Informative Essay on Obesity

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Obesity numbers have tripled around the world since 1975, killing an estimated 2.8 million adults every year (World Health Organisation, 2018). Globally, it is one of the largest causes of preventable deaths and serious illness, due to many socio-economic factors, as well as the lack of individual and social responsibility. These factors contributing to obesity will continue to cause serious damage for future generations if more is not done to reverse this disease today.

Poverty, and the lack of education surrounding diet and physical activity, are but one contributing socio-economic factor in the rise of obesity cases (Cohen, Janicki-Deverts, Chen, Matthews, 2010) & (Cohen, 2018). Furthermore, obesity has been linked to many other socioeconomic factors, as statistics show that low-income families are more at risk of obesity due to being unable to afford healthy nutritious foods. Consequently, low-income families incorporate more fats and sugars into their diets as these foods are much cheaper (Darmon & Drewnowski, 2015). According to Caraher, (2018), “food choices are massively influenced by factors such as income, knowledge, and skills”. Unhealthy foods eaten by families of low-income lead to increased obesity and disadvantage amongst low-income wealth groups. For example, figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre demonstrated that 25% of children in poor areas of Britain are obese compared with only 11% in wealthier areas of Britain (Ellen, 2015). However, a study by Social Science and Medicine found that in lower-income countries, higher socio-economic status (SES) meant more obesity cases. Obesity is also influenced by the fact that healthy food choices are more expensive and can take longer to prepare than cheap and easy fast foods which are a popular choice for families on a tight budget (Elder, 2014) & (NHS, 2014). Socioeconomic factors play a huge part in the widespread disease that is obesity, but it cannot be the only area to blame, as it is also up to individual and social responsibility to keep obesity figures under control.

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Obesity is commonly caused by irresponsible choices by an individual managing weight, food choices, and exercise in everyday activities (My Virtual Medical Centre, 2011) & (, n.d.). A child becomes obese due to the food choices parents provide and the amount of exercise that is encouraged in households. It is the individual responsibility of a parent to provide their family with healthy food and correct portion size, as well as the encouragement of moderate exercise, in order to keep their families weight under control, thus remaining healthy and educating their children with healthy habits they can then use to provide for their future families. Many point the finger as to who is to blame for obesity, but the only ones accountable are both the choices an individual makes, as well as the social responsibility of society. There should be a wider social responsibility towards educating society on the causes and consequences of obesity and there needs to be increased support around this disease to help bring the climbing statistics under control (Brownell et al, 2010). Studies conducted have shown that countries with better economic development have populations with better health and nutritional skills as it has been proven that higher incomes lead to improved health and better eating (Lange & Vollmer, 2017). However, this idea is not always realistic in our modern-day world, as more children are exposed to heavy advertisements for new and different foods on television and social media, transforming them into demanding and fussy eaters (Golden, Garde, Handsley, 2018). There are increased fears of children walking/biking to school, as reports of child abductions and predators, suggest children are vulnerable. Children also spend increased time indoors on technology, rather than playing outside which encourages obesity within children as they become lazy and are not getting enough physical activity. These factors are creating bad habits that are often carried through to adulthood (Boyers, n.d.) & (Kids Health, 2018). These ideas suggest we need more social responsibility focussed on reducing the amount of heavily advertised junk foods promoted to children (Bradshaw, 2016) & (American Psychological Association, n.d.), and more encouragement for children to be active in a safe area. The potential introduction of a sugar tax on unhealthy products, such as soft drinks, lollies, chips, etc would also be a step forward in regard to social responsibility toward reducing the obesity epidemic. This measure would certainly improve the health and nutrition of individuals and would free up billions in healthcare spending, due to a decrease in the costs of treating the rising cases of obesity levels (Martin, Sacks, Veerman, 2016). These ideas show that keeping the obesity epidemic under control is not the responsibility of any one group of people but in fact, it is a social responsibility that we all need to work together on in order to reduce the number of people this disease is affecting globally.

Eliminating the rise in obesity is important for the health and well-being of future generations. If obesity continues to rise at the rate it is, there will be serious consequences in the near future. Obesity figures representing US youth are predicted to rise to above 57% in the near future, causing a catastrophic effect on the country’s health systems (Radcliffe, 2017). Obesity is a preventable disease on which billions of dollars are spent every year on problems stemming from it (The State of Obesity, n.d.). Governments may not be able to afford to cover obesity-related costs in the near future, as they are expected to become too expensive with a growing population affected by this disease. Simply by making healthier choices, and incorporating a little exercise into an everyday routine, billions of taxpayer dollars can be saved on providing healthcare to individuals with problems related to obesity. In turn, this money could be invested into more beneficial projects and research that would benefit society on a higher level (The State of Obesity, n.d.). As of 2017, more than 1 in 3 New Zealanders over 15 are obese, making our country the third fattest in the world (Ministry of Health, 2018). This means that for just under 29% of our population substantial weight on the body may lead to devastating consequences, such as premature death, limited mobility, type 2 diabetes, internal bleeding, esophagitis, high blood pressure, limited breathing ability, etc, (ASMBS, n.d.). All of these are preventable and place a heavy financial impact on the New Zealand health system (Cardinal Health, 2016). In order to bring the number of casualties affected by obesity down to a minimal and manageable amount more needs to be done to encourage both individual and social responsibility in society to help keep this disease under control.

There needs to be wider recognition from society as well as preventative measures introduced to resolve socio-economic issues contributing to obesity, which is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the world each year. If more is not done to reverse the damaging consequences of obesity, our future generations will be facing more serious issues in the upcoming years due to the damaging impact of this deadly disease. Addressing obesity-related issues is both individual responsibility, as well as society's to promote a healthy, wholesome lifestyle. It is important to educate our parents and children on the life-threatening consequences of obesity, so that the increasing rate of the disease, is able to be reduced before there are irreversible problems for our health systems. Obesity will continue to be one of the world’s most deadly diseases, with higher casualties and consequences in the future if more is not done to recognize and prevent the socio-economic factors of the disease, as well as recognize both individual and social responsibilities that need to be taken in order to prevent the rise of obesity.


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