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Obesity Epidemic, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 959

Essay

Introduction

This paper addresses the obesity epidemic in the USA and whether the opinions asserted by Erdman Farrell’s argument (Considering Fat Shame) are valid. (Farrell).  The book considers the stigma that is associated with being fat and how current trends have changed to the point that it is now shameful to be obese. She asserts that much of the stigma has been brought on by health and wellness, fitness companies and dietary bodies that fuel a $60 billion industry in the USA.  She asserts that this industry has waged a war on the obese population to stigmatize them as out of mainstream society. Edmund Farrell’s arguments provide compelling evidence to support commercial exploitation of obese Americans and the

The need for balance

It is considered that the author is somewhat misguided in the obesity crisis that is facing North America.  A great deal of this is related to poverty and poor social conditions. The concept of obesity is important not only to this generation but also future generations. There has been a marked increase in illnesses like diabetes, heart and stroke disease etc. A great deal of this is due to the sedentary lifestyles that we lead and the lack of daily exercise. In addition eating the wrong foods a trend towards fast foods and saturated fats as opposed to eating more fruit and vegetables.  The combination of these things has both resulted in obesity and our increased vulnerability towards illness. Recent research has indicated that there is a distinct divide between the rich and poorer class structure in modern society and as such this is creating obesity in the poor.  The concept of obesity is a world problem and particularly so in the USA.  In Ireland it is becoming more prevalent in the female gender of the poorer classes. The author argues that this has a larger commercial agenda “Every diet that has emerged on the scene has come with a larger social agenda” (p4).  Hence this has been more skewed towards economic wellbeing as opposed to dealing with the social issues that underpin this problem. There are many  different representational points of view as to whether individuals are automatically entitled to healthcare.  On the one hand, many consider that healthcare is a human right and should be provided to all citizens regardless of race, creed or monetary status.  The other viewpoint is that health care is a privilege and should be earnt by responsible citizens through contribution to society.  This has been defined as those people who are employed and pay taxes or contribute financially to society in some other form.  In the United Kingdom and Canada the concept of a universal health system was decided by the electorate.  Perhaps ultimately in the United States, a similar situation will take place i.e., the people will decide on the most suitable system to be adopted moving forward.

The Concept of Stigma

Stigma may be defined as discrimination, prejudice or bias against other people who are often deemed to be inferior in some way. There have been numerous accounts of the concept of ‘you are what you eat’; Spurlock’s ‘super-size me’ being a prime example.  This endorses the importance of nutrition and healthy diet. A recent US Government survey revealed that blood tests conducted over a 3000 sample of children, indicated some 20% of children failed to get sufficient Vitamin D because of a lack of healthy eating and insufficient dairy products.  As such these children are placed at serious risk of life threatening diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes and bone infections. My personal opinion is that the very concept of stigmatism is born out of ignorance and a lack of both knowledge and tolerance. Any sort of discriminatory behaviour is ultimately dangerous and can lead to serious consequences that depict the dark side of human behaviour.

Perspective of healthcare

The bottom line is that we become what we eat. Unhealthy fatty foods lead to unhealthy fatty people, whereas well balanced healthy food with regular exercise leads to healthy people with more self-confidence and positive mental outlooks.  The increase in obesity also leads to a lack of self-esteem and ultimately psychological illness in addition to the health hazards outlined.

Weightwatchers has certainly been instrumental in helping people with overweight conditions to address the problem. There is the added concern however whether this should exist in isolation from the medical community and whether there is sufficient accurate information for you to make the right informed choices. The Points Plan offered by weightwatchers allows you to eat or drink whatever you prefer, however it has restrictions around its core plan. The main objective is to try and make you eat more healthily and this means the introduction of low fat foods like lean meats, chicken, fruit and vegetables. It provides a support system with the help of others who are trying to achieve similar objectives. In addition this can also become a social function where you meet and make new friends. Consider “the life chances of fat people are limited because of unfair treatment in employment, medical care and social life” (p9)

Conclusion

Whilst there is a great deal of validity to the authors work and undoubtedly the author is an authority in this area. It is somewhat misguided in the interpretation. Whilst big Corporations have seized opportunities in the health and wellness industry it is certainly meeting a demand to help people in an already ailing health system. Although a degree of stigma exists, the underlying importance of diabetes, heart disease and other related ailments cannot be understated.  “Fat is both clearly a visible stigma and a character stigma” (p7) .We are losing a younger generation through poor health regimes.

Works Cited

Farrell, Amy Erdman. Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

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