Influences of obesity

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There are a number of social factors that increase the vulnerability of a population to obesity. When an individual lacks the opportunity to maintain a healthy weight, either due to inability to stay physically active or lack of a healthful diet, the risk of obesity increases. Some of the determinants of health that influence the prevalence of obesity include lack of a safe or convenient place to exercise be active, especially in urban areas, and lack of places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. These factors mainly occur in combination with other environmental factors such as race, age, gender, education level, ethnicity and disability status, which escalate the risk of obesity (Sartorius et al., 2015). The combination of these factors affect the improvement in the level of physical activity and nutrition, thereby leading to risks of obesity.

Evidence shows that socioeconomic status and inequalities are major influencers of obesity. According to Cheng (2012), social inequalities refers to the social, economic, political and environmental conditions in areas where individuals are born, where they live or where they work. Some individuals are socially disadvantaged even at birth as they are born in areas of low social strata where the rate of obesity is rapid, accompanied with other health issues such as mental illnesses, poor quality of life, and cardiovascular disease among others. Individuals living in such communities lack the opportunity of making the choice with regards to the type of food to eat or time to exercise. Moreover, they lack a real choice on matters regarding access to healthcare required to prevent or reduce obesity.

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  1. Cheng, J. K. (2012). Confronting the social determinants of health—obesity, neglect, and inequity. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(21), 1976-1977.
  2. Sartorius, B., Veerman, L. J., Manyema, M., Chola, L., & Hofman, K. (2015). Determinants of obesity and associated population attributability, South Africa: Empirical evidence from a national panel survey, 2008-2012. PloS one, 10(6), e0130218.
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