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Essay on Obesity
The obesity rates have more than duplicated in adults and children since the 1970’s in the United States. Obesity currently stands as a leading health problem in the United States. It is important to understand that two-thirds of U.S adults are overweight or obese. In fact, in general, rates of overweight and obesity are often higher for African American as well as Hispanic women than Caucasian women. Research has shown that indeed the heaviest Americans have continued to become heavier in the past decade. Obesity is easily becoming an epidemic in the U.S. The media has a major role when it comes to the understanding of the society regarding obesity.
Positive effects of media on obesity
The media is an important tool, and it can be used to shape different minds of its audience. There are media programs that are advocating the fact that one is a unique person with their inner wisdom and creativity, a human being that is of value. The media sometimes has presented information which has shown that obese people are normal people and have argued that that the notion of perfection is indeed a myth (Boero, 2012).
In fact, the media through several shows have argued that perfection does not exist in the real world and, therefore, it does not exist in human appearance. As a result of obesity, there are many women that have struggled with eating, weight, and their body image, and they spend inordinate amounts of time as well as energy in a bid to change their appearance. These persons often make their bodies their life’s work; they put their lives on hold, and they wait to be thin.
The media has showed that instead of persons trying to meet the impossible standards that are set for weight loss, there is a need for the obese persons to find peace and serenity in their life, and recognize that indeed beauty, health as well as strength often comes in all sizes. The media through several movies and television series has made it clear that indeed real beauty often encompassed what inside persons is, one’s zest for live, and the smile that often lights up one’s face.
Therefore, these movies are known to encourage persons that are obese. In fact, research has shown that after watching a movie that portrays obese persons in a positive way, obese persons are often more happy and pleased with their weight. This is especially in cases where the weight of the person was instrumental in saving the day (Boero, 2012). The media through several channels and talk shows has shown that the good news about obesity is that one can often change how one feels about their body by changing their self-talk. The media has at times argued for weight being not a measure of one’s self-worth and accepting this can give a person new freedom.
The perception of different persons in the media in the society has been imperative in ensuring a positive image in regards to obesity (Boero, 2012). One should set an example of respect for size diversity. It is natural that people often come in different sizes as well as builds, and this is okay. For example, if one is a large woman, it is often important in the size focused society to be a role model that is known to radiate confidence, self-respect, and authority. There are figures in the society that are known to be obese, and the positive portrayal of the media about these persons helps persons with obesity to be positive. The media is capable of creating a positive and healthy body image amongst obese persons (Winick, 1978).
With this positive and healthy body image, one often feels comfortable and confident in their body, and they often have a true and general true perception regarding shape and size. The media can make persons understand that indeed the physical appearance does not in any define character and value of a person. The media can be able to make people understand that they have a unique body, and they do not have to spend a lot of time of their lives worrying about calories and diets.
Physical fitness is one of the major issues in the United States due to the obesity rates being recorded. Physical fitness is becoming an issue that may soon enough need national attention especially on the part of kids and teens. Statistics is quite shocking on the number of child and teen obesity cases not mentioning the adult cases. Such spells doom to the future of the country at large due to all the obesity-related illnesses and a lower life expectancy of such people. To counter this, physical fitness needs to be championed not only to reduce obesity but improve a number of related factors (Boero, 2012). Most importantly is that physical fitness can be achieved with little effort contrary to popular belief.
A 150-minute workout in a week is enough to achieve required fitness levels. Such workouts are mild aerobic workouts such as doing squats, star jumps, and pushups. Most of these exercises are quite easy and most people if not all could be comfortable while doing them. Furthermore, the exercise can be divided into three sessions a week of 50 minutes each which is reasonable and realistic. In addition, working out as a group is much more fun and easier. This helps in motivation and setting of group goals. Many employers are going this way and creating group workout sessions for their employees as a motivational tool but also to improve their productivity and overall health. This has been showed in different television series, and it is starting to take shape in the county.
