MS. LINDA LAPOINTE
MONDAY 14TH, JULY 2008
OBESITY AND ITS SOCIAL ISSUES
Obesity is a state of (being) overweight; it prevents normal activity or bodily function and will likely cause a serious or life—threatening disorder (“Morbid obesity”). Today, obesity seems to be something normal, common in America’s society. No one cares about how this disease has developed through history, or how much it affects the daily lives of the people who suffer from it. Obesity is not only a health issue. Besides high cholesterol, and the risk of diabetes, obesity has social consequences. The problem is almost part of what defines America as a society, something that identifies the United States population. Not many, however, know that this problem was not always part of the history of this country; America used to be a very healthy nation. Many years ago, the only inhabitants in this land were Native Americans. These people lived in full contact with nature, living by it and for it, and not against it. They even called the plants and animals their brothers and sisters, all were children of their mother, Earth. Not many of these Native Americans were overweight; their diets were regulated by nature. Some years later the Europeans arrived and they changed the way things were made. They didn’t see food as a sacred element of nature, but as something that had to be conquered. After they resettled here, they saw this land as a land of plenty, and prosperity where they could look for opportunities like freedom, wealth, and security that Europe didn’t have at that time. This new concept of greatness became a crucial aspect of the new Americans’ identity. The nation was full of optimism. People weren’t poor anymore; meat, chicken, potatoes, ham, and biscuits fed their spirits and their stomachs (Sanna 35-39). These new residents developed new ways of processing food, and as a consequence, agriculture was invented. Agriculture is not only the foundation of today’s civilization, but also a tremendous contribution to the actual quality of American life (“Agriculture Practices and Food Technologies”). America became a first class country, unfortunately powerful enough to afford “the total direct and indirect costs of obesity and overweight conditions (that) reached $117-billion in 2000” (Amrhein). America’s perception of a sexy, healthy body has changed over this country’s history. As Variyam said in his article, “…the obesity problem didn’t occur overnight” and he explains that: U.S. and Western European populations have experienced steady gains in both weight and height since the late 19th century. These trends were triggered by an increased food supply that drastically reduced chronic malnutrition and accelerated the accumulation of what Nobel Laureate economist Robert Fogel has called psychological capital: enhanced body size and capacity of vital organs resulting from improved nutrition. The gain in psychological capital improved our capability to withstand disease and increased longevity. Between 1900 and 2000, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. increased by 65 percent for women and 60 percent for men…(also) men and women were gaining in body size—both weight and height—up through the middle of the 20th century. Unfortunately, while gains in height among U.S. adults have leveled off, weight has continued to increase, and markedly so since the beginning of the 1980s. Obesity is a problem that increased with the most delicious, but yet dangerous invention of all time, fast food. Ellyn Sanna reports that in the last years of the 19th century, food was reinvented. It began to be mass-produced, marketed, and standardized. Cereal was also invented, and a freezing technique was created; America’s diet was never the same. Fast food was a creation originated ironically not from the food industry, but from the car industry. The McDonald brothers applied the principles that Henry Ford used in his own company....
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