Medicalization of Obesity

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Medicalization of Obesity

Obesity is measured by the level of a person’s body mass index (BMI), and is determined based on an individual’s height and weight. As noted in Sternheimer’s Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture, “between 1980 and 2000, the number of children classified as overweight doubled for those aged two through eleven and tripled for adolescents twelve to nineteen” (198). In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents separate statistics for obese and overweight individuals in order to bring urgency to what they claim as a problem. As claimsmakers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insist that the problem is getting worse by noting that it is an “obesity epidemic,” and categorizes the overweight population as part of the epidemic (Best 127). As a result, society begins to frame this social problem by medicalization. Moreover, Andrew Pollack from The New York Times notes that the American Medical Association has officially medicalized obesity as a disease in his article titled, “A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity as a Disease” (Pollack). Thus, I will attempt to discuss the medicalization of obesity and how it affects society. Medicalization is one of the ways in which to frame a social problem. To clarify, medicalization transpires when previously nonmedical issues become defined and regarded as medical problems (Blackburn 895). However, the real question is—will medicalizing obesity as a disease actually address this problem or will it jeopardize a successful public health response? Labeling obesity as a disease diverts society from the larger systemic factors of this social problem. Although it is important to recognize that some individuals may hold a genetic tendency to gain weight, a healthy lifestyle (i.e. healthy diet and sufficient exercise) goes a long way in maintaining an acceptable and healthy…...

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