Among the main benefits associated physical fitness is it has a direct bearing on the body that is, it helps in controlling weight and improving all round health (Boero, 2012). It is important to note that a regular exercise reduces the chances of one getting a number of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even some cancers. In addition, exercising also reduces the effects of these diseases to already infected patients. Statistics shows that heart diseases and strokes are among the leading killers in the USA. Through exercise, lower blood pressure levels are maintained, and even low blood cholesterol maintained. In this way, heart diseases and strokes are minimized therefore saving lives of many a people.
Negative effects of the media on obesity
It is imperative to comprehend that one source of weight bias that often plays a role in the perpetuating of stigmatizing attitudes is the media. This stigmatizing of obese individuals are often common in movies, televisions shows, internet videos as well as commercials that are often geared towards adults and children (Levin, 2009). An example can be given of the popular series Nutty Professor, which portrays the obese Klump family as being loud, uncultured and unintelligent. It is also of the essence to recognize that most media present their news, and they frame obesity as an issue of individual responsibility.
This, therefore, places an emphasis more on individual blame. A recent content analysis of the news images that exist in major American TV stations concluded that indeed that the majority of images often portray obese persons in a negative and stigmatizing manner and them often rarely present them in positive light. This negative portrayal is bad for public health; this is because research has shown that the stigmatizing images often leads directly to increased food consumption (Levin, 2009). The media is a complicated tool of communication and, in fact, the information that it communicates in terms of images communicate prejudices.
Obesity in the media has also been commercialized with weight loss programs, diets, and weight loss gurus that often blanket the airwaves as well as other media platforms with the promise of different and diverse miraculous results. In fact, when it comes to the internet, websites as well as different tabloids often splash pictures of celebrities that have gained weight as their latest breaking news. The society in the 21st century can be said to be consumed with the idealistic body type that they have had a little tolerance when it comes to obesity. It is if the essence to comprehend that the way the media often chooses to depict the obese people, even if sometimes their goal is often to motivate weight loss might be currently doing more harm than good.
Research has shown that stigma that is associated with obesity does not motivate people to get into shape, but it shows that the denigration of the obese individuals actually increase their negative behaviors and consequently their outcomes (Rodan, 2014). When the media stigmatizes the persons because of their weight, the persons are often at an elevated risk of binge eating, and this ultimately leads to more weight gain.
In fact, with the media, the stigma often affects women as compared to men and the mental health outcomes can be said to be grim (O'Connor, 2009). The obese women are often particularly vulnerable when it comes to body dissatisfaction, anxiety, depression and low-self esteem The negative consequences at times extend to physical health with the obese people often becoming more susceptible to serious health problems such as heart disease as well as diabetes.
The media often contains advertisements that have unattainable beauty, and these kinds of advertisements are often known to contain unrealistic photos, slim forms of truth and a negative perception of fat persons. The media is known to demonize fat and state that indeed most of the persons that are obese or overweight got there by exactly knowing what they were doing. This, therefore, has given a negative perception regarding obesity in the United States. When comparison comes, there are no forms of satisfactions but what happens is a breakdown of body image and especially when it comes to the obese persons. Although the media has been able to raise awareness about different subjects in regards to obesity, it has also spread the negative content regarding obesity.
There is a general feeling amongst many persons that the media’s portrayal of obese people often has a significant influence when it comes to overall obesity (O'Connor, 2009). In fact, many of the critics argue that if the media was to decrease their stigmatizing of obese people, and instead these persons were portrayed in positive light, then the general population attitude towards the obese individuals would change automatically. In fact, most of the critics argue that rather than stigmatizing and condemning obese persons, the society should instead support and encourage them in their weight loss programs as well as their health goals.
O'Connor, F. (2009). Obesity and the media. New York, NY: Rosen Pub.
Rodan, D., Ellis, K., & Lebeck, P. (2014). Disability, obesity and ageing: Popular media identifications.
Levin, J. (2009). Obesity and self-image. New York, NY: Rosen Central.
Boero, N. (2012). Killer fat: Media, medicine, and morals in the American "obesity epidemic". New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.
Winick, C. (1978). Deviance and mass media. Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications.