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Obesity is a problem that affects virtually every person on the planet. Everyone knows someone who is overweight or they themselves are overweight. In this research paper we will be looking at the topic of obesity and the social ramifications that it holds. We will first look at obesity in a broad way. Then we will focus on obesity and its effects on children. And finally, obesity and adulthood will be covered. The topic of obesity is important to the field of sociology because obese people make up a significant portion of the world's population. In addition, the manner in which obese people are treated has a significant effect on society as a whole. Before going into too much detail, it is first necessary that we have a good understanding of what exactly obesity is and its prominence in society. "Obesity is understood to be a complex disease requiring multi-faceted treatment. Obesity can contribute to many adverse health outcomes, called co-morbidities. These include diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease" (Atkinson 1999). According to the American Medical Association, being obese means that 30% of your ideal body weight is constituted by fat. Obesity is determined by measurement of body fat, not merely body weight. People might be over the weight limit for normal standards, but if they are very muscular with low body fat, they are not obese. Others might be normal or underweight, but still have excessive body fat. Different measurements and factors are used to determine whether or not a person is overweight to the degree that it threatens health. Some of these are body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and anthropometrics (Grayson 1998). Some symptoms of being obese include a body fat percentage greater than thirty percent for women and twenty-five percent for men or weighing more than twenty percent more than your ideal body weight (Simon 2000). One would need to visit their physician in order to accurately determine their body fat percentage or their ideal weight. Now that we have a better understanding of what obesity is, we will look at exactly how widespread it is and whom it affects. Being overweight and obesity are serious health problems. "In 1993, obesity was identified as a key contributor to at least 300,000 deaths each year in America," according to former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, J. Michael McGinnis, MD, and the former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), William Foege (Klein 2000). More than half of American adults 20 years old or older are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity are especially prevalent in some minority groups in addition to those with lower incomes and less education. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese (Klein 2000). ""Affecting one in five Americans – or more than 22 percent of the U.S. population – obesity is one of the most pervasive health problems in our nation right now," said George L. Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery and associate director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. "We need to implement steps to slow the progression of this national epidemic" (NAASO 1999). But the problem of obesity does not only affect the United States. "We now know that the growing prevalence of obesity is creating major health problems worldwide," said Dr. James O. Hill, president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Obesity was once regarded as unique to Americans, but it is now seen as a global health risk affecting developing and underdeveloped countries (AOA 2000). Obesity is increasing at an epidemic rate in the United States - 1.3% a year for women over 20. Rates of obesity among minority populations, including African-Americans...
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