Summary of "Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy"

by on April 1, 2014 - 10:24am

         Obesity is a severe issue that is undeniable in the United States. BMI (Body Mass Index) is used to determine the level of obesity and is recorded that “22% of the U.S. adult population is obese, bases on a BMI of 30kg/m2 or more” (Kaplan and Dietz 343). This problem does not only affect citizens in the way they look, but also affects their health. Obesity is responsible for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and many more. According to the article, genes are not responsible for obesity, as they have “not changed significantly between 1980 and 1994”(344). Genes have not changed; however, people have become more obese. One will gain weight if his energy-in is greater than his energy-out. In other words, if the intake of calories is greater than the calories used to exercise, digest and perform regular movements, weight is gained. This is because the excess of energy is stored in the body as fat to protect against an unexpected famine. We are the cause for Obesity. With the availability of food, people tend to eat more and are not supported with the proper conditions to spend energy. Tasks have been made easier through machinery, and cars rather than bicycles are used to travel short distances. If measures were taken to reduce the levels of obesity in our world, people would be healthy and active. One solution is to treat food similarly to Tabaco. There would be warnings on food packages that bring awareness to the effect of overconsumption. Furthermore, there would be an increase in the price of food, as these measures have worked to reduce the number of smokers. Unlike smoking, there is not only one type of food that is detrimental for one’s health. This will make it harder to know how much people are eating and if they should change their diets. Although there were not many studies made at the time this article was written, studies had shown the positive affects of physical activity. Nonetheless, healthcare costs associated with obesity are extremely high. If cases of obesity were lessened, it would save everyone a lot of money. Physical activity does not necessarily mean high intensity workouts, but simply the act of moving more often. An example of this is to relocate stairwells and make them more accessible. As stated earlier, people are using their cars rather than using a bicycle for short distances. It is recorded that “25% of all trips are less than 1 mile, and 75% of these are by car”(347). These distances can easily be accomplished by other means, which would reduce the level of obesity and greenhouse gases significantly. It is important to treat the problem at its origin. If children adapt a healthy lifestyle, they will also pursue it as adults. Role models such as elected officials, parents, teachers and physicians should encourage a healthy lifestyle for others to follow. Although the United States was the only country mentioned, obesity is a serious problem throughout the globe. There are many health issues associated with obesity, which not only cost a lot, but also harm the individual. By informing citizens of healthier choices, and making these choices available to them is crucial. These measures will lead the way for weight loss and a healthier, happier society.

We have proven that obesity is harmful physically. Do you think that obesity is also harmful psychologically, especially with the great influence of social media and advertisement?


I response to your question, I think that obesity can definitely be very harmful psychologically, perhaps even more than physically. In fact, the psychological damage can lead to physical damage as severe as suicide. This can largely be blamed on the media, as it has almost total power over what society finds attractive. In the past, it was actually considered more attractive to be overweight as this was a sign that you could afford enough food. We know that this is not the case today as the media sets unreachable goals for the members of society. Those with lower self-esteem could potentially be psychologically traumatized that they can not look the way the people on television and in magazines look. What do you think of the so-called "plus-sized" models? Do you think they can have a positive influence on the population's self-esteem?

In response to your question, I think that "plus-sized" models would have a very positive impact on the population's self esteem. To begin, the media would have to cease entitling these models as "plus-sized" as they are, in my opinion, a perfect and natural size for a women to be. By calling these models "plus-sized", the media is telling their audience that they are not quite as beautiful as the other extremely skinny models. As a consequence, this can lead to anorexia, bulimia, and as you mentioned as a worse case scenario: suicide. Women should feel comfortable in their skin and accept their natural curves rather than seek to look like someone they are not. What do you think?

I agree with Kevin's point that the media should stop calling these models "plus-sized", in my eyes they are usually regular sized women. I also agree that both women and men should feel comfortable with their bodies, but there are always extreme cases. You stated that women should accept their natural curves, but I believe that there are also certain limitations to this idea. People should learn to accept there bodies, but they must also accept that change may be necessary for them to live a healthy lifestyle. There is a big difference between fat and curvy and one should understand when their lifestyle can become dangerous to their health. Of course, this does not mean they should seek to look like the models in traditional media. At what point do you think your body can become a danger to your health? If one has reached this point, do you have any suggestions for how someone can fix these problems and stay healthy?

