The Political Roots of American Obesity – commentary

The Political Roots of American Obesity

Obesity X-ray via Shutterstock)

Obesity X-ray via Shutterstock)

Saturday, 04 May 2013 -By E. Douglas Kihn, Truthout | Op-Ed

The term obesity is defined as a count of 30 or above on a mathematical scale (called BMI, or Body Mass Index) that combines weight and height measurements of individuals. The term overweight is used to describe the BMI of people who fall in between obese and normal.

Over the past three decades, the obesity rate in America has by all accounts climbed to astronomical proportions. Over a third of Americans are officially overweight and another 35.7 percent are obese, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Conventional experts blame the “wrong food,” bad genes, lack of exercise, chemicals in food, and this or that hormone for the problem.  

If these factors play any role at all in stoking the epidemic of fat in American, they are themselves only transmission agents and facilitators for the deeper causes. Over the past 30 years, the standard prescription of diet, exercise and increased nutritional education haven’t solved the problem. In fact, it hasn’t even slowed it down and could even be contributing to the difficulties.

To really beat it, we have to ask why and when. To discern the fundamental causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States, we will need to go back in history and unearth its beginnings, to find out exactly when it all started. Then we can ask it why.

When we do, we will discover that the obesity epidemic in America is essentially a mental health problem, whose underlying causes are economic and political.

Let us begin by examining the chart below, which was compiled in 2006 by the US Center for Disease Control.

Read more : The Political  Roots of American Obesity

Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) here [click Center of Disease Control]

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On May 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

    The author links America’s obesity epidemic to stressful living conditions, thereby defining it as a mental health problem, and to the capitalist system of unending expansion for profitability. I quote:

    “The obesity epidemic helps American capitalism in two ways. On one side of the coin, it creates a population that is more compliant, tired, sick, self-hating and resigned to its misery. The last thing those sitting at the top want to see is a lean, clean and mean population.

    On the other side of the coin, obese and overweight Americans bring in enormous profits for many vital industries – agribusiness, food processing and transportation, food stores, restaurants, the medical industry, the diet industry and the pharmaceutical industry. “

  • Cyril Balkaran  On May 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    The Capitalist oriented states are based on Private enterprize which in terms of another philosophy is self centered and selfish are the gains of such a system. This system is motivated by the profiteering and greed. The more you have is the more you want to have and so the greed is multiplied 100 times. The now creates the division in the society and is called as the Haves and the have nots. The haves will be the ones not to share and this is reflected in all that they do. They eat the best, they drive in the best and most expensive cars and they own business everywhere. This is the philosophy of the Capitalist system. The mental health that is spoken of is the Depression that steps in and one ‘s mind is affected and so overeating is related to the depression whether exogenous or endogenous. This is why the church is there to appeal to the minds of the rich to help the poorer in the society and that is why so many churches in USA are busy in the collection and distribution of foods to the poor and needy. The Politics of inequity is prctised in the Capitalist world and laws are created in the houses of Parliament to favour the rich and never the poor.
    Have you ever heard of a government bringing Legislation so the the Banks which take our monies for investment can simply return 25% of their annual Profits to a Poverty Alleviation Fund. No this will not happen as the greed for money and more monies will eat up the financial system as happened in the Financial world only 4 years ago. Greed and more greed. So its always the Social, political and the economical systems that will be on trial and we will have to build more mental asylums in the world than hospitals to put our mentally depressed patients. Obesity is only the front for many more diseases!

  • de castro  On May 8, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Enjoyed the comment….very conclusive indeed…
    Rosaliene will also respond to yours now…

    In all fairness the coin does have two sides…
    Let me suggest capitalism V communism
    Both systems that have failed our world and its peoples.
    Why !

    Corruption and greed.
    Both human weaknesses….the greedier you are the more likely you are of being
    corruptable or corrupted…humans are addicted to both…
    A dog will eat until it is full before allowing another to do so….
    Some humans exhibit this instinctive behaviour on a day to day basis.
    We are rational animals yet many behave irrationally/instinctively.
    Sometimes I despair !

    I liked your conclusion …obesity is but the tip of the iceburg…
    Today there are children dieing of malnutrition ,babies and mothers
    dieing in child birth ,infant and mothers mortality rate on the up
    with the technology /medicines available on our planet to
    reduce or remove it …..eradicate it …yet it continues…
    Sometimes I despair..
    But am forever the optimist so prefer to live in hope than die in despair

    If the land of plenty becomes the empty over the coming decades
    I hope the Chinese learn from the mistakes as they reach out
    to capitalistic ideals….we must learn from the mistakes of past
    or we are but fools …fools in paradise.

    Enjoyed reading both comments
    Thanks my sister and brother for your insightful comments..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: