When you think about the causes of obesity – Do you take into consideration the effect of culture? Let’s take a look at this “culture of obesity”!
Now it makes sense from a stockholder standpoint for companies to use die-hard tactics to recruit more people to use their products. An increase in the number of people using their product will obviously contribute much more to their bottom-line profit margin.
This is why it is no secret that you are constantly be barraged with advertisements. For the purpose of this article, we’re talking about food and beverage advertisements.
The marketing departments seek to invest their advertising budgets into programs and arena’s that will cause many individuals to use their products. This is common-sense, business 101.
However, the cultural implications – are enormous.
Cultural Implications Leading to a Culture of Obesity
There’s a tremendous amount of items we could include here. Things such as:
- Increased healthcare costs for taxpayers
- Decreased life expectancy rates because of obesity-related conditions
- Decreased productivity of workers because of obesity-related health issues
The list goes on and on…
The problem therein lies a direct conflict with obesity and societal-health. The more people that are obese and overweight, the increased burden on the healthcare, life expectancy rates, etc.
There’s a lot of debate in mainstream narrative views that obesity is caused by genetics. However, it’s far from proven. In fact, many proponents state the complete opposite – that genetics (for most people) has an absolutely minimal effect on obesity.
In fact, it’s much more of a cultural issue than a genetic one. That’s what caused us to enter in what I refer to as a “culture of obesity”.
The example I gave above about food and beverage advertisements is a good example. The advertisements are specifically designed with one focus, to make the ‘advertisee’ feel hungry. So that they will purchase the product and increase the companies revenue stream. Who cares about all of your customers eating half their necessary calories in one meal?
Other Company-Cultural Implications
There’s another company-wide problem associated with this as well. Companies, especially fast food, have typically been redesigned in the modern age. What used to take tremendous amount of work and commitment to make a single serving of food, takes but seconds.
And people have come to demand this speed.
Along with the speed, companies have also had to incentivize low-cost options, because of diminishing or stagnant wages.
This results in a product that is fast, low-cost, and incredibly unhealthy.
The cultural demand for food that is fast and low-cost leads companies to have to target this specifically, regardless of health-implications, just to stay in business.
Likewise, many people have incredibly busy lives, and no stay-at-home partner to cook healthy meals. This results in families resorting to quick made food items or frozen food, which usually contains exorbitant amount more calories.
The combing cultural factors indicated above seem to indicate a “modern” approach to eating. Instead of taking time cooking and enjoying food, it’s something we do simply to survive. Or to indulge. There’s not a healthy middle ground.
And then getting barraged with advertisements that target this cultural shift, makes it appear as a “normal” thing.
But being overweight and obese is anything but normal, it’s an incredible drain on societal health and resources.
The Genetic Topic
As with any discussion on obesity, genetics gets thrown around often. However, most evidence points to it not being a huge factor.
The obesity rate in many Asian countries such as China and Japan are in the single digits. While compared with urban Samoa having an obesity rating of 75%.
Even if you look at specifically the US – Our obesity rates have been increasing throughout the decades. Only 10% of adults were considered obese in the US compared to 35% now. That’s a whole 25% (1/4) increase from just over 6 decades!
Our genetics don’t change that quickly. There are other factors at work.
Cultural Factors Affecting Obesity
I briefly mentioned a few of them under the cultural implications section above. They included:
- Modernization of the labor force participants
- Partners working full-time, no one home weekdays to cook healthy meals, so an obvious demand for fast options increasing
- Companies catering to the demand of fast food and cheap food, without respect to health implications
But there are a few others that we should bring attention too as well. Things such as:
- A cultural shift that has caused the general population to view “consumption” as an always-positive thing.
- The rise of easy transportation and less physical-related careers
The cultural shift that moved the population toward consumption has been happening for a few decades. So it’s no surprise that our obesity rates have also been moving in correlation to it.
Things that used to be considered the vice of indulgence are now pretty common-place things. Such as eating unhealthy foods for every meal. Increasing portion sizes. Always having dessert with every meal (and that dessert is probably also much more than a single portion size).
All of these factors are a huge burden on increasing obesity. It’s become “normal” to overindulge often.
The fact that we have such easy access to so many different kinds of food is a wonder of capitalism, but it doesn’t mean we all need to become 400 lbs. Moderation, people!
Effect of Better Transportation on Obesity
The second factor listed is the rise of easy transportation and decline of workmanship.
Since the IT revolution, more and more jobs are becoming technical, office based careers. We no longer need such a large majority of blue-collar workers. The sedentary lifestyle, coupled with a lack of a partner at home, AND overworking leads people to not be able to exercise or choose better food options.
On top of all of this is the rise of easy transportation. Since more people now use vehicles to transport, instead of physical and active instruments, it makes it all too easy to forgo any form of exercise at all throughout the entire day.
Even in cities, which were known for being able to walk and ride a bike anywhere are now dominated by cars, buses, rail-lines, and other forms of quick, physically-inept options.
Naturally, I wouldn’t have it any other way as far as transportation goes. But I see the rest of the cultural factors and can resist against them; others cannot.
Conclusion on the Culture of Obesity
The single biggest driving force of society and general well-being of life is the culture of the community.
As our culture changes, so does our beliefs, values, struggles, outlook on life, and even our own physical health.
These cultural changes regarding obesity brings about a lot of negative implications for society. With increasing healthcare costs, and increasing burden on companies – we need to make a change.
This can only be done through more people knowing about these “hidden” tricks of the culture that strikes at us subconsciously. Only through spreading knowledge, and fighting for a better culture, can we ever hope to fight this obesity epidemic. Simply putting up billboards and motivating people to workout is not enough.
The mindset of the people toward health, and thus the collective culture, must change. And thus, we need to actively target and expose this culture of obesity.