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Obesity and its importance
Obesity refers to a health condition that is characterized by the accumulation of excessive fat in the body due to an imbalance between the intake and spending of energy (Murphy, 2011, p.15). The availability of food laden with high calorie levels and lack of enough physical activity are major factors that predispose people to obesity.
Childhood obesity is often associated with obesity in adulthood. In addition, obesity is associated with health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery diseases (Murphy, 2011, p.18). A proper study and research into obesity can help avoid these conditions.
Other repercussions include stigmatization, social exclusion, depression and low self-esteem. Extensive comprehension of the sociological and medical aspects of obesity would help in the enactment of policies and programs to curb its occurrence and prevalence.
Biomedical approach to obesity
A biomedical approach to obesity considers the potential effects of obesity on the general health of victims. The excess fat associated with obesity presents several complications to many body organs, thus affecting their functionality (Gard, 2005, p.41).
Such complications include chest or joint pain, anemia and early menstruation cases (Gard, 2005, p.41). Research studies have established that childhood obesity is associated with the establishment of predisposing factors for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
It readily causes certain cancers such as breast and endometrial cancers, osteoarthritis, different complications during pregnancy, psychological disorders and high cholesterol levels in the blood (Gard, 2005, p.43). These conditions have the effect of causing disability or death in extreme cases.
A medical approach to obesity would recommend drugs or a diet low in calories for treatment (Gard, 2005, p.46). This happens under the supervision of an experienced medical professional. Dieting is accompanied by a considerable amount of physical activity.
Surgery is also a medical remedy for obesity. Gastric bypass is a surgical treatment for obesity (Gard, 2005, p.50). However, it is very expensive hence unaffordable by low-income earners. This approach does not consider the socio-economic or the cultural background of a victim.
Sociological concepts linked to obesity
Gender, socio-cultural and psychosocial factors have been shown to play a major role in propagating the occurrence of obesity. They do so by propagating the varying perceptions on obesity held by different cultures and what is acceptable and unacceptable by the society.
In addition to health problems, obesity may present social, emotional and psychological problems to victims. Sociological concepts such as gender, class, the media, stigma, ethnicity and norms influence the occurrence and prevalence of obesity (Monaghan, 2008, p.38).
Social stigmatization is one of the sociological consequences of obesity. Obese individuals experience social stigmatization in the form of ridicule and exclusion by their peers mainly in places of work and academic institutions (Monaghan, 2008, p.41).
Studies reveal that obesity can lead to discrimination of individuals in three main fields namely education, employment and health care. The degree of discrimination is so high that researchers have developed the term weight-based discrimination to mean that an individual is discriminated because of his body weight (Monaghan, 2008, p.43).
In the three fields, obese individuals experience decreased life chances and diminished psychological and physical well being because of the discrimination (Monaghan, 2008, p.44). Obese women experience societal stigmatization because they fail to fulfill the society’s requirements of the ideal female body size and weight.
Gender is an important factor in obesity. The degree of stigmatization is higher in women than in men. Research has shown that women are more prone to stigma than men are. This stigma is perpetuated by the cultural emphasis on bodily appearance, especially for women.
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Culturally, women are expected to be thin and graceful, and not fat. The media has further aggravated the problem for obese women because it presents thinness as a potential source of happiness and prosperity in the social and career life (Monaghan, 2008, p.48).
Obese women have to deal with the society’s norm of judging their suitability as potential partners or friends based on their body size. This leads to feelings of shame and guilt. Most women try to develop body sizes that are acceptable by the society through dieting.
To most women, dieting is motivated by beauty and not by healthy living. This results in depression and low self-esteem because of the difficulty in achieving these standards (Monaghan, 2008, p.49).
The media plays a great role in perpetuating the discrimination of obese individuals. It perpetuates the notion that obese people are unappealing, and their condition resulted from such vices as indolence and gluttony (Monaghan, 2008, p.55). This has resulted in negative criticism of obese people.
The media also depicts obese people as different from others because they possess body types and weights that are unacceptable by the society. Most obese people view food as a source of solace in times of stress and frustrations. The widespread advertisement of junk food in the media has contributed greatly to higher cases of obesity.
These advertisements do not warn of the dangers of consuming foods rich in high calorie levels but focus on marketing the products to unsuspecting consumers (Brewis, 2010, p.84). Most advertisements focus on unhealthy eating that is mainly directed towards low-income earners.
The foods advertised are the less expensive and high in calorie levels that are affordable to the middle and low class people. This largely contributes to the occurrence of obesity through unhealthy eating habits, motivated y lack of knowledge on healthy living (Brewis, 2010, p.86).
Application of sociological knowledge by health workers
Sociological knowledge is important for health care workers because it helps them relate the knowledge to the various social, economic and political realities affecting the society (Monaghan, 2008, p.62). Concisely, understanding the relationship between health care and sociology is vital for effective and efficient clinical and community-based practice.
Data and information linked to social health assists health care workers in identifying the needs of the people in the community in which they offer their services (Monaghan, 2008, p.64).
Sociological insights enable health care workers understand the experiences of people with disabilities, chronic illnesses and other conditions that predispose victims to societal discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment (Monaghan, 2008, p.65).
Therefore, for effective treatment and management of illnesses affecting the society, acquisition of sociological knowledge is imperative.
Obesity refers to a health condition that is characterized by the accumulation of excessive fat in the body due to an imbalance between the intake and spending of energy. It is associated with health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery diseases. A proper study and research into obesity can help avoid these conditions.
A biomedical approach to obesity studies or looks at the effects of obesity on the physical health of victims. The excess fat associated with obesity presents several complications to many body organs, thus affecting their functionality.
Such problems include chest or joint pain, anemia and early menstruation cases. Factors such as social class, the media, stigma and gender play an important role in determining the occurrence and prevalence of obesity.
Brewis, A. (2010). Obesity: Cultural and Biocultural Perspectives. New York: Rutgers University Press.
Gard, M. (2005). The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality and Ideology. London: Routledge.
Monaghan, L. (2008). Men and the War on Obesity: A Sociological Study. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Murphy, W. (2011). Obesity. New York: Twenty-First Century Books.