs, and behavioral therapies, along with strict diet and exercise”, but what is the difference approaches and how much more we here in the US feel about hose methods. Obesity is a huge issue here (no pun intended) and it gets worse every day unfortunately you are right that it is cheaper to get a number five at the burger shack instead of a bowl of fruit at the store. So in a country where the is such a great amount of concern for the health of the country you would think that there would be more affordable options that would make these health option more available than they are. Until then we will have to stick with the quarter pounder commercials instead of the healthy choice fast food chain that will never exist in this society. I enjoyed reading your post a lot, I thought you brought a valid CBS to the table.

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