Obesity in America


Psychologists have played a critical role in demonstrating the incidence of weight predisposition and the associated negative impacts. Overweight adults and children are stereotyped as unmotivated, lacking  self discipline and lazy. As such, they are consistently held responsible for their weight; hence some perceive that the solution to their condition is the one of individual responsibility.

However, this aspect of stigmatization is counterproductive since there is no tangible evidence that it inspires overweight people to change their outlook towards healthy living, but it most likely impacts them towards the opposite direction.  This results into increased unhealthy eating, stress, and aversion towards exercising; additionally, blaming the overweight individual has the tendency to overlook the real culprit responsible for the obesity problem. Hence, it is essential to identify obesogenic environment, its causes and impacts on an individual’s health.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity and weight gain result from the consumption of more calories than the body requires through eating diets, which are high in calories and fat, or as a consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, the inequality of calories burned and consumed can result from various psychological factors such as hormonal and genetic problems associated with issues in internal functions of the body (Spurlock). Therefore, the causes of obesity cannot be solely attributed to conventional human behavior; however, body mechanisms that impact appetite, metabolisms and satiety are equally culpable.

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American’s have developed unhealthy eating habits which contribute to the obesity problem. The modern work and home environments have made it increasingly inconvenient for people to take their time to prepare healthy food. Though, a significant number of American cultures taught their children to clean their plates comprising of healthy foods for their growth, the modern American culture, has transformed fundamentally where food comprises of various unhealthy quantities and mixtures (Spurlock). These are a consequence of expanding expectations of consumption and convenience including individuals experiencing economic challenges such as unemployment and high cost of living.

Therefore, American dietary patterns are influenced through convenience, availability and price; though the price of various food such as staples has no significant price variances, the food such as milk, fruits, eggs, meat and sugary drinks has more price fluctuations. As a result, people who are not economically stable are significantly sensitive to price changes. Additionally, the working culture of Americans where people have no time to cook healthy food, especially in homes where both parents are working, the family diet often consists of fast food and take-out meals (Spurlock). This also leads to the development of the microwave food culture.

Physical Activities

Obesity in America can be to a large extent attributed to the developments in technology which have significantly reduced the need for physical movements. As a result, modern lifestyles are sedentary in nature as a consequence of increased innovations in labor-saving gadgets at work places, play, transport and homes; meanwhile leisure activities continue to incorporate passive aspects of entertainment. While persistent and sustained physical activities contributed towards the protection against obesity or weight increase, it also enhances physical fitness; therefore, physical inactivity is in itself a contributing factor to health risks (Spurlock).

In traditional societies before the development of modern technologies, physical activates were characteristically the only way of life; therefore, issues of obesity were significantly associated with genetic or hormonal dispositions. Technological gadgets such as microwaves, remote controls, automatic door openers, electric snow blowers and lawnmowers have contributed significantly in reducing the physical activities of most Americans. Furthermore, information technology and the Internet have created virtual social environments such as social networks where individuals do not have to participate physically in social functions (Spurlock). As a result, a significant percentage of Americans do not partake in essential physical activities; hence their lifestyles contribute significantly to an obese population.

Biological Factors

While obesity is significantly attributed to the amount of calories and fat intakes, it can also be a consequence of biological factors such as genetic and hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism which prevents the body’s metabolism from functioning normally. Meanwhile, in cases where obesity is a consequence of genetic disorders, dieting and exercises my not have the desired impact in reducing weight.

This is because the body adapts to exercise and minimized diets through counteractive metabolic actions. Moreover, eating disorders where people are not able to control the amount of food they eat contributes significantly to obesity. In such cases, people eat more than the ordinary people are capable of leading to increased weight (Spurlock). While eating disorder is described as a medical condition, it can be easily developed through uncontrolled eating habits where people gradually increase their food portions, as such; they ignore or are not aware of being satiated.

