Weighing the Issue of Obesity



The national outlook on overweight humans in this country has focused on the wrong part of the problem. The weight issue, like most human problems blames obesity on persons with the problem because the perception is their inability to control what they eat, when they eat it and how much of it they eat. Many people weigh more than average due to a focus on food as a compensation factor for the lack of some other key factor in their life and mental outlook. In other words, being overweight is not the actual problem, it is a symptom. The problem is a misplacement or substitution of food for some other psychological weak spot in a persons’ makeup.

Having more weight on the body than is healthy is definitely a huge problem in this country and actually around the world, though America may have a corner on the market. Everyone seems to focus on how much a person weighs and how to lose it and in the process gain back a healthy body that is in a more normal range according to a person’s height, body mass index and health parameters. The underlying issue is how this occurs and what solutions are available to reduce the problem of being overweight in the first place.

Recently, Bridget Nichols, and fellow collaborator David Raska, both assistant professors at Northern Kentucky University, Nichols of Sports Business, and Raska of Marketing, conducted research concerning food choices and how people arrived at the choice they made. Knowing that a person’s environment has an influence on choices made in daily life, it was determined people select what they eat according to visual cues in their current surroundings. Weighing more than average is a perception issue by those who have the problem of obesity, and by those who do not. The perceptions however, may focus on different areas of the same problem.

According to the survey experiment they performed, what people eat can be determined by the visual cues they receive or are attentive to when making a food choice. It is a choice between love or sex. Sex is a need that wants to be satisfied immediately. Love is what people want over a long period of time. If a person has a visual cue associated with love when they make a food choice, the choice for eating something healthy occurs 70 percent of the time. If a person is prompted by a visual cue that symbolizes sex, the choice for a healthy snack dropped to 49 percent.

A visual cue for something healthy could be a picture of a person looked up to or symbolizing wh0 individuals think of as being admired or respected; Abraham Lincoln, for example. Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, is an obvious sex-symbol, and when her image was used, a snack with less healthy values was chosen. If there was no symbol influencing people, they generally chose the less healthy snack. This demonstrates subdued or understated visual cues impact the choices people make when picking a food to eat.Obesity

This is a small portion of the whole obese problem. One of the largest barriers to treating obesity properly is the attitude that a rotund body is a patient problem and not a disease. The emphasis on diet and exercise as a way of combating the over-weight predicament in this country needs to be over-turned as a solution. Numerous studies for several years have demonstrated diet and exercise programs help people lose only three to five percent of the weight during a year of being on a program.

As a controversial subject, the obesity issue was weighing heavily on the medical community. In July of last year the American Medical Association acknowledged it as a disease, and prescribed a large scope of medical actions to improve the situation for disease prevention and treatment. More than one-third of the adults in this country are overweight. Some of the links to obesity are diabetes, heart disease, some strains of cancer and stroke. Drug treatments for overweight individuals have reached a great deal of resistance for several reasons, among them, safety concerns with the drugs used in the past that have caused other serious issues due to their side-effects.

By Andy Towle

Pacific Standard Magazine

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