In the United States, obesity is considered an epidemic with various genetic, biological, social, cultural, behavioral, and environmental influences. Within the community, a considerable number of the local populations from children to adults are battling with obesity, a condition that exposes them to other chronic illnesses that come along with obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2017), such conditions include but not limited to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and mortality among others. Apart from chronic illnesses, obesity has a complex psychological impact on the individuals. In reality, obese people are exposed to high levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem among others. Similarly, alongside the health impact that obesity has on individuals, the condition also has a huge societal effect on the economy and national productivity. Although the number of healthcare dollars spent on obesity is small, the burden is still sizeable, especially to the individuals. Perhaps, one of the most surprising impacts of obesity is the number of young people in the community who are too heavy to qualify for national services such as military service. Thus, because obesity not only affects the health of the individual but also their psychological state and the society as a whole, it is important to understand the contributing factors and preventive measures that people can take to alleviate the risk of obesity.
Contributing Factor to Childhood/Adult Obesity
Essentially, there are several risk factors associated with being overweight and obesity. While some risk factors such as unhealthy lifestyles can be changed, others like age, family history, and genetics cannot be modified (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2017). In this case, unhealthy lifestyle habits include things such as lack of physical exercise, which constitutes not being physically active due to spending high amounts of time watching TV, playing video games, or sleeping. Unhealthy eating habits include consuming high levels of calories than the body can use, indulging in foods with high sugar concentrations or with too much-saturated fat. Other risk factors associated with unhealthy lifestyle include having high levels of stress and lack of enough sleep, which affects how the body uses nutrients and causes hormonal imbalances triggering hunger urges and in return over-eating.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2017), unhealthy lifestyles as a contributing factor to adult or childhood obesity can be prevented to mitigate the risk of obesity. In this case, lack of physical activity should be replaced with a physically active life. People should adopt healthy eating habits, by ensuring that they consume the right amounts of calories, avoid foods with high levels of added sugars, and avoid saturated fats. Similarly, individuals must always ensure they get enough sleep and where possible avoid chronic stress, because it triggers hormonal changes making one eat more and sustain more fat.
Sociological Theory Related to Unhealthy Eating Habits in Obese People
Among the three primary sociological perspectives, the functionalist theory is used by social scientists to explain the interconnection of society. According to Gawronski & Bodenhausen (2015), functionalist theory views society as a system of interconnected parts that rely on each other to maintain balance and social equilibrium. Applying the functionalist approach to obesity, we would say that good health is necessary for all members of the society to perform their roles. Ill health weakens the capacity of the individual to execute their functions, and if more people are unhealthy, the functionality of the society suffers. Therefore, individuals have a responsibility to observe healthy eating habits to maintain their health and a healthy community.
Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2015). Theory and explanation in social psychology. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2017). Overweight and Obesity: Risk factors. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2017). Overweight and Obesity: Risk factors. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks
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