Physical appearance is perhaps the most sought after feature of an individual. The importance associated with the appearance can be understood through rise in awareness over issues related to physical fitness and nutrition. The ever existing desire to look good has made people a bit sanctimonious towards obesity and has led to the appearance of many stereotypes. Some of the many stereotypical attitudes for obese people are like they are being considered as jolly, unclean, unattractive, freakish, and lazy (Baron & Byrne, 1986).
Other stereotypes have been the associating social class with the obesity. Obesity in people in often been considered as the result of fat rich diets compounded with least active lifestyle. With rise in cases of obesity, the society has now put itself in a high risk health condition with increased possibility of coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The Health Survey for England has found out that this obesity is the reason behind the premature death of almost 9000 people every year. This rise in obesity is prevalent in both children and the adult. The source of income is again a factor for this health problem. Though both manual and non manual classes have observed rise in the cases of obese children but among manual classes the rate of increase has been more pronounced irrespective of the child being a boy or a girl. The girls belonging to the social classes of I and II have been least obese with percentage being only five percent. The same percentage rises to eight and nine among semi manual or manual classes.
Also obesity prevalence is more in women than in men. And this too is very much according to the class they belong. Obesity among ladies with manual occupation is much higher than those who are doing managerial jobs. Almost 35 percent of the women who are doing routine or semi-routine jobs are obese while only 16 percent of those in managerial jobs can be classified as obese. Ethnicity again comes into picture when cases of obesity is started being a matter of study.
Bangladeshi and Chinese men are the least obese people in England but when women are taken into consideration, almost 32 percent of Caribbean and 26 percent of Pakistanis can be classified as obese. Health inequality due to this obesity is again visible with prevalence of obesity among manual social class being higher than those in non-manual class (Office of national Statistics, 2007).
Attitudes towards obesity have its impact on personal and professional life and hence they affect personal and professional relationships. Social factors and circumstances play an important role in the overall health and obesity of a particular person. Similar differences can be viewed if measurement is done according to people’s socioeconomic circumstances. These circumstances can have its occurrence because of the subject’s education, income and housing.
A person’s health and life chances depend on different social variables right from the mother’s womb. Social circumstances stats affecting them even before they are born.
If the society is looked into of a single place or a number of societies in the whole, one would find that each of them has been stratified along cultural, religious or economic lines. The health and obesity of a person is very much a multiple of the three factors. The general factors begin with Individual Life style factors then social and community networks and finally general socio-economic, cultural and environmental context. These factors can further be given specific identification i.e., education, work environment, living and working conditions, employment status, water and sanitation, health care services and finally housing and food habits. These are all the different determinants of health (Grahm & Kelly, 2004).
Baron, R.A., & Byrne, D. (1994). Social psychology: Understanding human interaction. Needhan, MA : Allyn and Bacon.
Graham, H. & Kelly, M. P. (2004) Health inequalities: concepts, frameworks and policy.
2004. NHS Health Development Agency
Office of national Statistics.(2004) Focus on Social Inequalities 2004