- 1 Changing the American Culture of Obesity
- 2 By:Nancy Trout, MD, MPH
- 3 Is Obesity Culturally Influenced ?
- 4 Controlling the global obesity epidemic
- 5 Is Obesity Cultural?
- 6 Learn The Facts
- 7 Obesity by the numbers
- 8 How Did We Get Here?
- 9 Let’s Move!
- 10 Food culture in obesity prevention Europe
- 11 Important dimensions of food culture
- 12 Suggestion for a way forward
- 13 References
- 14 Helping Communities Reduce Childhood Obesity
- 15 Replication Efforts Underway
- 16 Quality of Life
- 17 Contact Us
- 18 Encouraging Progress on the State of Obesity in the United States
Changing the American Culture of Obesity
Preventing Obesity in Children During Childhood
By:Nancy Trout, MD, MPH
Obesity is encouraged in our American culture. We are influenced by our environment to pick unhealthy foods and consume portions that are far too excessive for our bodies. High-calorie, low-nutrient processed meals abound in supermarkets and restaurants, all of which are highly processed. Junk food is commonly available, inexpensive, easy, and aggressively advertised in today’s society. Foods that are harmful to one’s health, such as sweets, are prominently placed in high traffic locations, such as check-out lines in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Aside from that, unlimited buffets and super-sized portions at fast food places are an invitation to overindulgence.
Treating the Culture of Obesity
According to the most recentRobert Wood Johnson State of Childhood Obesity statistics, 19.3 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 in the United States are obese, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. When I visit children who are obese in primary care or in the Connecticut Children’s weight management program, I ask them about their eating habits and ask them about their diet. Patients frequently indicate that processed foods such as hot ranch Cheetos or Doritos, Oreos, sugary cereals such as Frosted Flakes or Fruit Loops, Lunchables, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and pizza are staples in their diet.
They would frequently go through a full day’s worth of food intake without mentioning even a single fruit or vegetable in the process.
The COVID-19 epidemic has undoubtedly made this number worse, but many students report doing no physical exercise at all, and screen use outside of remote schooling is frequently higher than four hours per day, and is occasionally larger than eight hours per day on average.
Ending our Culture of Obesity
In our obesogenic world, it is difficult to ensure that children’s growth and health are at their best. Reports from the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity show that big food and big beverage companies spend more than $8 billion per year advertising and marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children and adolescents, with disproportionate emphasis on African-American and Latino kids and teens. Dietary deficiencies and diet-related disorders are exacerbated in this group as a result of this focused marketing.
- Obesity has become a social problem in the United States, and comprehensive societal measures are needed to combat it.
- Sugar sweetened beverage excise taxes should be implemented in Connecticut to reduce consumption of sugary beverages, which contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.
- In addition, we should restrict promotion of junk foods and harmful beverages to youngsters, a strategy that Senator Richard Blumenthal supports.
- In order to achieve this goal, community interventions such as secure walkable neighbourhoods, parks, bike lanes, playgrounds, and accessible outdoor programming for children and teenagers are required.
- If we want to alter the culture of obesity in our society, we must first recognize it for what it is: a major epidemic with serious health effects and financial costs.
- Nancy Trout, MD, MPH, is a primary care doctor and co-director of Kohl’s Start Childhood Off Right, a childhood obesity prevention project of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.
She received her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. If you would like to sign up to receive E-Updates from the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, please visit their website by clicking here.
Is Obesity Culturally Influenced ?
Weight gain is an issue that is well-known in the United States, albeit it is not well-controlled at the moment. Obesity has become a major public health issue affecting both men and women of all races, socioeconomic levels, and cultural backgrounds. But how much does culture play a role in a person’s risk of being obese? The majority of people classified as obese are seriously overweight, and they are also at a higher risk of acquiring circulatory disorders, such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as cardiovascular difficulties.
- The first step in understanding the significance of cultural variables in obesity is to recognize that culture is a system of norms that are learnt through the sharing of experiences by a particular group of people.
- What distinguishes them from other groups is how they determine what is an acceptable style of eating, as well as how they present themselves to others.
- People who come from the same cultural background are more likely to live in the same neighborhood.
- Those meal choices may not be nutritious, but they may be comfortable, and they may be consumed in excessive quantities as a result.
- Those who frequently consume fast food due to its low cost are consuming food that is heavy in calories, fats, and refined sugars, all of which contribute to the development of obesity in the long run.
