Obesity: It's our society's fault

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Sure, it's true that genes play a role in our weight. As seen in chapter 11 of the textbook we can see that scientists have identified genes that have to do with metabolism, appetite, and body fat that influence the chance of getting obese. But I would argue that with the exception of a few severe cases of obesity, that our society plays an even bigger role in causing obesity. As pointed out in the textbook, portion distortion has become a major issue in the United States. Just between 1977 and 1996 the size of portions in restaurants has increased by 25 percent. Eating more food has become a social norm, while the nutritional value in food has decreased. I think that even though some people may be genetically pre-disposed to obesity this pre-disposition could be more easily overcome if society didn't play such a huge factor in our bad eating habits. Just think, if king size candy bars, quarter pound hamburgers, and jumbo tubs of popcorn weren't favored in our society, fighting obesity would be a little easier. This is upheld by the internal-external theory which states that obese people are motivated to eat more by external cues like portion size and appearance of food than internal cues such that indicate how hungry they are. This helps us understand the great difficulty involved in fighting obesity; it would take an entire shift in society to reverse the highly influential external cues.


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Love the picture. It does a fantastic job of showing how portion sizes have been incredibly warped by society. Feeding us more, then eating more, and eventually getting used to having large portion only. It's sad to say but it is true. When going to restaurants, you expect something big and worth the money you just spent. Although of course, can't be pointing fingers at any single source of fault but many things come to play when it comes to being responsible for the obesity level in the United States. Genes, yes may be a problem but that's going to take years of evolution to change so one thing we can start with and changing is what we serve and how much of it we serve. If we controlled the amount of junk food that is created and put on shelves and we controlled portion sizes, it could be a start especially since people don't want to move around and exercise to control weight.

Great post! I couldn't agree with you more when you talk about the shift in our society's mentality as far as portion distortion. Bigger is not always better when it comes to food. Many consumers fall prey to the motto "more bang for your buck" when in they are actually sacrificing health components for cheaper deals. It's a shame that healthy alternatives are not promoted, especially for young children who are often targeted by mass media. Healthier options, such as fruit and veggies, are more expensive than stopping through a McDonalds drive-thru. Our world has turned into a convenience era where we favor the easiest and cheapest option rather than the alternatives that are better suited for us.

Word. This be so true. Society isn't too awesome sometimes when it comes to health. Although, society is trying to change. As you can see in commercials, there's tons of weight loss programs and workout programs (capitalism at its finest). I have faith in our society to become more health orientated.

This is very true, it has become a society norm to over eat. Take a look at what people do for hobbies and in their free time and it is very clear that we have a problem. When we take our signifacant other out for a date, we go to a restaurant and most of us probably order an appetizer that has well over 1,000 calories in itself. Then we would each get a main course that has so much food that it hurts when all of it is consumed because your belly isn't big enough. That is just one example but there are many examples of people over eating every day. It's a norm in our society and it will probably never change!

This is such an interesting concept. Almost every time I go out to eat, the portions are quite and there are supersized versions of everything. However, bigger isn’t always better. Society even preys are those who have lower incomes or individuals who simply like to save a buck or few here and there. They do so by advertising such things as getting a larger size drink or making the meal a combo deal for an additional dollar. This sounds like an appealing deal and tricks people all the time into consuming more than they actually need simply because it is a great value. The costs of treating obesity and all its adverse health effects will cost a lot more in the long run than getting more for the value those few times. Dieticians even advise eating on a smaller plate for example because nutrients and doctors realize that a crucial component of obesity is portion sizes. Individuals tend to eat more than they need because of the amount of food are their plates. Overall, eating in excess of your daily recommended amount of calories is harmful to your body.

This topic is very interesting and I totally agree with your views on obesity and how it is greatly affected by our society. More recently I have become more and more aware of the increasing serving sizes in the United States. One of the biggest places that I have noticed this increase in portions is as fast food restaurants. I remember when I was a little kid, which actually isn't that long ago, what is a "regular" size drink or fries at a McDonald's for example, used to be the large and the large sizes are what used to be considered the "super-size". Also, about the nutritional value part, it is very true that more and more foods are much more processed than in the past this consequently makes the foods less filling to our brains so we continue to eat because it takes more and more food for our brain to tell us that we are full.

I agree with the fact that society does affect this obesity problem we have, but ultimately it comes down to the individual. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions, and I think that people are to caught up in their own stupidity that they listen to everything that society tells them. Obviously, society will always affect what people do as that is how society works, but I believe that the individual needs to take more of the responsibilty, because it is their fault for giving into society's problems. I feel as though most people use society as a scape goat for their problems. Excuses are a major part of our society, and I think if people stop using excuses for everything and start taking responsibility for their own problems the world would be have a lot less problems starting with this obesity problem.

What a perfect picture to represent the difference in portion sizes. I've always heard that when you go to a restaurant, you should box up half of the meal because most restaurants double their servings. I also watched a show on ABC a few seasons ago, with famous chef Jamie Oliver. He went to the fattest town in America and taught then how to eat properly. All Americans could learn a few lessons from him and reduce the amount of obesity in the US.

I love your write-up. The points you bring up are central to many of the things nutritionists are discussing today! I find it humorous that Americans think they're getting a "deal" by super-sizing their meals for a low cost. What they don't realize is that this deal comes with the heavy price of obesity, heart problems, low self esteem, and a life long struggle. That is not a deal that I would buy in to. Looking at European countries, food is treated as fuel, a way to sustain life, not a means to take away depression or other emotional factors. I believe that the US needs to do something to stop the obesity epidemic, and it starts with learning what the true price of "a delicious gourmet buffet" is.

I like your stance on obesity being our society's fault. In American culture, bigger is generally better. However as portion sizes continue to grow at an alarming rate, our society is also providing less information on health issues related to these portions/not providing other, healthy food options. Our society makes it very easy to partake in convenient, cheap eating habits such as going to McDonalds, but makes finding and purchasing healthy, essential foods hard and expensive. Something must be done to make healthy food choices more accessible in our country.

You bring up some great points. This blog reminds me of the saying, "everything is bigger in Texas." It just makes me think of the huge servings that are out there in this day and age. I think a great documentary on the increase of serving sizes is "Super Size Me". That documentary alone ended the super size option. It pointed out societies obsession with large, unhealthy foods and how the larger portions are just a normal thing to us now.

This is very true. You brought up a lot of good points about obesity. It is a very dangerous problem in our society, but I agree that it is our society's fault. The picture you posted is a great visual of how our interpretation of portion sizes in incorrect. Restaurants serve portion sizes that are at least three times larger than they should be. This is dangerous for our society because many of us do not know what a healthy or correct portion size is, which causes us to over eat and develop health problems later in life. I think it is important to learn about different eating disorders and obesity problems in psychology to make everyone aware of the dangers and to hopefully reduce the number of unhealthy people in our society.

Exactly. What I do want to add here, in addition to the common things you have extensively pointed out, is college cafeteria. People tend to eat more than they really need (70% full or so) in a buffet style restaurant and that is what most colleges serve. It is economic to run such cafeteria in colleges, especially when they request all freshman students to live on campus dorm and select the meal plan. I personally think that is one of the most important factors contributing to "freshman fifteen". It is the time to make some changes overall.

Wow, I love the picture you found! I have recently started a new diet and it is teaching me about portions. I never gave it much thought I just took whatever. I have learned that it really matters when it comes to losing weight. I also completely blame our society for why we are in the weight crisis we are in.

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This page contains a single entry by sarki030 published on April 7, 2012 2:05 PM.

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