Psychological Factors

There is a prevalent culture where people who are overweight are increasingly singled out through ridicule, stigmatization and social discrimination. In light of this, people who are perceived are subjected to psychological and emotional distress, which instead of driving them towards healthy living, drives them deep into depressive isolation state characterized by overeating leading to cases of chronic obesity.

This is more prevalent in teenagers and young adults whose weight impacts their self esteem and social life. Thus, teenagers whose weight impacts their social life and self esteem are highly likely to continue with their unhealthy habits which when they become adults they will be unable to abandon (Spurlock). Therefore, various adults who suffer from morbid obesity can attribute their conditions to teenage stigmatization and subsequent development of self image, which they are unable to dissociate once they become adults.

Impacts of Chronic Obesity

When an individual’s body has a mass index of 40 or above, it is considered to be chronic obesity (Spurlock). This can result to multiple severe health conditions. As such, obesity has the potential to shorten a person’s life or cause physical and psychological challenges leading to social segregation and stigmatization. Chronic obesity increases the incidence of cardio vascular diseases such as heart attacks and heart failures. Moreover, an individual who is chronically obese is more likely to suffer from asthma, stroke, hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally people who are chronically obese and do not seek to mitigate their conditions are exposed to higher risks of contracting various types of cancer such as ovarian, esophageal, prostate, breast, rectal, uterine and cervical cancer. Furthermore, individuals indicating chronic obesity are highly susceptible to type II diabetes, which is ten times prevalent in individuals who are obese than in individuals with normal variations of body weight. In light of these, people suffering from morbid obesity are often secluded from surgical procedures; therefore, they are left being vulnerable to a significant number of diseases which could otherwise be treated through surgical procedures.

Chronic obesity has been determined to cause sleep apnea, which impacts the individual through causing sleepiness during the day, that in severe cases can lead to death (Spurlock). Chronically obese people are increasingly prone to snoring, infertility and osteoarthritis; meanwhile, a pregnant woman indicating chronic obesity faces higher risks of the baby being born with defects. Women’s stress incontinence, gallbladder disease venous stasis and gastro-esophageal reflux disease, are among the potential diseases resulting from chronic obesity. Joint and back pains are common for obese people since they are easily fatigue where they exert their bodies in executing ordinary tasks.

Morbidly obese people are faced with difficulties in assimilating themselves in physical and social environments. For instance, they are unable to secure befitting seats in public places such as in buses, trains, airplanes or in public functions where seating is required. These people also have mobility problems where they are unable to walk without sweating and losing their breath as such, tasks such as climbing stairs are significantly difficult or impossible for them; this leads to social discrimination, embarrassment and isolation(Spurlock) . Hence low self esteem and anxiety are common factors impacting obese people; moreover, obese children and teenagers are often taunted and teased leading to their emotional development being impaired significantly.


Obesity is a factor of various behavioral, psychological, environmental and cultural aspects. Americans have begun to appreciate the severity of the impacts associated with obesity. Therefore, addressing physical, nutritional and psychological contributors is critical to the treatment and prevention of obesity. As a consequence of its intricate etiology, weight management should incorporate various techniques and approaches to mitigate obesity and its impacts.  The difficulty and complexity of reversing obesity should be enough cause for lifelong prevention measures; through physical activities and healthy nutrition to be the basis of combating obesity.

Since American society is influenced by environments that advocate physical inactivity in combination with increased consumption of unhealthy food, obesity has become a significant health challenge both in social and economic aspects. Therefore, public initiatives that have the potential to reach a large number of people such as in schools, childcare facilities, workplaces, healthcare facilities and communities are essential in sensitizing people to make healthy choices aimed at enhancing their physical and psychological health. As such, environmental and policy methods that facilitate the availability of healthy options should be affordable, available and easily utilized. This serves to broaden the capacity of strategies designed to sensitize and provide support to individuals; more so, to those who are willing to make significant changes in their lifestyles and attitudes towards obesity.