Obesity Problems Rethought: A Three Step Process

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Bombarding people with articles, advertisements and pictures creates more issues around self-esteem and self-worth then simply being obese does. Human beings react to what they see. So, if people see unfair and often impractical versions of what the media considers “healthy people,” then maybe it is time for society to rethink what the obesity problem entails. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health, obesity is an epidemic. It would have the United States fight obesity in the same ways it fights other diseases. If the obesity problem is going to be rethought, there are three steps that need to be followed.

Be Aware: People must be aware of the food they purchase and bring into their homes. While poverty may be a problem around the world there is cheaper food available in larger quantities, at least in the United States, now more than ever before. The average household in the 1930s spent nearly 1/4 of their income on food; today this number is down to about 1/10. There is no need to eat more just because it is available – there tends to be the mentality of buy more because it is available and because the money is there. This does not need to be the case.

Moderation: This links up with the idea of being aware. People must be aware of their surroundings; this includes the foods they put into their mouths. Instead of focusing on fat, focus on eating balanced meals with many fruits and vegetables and healthy grains and meats. This does not mean that there is never room for dessert, but one does not have to have ice cream every day or the entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. Also, just because one is eating healthy does not mean that portion size no longer matters. Be reasonable and think before shopping, cooking, and eating. This does not sound like obesity is a problem, but rather a problem in the way obesity is portrayed.

Perceptions: Obesity is not a disease. It does incorporate greater health risks for those who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30. If it is not a disease then it should not be treated as an epidemic. What it is, is a health factor for some people. Once people see obesity for what it really is then people can work to overcome it. For better or worse, people’s perspectives change over time. One thought is that shifting the focus from obesity and back to a healthy lifestyle will be much more effective over the long-term for people in the United States and around the world.

These three ideas can be used as an easy to follow process that anyone can adopt. They must be adopted from an early age though. It is not easy to create new habits the older people get, so starting the process early is best.

This is not to say that some people do not have health issues that cause their obesity. Thyroid diseases are a top culprit in that department. It has also been shown by some studies that obesity can be likened to an addiction. In this case, some people have no control over the food they eat and how much of it. The feeling they get is likened to that of a heroin addict looking for their next fix. On the other hand, there are those that while they agree with the properties that are similar there are also major differences between the overeating that leads to obesity and signs of addiction. For some the overeating comes from the thinking (true or false thinking) that food will become scarce soon and thus the need to overeat. If this happens enough times the body becomes maladjusted and obesity can eventually occur.

Television, radio, and social media all have a hand in how the obesity problem is handled in the United States and around the world. Focusing on what can be done properly rather than on focusing on all that is wrong is a crucial step which is often overlooked, or it is not the main focus. Too often the blame is put on the thing – in this case obesity. It is time for people to take action against obesity – use these three steps as much as possible to rethink how they eat and to build healthy habits. Stop letting it become a problem and focus instead on awareness, moderation, and changing perceptions to end the obesity problem.

Opinion By Sara Kourtsounis


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel