Overweight has become a significant health issue in our society today in both developed and developing economies. In fact, last year’s statistics show that over 2billion of people who were 18years old and above were overweight and for children aged 5years and below, 42million of them were also overweight. These are noted to be figures that have been increasingly doubling since 1980. This health issue in some countries has been found to be killing more people than underweight related health problems do and yet overweight is an issue that can be prevented. Overweight is understood as a health disorder that arises as a result of poor balancing of energy in the body. That is, one consumes more energy foods than the body burns. This is contributed more by high intakes of fatty foods and less engagements in adequate physical exercises (World Health Organization, 2015).
An Evaluation of Urban Area Dwellers who are Affected by Overweight Health Issue in terms of their Socioeconomic and Cultural Factors and Environmental Forces that Influence them
The nature of urbanization is a strong factor that makes people become overweight if they are not cautious. Lack of adequate physical exercises due to increased dependency in automobile use and intensive utilization of computer technologies that make people sit for long periods of time is one major factor. When this factor is combined with the increased preference of highly fatty foods that match western cultures, an environment is already created for people to easily become overweight. This situation is quite different from rural settings where dwellers value more their traditional foods that are highly nutritious. More so, these persons engage themselves in excess physical works since they are self-reliant to some significant degree (Hoffman, n.d).
Overweight is a health problem that is associated with certain societal and behavioral factors that are integrated with a given set of physical and cultural environments as previously explained in this study. That is, societal and behavioral factors are the kind of lifestyles that people lead which include amounts of time spent by people watching television, videos or using their mobile phones to socialize, which are additional to those mentioned earlier that keep them away from being physically active. When it comes to diets, energy foods are consumed more than fruits or vegetable intakes and these foods are such as: soft drinks, wheat flour, rice, cheese, fries, salad oils, chicken, snacks and many others. Another behavior that is found to exist in the urban area is the busyness factor that people have which make them have no time to take a healthy breakfast. This gap they usually fill it by overeating during the day which also amounts to being overweight (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011).
Challenges that Hinder Resolving the Increasingly Overweight Issue among the Urban Area Dwellers
One that is found to be a major hindrance is globalization that is highly dominated by the western culture and this culture is one that urbanization has fully embraced influencing people to change their lifestyles and dietary habits. To expound this further, increased globalization means: reduction of manual work due to increased use of technologies and infrastructures, increased importation of substandard products from western countries like fast foods, increased business competition that increase the hours of working and thus less time for physical fitness or proper eating habits (BeLue et al., 2009). Due to globalization, the roles of local governments are also weakened since this phenomenon is after integrating the economic, culture and governments of all countries to make them become one. Hence, the government’s ability to protect the cultural aspects of the country is highly weak and it has been left for the nationals to make their own choices.
Another challenge realized in resolving the overweight issue is the thought that rural areas belong to people who are not active enough. That is, dependent persons while the youthful people belong to city life. The outcome of this has had a negative impact on local agricultural production that the country depends on and this has made the country depend more on imported foods which are not healthy. Thus, this factor can be considered as a food insecurity which is caused by unhealthy forms of environments, poor forms of child care and wrong political policies (World Health Organization, 2015). From an historical perspective, urbanization is continuing to increase across the globe and it is in record that close to three quarter of the world’s population is leading the urban way of life. A life which as mentioned before is characterized by watching too much television, availability of processed foods in supermarkets, habits of not eating home prepared foods, and others (Harvard, 2015).
Historically, urban areas were embraced as favorable environments that would equip an individual to economically grow in terms of availability of better job opportunities and quality education. But its ideology has been changing slowly while having numerous effects especially on human health. First, due to increased industrialization, environmental pollution and degradation emerged, and then the recent globalization phenomenon has now found its place to strongly influence our local cultures and perceptions about life which have profoundly affected people’s health. Overweight which is a life threatening health condition, is one negative outcome of increased globalization. Under this phenomenon, urbanization is today appreciated as an environment that almost has rare manually done jobs. Technology has found an opportunity to replace human capabilities and hence people no-longer do things on their own-self to tire. Moreover, globalization has forced people to lead a business oriented way of life that draws them to work for longer hours and thus, no adequate time is put aside to do physical activities or even prepare nutritious foods at home. Rather, people have found it comfortable to feed on available foods that contain more of energy building contents hence, not balanced. These foods they eat in large amounts due to habits of skipping breakfast which is the best meal of the day one should have. This collectively leads people to live lives that are lack adequate physical exercises that the body requires to burn the extra calories obtained from increased energy building food intakes. This ultimately results to the body gaining more weight and people become obese a health issue that is now a concern both locally and internationally. A body that is overweight is vulnerable to heart related diseases, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and others. These diseases are sadly those that make people face premature death. Efforts to reduce overweight issues among urban area dwellers are more focused on educating people the importance of eating nutritious meals but this has been proven difficult with the kind of life-styles that people have fully embraced psychologically. This situation is evident with the research findings that claim that our present century is one that has recorded significant overweight issues in history and especially in developed countries; over half of the adult population is overweight.
BeLue, R. et al. (2009). An Overview of Cardiovascular Risk Factor Burden in Sub-Saharan African Countries: A Socio-Cultural Perspective. Global Health, 5(10). Retrieved< http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759909/>.
Harvard (2015). Obesity Prevention Source. Retrieved< http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/globalization-and-obesity/>.
Hoffman, D. J. (n.d). Obesity in Developing Countries: Causes and Implications. Retrieved< http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/y0600m/y0600m05.htm>.
Public Health Agency of Canada (2011). Obesity in Canada. Retrievedhttp://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/oic-oac/determ-eng.php.
World Health Organization (2015). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved< http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/>.
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