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Socioeconomic Status and Obesity

Since obesity has become a national epidemic, many areas of research have tried to discover the cause for the rise in obesity in the United States. Psychologists have attempted to assess the logic and rational behind why people become obese. Biologists have looked for genetic causes for obesity but none have been significant to be listed as a single factor. Paper Masters feels the correlation between socioeconomic status and obesity makes for an very compelling research paper topic. Use the information you see here to give you an idea how to write a research paper on the correlation between socioeconomic status and obesity or have Paper Masters write your paper for you.

Obesity in America

Socioeconomic Status and Obesity

Anyone with a Body Mass Index equal to or greater than thirty is classified as obese. While there is a direct correlation between socioeconomic status and overall health, there is less concrete evidence that socioeconomic status affects rates of obesity. This is especially true among men. Obesity rates remain relatively the same between men in all economic statuses. There is a slight increase in the number of slightly economically affluent males who are obese.

Among women the trend is reversed. Affluent women are less obese than women in lower socioeconomic classes. This phenomenon can be attributed to these women having more money to spend on obesity preventative measures including buying fresh fruits and vegetables, using organic products, and being about to afford gym memberships or personal training sessions. Another contributing factor is that more fast food restaurants are readily available in areas of lower income. Education also tends to lower the rates of obesity among women. College educated women are less likely to be obese compared to women who do not have college degrees.

Although much obesity research has tried to point that causative finger at varying social and biological factors, perhaps the biggest area of obesity research lies in the prominent world of molecular genetics.  Research contends that it has been clear for a long time that genetic factors are involved in the pathogenesis of obesity.  The heritability, they feel, is at least as strong as it is for hypertension, alcoholism, and schizophrenia.  Several genes involved in energy regulation have now been identified and cloned. On such protein receiving special attention is leptin.  Because investigations into large numbers of obese patients have revealed faulty leptin receptors, causing genetically faulty metabolic systems, this protein is of specific interest to scientists. The discovery of two uncoupling proteins, which many researchers feel also affect metabolic rate. In some obese patients, there seems to be a “leak” in their metabolic system. These newly discovered uncoupling proteins fix that leak and can restore an obese patient’s metabolic rate to normal.

Although many researchers truly believe that the key to solving the obesity enigma lies in modern science, others feel that the current epidemic of obesity is caused largely by an environment that promotes excessive food intake and discourages physical activity. 
Small differences in metabolic rate, which have historically been the focus of obesity research, are insufficient to explain the prevalence of obesity.  For any given genotype, resting energy expenditure has only a limited capacity to adjust to changes in food intake in order to maintain energy balance.  Even under extraordinary circumstances, such as forced overeating or fasting, energy expenditure is only changed 5 to 10 percent.  Changes of this magnitude are not significant enough to change the effect of large food intake on body weight composition.


Socioeconomic Factors that Affect Obesity Rates

Of all the factors that researchers can list as possible causes of obesity, one link remains prevalent in most of the literature: obesity is best dealt with at its onset, in childhood.  When looking at what influences the onset of childhood obesity, once again, researchers are decidedly divided.  Studies from a variety of disciplines (pediatric nutrition, psychology, epidemiology, etc.) have demonstrated that childhood obesity is not caused by one specific factor. Further, a lack of parental care for their children’s well being has a highly significant association with obesity in young adulthood.  Most studies in his area have made no direct correlations between single parent and dual-parent families as factors increasing the risk of developing obesity.

The highest rate of obesity in America is among the middle class. One third of Americans are classified as being obese. Over the past few years the rate of obesity has climbed in every socioeconomic level both among men and women. These higher levels of obesity also contribute to the increase of:

As this arena of research continues to grow, research identifies Hispanic women as having had a significant increase in the occurrence of obesity in the past several years. Many researchers feel that this trend in Hispanic obesity is not new.  This is because, until recently in most obesity studies, Hispanics were listed categorized as white and specific demographic information concerning nutrition and growth was difficult to obtain.  Additionally, several other researchers have followed this trend in research and have concluded that as many as one half of all adult African-American and Hispanic women are currently obese.

Further adding to the possible causes of obesity is the plethora of research that asserts socioeconomic factors contribute significantly to obesity.  In general, research on this topic has shown that there is an inverse relationship among women in affluent societies, whereas the association among men is less consistent.  In a study published more recently, it was reported that lower socioeconomic status was directly associated with obesity in both males and females proportionately.  Additionally, increased obesity rates can easily be linked low lower socioeconomic status.  Indicating that the presence of a poor diet, which generally contains insufficient nutritional requirements, is most prevalent among lower economic groups and currently one of the leading contributors to childhood obesity.
In an attempt to access the effect of metabolic rate on the onset of obesity, twin studies, which utilized both monozygotic and dizygotic offspring, were implemented.  Researchers found that when identical twin pairs were overfed, they showed similar patterns of weight gain.  It has been estimated from these studies that approximately 70 percent of weight can be attributed to genetic factors such as metabolic rate.  In all of the twin studies, researchers concluded that, while genetic factors seem to play a significant role in the prevalence of obesity, the role of environmental factors cannot be overlooked.

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