Psychology and Health Issues Final

According to Mayo Clinic, obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. (Mayo Clinic, 2013) Obesity is a disease that has become an epidemic in the United States. In the last two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are obese.

“More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.” (CDC, 2013) There are many factors of obesity that can be controlled and some factors that can not be controlled. Obesity has gotten so out-of-hand that even the government has stepped in to help lower the number of obese citizens.

Many communities have adapted programs to help promote healthy lifestyles. Like any other disease, public knowledge is essential in controlling the obesity epidemic and spreading education amongst the community. In 2007, 27.9% of the people who live in my county, Indiana County, were obese. For this reason, Indiana County has adopted its own program to help prevent obesity and promote a more nutritious lifestyle. This program helps inform the community on how to eat healthy by making fresh produce more available.

However, there are a couple changes that could be made to better the program. Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to a person’s health. Doctors use a formula based on the height and weight, which is called the body mass index (BMI). The body mass index is a calculated index that using you weight in kilograms and height in meters squared. Adults that have a BMI of thirty are considered obese.

People who are obese have a higher chance of developing health problems including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, depression, gallbladder disease, erectile dysfunction, osteoarthritis, and skin problems.

A person’s quality of life can also be affected by obesity. A person may have trouble participating in family activities, avoid public places, and encounter discrimination. Other issues that may affect the quality of life for someone who is obese are depression, disability, physical discomfort, sexual problems, shame, and social isolation. Obesity is as much of a psychological problem as a physical problem.

Food can be considered an addiction because food is everywhere. Media and advertising has people thinking bigger portions are acceptable, eating in the car is acceptable, and eating late at night is acceptable. There was a study published in the general archives of psychiatry that shows food cues are activated in the same area of the brain in which drugs or alcohol activate. People with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders have more difficulty controlling their food consumption. People use food as a coping mechanism when they are sad, anxious, stressed, lonely, and frustrated.

People will get into one of the mentioned moods, eat food, and gain weight because of their inability to control their mood. Society often looks down on obese people and consider people who are obese as weak and unmotivated. Obese people are made aware of society’s view on them which puts them at risk for a psychological disorder such as depression. People who are obese often make numerous attempts to loose weight. However, when they fail, they feel discouraged, frustration, and hopelessness.

Obesity affects some groups more than others. According to the CDC, in 2012, African-Americans had the highest obesity rate at 49.5%, then Mexican-Americans at 40.4%, then all Hispanics at 39.1%, and lastly non-Hispanic Caucasians at 34.3%. (CDC, 2013) According to NHANES 2009–2010, about 1 in 6 American children ages 2–19 are obese. (NHANES, 2009-2010) “More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.” (WHO, 2013)

There are numerous risk factors that can be controlled while some risk factors can not be controlled. Risk factors that can not be controlled are genetics, age, medical problems, and medications. A person’s genes can have an affect on the amount of body fat that is stored and where it’s going to be stored at. As a person ages, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle can lead to obesity. The amount of muscle within the body decreases with age as well.

Medical problems that can decrease physical activity such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, can lead to obesity. Risk factors that can be controlled are inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, family lifestyle, quitting smoking, pregnancy, lack of sleep, social issues, and economic issues. A sedentary lifestyle doesn’t allow the calories consumed to burn. Become active to ensure your body burns the calories consumed throughout the day.

A diet that consists of fast food, large portions, skipping breakfast, and foods high in calories is very unhealthy. A limit on the amount of fast food being eaten will help control this risk factor. Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast each morning. Pay attention to the nutritional labels on food. Portion the amount of food according to the serving size recommended. Quitting smoking is not only beneficial in obesity, but for a lot of other diseases as well. Weight gain after pregnancy leads to obesity.

Set a goal and plan how much weight is going to need to be lost after having the baby. Not getting enough sleep can cause hormonal changes that increase a person’s appetite. An adult should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Surround yourself with people who care about their health and weight. If a person is surrounded with obese people who eat out every night, chances are that person is going to gain weight hanging out with that group of people. There might not be safe areas to exercise in your community.

Use the space within your own home to exercise. Some people grow up with obese parents and were never taught how to cook healthy foods. Do some research, ask a friend, or a take a class to educate yourself on how to cook healthy meals. There are 5 treatment options available for people struggling with obesity. Dietary changes, exercise, behavior change, weight-loss medication, and weight-loss surgery are the treatment tools for obese people.

Dietary changes mean reducing calories and eating healthier. Dietary ways to overcome obesity include a low-calorie diet, feeling full on less, adopting a healthy eating plan, meal replacements, and be wary of quick fixes. Increased physical activity is a major part of overcoming obesity. To increase activity level, exercise and increase daily activity. Examine current habits, factors, stressors, and situations that may contribute to weight gain.

Behavior modification or therapy can include counseling and support groups. If the previous methods of losing weight aren’t working, the doctor will recommend weight-loss medication to help.Medications that may be prescribed are Orlistat, Lorcaserin, Phentermine-topiramate, and Phentermine. Weight-loss surgery is also an option. Weight-loss surgery can be considered if there is extreme obesity, serious weight-related health issues, and commitment to lifestyle changes in order for the surgery to work.

Indiana County, Pennsylvania has developed a program that is available to the community to address the growing issue of obesity. The purpose and mission of the program is to “Eat Healthy, Play Healthy, Be Healthy, and Stay Healthy. This program holds community meetings every so often to discuss the issue of obesity. The committee checks the local school lunches menu to ensure healthy foods are being given to children.

The program is held within the community center. The center offers a gymnasium where children can play various games. The center also provides an outside playground to keep kids moving and exercising. The program often gives discounts on local gym memberships and will occasionally give away a free year gym membership. The only change I would make to the program is to hold more community meetings. I believe the meetings are held every 6 months. I believe the meetings should be held every 3 months due to the severity of obesity within the county.

There are ten steps that are needed in order to enhance health and prevent illness. The first step is to be active or physical. The second step is to eat more fresh foods. The third step is to adopt a positive, optimistic attitude. The fourth step is to schedule regular check-ups with the doctor. The fifth step is to get the yearly flu shot and make sure your kids have up-to-date shots. The sixth step is reduce the amount of stress within your life. The seventh step is get enough sleep at night. The eighth step is to practice good hand-washing skills. The ninth step is to have good oral hygiene.

The final step is to get outdoors and enjoy the vitamin D from the sun. In conclusion, obesity is a disease that can be controlled in majority of cases. Eating right, staying active, and getting enough sleep will help with obesity. Use resources made available from the doctor and community. Get the education and knowledge needed to prevent or treat obesity. Follow the ten steps mentioned in the paper to enhance health and prevent illness. Prevent yourself, your kids, and family members from becoming a statistic for obesity.


Jayson, S. (2012, Aug 01). From brain to mouth: The psychology of obesity. Gannett News Service. Retrieved from CDC. (2013). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic. (2013). Obesity. Retrieved from Collins, J., & Bentz, J. (2009, Winter).

Behavioral and Psychological Factors in Obesity. The Journal of Lancaster General Hospital, 4(4), . Retrieved from—Issue-4/Behavioral-and-Psychological-Factors-in-Obesity.aspx World Health Organization (WHO). (2013). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from Blank, K. (2010). How to Prevent Disease. Retrieved from