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Obesity And The Psychological Effects In Adults

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INTRODUCTION

Obesity is a growing epidemic and effects both physical and psychological health. With many of these factors attributed to my own personal life, I chose this topic to further my knowledge in the efforts being made to treat the psychological side of obesity and overweight individuals. Through my own experiences, I have found that depending on your own self-esteem and body image perception, you can overcome society stigma's related to being obese and overweight and conquer all that you may desire.

Obesity in America has reached enormous proportions with an estimated 61% (1 p. 1581) of adults being either overweight or obese. Obesity is calculated according to the Body Mass Index. (4 p. 67, 68) The Body Mass Index is calculated with the individual's height and weight. BMI scores range from 12 (underweight) to 49 (obese to morbidly obese) with the optimal scores, at any age, being 19-25. (1 p.1582)

With society stressors ever prevalent, it is thought that an overweight individual would have added distress in daily life. It is prevalent in almost every encounter that overweight and obesity is an ever growing problem. There are full aisles in stores designated to diet foods, entire clothing stores designated for the overweight/plus size population and even multi-million dollar corporations aimed at this population i.e.: Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Curves, etc. With the main focus of these companies on the outward image of the individual, what is being done to address the psychological issues of this population? The answer is not much at all.

Through all of my research on obesity among the adult population I have not come across one company or area of focus on the psychological health of the individual, but only the health benefits for losing weight. Weight issues have been linked to many health problems in the recent years, some of which being hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke and both types of diabetes. Obesity has also been regarded as the most "preventable" cause of morbidity and mortality. (2 p. 301)

Although obesity may attribute to many health related problems, the psychological health of an overweight individual may easily be overlooked. In Rogge, Greenwald and Golden's findings, it is stated that the psychological effects are no less serious than those of health related issues. It was also noted that in daily encounters that the obese and overweight are commonly discriminated against as well as ridiculed. With the stigma of overweight and obese people being lazy, unhealthy as well as many other prejudices it is easy to find many psychological problems within the overweight and obese population. (2 p. 301) A major psychological problem among the obese is depression. Many symptoms lead to this diagnosis, such as self-alienation, distorted body image, social oppression and the ever present low self-esteem. (2 p. 309, 311) Basic treatments for depression are oral prescription drugs (Paxil, Wellbutrin and Zoloft to name a few) as well as therapy and counseling. Results have also indicated that people of "average" weight and abnormal weight reported a "significantly" different level of stress, anxiety and psychological health. (3 p.3) It is also reported that higher levels of stress and anxiety lead to higher risk of heart disease and stroke. (2 p. 303) This connection is sad, but true. The obese population has an uphill battle when it comes to changing the view that society has put forth on those overweight.

Rogge, Greenwald and Golden note that "civilized oppression," causing distortion of interpersonal relationships, is harmful to the obese in many ways. (2 p. 311) With this form of oppression, the person causing the

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