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Sara Brown Department of Sociology Lycoming College December 2006
effects of stigmatization on individuals. inequalities across populations. First. Panagopoulos 2006). mental health effects. Ferraro. Ross 1994). race. I will discuss the social factors and implications of obesity described in current research along with the stigmatization of obesity and link to mental illness. Yancy. & Wilkinson 2003. & Wilkinson 2003. Third. Malik. In that section. and gender (American Obesity Association 2002. Leading up to that section. then a warning label should also be implemented on soft drinks. relationship to obesity.S. Thorpe. Also. Second. & Hu 2006. and soft drink contribution to obesity (Ferraro. In the next section. & Abel 2006). I make an argument that a warning label was implemented on cigarettes and alcohol because they were both Brown 2 . Congress 2003. age. consumption of soft drinks. and gender. I will define obesity and its relevance to social issues. it is important to show its trends across race. this is where I assert the connection between obesity and soft drinks. I hypothesize that soft drink consumption will vary across these variables similar to obesity variations through the factors of age. and soft drinks in schools. I make an argument that if cigarettes and alcohol are dangerous to ingest and soft drinks also have a dangerous effect. DeJong 1980. I will discuss the soft drink market. and gender. Previous research focusing on obesity has evaluated childhood effects. Leslie. Schulze. If soft drinks contribute to obesity (Bawa 2004) and obesity varies across age.Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States (U. I will discuss the inequalities or variations across populations of obesity. I imply that soft drinks are dangerous to a person’s health and contribute to obesity. Cahnman 1968. race. Then. I will explore the causes of obesity. then soft drink consumption should also vary across these variables. My research combines all of these aspects when examining obesity. Thorpe. Since the research shows that obesity is not equally prevalent across populations.
obese III is a BMI of 40 or higher Brown 3 . When researching obesity.9 is obese II. Almost two-thirds or one-hundred twenty-seven million adults are considered overweight and one-third or sixty million are obese (Yancy. After overweight.9. most analysis uses Body Mass Index (BMI) as the determinant of obesity. At least three in four adults surveyed claimed obesity to be a very serious or extremely serious problem (Panagopoulos 2006). physiologic. is a BMI between 25 and 29. three levels of obesity are arranged in a hierarchy. I also examine current NY Times articles for current policies or implementations to combat the obesity epidemic. In the United States. Obesity I is a BMI between 30 and 34. Some researcher combines levels of obesity but there are six general categories of weight. normal. Most citizens believe that obesity is a major concern in the United States.5 or lower.9. Congress 2003). The first is underweight with a BMI of 18. My research examines the implications of obesity and the emerging focus on the societal problems associated with obesity. Overweight.9. behavioral and psychological components” (2002). Finally.5 and 24.S. metabolic. Leslie & Abel 2006). obesity is a growing epidemic and is the second leading cause of preventable death (U. then there should be a warning label on soda. the third level. The American Obesity Association defines obesity as a chronic disease involving “environmental. BM I is calculated from a mathematical equation representing a relationship between weight and height in adults. Finally. I discuss the alleviation of obesity as a social problem. Second. The CDC defines obesity as an “increased body weight caused by an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue (body fat) in relations to lean body mass (Panagopoulos 2006). BMI between 35 and 39. If soft drinks pose an equal peril to a person’s health.dangerous to individuals. genetic. is with a BMI between 18.
diabetes. stroke. When using BMI as a research tool. Approximately thirty percent of children aged six to eleven are overweight and fifteen Brown 4 . osteoarthritis. sleep apnea. American Obesity Association 2002). The National Institutes of Health only contributed one percent of its annual budget towards obesity research (AOA 2002). it classifies obesity and allows researchers to see how factors such as allocation of resources. gallbladder disease. Leslie. Many health problems are associated with obesity (Yancy. Sixteen percent of children are overweight (Panagopoulos 2006). Leslie. Healthcare costs are extremely costly for obese individuals. adequate diet. & Abel 2006. Healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately one-hundred billion dollars (AOA 2002). Children are the most susceptible to weight problems because of poor dietary habits and inactivity (AOA 2002). and consumption of soft drinks are associated with obesity. & Johnson 2002). research in the field of obesity and funding for programs to combat the spreading epidemic are inadequate and in some places nonexistent. All of the health problems and inadequate research associated with obesity contribute to its growing epidemic and the emphasis on evaluating the prevalence and effects of weight problems. postmenopausal breast cancer. however. & Abel 2006). Body mass index is the best indicator of overweight and obesity. One in seven of the youth population is obese and one in three is overweight (Ogden. Carroll. Obesity contributes common chronic diseases that include heart attack.(Carr & Friedman 2005). and high blood pressure (Yancy. colon cancer. Other research may combine two of these categories such as II and III for statistical analysis.000 excess deaths in the United States (AOA 2002). Childhood obesity is a growing problem and continues to be a major component of obesity research. It causes approximately 300.
