The social historian who looks back to 1950 will be interested in political movements and wars, but if he judges by our newspapers and magazines he may characterize the period as the one in which people became especially conscious of the relation of overweight to life and health. Articles on weight reduction are featured everywhere. Weird diets and reducing fads have their day or month and disappear. Even the old Hollywood 18-day-diet is being revived. Formerly just the women were interested, but now whole series of articles deal with the weight of men and boys.
Obesity is a disorder of the body’s functioning which results in deposits of excess fat throughout the tissues. Doctors take special note of obesity because of the relationship between overweight and disorders of the heart, high blood pressure, diabetes, and joint disturbances.
Most experts are now agreed that by far the most frequent cause of obesity is the taking of too much food in proportion to the amount of energy that the person uses. Most people eat without too much attention to the weight problem, and yet the body can adjust itself reasonably well to getting rid of what is not used.
Some families consistently overeat, and therefore the children, imitating their parents, become overweight. Occasionally executives find that a snack enables them to carry on at their desks beyond the onset of fatigue; eating becomes a substitute for needed rest. As we get older we tend to walk and climb and move about less than previously. Unless we reduce the food intake overweight appears. Occasionally an illness stops physical activity, and obesity may result.