A commercial comes on the television, advertising salty fries and greasy hamburgers. The man watching the commercial starts to get hungry. “That looks so good.” He thinks as the commercial shows a well-muscled man biting into the juicy sandwich. The man watching the commercial looks down on himself, and then back at the well fit man on the TV, who now has a satisfied look on his face as he chews the burger.
The man sitting on the couch is no longer hungry. Hopelessness now fills him. He is a big man, who has tried many things to lose weight. He does go to the gym when he can, or feels like it. He has tried dieting, but it’s hard for him. And the diet pill he’s on barely does nothing for him. He is not just an overweight man though. He is obese. And he feels that he can do nothing about it.
Obesity is one of America’s serious health problems. It affects about 36% of adults and 17% of children in the U. S. It is an epidemic that in the past 20 years has increased nearly 20% in the population and continues to grow into the next generation. And while just about all Americans agree that obesity is a major health problem, recent debates has popped up on whether this problem should be labeled as a disease or not. To some people, it makes sense that obesity would be categorized as a disease. But majority of people believe that labeling obesity as a disease would not only make obese Americans believe that weight management is pointless, it will reduce concerns about healthy choices and suggest that one’s weight is a permanent state.
In 2013, the American Medical Association conducted a research study to find out what effect labeling obesity as a disease would have on the affected Americans. They used more than 700 people to test a hypothesis that consisted of three studies. One group of randomly assigned participants was given a newspaper article to read about the A.M.A.’s recent decision to label obesity a disease. The control groups were assigned to read an article about standardized public health or about how obesity is not a disease. In the end, every group completed a questionnaire on their attitude toward eating behavior and weight loss.
The A.M.A. had their results. “Our findings confirmed our suspicions. On the positive side, we found that the obesity-as-disease message increased body satisfaction among obese individuals, probably because it removed the shame of obesity as a moral failing. However, there was also a significant negative consequence. Suggesting that one’s weight is a fixed state — like a long-term disease — made attempts at weight management seem futile, and thus undermined the importance that obese individuals placed on health-focused dieting and concern for weight.”
In further study, the participants were handed a menu to choose a sandwich ranging from 230 calories to 980 calories. The A.M.A reported that, “Obese participants in the obesity-is-a-disease condition group made choices that had 7 percent more calories than obese...