and gender. Also.S. it is important to examine the differences and experiences across populations. obesity varies across different populations such as race. Age and gender are common variables Brown 5 . Department of Health and Human Services 2001). Childhood overweight/obesity is a key component of the obesity epidemic. Thorpe. & Wilkinson 2003). When examining obesity. and high cholesterol during childhood (U. The harmful health effects are not only prevalent in adults. high blood pressure. It has been shown that excess weight in childhood matters later in life. & Gortmaker 2001). children has increased one-hundred percent between 1980 and 1994 (Ludwig. Along with the health effects of obesity during childhood. It is important to examine the effects of childhood obesity because it can contribute later in life. childhood obesity can lead to deleterious effects such as diabetes. Also. As with children. for my research. 1993). variations across populations may also be compared to soft drink consumption in certain populations. obese children are twice as likely to become obese adults compared to their nonobese counterparts (Serdula et al. Peterson. Some research has put emphasis on a correlation between overweight and obesity in childhood with the same condition in adulthood.percent are obese. it was found that obese children suffered from lower self-esteem than their peer counterparts (Strauss 2000).S. age. Overweight children aged ten to fourteen with at least one overweight or obese parent were seventy-nine percent more likely to be overweight in adulthood (AOA 2002). Also. Adolescents ages twelve to nineteen exhibit similar percentages of thirty percent overweight and fifteen percent obese. obesity in populations such as African Americans and people aged 45-64 was more prevalent if they were overweight during childhood (Ferraro. The prevalence of obesity in U.
Research regarding age has also shown differences across gender. Men ages sixtyfive to seventy-four experiences the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity. the Mexican American population has the highest prevalence of both overweight and obesity. women ages fifty-five to sixty-four experiences the highest percentage of overweight and obesity. Black women have the highest prevalence of overweight (78 percent) and obesity (50. overweight prevalence is higher in boys than girls aged six to eleven. For men. men experience a higher percentage of overweight. However. In children. According to age. research concerning race is not readily studied. while almost twenty percent are obese.researched. Gender issues in race is also an important research topic. (AOA Brown 6 . If obesity varies across populations it may implicate larger sociological differences between these variables.8 percent). adults aged fifty-five to seventy-four experienced the highest percentage of overweight and obesity compared to every other age group. Age is one of the most popular aspects to examine variations across age ranges. Research from the American Obesity Association (2002) regarding age shows that overweight and obesity in adulthood increases steadily for both men and women. Boys are more likely to experience obesity compared to girls. both men and women in all racial categories have exhibited an increase in overweight. obesity. Also. Approximately half of all age groups are overweight. Compared to women. women experience obesity and severe obesity at higher percentages compared to their male counterparts. however. Gender is an important variation to research because it may imply different experiences between men and women. and severe obesity. However. in adolescents overweight prevalence is about the same for both males and females.
and heart disease. low-income women in minority populations are more likely to be overweight (AOA 2002). Basically. Also. occupation. blacks have higher percentages of obesity with a BMI greater than 30. SES is a classification determined by factors such as income. Basically. Women of minority status and of lower class show overweight and obesity levels more than any other category. health disparities are also more prevalent in minorities compared to whites. However. Both men and women are affected by overweight and obesity across all SES levels. and education. Mexican Americans exhibit higher percentages of overweight with a BMI greater than 25. According the American Obesity Association (2002). Also. SES has an inverse relationship meaning that as income decreases. examples include diabetes. overweight and obesity occurs at higher rates in minority populations such as African American and Hispanic American compared to their white counterparts. Mexican American women in poverty are more likely to be overweight than women Brown 7 . but. With women. obesity increases. Research focusing on race and gender also discusses socioeconomic status (SES). there are differences across gender because it plays an important role when examining obesity.2002) Clearly. in the Mexican American population. cancer. there are variations of obesity across race. adult women over the age of 20 living under the poverty line have a rate of overweight thirteen percent more than women above the poverty line (AOA 2002). minority women appear to have the greatest likelihood of being overweight. As with gender. Along with higher percentages of obesity in minority populations. hypertension. Race is also an important factor to examine when researching obesity. more women with low SES have a higher occurrence of obesity. It plays an important role when examining obesity and the social factors associated with obesity.