- People who live in more economically developed cultures are more likely to be obese than those who live in more rural areas of the country, owing to the fact that they are more prone to consume prepared, packaged, and processed meals.
- Human beings make decisions about how they live their lives, and a society that encourages individuals to make poor decisions about what they eat, how they exercise, and how they use their spare time would be bound to have an even larger population of fat people.
- Make an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital who can assist you in improving your nutrition by calling 718-206-7001 to set up an appointment.
- Before implementing any of the recommendations on this page, please contact with a medical practitioner.
In no case should you reject competent medical advice or put off seeking medical care because of something you have read in this email. IN THE EVENT THAT YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, CONTACT YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY OR CALL 911.
Controlling the global obesity epidemic
Located at the other end of malnutrition’s spectrum, obesity is one of today’s most conspicuously apparent, yet mostly ignored, public health concerns. Despite the fact that it is occurring concurrently with undernutrition, a rising worldwide epidemic of overweight and obesity – dubbed “globesity” – is sweeping the globe, affecting many different corners of the world. If prompt action is not done, millions of people may suffer from a wide range of significant health problems, including cancer.
Around the world in 1995, an estimated 200 million obese adults and another 18 million under-five children were considered overweight, according to estimates.
It is estimated that over 115 million individuals in developing nations suffer from obesity-related disorders, which is in contrast to popular understanding.
Obesity is associated with a significant increase in the risk of serious diet-related noncommunicable illnesses, such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke, as well as some types of cancer.
Is Obesity Cultural?
When salmon swim against the stream of a river, avoiding a swarm of grizzlies, we are struck by the strength and bravery that nature has given them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of them perish while doing it. There has never been any suggestion to me that the many fish that die along the route lack the sense of personal responsibility that those who make it have. All are striving; some are successful, but the majority are unsuccessful. The species has survived (for the time being), although less than 5% of the fish are able to withstand the challenges.
- David Katz is a well-known author.
- In our contemporary world, only a few people succeed, while the majority fail.
- Few people are successful in their battle against the dominant culture.
- Please keep that concept in mind.
- For example, we’ve heard that obesity rates in both children and adults appear to have reached a plateau in recent years.
- To the degree that optimism was tempted to take flight as a result of such news, its ascent was dashed by the Rand Corporation’s results published this week, which cast doubt on that notion.
- Not only is a growing prevalence of extreme obesity a horrible thing in and of itself, but it also has the unintended consequence of undoing the seeming good news that overweight and obesity rates in general appear to be leveling off.
Approximately 65 to 80 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese at this time.
The fact that practically everyone, and definitely everyone who is vulnerable, is already overweight means that the true measure of our status is no longer how many people are overweight, but how overweight the many who are overweight are.
We are witnessing exactly what the Rand investigation has revealed to be happening.
Isn’t it true that America runs on Dunkin’ Donuts?
What are the grizzlies that are snatching us up in their claws and teeth as we battle against the obesogenic currents of our civilization, with our success rate just a bit better than that of salmon?
Things about culture that used to be understandable when placed in their proper perspective, but no longer do.
to Hartford, Connecticut was 51 minutes long and took off at 10 a.m.
And, for the most part, everyone indulged in alcoholic beverages.
Even if it isn’t exactly on the same scale as handing out cigarettes on a cancer unit, I believe it is foolish in the same ways as the latter.
This situation predominates in our society.
And, yet again, why?
We barely scraped by by eating as much as we could whenever we could.
However, in the present setting, Stone Age cultural impulses can have a negative impact!
When it comes down to it, what exactly is a buffet in the current context?
Come on, everyone, let’s get up and sniff the SlimFast together!
It was during a time when food was scarce.
The same may be said for the other side of the energy balance equation.
This, too, is a cultural imperative—and it served a useful purpose for a long period of time.
The option to opt out was available, as was the option to request a snack or a Coke.
I recognize that this is so far removed from our everyday lives that it may appear weird to some of you.
Culture was created in such a way that it made sense to people who created it.
Furthermore, our society is responsible for the fact that health is something that we prefer to overlook and disregard until it is damaged.
It is merely the flight-or-fight reaction that has been programmed into our bodies, and in today’s world, it is more of a liability than an advantage in terms of health promotion.
Because our culture has always encouraged us to do so, we take care of our financial resources.
