Over the last couple of decades, the United States has seen a surge in obesity rates and other weight problems. For example, childhood obesity rates have gone up so much that on May 3rd, 2006, many of the nation’s largest beverage distributors announced that they would no longer sell non-diet sodas to most public schools. (cnn.com). However, obesity rates and other weight related health problems vary from culture to culture and country to country. Because the United States is an industrialized nation with easy access to junk food, especially for kids, obesity is definitely one of our nations most pressing weight related health problems. The situation is not the same in other cultures. Many people living in third world countries, especially in Africa, simply don’t have the resources to obtain food.
This results in widespread malnourishment. This one example simply shows that one nation, the United States, has more resources to feed its people than many of the poverty stricken countries in Africa and elsewhere. However, when you look at this issue cross culturally, its not this simple. The amount of food available in a culture certainly is a factor to consider when studying the various health issues associated with weight, but there is much more to consider. In our culture, many young females develop eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, that cause malnourishment yet is not caused by a lack of resources; peer pressure and a cultural pressure of females being thin is the causes for the rise in rates of conditions such as anorexia and bulimia for females. These examples barely scratch the surface of this issue, yet many interesting questions arise from the preceding examples.
How can one country with vast resources and another country stricken with poverty both have many people who are malnourished? Why are they malnourished? Besides the availability of food, what other factors must be considered for the various health problems that exist in many different cultures as a result of weight? The overwhelming amount of evidence shows that the culture one lives in, genetics and food availability contribute to the various health problems plaguing the world as a result of weight. It is important to note that the culture one lives in defines the foods they eat, which is what results in weight and health problems. Thus, different cultures have different health problems associated with weight and if two or more cultures have a similar health associated weight problem, the causes may be different. Also, different cultures have different explanations for the various health problems they encounter, and as a result practice different forms of healing and fixing these problems.
The culture one lives in is extremely important to consider when looking at all the health problems associated with weight. A look into the health of two ethnic groups located in Queensland, Australia, who migrated from the Pacific Islands, the Samoans and Tongans, show some interesting things regarding health and weight. (Queensland Samoa). The Samoans and Tongans are an interesting group to look at because, according to the Queensland Government, “Mortality rates for those born in the Pacific Islands are higher than for other Australians.
They are one of the few ethnic groups where this is the case.” Samoans and Tongans belief that one’s status is higher the more one