The Obesity Epidemic in America

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In this research paper we will be looking at the topic of obesity and the social ramifications that it holds. We will first look at obesity in a broad way. Then we will focus on obesity and its effects on children. And finally, obesity and adulthood will be covered. The topic of obesity is important to the field of sociology because obese people make up a significant portion of the world’s population. In addition, the manner in which obese people are treated has a significant effect on society as a whole.

Before going into too much detail, it is first necessary that we have a good understanding of what exactly obesity is and its prominence in society. “Obesity is understood to be a complex disease requiring multi-faceted treatment. Obesity can contribute to many adverse health outcomes, called co-morbidities. These include diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease” (Atkinson 1999). According to the American Medical Association, being obese means that 30% of your ideal body weight is constituted by fat. Obesity is determined by measurement of body fat, not merely body weight. People might be over the weight limit for normal standards, but if they are very muscular with low body fat, they are not obese. Others might be normal or underweight, but still have excessive body fat. Different measurements and factors are used to determine whether or not a person is overweight to the degree that it threatens health. Some of these are body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and anthropometrics (Grayson 1998). Some symptoms of being obese include a body fat percentage greater than thirty percent for women and twenty-five percent for men or weighing more than twenty percent more than your ideal body weight (Simon 2000). One would need to visit their physician in order to accurately determine their body fat percentage or their ideal weight.

Now that we have a better understanding of what obesity is, we will look at exactly how widespread it is and whom it affects. Being overweight and obesity are serious health problems. “In 1993, obesity was identified as a key contributor to at least 300,000 deaths each year in America,” according to former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, J. Michael McGinnis, MD, and the former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), William Foege (Klein 2000). More than half of Amer...

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...d alone or in a combination to bring about successful weight loss (Dwyer, et al. 1973, 309). They are dietary modifications, increased physical activity, and medications. A lot of doctors believe that eating a balanced diet and exercise is the best way to get rid of excess weight and keep it off.

Obesity has become an epidemic in American society. It is marked by body weight being more than thirty percent fat. The onset of obesity is determined by a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors. Obese individuals constitute nearly thirty percent of the population. They are more susceptible to disease and death than those of normal weight. Obesity can be considered deviant due to its societal reaction. Obesity is visibly deviant, therefore, making it easier for the labeling process to occur. Once the obese person has been labeled, he or she is deviant. Obesity has become statistically an average behavior in the United States. Nevertheless, it is still “abnormal”. The norm stands that thinness is attractive and worthy (Adler and Adler, 245). So long as this norm is upheld, obesity will be deviant and people will be labeled for their deviance from the norm.
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