We took care of illness and injury, of course, but there was nothing we could do to improve health when it wasn’t already compromised.
We would not make any investments, save any money, or set up a budget.
No, I’m not sure what kind of financial recovery method is comparable to coronary bypass surgery, bariatric surgery, or dialysis, but I can assure you that it would be neither attractive nor painless.
We take care of them as long as we can because our culture expects us to.
Despite our understanding of the genome, we do not have complete control over our genes.
Culture, on the other hand, is a medium that we have created entirely on our own.
For proponents of individual responsibility, it’s important to remember that the fish must swim regardless of the current that they are in.
But, how much better it would be for all of us—and for the future of our children—if we could achieve health by going with the flow rather than against it.
You can reach us at [email protected]m with any questions, concerns, or feedback you have.
He is the founder and director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, as well as the principal inventor of the NuVal nutrition guidance system, among other accomplishments.
Katz was appointed editor-in-chief of Childhood Obesity in 2011, and he is the president-elect of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which he founded in 2003.
Learn The Facts
There is a danger to the physical and mental well-being of a whole generation, as well as to the economic well-being and security of our nation. – Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, speaking at the Let’s Move! kickoff on February 9, 2010.
Obesity by the numbers
Childhood obesity rates in the United States have risen in the last three decades, with roughly one in every three youngsters in the country now classified as overweight or obese. The figures are much higher in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, where over 40% of youngsters are overweight or obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In the absence of a solution to this problem, one-third of all children born in 2000 or later will get diabetes at some time in their life.
How Did We Get Here?
Children’s obesity rates in the United States have quadrupled in the last three decades, and approximately one in every three children in the United States is now considered overweight or obese. Even more alarming are the statistics in African-American and Hispanic populations, where approximately 40% of youngsters are overweight or obese, respectively. In the absence of a solution to this problem, one-third of all children born in 2000 or later will get diabetes at some time throughout their lives.
Over the last three decades, juvenile obesity rates in the United States have quadrupled, with roughly one in every three youngsters in the country now classified as overweight or obese. The figures are significantly higher in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, where over 40% of youngsters are overweight or obese, compared to the national average of 35%. A third of all children born in 2000 or later will get diabetes at some time throughout their lives if we do not address this issue.
Food culture in obesity prevention Europe
When the World Obesity Federation warned that the World Health Organization’s aim of no growth in obesity rates beyond 2010 would be hard to achieve, the issue of growing obesity rates made headlines once more throughout the world. A request for more market control and standards for school meals was made again and again as a method of halting the downward trend in school meals. 1 This may be beneficial, but the obstacles in dealing with the obesity problem are undeniably complicated, and there is a need for a more comprehensive knowledge of what shapes eating patterns—and, consequently, what may be done to re-shape them—in order to be more effective.
But when looking through the databases of financing mechanisms in the European Union4, it becomes clear that food culture is only seldom included in the projects carried out as part of health promotion and obesity prevention.
It is not defined in full what constitutes culinary culture, and what constitutes cultural variety is also a matter of debate.
This is particularly noteworthy because contributions from the humanities and social sciences emphasize the role of food as a factor in the formation of meaning and identity, a dimension that has a significant influence on eating behaviors.
Important dimensions of food culture
It is necessary to understand more deeply the tension that exists between change as a fundamental element of human living conditions and the apparent search for stability expressed in the adherence to customs if the overall goal is to understand how cultural analysis may contribute to the understanding of what shapes eating patterns and, consequently, what is likely to have an impact on obesity rates.
Alternatively, we must comprehend the relationship between tradition and globalization in the construction of cultural identities.
Despite the fact that policy is unquestionably a component of culture, it is unlikely that culture can be reduced to policy alone.
In the sense that the organization of work life, political economy of food production, and displacements associated with globalisation all have an impact on taste preferences, handed down skills, and social practices related to eating, it is undeniable that policy decisions have an impact on culture.
- In the field of public health, the dietary component is equally important.
- The reason for this is that it rephrases the reference to food culture as something that is almost a contradiction.
- In other words, it is an extension of medical research into the sphere of food, with the result that the social and cultural functions of the meal are rendered insignificant.
- It is a recognition that the scientific approach is founded on the human experience of food as a sensory experience and as a communal reference point in society.
- As a result, the spatial and temporal aspects of food culture offer an important point of analysis—essential in attaining an understanding of the meaning encoded in actions associated to food and eating—and must be considered.
