Social Aspects of Obesity

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According to Loseke, (2017) Wright Mills one of the leading sociologists of the 20th century argues that a need transforms into a social problem if it becomes a widely shared experience within the community. An issue that has caught the attention of not only the national government but also the globe is the prevalence of obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its latest report stated that there are more 41million children who are below the age of five spread across the globe who are obese and overweight. The figures keep growing as the children advance through adolescence and early adulthood. It is notable that obesity is a growing epidemic with far reaching consequences for the obese individual. Obesity not only makes one vulnerable to health risks but also a litany of social and psychological problems (Williams et al., 2015). This paper examines obesity as a social issue that the society needs to urgently address since its cause is largely controllable if the obese are not stigmatized.

Causes of obesity

Obesity has risen through the recent years to become an issue that is jostling with human activities such as armed conflict and smoking since it has the greatest negative impact on the society. It not only imposes high healthcare costs on the already stretched healthcare resources but also leads to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease which are both financially and emotionally draining (Sahoo et al., 2015).

The incidence of obesity although high in the developed nations, its prevalence in the developing nations has been on the rise leading to growing concerns on its causes and lasting effects. There are numerous studies that have been done on the dynamics of obesity with intent of establishing its causes and using the same to address it. According to Sahoo et al., (2015) Scholars and researchers argue that obesity is a result of individual and societal factors that influence each other making individuals vulnerable to the health epidemic.

Individual causes of obesity

The individual causative factors of obesity include genetics and behavior while the societal causes of obesity include food and physical environment as well education and skill set. Research studies have shown that obesity is largely genetic in nature since obesity in parents increase the risk of the children developing obesity. The genetics however unlike the other factors are slow to cause an obesity epidemic although they influence how individuals react to different environmental settings such as access to processed junk foods, and physical inactivity (Williams et al., 2015).

For instance, an studies establish that two individuals are likely to respond differently to a protracted length of inactivity and eating processed foods, which if narrowed down elucidates the role of genetics in determining whether one becomes obese or not. Obesity is mainly as a result of complex interaction between multiple genes and environmental factors.

Behavioral factors causing obesity

The behavioral factors that cause obesity include physical activity and eating habits. Individuals who eat healthy and have a stable physical exercise plan are less likely to develop obesity in contrast to the people who eat unhealthy and lead a sedentary lifestyle (Williams et al., 2015). The personal behavior of an individual influences how they spend their day and the activities that they engage in, which means that some individuals are more likely to get exposed to obesity contributing factors such as medication and foods in comparison to others.

Societal factors causing obesity

The community environment is also a leading contributor to obesity since it encapsulates causative factors such as myths and misconceptions about obesity, eating habits and lifestyle, as well as education and skills (Williams et al., 2015). These are all factors that determine the kind of life one leads, with communities where physical activity is cherished more likely to have low incidence of obesity since the culture motivates the people to engage in physical exercises.

Obesity is caused by an imbalance in the calories that an individual consumes and the calories that the same individual expends (Sahoo et al., 2015). The difference between the calories consumed and those expended translates to the weight gained and the community environment such as access to healthcare sensitization programs, education and even workplace setting having an influence on whether an individual becomes obese or not.

This is because, these environments can challenge a person's perception on obesity, challenge them to adopt a healthy regime and even reinforce the teachings on healthy lifestyle through support groups (Sahoo et al., 2015). The society largely perceives obesity as a growing health concern but fail to address its causative factors such as the enabling environment in which junk and processed foods are popularized as well as encourage the adoption of health sensitization programs to educate people on the lasting negative impact of obesity and why they need to take action.


The increasing prevalence of obesity has made it a significant global concern that not only leads to poor health outcomes but also reduces an individual's quality of life and on the extreme causes death through the various chronic diseases that it causes. The impact of obesity has been compounded by the development of sociality which necessitates that people and children conform to a narrow perception of perfect and healthy, which means that those who are obese fail to get the support that they need to address it since they are stigmatized. It is thus imperative that policy makers when developing intervention measures should make sure that they focus on the social aspect of obesity since its causes are largely tied to the society.


Loseke, D. (2017). Thinking about social problems: An introduction to constructionist perspectives. Routledge.

Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A. K., Sofi, N. Y., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. S. (2015). Childhood obesity: causes and consequences. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 4(2), 187.

Williams, E. P., Mesidor, M., Winters, K., Dubbert, P. M., & Wyatt, S. B. (2015). Overweight and obesity: prevalence, consequences, and causes of a growing public health problem. Current obesity reports, 4(3), 363-370.

August 21, 2023

Health Sociology

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