America has typically been named one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, abundance in our country manifests itself in other ways; one of the most common being obesity. Obesity remains to be a continuing trend labeling the United States of America as becoming one of the unhealthiest nations across the globe. Decade after decade this controversial issue, while continuing to increase, prompts debate that brings a plethora of viewpoints to the table. Nonetheless, what does the steady increase in American obesity ultimately say about our nation as a whole? This continuous plague acts as a catalyst for the destruction of young generations as average weight rates proliferate. Key figureheads in society need to effectively work with citizens to encourage health awareness, and execute strategic planning to reduce the health-threatening outbreak of obesity in America.
Advocate for Change
A key example of respected figures directly implementing valuable blueprints to diminish obesity and increase physical fitness manifests in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. This campaign consists of several components that work in favor of the American youth and the journey toward healthier children. One of these categories includes choosing and adopting nutritious eating habits. Her campaign addresses the notion of parental influence in eating patterns; instead of simply recognizing parents as direct influences on their children’s consumption, the movement also provides parental forces with the necessary informational devices to produce wholesome choices (letsmove.gov). With regard to future generations, The United States Food and Drug Administration have altered the food pyramid (usda.gov). The new alterations have been made to target obesity issues and persuade individuals to not only select nourishing foods but also to become increasingly physically active. Emphasis on lean meats, vegetables, and low intake of saturated fats characterize the remodeled food pyramid (usda.gov).
First Lady Obama’s campaign steers elected officials in communities to take certain steps in helping maneuver our country in a direction away from obesity. For example, ‘Become a Lets Move City or Town’ empowers elected representatives to mirror what Michelle Obama herself has done. Propose and enforce a sustainable method that will diminish early childhood portliness, provide nutritious food selections in schools, and make these types of food affordable to all people (letsmove.gov). This particular course of action that includes the leadership of elected officials presents a positive, projected message to the community that supports the health of young people. Citizens primarily honor people in positions of authority; if these specific individuals express a concern for health objectives, the communities can collectively work toward achieving these goals.
A final element that defines Michelle Obama’s plan for healthy kids consists of being physically active. Physical activity claims the ultimate responsibility in eradicating the chance for risky illnesses and infections. Active families can persuade children to become more active in an independent manner. Pursuing physically active activities each day such as taking a walk around the block after eating a family meal contributes to creating a healthier America (letsmove.gov). Expanding upon the idea of physical motion, the media plays a significant role in adolescent obesity. Statistics reveal that children and adolescents ages eight to eighteen utilize the media through television, the internet and other forms of mass communication 7.5 hours a day (letsmove.gov). With the media typically discouraging physical activity through the avenues of attention and time consumption, how can the media incorporate a message that promotes the opposing objective?
Beyonce Knowles’s most recent music video entitled “Move Your Body” not only promotes physical activity, but intertwines something that young people love to do, dance. The world renowned singer revamped her popular “Get Me Bodied” track with new lyrics encouraging young people to get up and move their bodies. She combines well known dance moves with perpetual energy to convey a message of fitness. Beyonce successfully conveys this memo by including a few elements in her video. She sets her music video in school which instantly creates appeal for adolescents as a place where they spend a lot of their time. Also, it sends the message to schools across the nation to ensure healthy eating options for children. Knowles also hires a multitude of young kids and teenagers of all shapes and sizes as her backup dancers; in doing so she encourages youngsters to take part in her dance anthem that resembles a fitness routine. Furthermore, by using the same background music to her funky, catchy, international hit song, she makes the dance anthem immediately recognizable. The most effective tool, however, remains to be the compilation of body motions she performs in her video. These well known dance moves such as “the dougie” attract our youth to get up and move without directly acknowledging the presence of physical activity. This proves to be an exceptional tactic at trimming down obesity in American culture. Create activities, whether it is through the media or additional avenues that overshadow the conscious awareness of physical activity with what currently appeals to younger generations.
Obesity Health Risks
The previous sections have discussed how the obesity can be tamed in society. It seems as if people fail to realize the life-threatening diseases that obesity can lead to, which could also lead to the least desired outcome, death. Health risks posed by obesity include the following: (cdc.gov)
· Coronary heart disease
· Type 2 Diabetes
· Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
· Hypertension (high blood pressure)
· Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
· Liver and Gallbladder disease
· Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
· Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
· Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
Cardiovascular diseases consistently remain to be the most widespread health disease in people who suffer from obesity and are overweight. These types of diseases result from the heart’s inability to efficiently propel blood to the body, or heart failure (testcountry.org). A large quantity of fats enters the arteries and obstructs the process of blood flow (testcountry.org). Serious bodily hindrances such as these due to obesity open the door for fatal consequences such as the bodily malfunctions listed previously. Among those diseases less mentioned include urinary diseases and psychological or mental illness (testcountry.org).
