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Obesity Research Paper

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Obesity has become an increasing issue throughout the world since the incline of fast food conglomerates. No matter whether you drive five miles around town or watch television, fattening foods seem to be ever-present in our society. There is a multitude of factors to consider when placing blame upon weight gain, however, one statement holds true. Without action, the problems will continue to increase and substantiate its claim on human health. This action is well represented throughout the article and presents options for the reader to act upon. There are several ways to grasp people’s attention that causes an innate reaction to people’s emotions and this article attains that by startling facts and also by the simple use of the word obese itself, which causes a negative reaction altogether. In the article “Childhood Obesity Prevention: Successful Community Based Efforts,” the authors, Laure DeMattia and Shannon Lee Denney exemplify the increase in obesity, particularly in children, communicate it thoroughly with relevant statistics, and elicit active community based efforts that are ongoing to counteract the problem, but they fail to reach their target audience, thus making their efforts unproductive and ineffective. Since the target audience is all Americans, specifically parents with obese children, along with active community leaders, publishing this article in an academic journal provides inaccurate outreach and marketing towards their target. Instead they ended up grasping the same researchers and academics that publish these same results themselves.

Establishing credibility is a key concept when trying to convey a message to an audience. Without this concept of ethos, the author’s ideas become irrelevant and insignificant. In the article, “Childhood Obesity Prevention: Successful Community Based Efforts,” not only is the article well written with a specific purpose, but it’s information is derived from a multitude of sources. Simply having a wide array of sources does not necessarily culminate into credibility, but the sources utilized throughout the article are academic in nature and have research-based conclusions as well as are appropriately cited throughout the reading. Also, it is quite a compliment to be published by such a reputable organization like the American Academy of Political and Social Science that gives a notion that Laure DeMattia and Shannon Lee Denney are well established in the academic community. Explained
even further, the beginning of the article lists their accomplishments and qualifications in this field. Facts such as, “she [Laure DeMattia] recently completed a Primary Care fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin” and “Shannon Lee Denney is an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee” establishes their credibility and proves to the reader their knowledge in the medical field (DeMattia and Denney 83). Their uses of all aspects of rhetorical appeals are well versed in the article and furthermore, are easy to follow throughout. The research based approach, followed up with real world examples of change allow the reader to learn, while being educated on the aspects of outreach going on in the community today and how to get involved in the efforts.

Often times, sensitivity can be provoked by certain subject matter that relates to an individual. Obesity is one of these situations, so there is a clear amount of emotion represented throughout the article, as well as emotion conjured up in the individual as they are reading. Another aspect of the rhetorical situation is the appeal of pathos with its basis being to intrigue the audience, show the relation in their lives, and appeal to an individual aspect within the reader’s emotional bank. However, this appeal is not well represented through the article. Unless the reader is overweight themselves, a parent struggling with their child’s own health risks pertaining to weight, or a community leader trying to alleviate obesity in their region, it is hard to relate to. Although, it may not be the author’s fault that emotion isn’t a striking feature of the article, a more concerted effort could have been made to tug on the heartstrings of the reader. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to represent an emotion through wording, especially wording represented within an academic journal. One way emotion could appeal more to the reader is by the addition of pictures representing the subject matter, as well as graphs to catch the eye. Simply reading words can become monotonous and the reader may lose interest, thus decreasing the effectiveness of the author’s message. Adding other aspects online, such as videos and potentially audio files, could further the emotional impact and would have been more pertinent to this article by having a larger effect on the audience’s personal relationships with the problem once the call to action is established. In reference to the total cost of taxpayer moneys incurred by individual families due to obesity each year, DeMattia and Denney state, “unless Americans can reverse this epidemic, this figure will continue to increase” (DeMattia and Denney 84). This is exactly the emotional response they are trying to instill in each individual and show it is not only an individuals health effects declining, but also each American’s hard earned money being spent on unnecessary medical payments.

Undeniably, the most substantial rhetorical appeal in this article is logos. The statistical research and examples represented throughout the article seems never-ending, but more so, is striking and causes the reader to go into deeper question of the subject matter and its relevance in today’s society. The relevance is indisputable and the research is clear, but concise. Today, one out of every three children is overweight and furthermore, obesity is linked to increased risks of diseases such as type two diabetes, liver disease, hypertension, and heart disease. Further evidence, such as the fact childhood obesity continues to be a major and increasing public problem in America, not only substantiates their claim and makes it more relative, but it puts the problem in perspective for the reader.. The rates of childhood obesity have tripled since the 1960’s, with more than 33.3 percent of children now at risk of obesity” leads the reader to realize the unfortunate prevalence in society of the overweight youth of today (DeMattia and Denney 83). Further evidence embodies the eating habits and research on ecological affects of obesity. Evidence substantiates claims that ethnicity, socioeconomic status, work demands, school lunch programs, school PE programs, neighborhood safety, accessibility to recreational facilities, and access to convenience stores, as well as, restaurants are factors that influence an individual’s weight.

This article also exemplifies programs already in place to help maintain good health with today’s youth. Such programs include, Hip Hop to Health which aims to reduce television viewing time and increase fruit and vegetable intake, Planet Health, implemented Boston School Systems, as well as, Youth Take Charge, a Milwaukee based program as an after-school pilot program. According to the American Academy of Political and Social Science, “Parents, schools, and after-school settings need to work together to ensure that the environments in which each child operates are undergoing changes to reduce barriers to making healthy choices” and “small victories are being realized across the country” (DeMattia and Denney 94). As evidenced, the presence of logic is overwhelming in this reading and is not only applicable to the call to order of the situation, but also to represent the absolute problem we have in today’s society and makes that known to the reader.

Simply accomplishing all aspects of the rhetorical situation doesn’t constitute an effective article. Although this article has a clear point, represents this situation and problem with facts and figures along with real life programs, emotion, and credibility these authors failed. By missing their targeted audience, their presentation is irrelevant. Often times the audience can be overshadowed by the author(s) getting caught up in the diction of the article, rather than the medium it is represented in. Placing adds in schools, around the community, in doctor’s offices and even potentially lobbying for political backing on this situation, DeMattia and Denney would have not only proved their research on the matter, but also caused action within the community and could have had a more direct impact on the obesity problem rather than simply educating individuals on the subject. Their efforts are not in vein, however, even though the effectiveness wasn’t as substantial as its potential was, this doesn’t mean the article was a complete failure. The credibility of the author, the emotional appeal to the audience, and the astounding facts throughout the article all seem to lead to the success of action within America, but simply missing their mark on the target audience was enough to bring that success to an end. Instead of hitting the nail on the head, they seemed to knick the side.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science , Vol. 615, Overweight and Obesity in America’s Children: Causes, Consequences, Solutions (Jan., 2008), pp. 83-99

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