We know that the United States is facing a severe obesity problem. In reality, the entire world is, but this is noticed most in our country, where the problem is also the most significant. However, just when did obesity become an epidemic?
We know that it isn’t obesity itself that causes death. Rather, obesity leads to various illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and this is what can be lethal. Obesity was classed as a disease by Medicare in 2004 and this meant new treatments suddenly became available under the Medicare system. This includes diets, exercise programs, psychotherapy and Suffolk NY bariatric surgery.
Of course, obesity became a public health concern that experts were pouring over long before 2004. Yet, 12 years later, the problem hasn’t gone away> Rather, it is now a global pandemic and one of the biggest health concerns of the 21st century.
Obesity has now become such a complex issue that some are even saying that we are going into a type of moral panic about it. Others say that we have forgotten to look at the individual obese person, instead addressing it solely as a national issue. This means, according to critics, that we actually only care about how obesity impacts society, rather than people.
A Brief Timeline
Obesity has its own timeline of interesting moments:
- It was identified as an American epidemic in the 1980s.
- Researchers started to look into the causes of obesity and how these related to various diseases since the 1990s.
- In 1997, some scientists believed obesity was a virus and actually compared it to the AIDS virus because of how its spreads.
- In 2007, obesity was theorized to be a ‘social infection’, saying that overeating was influenced by friends and families.
However, there are some older pieces of research as well:
- Charles Dickens wrote that obese people were lacking in morals and were lazy and stupid.
- In the 1930s and in the 1940s, a young obese boy was found to have a pituitary tumor and doctors linked this to obesity. It is believed that the fear of obesity was born from this.
- William Shakespeare wrote about the obese character Falstaff, who was concerned about his weight and looked for a cure.
- In the 19th century, doctors said Jews were a ‘diabetic race’ because they overindulge.
- In the 1950s, Hilde Bruch, a German Jewish doctor, suggested obesity was caused by bad mothering and family dysfunction.
Today, we know that obesity is caused by a variety of different factors but that the two main ones are overeating and a lack of physical exercise. We know that the fact that we eat too much junk food, both at home and in restaurants, and the fact that we lead such sedentary lifestyles, is what is causing all the problems. While there are some issues relating to genes, illnesses, medication and more, the reality is that obesity is, by and large, caused by lifestyle choices.