Obesity has become the silent killer in American society. It is a risk factor for numerous chronic diseases including the four leading causes of death. Obesity can be linked to stroke, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, all serious health problems that can be fatal. Obesity is linked to 300,000 deaths annually in the industrial world (Flamholz, 2001). Often in society and in the medical community there exists a lack of understanding that obesity is in fact a disease and needs attention, otherwise the rates of many diseases will continue to climb.
Obesity has moved to almost epidemic status in America. There are an increased number of people in America that are obese. The percentage of people that can be defined as obese, those that are 20% above ideal weight, has jumped 30% in the last ten years (Rosenbaum & Leibel, 1998). With this increase in obesity America has seen an increase in all related diseases. Adult onset diabetes is now affecting younger and younger children is one example. Poor eating habits and lack of knowledge have helped to create these problems. Some of the other causes have to do with society itself. The structure of modern American society helps to create these problems. With people working longer and longer hours convenience food is often bought instead of healthy food. People often spend most of their workday sedentary and never have the chance to exercise. Advertising that people see tells them to consume high calorie foods. Then the next advertisement tells them how to purchase an ease fix to their obesity problems without having to do the difficult thing of changing lifestyles.
The link between cardiovascular disease and obesity has been well established. This major cause of mortality in our society disproportionately affects those of lower socioeconomic status. In Barnett and Halverson's (2000) study it was found that African Americans living in urban environments and people living in the rural south had the highest rate of cardiovascular disease. They pointed to a multiple list of reasons why they found the results that they did. All of their reasons talked about issues that cause people to become obese. They looked at access to healthy foods, job related issues of stress, access to recreational and fitness facilities, and most importantly access to medical facilities. All of these risk factors of cardiovascular disease are directly related to obesity.
The lack of adequate health care for those of lower socioeconomic status contributes to the problem of obesity. One study done in Europe found that obesity, which disproportionately affected people with lower social status, was not only linked to cardiovascular disease but also to mortality rate (Mackenbach et al 1997). These would seem obvious enough but the implications deal directly with the issue of health care availability. The higher rate of mortality cannot be explained by the increase in risk. The authors of this study concluded that lack of health...