Obesity and the Media
The media can act as an active lens for fostering health awareness as seen through the efforts of Beyonce Knowles, and others; in opposition, the media passively becomes accountable for the fattening of America. A great deal of advertising chooses specific audiences as the prey in which it hopes to consume. For example, recently in 2005 Dove launched a promotional campaign entitled Campaign for Real Beauty (Hanson). While this campaign raised a great deal of controversy in the cosmetic world, it directly and indirectly addressed issues relating to obesity. Dove’s campaign goes against the grain in incorporating large women photographed in their underwear (Hanson). Not too long after the multi-million dollar corporation Nike endorsed ads that shamelessly showed women with big butts and thunder thighs (Hanson). The media may receive such actions as these as positive in that it promotes a widespread message of accepting all people. However, what do campaigns and ads such as the ones presented by mega organizations like Dove and Nike say about obesity? Mass communication obliquely embraces obesity through acceptance, but in doing so it also directly sways external public in believing that ‘big is beautiful.’ Advertising strategies similar to the execution styles previously discussed in advertisement campaigns psychologically lead Americans to accept being overweight as tolerable.
Furthermore, there are even more direct media influences through the integration of television, fast food, and commercials. It has already been noted that most children and teenagers dedicate 7.5 hours each day to media intake through a variety of outlets. Often during the sporadic, brief intermissions of television programs commercials feature mouth-watering foods that usually fail to disclose the unhealthy ingredients used to manufacture products for sale. Though a comedic mockery, popular television show MadTV created a skit called McDonalds that accurately exposes the degree to which fast food restaurants such as McDonalds figuratively and literally place obesity in the mouths of individuals. This particular parody satirizes the available super-size option of meals at the international restaurant. It may not be instantly perceivable that satirical spoofs such as McDonalds raise health awareness to its viewers. At the hands of artful technique, humor transmits the eventual effects of poor eating habits, obesity. Television media may employ fast food commercials and other systems that usually promote obesity, but the same media that promotes it can also refute it through amusing scenes of ridicule.
Obesity and the Economy
Elevated alertness of overweight citizens needs to become more widespread; in analysis of economics, obesity poses additional problems for America’s economy. It is no secret that morbidly hefty individuals risk the unsolicited consequence of death. However, according to Ross Hammond, this significant spending comes from the “higher incidents of disease associated with obesity.” (Hammond) What they may not know is that obesity can increase mortality scales which place additional costs on the economy at the hands of this common problem (Finkelstein). More obvious, or well-known economic expenses claimed by the issue of being overweight include healthcare services that serve those who meet the classification. As early as 2008, records show that nationally the economy spent around $147 billion dollars on obesity alone (Finkelstein).
Obesity continues to be an interesting yet contentious issue in our society. There are individuals such as Michelle Obama and Beyonce Knowles who put forth beneficial efforts to encourage a fit, healthy nation. These ladies as well as a host of others have to work against the forces of the mass communication which makes obesity easily accessible by way of an eclectic selection of media sources. Overweight individuals are also being received more commonly as accepted; this supports one of the many goals behind health awareness, acceptance as an obese individual should not create the psychological persuasion of obesity as an eliminated health risk. Instead attempts toward health awareness should link the approaches of valued individuals and the media. Welcome the victims of obesity with open arms as the media does, and in doing so construct expedient blueprints to support the importance of healthy and nutritious eating habits.
“Dietary Guidelines for Americans”. usda.gov, 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 8 May 2011.
Finkelstein, EA, Trogdon, JG, Cohen, JW, and Dietz, W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: Payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Affairs
2009; 28(5): w822-w831.
Hammond, Richmond. “The Economic Impact of Obesity in the U.S.” Online Posting. YouTube, 14 Sept 2010. Web. 8 May 2011
Hanson, Ralph. Mass Communication: Living in A Media World. DC: CQ Press, 2011. Print.
"Health Consequences". cdc.gov, 3 March 2011. Web. 8 May 2011.
"Lets Move". letsmove.gov, 9 Feb 2010. Web. 8 May 2011.
“McDonalds.” Online Posting. YouTube, 1 July 2007. Web. 8 May 2011
"Most Common Diseases and Health Problems That Are Caused by Obesity and Being Overweight." testcountry.org. testcountry, n.p. n.d. Web. 8 May 2011
“OFFICIAL HD Let's Move! "Move Your Body" Music Video with Beyoncé - NABEF.” Online Posting. YouTube, 26 April 2011. Web. 8 May 2011