Obesity Epidemic Essay

Length: 5 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Not Specified Type: Essay Paper: #19024257 Related Topics: Eating Habits, Obesity, Eating Disorders, Diets
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … pressure people into accepting the idea that being slim and looking good are essential steps in a person's journey to happiness. Either because of the profits they can gain from the 'industry' of looking good or simply because they want to promote healthy practices, numerous individuals have gotten actively involved in providing advice to the masses with regard to what attitudes they need to take in order to lose weight. The present day obesity epidemic needs to be addressed from several perspectives, as simply promoting healthy eating habits and physical exercise seems to have a limited positive effect on the general public. The 'trend' is rapidly progressing and it would be safe to say that the number of obese people is going to increase as long as society continues to use strategies it is currently using with the purpose of fighting it (Burton, Creyer, Kees, & Huggins, p.1669).

Among the first things that people consider when being overweight are concepts like heavy exercising and rigorous dieting. Certainly, these two play an important role in helping some people achieve positive results, and several individuals have successfully fought extra pounds by focusing on changing their lifestyles. However, psychological factors are essential in determining a person's vulnerability in the face of particular maladies. Numerous people who fail to address their psychological issues risk coming across significant problems as they resort to overeating in an attempt to find an escape from their problems. "Several studies have shown that obese adults binge eaters also report greater psychological distress, particularly depressive symptoms, when compared with obese non-binge eaters." (Morgan et. al. 431)

Gender is especially important in this context, as females have reportedly achieved higher scores in surveys regarding binge-eating. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between binge-eating and psychological issues, especially when considering female subjects. As a "Significant sex differences in mean values were found in all psychological factors, with higher scores in girls compared with boys." (Bjornely, Nordah & Holmen, 2011, p.1).

A person can seriously damage his or her life if he or she takes on attitudes they think are in accordance with their interests. When considering the topic under discussion, individuals end up getting involved in binge-eating activities as they consider this to be the solution to their problems. While the practice initially starts as a means of escaping suffering associated with diverse psychological issues, it can gradually turn into a habit and it can later progress to a stage where they cannot abandon it without special help. By focusing on factors contributing to a person turning to food for comfort or to escape emotions, one can find that this can be a mere symptom for conditions that are much more severe and difficult to detect (Lightstone p.18).

Emotional eating is one of the principal factors contributing to the obesity epidemic across the world. "Emotional factors contribute incisively for the development of obesity, and may also be originated from it, aggravating the condition of the affected subject and making the treatment more difficult." (Matos, Aranha, Faria, Ferreira, Bacaltchuck, & Zanella p.166) Obesity itself is like a vicious circle, as individuals who are obese are inclined to be negatively influenced on a psychological level as a consequence of their condition. These people experience issues that are likely to contribute to their initial problems (in cases involving people who became obese as a result of having emotional problems) and thus feel that it would be impossible for them to adopt lifestyles that would actually improve their condition. It is not that they don't know about diets they should adopt or physical exercises they should perform -- the problem is with them finding the power to actually be able to change much about...


"Although participants can readily identify emotional eating behaviors, they report difficulty in stopping the cycle in which they appear to be caught, utilizing food to self-soothe even when it becomes detrimental to their physical well-being." (Hernandez-Hons & Woolley p.3) In these cases food can function as a form of medicine or as a diversion meant to numb their feelings -- individuals know that they are going to suffer even more if they continue to eat unhealthy foods in large amounts, but the positive feelings coming along with practices like binge-eating influences them to ignore the dangers they expose themselves to.

There are a series of programs and experts that aim to address the obesity problem in the context of emotional problems. These respective bodies concentrate on changing the way that obesity is perceived at a global level. Although it is often associated with genetic problems and with persons who simply don't care about their health, obesity is actually strongly related to psychological issues. According to Hernandez-Hons and Woolley (p.3), "obese people can have difficulty in differentiating between their emotions and hunger due to the effects of using emotional eating as a coping mechanism." Specialists thus focus on addressing this problem by developing programs and strategies that aim to have people better acquainted with their problems. Individuals need to learn that it is actually possible for them to abandon a great deal of harmful habits as long as they also focus on the psychological aspect of their problem rather than solely on their objectives.

