Culture and Obesity

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Culture plays an active role in to etiology of obesity and increases its prevalence. Culture refers to “learned and shared patterns of behavior that guide decisions of a particular group” (Blais, K., Hayes, J., Kozier, B., & Erb, G. (2006). The aspects about culture that relate to obesity include diet and activity level. Researching obesity revealed that certain cultures have a rising prevalence in obesity, most notably, Western cultures, such as America. The prevalence of obesity in the United States has risen dramatically over the past few years. From 1960 to 2000 prevalence of obesity in the U.S. increased from 13.3% to 30.9% (Edelman & Mandle, 2006). One in every three adult Americans is obese (Prevalence of obesity, 2005). A major part of any culture is food. In American culture we see food more as a luxury than a necessity. We use food to celebrate, it is used to reward children or ourselves, and we use it as a comfort measure. The social aspect of food is not making our country obese; it’s the types and amount of foods that are being consumed. The U.S. is most known for its numerous and successful fast food chains, such as McDonalds and Burger King. These franchises are known for selling pre-prepared meals of foods like hamburger, French fries, and soda. “Researchers have pretty much decided that these cultural shifts to prepackaged, high fat, convience foods are the main factor behind America’s obesity epidemic” (Collum, 2006). “Fast food chains have been criticized by dietitians in recent decades for being unhealthy and a cause of obesity” (Wikipedia, 2006) Sugar is another problem in the U.S. One study conducted by Odilla Bermudez, PhD, MPH, concluded that “more than two thirds of adult Americans reported drinking enough soda and/or sweet drinks to provide them with a greater proportion of daily calories then any other food. In addition, obesity
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