The Medical Construction of Obesity

Powerful Essays

One hundred and forty-seven billion dollars. This is the estimated cost of obesity in the United States (CDC, 2013). Today, obesity is on trend to being one of the biggest public health challenges since tobacco (Perry & Creamer, 2013). In 2010 33.7% of US adults and 17% of children aged 2-19 were considered obese (CDC, 2013). While obesity is rising at an exponential rate, there is disconnect between how society views and defines obesity and the actual medical costs and future health risks the disease holds (ACSM, 2010). This is where medical professionals need to bridge the gap of medical and social construction.

Medical Construction of Obesity:

The American Medical Association defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. To classify weight status the most commonly used parametric in adults is Body Mass Index (BMI) a measure of weight-for-height (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) (Cawley, 2010) A BMI greater than or equal to twenty-five is considered overweight, and a BMI greater than or equal to thirty is considered obese. BMI is calculated differently in children because of body fat changes with age, and differs between girls and boys. BMI for children and teens is often called BMI-for-age. A child aged 2-20 in the 85th to 95th percentile is considered overweight; a child who falls into the 95th percentile and above is obese (CDC, 2013).

Causes of Overweight/ Obesity. There are multiplicities of factors that combine to influence body weight including genetic, behavioral, metabolic, environmental, cultural and socioeconomic factors. The main cause is an imbalance of excessive calorie consumption and/ or physical inactivity. I...

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