Naming Obesity a Disease Encourages Unhealthy Lifestyle

June 16, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. obese [oh-BEES] (adj.) – being too fat or too heavy
Example: If you don’t want to be obese, you should start exercising now.

2. deny [dih-NAHY] (v.) – to say that something is untrue or wrong
Example: The woman denied claims that she ate the whole cake.

3. binge [binj] (n.) – a period or habit of eating and drinking too much to satisfy cravings
Example: The man went on a binge during the party.

4. impression [im-PRESH-uh n] (n.) –  the image or perception towards a person, object, or experience
Example: My mother made a positive impression about my healthy eating habits.

5. negligence [NEG-li-juh ns] (n.) – failure or inability to properly do something due to lack of attention
Example: Being overweight is a result of his negligence on diet.


Read the text below.
Labeling obesity as a disease does not discourage obese people to keep eating unhealthily, according to a study.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defined obesity as a disease in June 2013. Researchers from the University of Richmond and the University of Minnesota conducted a study to know the psychological effects of labeling obesity as a disease.

Psychological scientist Crystal Hoyt and her two co-researchers gathered 700 participants to answer an online survey. The researchers classified the individuals as “average weight” or “obese” based on height and weight data according to World Health Organization guidelines.

The researchers assigned the participants with various articles including questionnaires. Article topics included a standard public health message about weight, a story denying that obesity is a disease, and an article describing obesity as a disease. The participants then answered different questions about health, food preferences, and weight management.

According to the results, the article’s messages influenced the choices of the participants. The most notable finding is that obese participants who were assigned to the article stating that obesity is a disease were more likely to go on a binge than the obese participants who read the other two topics.

According to this study, labeling obesity as a disease may lead obese people to make unhealthy diet choices and ignore weight management, as they think that obesity was caused by sickness and not by their lifestyle.

On the other hand, researchers believe the ‘disease’ label can help lessen the unpleasant impression associated with obesity. This label proves that overweight people did not become obese because of their negligence alone.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that obesity is a disease? Why or why not?
·         Should obese people also be blamed for their situation? Please explain.

Discussion B

·         What ways would you suggest to fight obesity? Kindly discuss.
·         What are the common causes of obesity? Please explain briefly.

June 16, 2014