Obesity has taken a major focus in recent media and medical studies as it has become an epidemic plaguing 35 percent of Americans, according to the Journal of American Medicine. Southern states and regions that lack fresh produce and whole foods, typically known as food deserts, are the highest in obesity rates, with regions that are land-locked following behind, according to The State of Obesity.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 78.6 million American adults are obese, and 12.7 million American children, from the ages of two to 19, are obese as well.

While it may be unreasonable to directly link sugary sodas to death, it is logical to associate too many sodas and developing type two diabetes. Obesity can cause a plethora of other diseases and complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer.

Despite many attempts by famous figures, such as Michelle Obama’s various campaigns to boost awareness and prevention of childhood obesity, the trend in obesity of Americans has only doubled in the past 25 years, according to the Journal of American Medicine.

Pinpointing the cause of obesity and the expositional juncture of weight gain is exceptionally difficult to do, and with misleading tactics from food companies funding research in their favor, the conclusion may be running farther from the source.

Last year, The Washington Post reported on companies such as Coca-Cola who were funding biased studies that were swayed in their favor to promote their brand. These studies lead the public to believe that their products, which are inundated with sugar, are not leading to weight-gain in their consumers in order to confuse the public and divert attention from their unhealthy products.

This should be illegal, point blank. Companies that produce food should not be allowed to fund, influence, and publish research that lends the public any information about their products concerning their health.

Scientific information should be exactly that—scientific. Anything that is biased no longer holds any bearing in a factual realm, and the healthcare field is not something that the consumer public should take lightly.

It is interesting to note that the same article points out that Nestle, which produces cookies, ice creams, and other sugary drinks, also has a corporate division called The Nestle Research Center that sponsored Nature’s special Obesity supplement in April 2014.

Obesity is caused by eating too much and moving too little. A mix of other factors go into maintaining an obese state, and this is where the problem grows.

Southern states such as Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and South Carolina all have some of the highest rates of obesity in the United States. Living in these states and being overweight could be very detrimental, especially if one was trying to change their weight.

Often, a feeling of belonging breeds complacency. In a place where obesity abounds, it becomes easier for other heavier people to find a sense of belonging among their overweight peers. Obesity often perpetuates itself and people in these sorts of environments may find it difficult to break out of their habits when many people around them have similar issues.

Society is scared to talk about its weight problems. People are encouraged to tip-toe around the way they address someone’s size. The Telegraph reported that public health officials in the UK are being instructed to stop using the term obese in regards to their patients because it can be considered derogatory.

The truth is, some people are fat, the dreaded “F” word. People can be overweight, and people can definitely be obese. If we stop shrugging away from these terms, maybe people will stop shrugging away from the morbid reality that this disease can kill, and at a very young age.

Obesity needs to be addressed as what it really is—an epidemic, a serious problem and a killer.

Many campaigns have been initiated worldwide to promote plus-size models in fashion ads as a stark contrast to their waifish counterparts in typical modeling. While this is a positive step to recognizing beauty in all forms, it is also a far cry from what should truly be highlighted in popular media: a healthy body weight.

A plus-size model is defined as a model who is a size eight or greater. Typical fashion models weigh in at a size zero or double-zero. However, today’s media chooses to focus on plus-size models that fall on extreme side of the spectrum.

Tess Holliday is the newest addition to MiLK model management’s repertoire of models, and this woman is beautiful and confident as hell. Holliday is the largest model to ever land a major modeling contract at size 22.

A very simple way of looking at weight is by Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI measures body fat based on height and weight. Doctors do not use this exclusively to determine body mass, but for indirect purposes, this works.

Holliday is 5 ft. 5 in. and weighs 280 lb., according to an interview she gave to Entertainment Tonight. Using this information in a basic BMI calculator, Holliday has a BMI of 46.6 and is obese.

The problem does not lie with Holliday nor the models that have BMIs that would come in underweight. The issue lies in what is not represented in media at all. Where are the women and men who are at a healthy weight represented in pop culture? They are not on runways, not on magazine covers, and not represented properly.

It is true that young children aspire to be the people that they see in magazines and other media outlets, so why would it be a good idea to put obese and underweight people on pedestals in popular media, especially for consumers in their formative years?

For years doctors and psychiatrists have associated anorexia with underweight models in the media. Is it not reasonable to also equate overweight models with obesity?

Clearly the hundreds of initiatives by countless health organizations to “Get Healthy!” have not taken the American public into an era of clear arteries and flawless annual physicals.

It is time to turn to the media, the constant stream of content running through our phones, tablets, and computers, or the pages of magazines to display healthy bodies. Not too big, not too small, but just right in its many forms.

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