Society has attempted to devise a series of strategies to fight obesity during recent years. While the masses focus on choice as being one of the principal elements behind the condition, more and more individuals started to acknowledge the existence of a psychological factor. "Psychological processes contribute largely to obesity. They are able to explain, at least partly, why people overeat while they do not want to, and why they cannot lose weight." (Jansen p.50)

There is much controversy regarding self-hypnosis and the degree to which it can assist individuals suffering from obesity. While the practice is pretty straightforward, the masses often find it difficult to accept its positive effects and actually consider that conventional methods are the only means to fighting obesity (Anbar & Savedoff, 2006, p.198). This is actually one of the reasons why promoting diets and physical exercise often fails to make people take these strategies on as a solution to their problems. Society in general promotes false values and contributes to making people feel secure as a consequence of living in agreement with these respective values. Obese individuals fight to achieve objectives that are not actually important and they come to miss the main point concerning the matter -- they simply consider that it is imperative for them to get skinny regardless of the factors involved (Crandall p.588). Individuals are consumed with their problems and are inclined to adopt strategies that society promotes as being the most effective without actually addressing reasons behind their personal problems.

"Treatment Of Binge Eating With Automatic Word Processing And Self-Hypnosis: A Case Report" follows an adolescent as he struggles with obesity. The 16-year-old boy used automatic word processing (AWP) and self-hypnosis as means to deal with his condition. The fact that he also suffered from a series of psychological issues probably played an important role in making both him and those around him realize that his obesity could be addressed by looking at the combination of factors triggering it rather than addressing it directly. The boy was enabled to see the reasons behind his obesity problem and by focusing on resolving them one by one he gained a more complex understanding of obesity the disease. While he received outside help, he was also encouraged to develop his own means of fighting the malady. This provided him with the power to fight obesity from a first-person perspective and to realize that diets and physical exercise are actually among the last steps in the process of dealing with a binge eating issue.

The majority of weight control programs fail to deal with underlying psychological factors concerning obesity. Seeing that conventional means have had a limited effect on fighting obesity, it would be safe to say that society (in general) needs to accept the significance of alternative treatments as the key to experiencing progress. The fact that people seem accepting with regard to such ideas contributes to the obesity problem. With a growing number of companies providing nutritional information accompanying their products, it seems even more appealing to blame people directly rather than to analyze the factors behind their eating problem (Wansink & Chandon p.605).

Obesity is one of the most dangerous maladies in the contemporary society and the fact that people fail to acknowledge its gravity is likely to reflect negatively on the world in years to come. There are many more problems associated with obesity and in order to effectively fight it one would have to be acquainted with all of them, as the only solution to fighting obesity effectively is to go in-depth and to analyze the combination of factors…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works cited:

1. Bjornelv, S., Nordahl, H.M., & Holmen, T.L. (2011). Psychological factors and weight problems in adolescents. The role of eating problems, emotional problems, and personality traits: The Young-HUNT study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,46(5), 353-62. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00127-010-0197-z

2. Hernandez-Hons, A., & Woolley, S.R. (2012). Women's experiences with emotional eating and related attachment and sociocultural processes. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(4), 589-603. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1150195124?accountid=26503

3. Anbar, R.D., & Savedoff, A.D. (2006). Treatment of binge eating with automatic word processing and self-hypnosis: A case report. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 48(2), 191-8.

4. Matos, M.I.R., Aranha, L.S., Faria, A.N., Ferrerira, S.R.G., Bacaltchuck, J., & Zanella, M.T. (2002). Binge eating disorder, anxiety, depression and body image in grade III obesity patients. Rev Bras Psiquiatr, 24(4):165-9

Cite this Document:

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