- With little question, there are variances in eating habits amongst people who come from different cultural, socioeconomic, religious, and generational backgrounds.
- However, regardless of their origins, cultural activities serve to convey identification and meaning.
Overall, the four aspects may be seen as fundamental components of a thorough investigation of the influence of food culture on eating habits. It may contribute to the complexity of obesity as a public health concern, but it is necessary to address the issue of complexity.
Suggestion for a way forward
The unsolved problem of growing obesity rates demands that we find solutions. There are two problems that must be overcome. First and foremost, a definition of food culture that is acceptable across all academic disciplines must be developed and implemented. Also necessary is a full grasp of the relationship between food culture and obesity trends. No one can deny that cultural customs and social practices have an impact on eating behaviors, as evidenced by academic research on food as a means of constructing meaning and identity.
In order to do this, academic disciplines capable of cultural analysis must be brought into the area through calls from funding mechanisms and an agenda that encourages true interdisciplinary collaboration.
There have been no declared conflicts of interest.
Growing obesity rates are an unsolved issue that need attention. Both of these difficulties must be overcome. It is necessary to first develop a definition of food culture that is agreed across academic fields. Furthermore, a full grasp of the relationship between food culture and obesity trends is essential. The academic literature on food as a means of forming meaning and identity provides no room for debate about the effect of cultural conventions and social practices on eating habits and habits of eating in general.
In order to do this, the academic disciplines capable of cultural analysis must be recruited into the area through appeals from funding mechanisms and through an agenda that encourages true interdisciplinary collaborations.
There were no stated conflicts of interest.
Helping Communities Reduce Childhood Obesity
When she participated in physical activities, she felt self-conscious about herself. She was often taunted about her weight. She admitted that she “felt sorry” about her weight on a daily basis. She was eight years old at the time. We hear those kinds of tales all too often, says Dr. Sarah Armstrong, director of the Duke University School of Medicine’s Healthy Lifestylesclinic. In a state with one of the worst rates of obesity in the country, Armstrong is witness to the plague of childhood obesity firsthand.
She and her colleagues are now concentrating their efforts on recreating that communal effort in other parts of the country.
The objective is to reduce obesity, promote health, and prevent chronic illness among at-risk children in the Carolinas and the surrounding areas. The Duke Endowment is providing money for the project in the amount of about $750,000.
Replication Efforts Underway
Doctor Sarah Armstrong and her team are developing templates and other resources to one day replicate this community-based pediatric obesity program in existing communities that are part of the Endowment’s Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas initiative, which was launched in 2015. Dr. Armstrong and her team received a grant from The Duke Endowment to Duke University Health System to carry out this work. According to Lin Hollowell, head of the Endowment’s Health Care program area, “By investing in successful preventative programs and community collaborations, we think we can assist people in preventing manageable health conditions from becoming chronic difficulties.” “Significantly increasing the participation of children and families in healthy behaviors will improve their quality of life for years to come.” With rates of diabetes, heart disease, and unhealthy weight being consistently high across the Carolinas, the Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas initiative is assisting communities in implementing evidence-based programs that are aimed at encouraging people to live healthier lives.
Leaders from area organizations are involved in devising strategies to engage citizens in their health as part of the program, which is carried out through local coalitions.
- To increase: the number of highly successful community coalitions
- To increase the number of community citizens participating in health-promoting activities
- To demonstrate the effectiveness of health-improving initiatives
Performance indicators will be tracked in order to assist the coalitions develop and learn from their experiences.
A Safe Space
Family wellness programming is delivered through a strategy that connects a health-care clinic with a leisure facility and encourages collaboration among community members. Bull City Fit is a program that assists low-income and uninsured children who have already developed obesity in Durham, and it was founded in 2009. Healthy Lifestyles clinic, a one-year intervention for children with a body mass index (BMI) more than the 95th percentile, is where participants sign up for the program. When the program began in a temporary gym at a children’s hospital, the organizers were shocked by the large number of families that signed up to participate.
Armstrong, a pediatrician, “kids informed us that this was the only place they could be active without feeling weird or self-conscious, and their parents agreed.” “We were providing a secure environment in which families could exercise and learn together, as well as become inspired to make positive behavioral changes.” It is now possible to find Bull City Fit at a space offered by Durham Parks & Recreation.
Local organizations lend a hand with program development and personnel.
