Etymology of obesity
From French obésité, which is from Latin obesitas, which means “fatness,”
and from obesus, which means “something that’s eaten itself fat.” Roots are from
“ob” (which means over) and “edere” which means to eat.
History of obesity
The first people to commonly recognize obesity as a medical condition were the Greeks.
Hippocrates recognized it and stated that not only was being overweight a disease,
but it also lent itself to the onset of other diseases. Sushruta, an Indian doctor
in the 6th century BCE made the connection between obesity, diabetes, and heart
failure, and stated that physical work (ie: exercise) would help cure all three
diseases. Because of the scarceness of food throughout history, obesity came to
be seen as a sign of the wealthy–those who could afford to overeat.
Starting in the time of the ancient Greeks and moving forward, obesity became a
sign of gluttony and was often mocked for being “fat.” After Christianity became
more widespread, believers found obesity to be the cause of laziness and lust after
food, both sins against God and the church. Eventually, obesity turned into an issue
of physical attraction when many people decided that excess weight was not appealing
on the opposite sex. No matter what the reason, obese people have been singled out
During the industrial revolution, militaries found that increasing the height and
mass of their soldiers made their armies that much stronger. Therefore, they concentrated
on bring up the overall size of their soldiers in order to maintain a stronger military
defense. However, this act was merely bringing soldiers from being, by today’s standards,
underweight to a normal, healthy weight. As a result, even the average weight of
civilians began to rise. Instead of merely going from underweight to “average,”
weight gain continued throughout the past several centuries into an unhealthy issue
that is at the forefront of medical issues today. In fact, once insurance companies
discovered the link between obesity and greater health problems, they raised premiums
for the overweight.
Causes of the ‘disease’ of obesity
Obesity comes to be in one of three ways: it can be inherited through genetics from
one’s parents, it can be developed by shock of the body by the person in question,
or it can be due to chemicals in our food. Substances like high fructose corn syrup,
MSG, and other lab-made organisms cannot break down in one’s body in the same way
that chemically unaltered materials can. This lack of proper digestion causes one’s
body to become damaged and lack a maintained balance. This result is a fairly new
phenomenon that occurs with the continuance of labs producing food as opposed to
food being naturally grown and processed with as few chemicals as possible.
Ways to combat obesity
Although the first two types of obesity, those due to genetics and/or extreme shock
to the body, may be hard to fight off, the easiest type of obesity to obliterate
is that due to food. One of the main ways to prevent and/or treat this type of obesity
is through regular exercise. Exercise not only burns calories stored in food, but
it also increases heart rate, digestion, and the like. In other words, exercise
jump starts your body into working, whereas lazing about allows your body to become
idle and unproductive. Another way to help fight off this third type of obesity
is by being aware of the contents of your food.