but there are not large supermarkets offering nutritional foods available to the marginalized population (Alaimo et al. education of proper nutrition. They do not know how to properly offer their children nutritional meals that are need to alleviate weight problems (Peralta 2003). The social effects of obesity must be evaluated fully to understand the growing epidemic. power. One aspect is an increase in portion sizes which is important because now consumers are getting more calorie-dense fast food items that may contribute to obesity (Peralta 2003). Another aspect related to obesity is the number of fast food restaurants and supermarkets in impoverished areas. SES and poverty issues are important to examine because it shows unequal occurrence of obesity which may indicate other social factors. and social connectedness which are all factors of SES and influence the prevalence of diseases such as obesity (Peralta 2003). poor eating habits. If obesity varies across SES then there is clearly inequality in the access to resources to minimize obesity. Another aspect is the access to educational sources of nutrition. It is believed that individuals of lower SES do not have the proper access to nutritional information. These resources include money. and increases in the number of fast food restaurants (Peralta 2003. SES is an important factor to examine because it shows differences in the experience and occurrence of obesity. The link between SES and obesity is an important factor in obesity research. Brown 8 . It has been shown that more fast food restaurants and corner convenient stores are present in impoverished areas. Rashad 2003). It shows that access to resources to avoid obesity or minimize the deleterious effects does vary across populations (Peralta 2003). distribution of supermarkets in neighborhoods.not in poverty. Previous research examining the social factors that contribute to obesity have focused on components such as allocation of resources. prestige.
availability of fast food. With childhood obesity. the social factors include poor eating habits. Stigmatization is defined by the rejection and disgrace that is viewed as physical deformity (Cahnman 1968). and not enough physical activity (Panagopoulos 2006). Along with negative evaluations. A section of obesity stigmatization includes positive and negative peer evaluations. individuals with weight problems may experience stigmatization. Actually. obese individuals have a negative evaluation unless their condition can be attributed to a medical condition or if the individual admits to the problem and are seeking help (DeJong 1980). individuals in poverty consume more fast food (Rashad 2003). and lost productivity (Rashad 2003). Stigmatization has a long history of being in obesity research. An important factor to research that is experienced by obese individuals is stigmatization. and discrimination. When determining positive peer evaluations. it can place a burden on society. obese individuals are not well liked compared to their non-obese counterparts. The effect of obesity on the individual is important to evaluate because it contributes to larger social consequences such as discrimination. All of these show that the social aspects of obesity are important and need to be included when discussing the causes and consequences of obesity. Along with the social consequences of obesity. With these social factors.2001). also. pensions in retirement. Obese individuals are held responsible for their condition. Other social aspects that contribute to obesity include inadequate food and higher prices in impoverished areas. This mindset of the non-obese populations Brown 9 . obese individuals do not rate high on the positive side. obesity can have consequences. mental illness. It can lead to higher public health costs. These negative attitudes towards obesity are held because it is believed that it is a direct result of self-indulgence or laziness. Obesity is thought to be a personal problem.
if an excuse such as a medical condition or recent weight loss is given then obese individuals are rated more positively (DeJon 1980). Mental illnesses connected to obesity such as depression and low self-esteem because individuals experience distress and anxiety from stigmatization (Ross 1994). poor physical health add to the factors that can lead to depression. Obese individuals experienced discrimination because obesity is considered less desirable and is stigmatized in American society. The stress of dieting and possible failure contributes to high levels of depression in obese individuals (Ross 1994). The consequence of stigmatization of obesity results in discrimination based on physical appearance. Also.causes negative evaluations towards the obese. after a weight-loss surgery was performed. internalize the treatment. and then accept it as fair (Cahnman 1968). Along with discrimination associated with appearance. Obesity is identified as a defect that is accompanied with many levels of discrimination. a drop in unemployment for women occurred which shows that obese women experience more unemployment (AOA 2002). Some research has focused on the effect on women. When evaluating discrimination of obese individuals. Overweight has a direct effect on depression. it was found that overly obese individuals reported a lower level of selfacceptance and institutional and day-to-day interpersonal discrimination (Carr & Friedman 2005). They are much more likely to experience discrimination compared to men based on their weight. however. The feeling of being discriminated against can lead to feelings of depression (Cahnman 1968). Obese teenagers are defined as disadvantaged because they are discriminated against. Another perspective that is present in the Brown 10 . obesity has a strong connection to mental illness specifically depression and self-esteem. Along with the stress of dieting.