Participating in supervised exercise programs, culinary and gardening demos and support groups is a must for children and carers.
As Armstrong points out, “there is a general notion that fat children are simply overweight and that this is their problem.” Nevertheless, many of these youngsters have excessive blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
” “There is a real medical component to what we do on a cellular level.”
Quality of Life
Family wellness programming is delivered through a paradigm that connects a health-care clinic with a leisure center and encourages community engagement. Bull City Fit is a program that targets low-income and uninsured children who have already developed obesity in Durham, North Carolina. Healthy Lifestyles clinic, a one-year intervention for children with a body mass index (BMI) more than the 95th percentile, is where participants sign up for participation. It took organizers by surprise when so many families signed up for the event, which was held in a temporary gym inside a children’s hospital.
Armstrong, a pediatrician, “kids informed us that this was the only location where they could be active without feeling weird or self-conscious, and their parents agreed.” It was our hope that we could provide a secure area where families could come to exercise, learn, and be inspired to make positive behavioral changes.
The programming and staffing are supported by local organizations.
Children and caregivers are invited to participate in supervised exercise programs, culinary and gardening demonstrations, as well as support group sessions.
As Armstrong points out, “There is a general notion that fat children are simply overweight and that this is their problem.” Many of these youngsters, however, have excessive blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
The strategy connects a health-care clinic with a leisure facility and encourages community engagement in order to conduct family wellness activities. Bull City Fit is a program in Durham that assists low-income and uninsured children who have already developed obesity. Healthy Lifestyles clinic, a one-year intervention for children with a body mass index (BMI) more than the 95th percentile, recruits participants. When the program began in a temporary gym at a children’s hospital, the organizers were shocked by the large number of families that signed up for it.
Armstrong, a pediatrician, “kids informed us that this was the only location where they could be active without feeling weird or self-conscious, and their parents agreed.” “We were providing a secure environment in which families could exercise and learn together, as well as become motivated to make behavioral changes.” A new home for Bull City Fit has been offered by Durham Parks and Recreation.
The clinic for Healthy Lifestyles provides medical competence.
The best part is that it’s completely free.
As Armstrong points out, “there is a general impression that fat children are simply overweight, and that is their problem.” “However, many of these youngsters have excessive blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.” What we do has a significant medical component at its core.”
Encouraging Progress on the State of Obesity in the United States
Collaboration to combat children obesity has achieved positive results, as seen by recent statistics showing that rates among 2-4 year olds enrolled in the federal WIC program have dropped in 31 states. However, the job is far from finished. However, during the past several years, we have begun to see a shift in the situation. Weight gain in both adults and children has begun to level down in recent years. Furthermore, an increasing number of states and towns have begun to report improvements in their obesity rates among certain subgroups of children, which is encouraging.
- That did not happen by chance, or by coincidence, or as a result of the efforts of a single individual or organization alone.
- Moreover, we are beginning to see the exciting effects of the collaboration between parents, lawmakers, community leaders, health authorities, educators, company owners, and industry executives.
- Physical education minimum time requirements are being implemented in certain districts as part of the implementation of updated nutrition guidelines in school meals and school lunches.
- The federal government is providing incentives to grocery shops and other healthy food vendors to locate and develop in underprivileged regions, and 33 states have established rules to encourage people to walk and bike to work.
- Even more encouraging findings were found in our 2016 State of Obesity report: Adult obesity rates actually decreased in four states between 2014 and 2015, marking the first time this has happened in the preceding decade.
Between 2010 and 2014, new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income households who are participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) decreased in 31 states.
Let’s be clear: while we have reason to be optimistic about the future, our job is far from over.
Obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in WIC increased in four states, according to the study.
Nationally, about one in every three children is overweight or obese, and in every state, more than one in every three adults is overweight or obese.
Too many families continue to lack access to nutritious food in their communities, as well as safe places to play in their surroundings.
As a result, let us redouble our efforts to guarantee that all children have a healthy start from the very beginning of their lives.
As vice president, Program, Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH and MBA is responsible for driving the Foundation’s strategy and working closely with staff, external partners, and community leaders to create a Culture of Health in America, allowing everyone to live the healthiest life possible.
Richard Hamburg serves as Interim President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), where he has assisted in the organization’s efforts to ensure that disease prevention is a central component of health reform.
He has also been instrumental in the organization’s work on obesity prevention and increasing support for public health programs, among other things.