Presenter Information

Meghan McInnis, Providence College

Location

Harkins 312

Event Website

https://www.providence.edu/hpm/Pages/Conference.aspx

Start Date

12-4-2014 9:30 AM

End Date

12-4-2014 10:50 AM

Description

It is well documented that obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and worldwide. By 2010, 35.9% of U.S. adults age 20 and older were obese (Overweight and Obesity, CDC). Obesity has been associated with many health problems, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, and cardiac disease (Lucey, 2008, p.202). What has just been described is the traditional, medicalized narrative of obesity. In this narrative, obesity is viewed as an epidemic that demands an immediate and widespread response (Lucey, 2008, p.202). The blame is placed largely on individuals, while social factors, such as socioeconomic status and neighborhood environment, are largely ignored. The traditional, medicalized narrative is the dominant narrative in U.S. society today. As a result, policy initiatives aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity focus on changing individuals’ behaviors. One such initiative is to tax sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). The idea is to deter individuals from buying sugary drinks and steer them towards healthier options. In this paper, I use an SSB tax policy in order to examine how obesity is defined, measured, and viewed by different groups in American society. Furthermore, I argue that the traditional narrative of obesity is flawed and contributes to unnecessary negative stigma of the obese. In contrast, I will show that social factors play the most important role in the growing trend towards larger and heavier bodies. Therefore, policy initiatives aimed at reducing obesity should focus on reducing social disparities in society.

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Apr 12th, 9:30 AM Apr 12th, 10:50 AM

Defining Obesity: An Argument for the Social Environment Perspective

Harkins 312

It is well documented that obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and worldwide. By 2010, 35.9% of U.S. adults age 20 and older were obese (Overweight and Obesity, CDC). Obesity has been associated with many health problems, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, and cardiac disease (Lucey, 2008, p.202). What has just been described is the traditional, medicalized narrative of obesity. In this narrative, obesity is viewed as an epidemic that demands an immediate and widespread response (Lucey, 2008, p.202). The blame is placed largely on individuals, while social factors, such as socioeconomic status and neighborhood environment, are largely ignored. The traditional, medicalized narrative is the dominant narrative in U.S. society today. As a result, policy initiatives aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity focus on changing individuals’ behaviors. One such initiative is to tax sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). The idea is to deter individuals from buying sugary drinks and steer them towards healthier options. In this paper, I use an SSB tax policy in order to examine how obesity is defined, measured, and viewed by different groups in American society. Furthermore, I argue that the traditional narrative of obesity is flawed and contributes to unnecessary negative stigma of the obese. In contrast, I will show that social factors play the most important role in the growing trend towards larger and heavier bodies. Therefore, policy initiatives aimed at reducing obesity should focus on reducing social disparities in society.

http://digitalcommons.providence.edu/auchs/2014/panela2/2