You are right Bradley, that there is a distinct difference between fat and curvy. If everyone lived a healthy lifestyle: eating well and exercising daily, I believe that no one would be fat. No matter what biological blueprint your body is following, one's lifestyle is ultimately dependant to what they look like. As a child, it is not always their fault. If parents are cooking or buying unhealthy meals for their kids, and are not getting them involved in physical activity, then they are responsible for their kid's weight. As a parent, a child's health should be a motivation to embark in a healthy lifestyle. If one does reach an unhealthy weight, then I would suggest a walk every morning before even eating breakfast. This has been suggested to me by a youtuber named Elliott Hulse.( It is a great way to begin living a healthy lifestyle and should be accompanied with eating healthy as always. Do you believe in fat burners and other products that claim to help shed some weight without any physical activity needed?

I find Kevin's point that a child's health should be motivation for a healthy lifestyle very interesting. I have never heard that before and I find that in many cases, having a child leads to the exact opposite. Having a child can be a lot of stress, which is one of the causes of obesity. Also, having a child takes up a lot of one's spare time that could otherwise be used for getting in shape. A parent simply does not have enough tie to take "a walk every morning before even eating breakfast". In response to your question, I have no opinion on fat burners having never heard of them before and having never done any research on them. Although, I must say that they seem like a scam and I would not personally trust them. In my opinion, exercise and a healthy diet are the keys towards lowering one's weight unless one has a medical problem. At what age do you think obesity becomes the biggest problem and why?

Obesity is as much a psychological problem as it is a physical one. I feel that people who are obese (with certain medical exceptions) is already someone in distress. A person who eats unhealthily as a rule and is negligent towards exercising suffers from behavior related problems. Their psychological state and view of themselves is what leads them to continue their bad habits. In addition to this, advertisements and social expectations (of slim and attractive figures) play as big a role in hurting these obese people's psyches. They feel considerably less powerful in what they can or cannot achieve and give up on their goals before ever giving themselves a proper chance.

How can we improve obese people regarding their self confidence?

A agree with Lucky's statement that obesity also affects an individual psychologically. However, self confidence in my opinion, can only be achieved through acceptance. Self confidence is purely internal and cannot always be changed through outside influences. For example, one can say a compliment to an obese person; however, they can chose to accept the compliment and improve their state of mind, or reject it and feel miserable. Once a person finally accepts their own self - in my opinion rarely- or changes their habits to then appreciate themselves, then they can feel confident. Although someone may look confident, more often than not, they are hiding their lack of confidence. Why do you think people lack confidence?

I think that obesity does harm a human being psychologically, and like you mentioned, especially with the influence of media and advertisement. Being fat in our society is simply wrong. Companies will never hire fat models to present clothes, it is simply not attractive for consumers. It is very disappointing, but our society has matured and formed to be a a materialistic society where the most important thing is to look good.

Obesity can affect someone both physically and mentally. We often think of the physical effects obesity has on someone's health but it can also change how a person views him or herself. Often when someone is obese, they think themselves as ugly. People who are overweight are often the source of discrimination in schools. Therefore obesity can lead to other problems such as depression in worst cases. Also with the media always telling us how to be beautiful, people who don't have the metabolism to reach that figure will never feel good about themselves.

I think that obesity can be harmful psychologically for many reasons. First, media and advertisements do not help teenagers, and mostly girls, to have a high self-esteem without a perfect size or a thin belly. Industries generalize their consumers as if every girl was only wearing x-small bikinis. These teenagers can experience depression and lost of hope as they think they won't attract anybody if they are not thin enough. Also, obesity is still a case of bullying in our society. You can be treated of any name if you do not fit the norm or even refused in some circle of friends because of your overweight. Even older, some bias are maintained at work as obese people can be put at the back of the shop for consumers to not see them. I think that these attacks and damages can hold in the mind of these people as they grow up and for the rest of their life...

I think obesity is actually harmful physically as well as psychologically mainly because of the huge impact of social media and advertisement. Some people do not realize how it may be difficult to live in a society where the notion of success is defined by your waist size. Many of healthy young girls have already a problem of self-esteem because they are ashamed of their body. I think we should, as a society, redefined and clarified that the goal of life is not to be thin, but rather to be healthy. We do not want a skinny society, we want a healthy one. Now that some parameters have been established, we can improve the health of our society. Someone who goes to the gym and eats nutritious food, but who is a tad overweight may be healthy, whereas someone who is extremely thin, but does not do physical activity and eats unhealthy food may not be.

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