Hardus et al. Terry & Alper 2006). The American Obesity Association (2002) claims some individuals have a genetic predisposition to gain weight and store fat that may cause obesity. Basically. more research is needed to fully understand the contribution that genetics has on obesity. thus creating stress and anxiety which can also contribute to depression. Also. found that the main causes of obesity were the overconsumption of unhealthy food. it was found that obese Hispanic and white females have significantly lower levels of self-esteem by early adolescence (Strauss 2000). people are eating more and not exercising or engaging in physical activity which causes obesity. This shows that self-esteem especially in children have an effect on obese individuals. The media plays a key role in portraying norms of attractiveness which makes individuals obtain a desire to fit that mold (Ross 1994). Jéquier 2002. 2003). besides depression. Research regarding school-aged children. obesity has an effect on self-esteem (Cawley 2003). Some research focuses on social factors while others examine the medical or genetic factors that cause obesity (AOA 2002. Some research has attributed obesity to an Brown 11 . Other social factors associated with the cause of obesity involve two important factors of the increased intake of high fat foods and the lack of physical activity. parental responsibility. These two factors are the driving force behind the growing obesity epidemic (Jéquier 2002). Research focusing on obesity must also examine its causes. AOA (2002) claims that individuals need to adopt healthy habits to prevent obesity and maintain weight control. modern technology. and the influence of mass media (Hardus et al. 2003.research is that obese individuals are trying to fit social norms. genetic factors can also contribute to obesity (Terry & Alper 2006). Also. Current research is trying to track the obesity gene. In children. Also. however. These methods include regular physical activity and nutritious eating.
and incomplete compensation for total energy (Malik. Shculze. coca-colonization. The largest revenue for this industry is from carbonated beverages such as sodas. & Abel 2006). Cocacolonization is the emergence of a new diet with calorie-dense. carbonates.increase in consumption of inexpensive and easily accessed energy from soft drinks (Yancey. the soft drink industry has created a phenomenon. & Hu 2006). This new diet brings an increase in overweight and obese adults which show that a diet packed with such foods contributes to overall obesity. soft drinks are empty calories that have high sugar content and make individuals drink more because it does not satisfy thirst or Brown 12 . In 2004. With its large prevalence and influence. Basically. Carbonates make up approximately sixty-six percent of the market. Children receive eleven percent of their daily diet calories from soft drinks (The Food Trust 2004) and it has replaced milk as the drink of choice among children. Also. and ready-to-drink tea and coffee. low-nutrition snacks. an industry profile that uses information from panels and consumers. almost ninety-five billion dollars was spent in the soft drink market. low satiety. in other countries. According to Datamonitor (2005). the soft drinks market consists of bottled water. concentrates. sports drinks. The first portion to examine is the soft drinks market. High intake of soft drinks leads to overweight and obesity because of extra calories and lack of nutritional content (Bawa 2004. Soft drinks and high sugar beverages are an important cause and contributor to the rising rates and percentages of obesity. juices. Committee on School Health 2004). soft drinks are a key contributor to obesity because of its high added sugar content. and beverages brought by modern companies specifically in the Yucatan (Leatherman & Goodman 2005). Leslie.
compensate for energy. schools have decided to implement policies restricting the sale of soft drinks. Soft drinks are a clear contributing factor and cause of obesity. Previous research has shown that overweight and obesity in childhood is a determining factor of overweight and obesity in adulthood. Given that soft drinks contribute to obesity which is a public health issue and concern. some schools have implemented policies on soft drinks. it is important to examine the trends of soda consumption in children. In a June. The article said that these snack companies would provide healthier snacks in school’s vending machines and cafeteria food. Thus. 9 2003. more research and consideration should be completed on the possible implementation of warning Brown 13 . In a NY Times article published on October 7. It is claimed that school vending should be replaced with water and 100% juices which are better. Since eleven percent of children’s daily calorie intake is composed of soft drinks (The Food Trust 2004) and the primary source of added sugar (Committee on School Health 2004). In another NY Times article published on May 4. the bottling companies will provide school vending machines and cafeterias with 100% juice drinks and healthier alternatives. The restriction of soft drinks in schools shows that the obesity epidemic is a concern and soft drinks are a public threat to health. Given the research. the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that Philadelphia area-schools are the first public schools to implement a no-soft drinks policy. The best solution to combat the effect of soft drinks on the rising rate of childhood obesity is to restrict the sale of soda in schools (Committee on School Health 2004). editorial. nutritious options for children (The Food Trust 2004). 2006 depicted an action by five snack companies to fight the rising percentages of childhood obesity. Also. 2006. three leading bottling companies have agreed to stop supplying schools with high calorie drinks such as Pepsi and Coke.
