Obesity is a medical condition whose most proximate and primary causative determinants are diet and physical activity. These two factors are not elusive. On the other hand, to fully understand the factors behind the prevalence shifts of obesity in population distribution, a host of other social factors come into play. These factors may also aggravate the impacts of the primary factors of diet and physical activity.
Embedded within the context of social factors are myriad determinants of the condition which are interrelated with the multiple levels of the condition itself. For instance, dietary choices as well as the opportunities for physical activity have a close patterning by the socioeconomic resources. Additionally, comfort eating is more prevalent among individuals under a chronic exposure to psychological stress. Depression, on the other hand, diminishes interest in following a physical activity regimen.
Unhealthy diet and inadequate physical activity together with a host of environmental factors are responsible the obesity epidemic, thus to counteract the obesity epidemic, countermeasures must be based on an understanding of both the primary and proximate determinants together with the myriad factors embedded in the social context. Taken into perspective, almost two thirds of the American populace are overweight or obese despite fervent national initiatives to abate the epidemic.
Health professionals have attributed the ineffectiveness of weight management to inadequate training, lack of time, labor intensity and general pessimism that treatment regimens are futile. National initiatives fail because of the absence of practical, long term interventions that can effectively address the holistic influences behind weight gains. These holistic influences include psychological, biological, sociocultural and spiritual factors. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that environmental rather than biological influences are to blame for the obesity epidemic in America today(Dossey & Keegan 2008).
In a nutshell, these environmental influences are; the fast food eating culture, excessive calorie intake, decrease in physical activity coupled to the increasing reliance on high tech devices as a solution to the reduced physical activity and finally, the increased sensitivity to food as a form of stimulant in highly stressful situations. All these environmental factors do not operate singularly but are greatly interconnected and interrelated with other determinants of obesity like the biological, spiritual, socioeconomic and sociocultural influences.
Being overweight and obese are two terms that are often misused. However, while the former implies a BMI of 25-29. 9 and the latter a BMI above 30, both conditions predispose an individual to diabetes, respiratory problems, numerous cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, arthritis, a host of psychological problems and eventually a poor quality of life(Fletcher et al 1999). An analysis of the current statistical presentations of obesity in the United States leaves no room for doubt as to the seriousness of the epidemic. In context, there are so many factors that attribute to the worsening of the problem.
Diet and physical exercise are primary factors. Since the 1980s Americans are persistently putting in more hours in work hence creating a situation where less time is dedicated to physical exercise. Another consequence of the “on the go” lifestyle is the indulgence on unhealthy diets(Barbour 2005). Obesity is a direct consequence of the unhealthy diets. Since the lifestyle has swept across the nation, obesity has risen with it too because of long working hours, unbalanced diets, lack of sleep, high stress environments and insufficient physical exercise.