a warning label is required on all alcohol beverages advising the effect on pregnancy. Also. 2006. the Surgeon General issued a report advising pregnant women from drinking alcohol because of the health effects (Carroll & Graf 1999). In 1981. I propose that warning labels should be implemented to warn consumers about the threat of soft drinks on obesity. wants to explore the option of limiting such restaurants based on the California law for the populated New York City. New York City Councilman. In a Boston Globe article published March 5.labels on soft drinks. In a NY Times article published on September 24. This would allow other Brown 14 . stated that soft drinks are a good candidate to be considered for a warning because of its health factors and contribution to obesity. Since then. claims that in 1996 a small California town banned all fast food restaurants such as Burger King. Also. other policies for treatment and alleviation of obesity are slowly surfacing. 2006. McDonald’s. A similar advisory label is on cigarettes. Given racial disparities in obesity. Similar to warning labels on cigarettes and alcohol. some research calls for a social and racial integration which involves equality in access to quality education and child care along with affordable nutritious foods (Peralta 2003). and other fast food chains. Rivera. the label would advise consumers about the health effects of soft drinks. Besides issuing warning labels to combat the health effects and spread of obesity. physical activity is needed to slow the onset of obesity along with a realistic specific weight loss goals and dietary restrictions (Terry & Alper 2006). These warning labels were implemented because they both pose a personal health threat to consumers. I propose if soft drinks are a cause of obesity which is a health problem then there should be a label on soft drinks. Other solutions include offering better and healthier options in schools to combat the rising obesity rates in children (Committee on School Health 2004).
there should be more research on obesity variations through race. it is important to examine the causes and contributors to obesity. and healthier alternatives in schools (Committee on School Health 2004. age have all shown variations and differences across populations (AOA 2002). also. However. These soft drinks are inundated in schools. The causes of obesity include high intake of food and low level of activity. Peralta 2003). equality in access to resources. Social consequences suffered by individuals include stigmatization. Some schools are even restricting the sale of soft drinks in vending machines and cafeterias (Committee on School Health 2004). and supermarkets. convenient stores. and less intake of foods lacking in nutrition. These are all appropriate actions for combating the increase in percentages of obese citizens. low nutritional soft drinks. more exercise activity. gender. diet. gender.restaurants with healthier options to break ground in the city allowing residents better options. The social factors associated with obesity include allocation of resources. Race. Finally. Warning labels should be considered because it does pose a health risk similar to alcohol and cigarettes. the treatment or alleviation of obesity includes affordable nutritious foods. Other causes are high-calorie. Rashad 2003). Previous research claims that obesity is a growing epidemic with a primary factor of poor eating habits (Panagopolous 2006). more research is needed on this topic to assert the effectiveness and necessity of such labels. Further research should include the exploration and implementation of warning labels on soft drinks. and inadequate food in certain areas (Peralta 2003. Other alternatives are realistic diet goals. exercise opportunity. and Brown 15 . Given that obesity is a serious problem in the United States and is growing as years progress. Also. number of fast food restaurants. there is a link between obesity and mental illness.
Brown 16 References . This research is difficult to obtain because time is needed before research can evaluate the efficacy of these policies. Also. I believe there needs to be research exploring the variations of soft drink consumption as it varies across populations similar to obesity trends. Using data from the USDA Food and Nutrient Intake Survey. I will explore the consumption of soft drinks and the differences across populations such as age. My research tries to answer some of the questions regarding soft drink consumption and its relation to obesity. Finally. I assert if obesity varies across these variables and soft drinks are a cause and contributor of obesity.age. research on soft drink policies such as restricting the sale in schools should be evaluated on its ability on decreasing childhood obesity rates. The causes of each of these population variations are needed to fully understand the many facets of obesity in each particular variable. and race. gender. then soft drink consumption should vary similar to that of obesity trends.
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