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    Questions

    Read the article below. Then use NO MORE THAN FOUR WORDS for each answer the following questions.

    The Body

    The concept of 'the body' is closely related to the ideas of 'illness' and 'health'.

    All of us exist in 'bodies' of different shapes, heights, colours and physical abilities.

    The main reasonsfor the differences are genetic, and the fact that people's bodies change as they age. However, a huge range of research indicates that there are social factors too.

    Poorer people  are more likely to eat 'unhealthy' foods,  to smoke cigarettes and to be employed in repetitive,  physically difficult  work or the opposite:  boring,  inactive employment. Moreover, their  housing  conditions and neighbourhoods tend to be worse.  All of these factors impact  upon the condition  of a person's health:  the  physical shapes of bodies  are strongly  influenced  by social  factors.

    These social  factors are also closely linked  to emotional  wellbeing.   People with  low or no incomes  are more likely  to have mental  health problems.   It  is not clear, however, whether poverty causes mental illness,  or whether  it is the  other way around.  For example,   certain people with  mental  health issues  may be at risk  of becoming  homeless,  just as a person who  is homeless  may have an increased risk of illnesses such as depression.

    There are other types of social  factors too. Bodies are young or old, short or tall,  big or small,  weak or strong.  Whether  these judgments  matter and whether  they are positive or negative  depends on the cultural and historical  context. The culture  - and media - of different  societies  promote very different valuations  of body shapes.  What is considered as attractive or ugly, normal  or abnormal  varies enormously.   Currently, for example,  in rich societies  the idea of slimness is highly  valued, but historically this  was different. In  most societies  the ideal  body shape for a woman was a 'full  figure' with  a noticeable  belly,  while in middle-aged  men,  a large stomach indicated that they were financially  successful  in life. In  many traditional  African and Pacific island cultures, for example,  a large  body shape was a sign of success and a shape to be aimed at.

    It is easy for people to feel undervalued because of factors they have no power to change, for example,  their age and height.  Equally,  they can feel pressured into  making changes to their appearance when there is a choice,  which in extreme cases can lead to obsessions with weight loss and fitness regimes.

    Sociologists,   then, are suggesting  that we should not just view  bodies  and minds in biological   terms,  but also in social  terms. The physical  body and what  we seek to do with  it change over time  and society. This has important  implications   for medicine  and ideas of health.  Thus,  the idea of people being 'obese'  is physically related  to large  amounts of processed  food, together  with  lack of exercise. and is therefore  a medical issue. However, it  has also  become  a mental  health issue and social  problem  as a result  of people coming  to define this particular   body shape as 'wrong'  and unhealthy.

     

    The Body

    The concept of 'the body' is closely related to the ideas of 'illness' and 'health'.

    All of us exist in 'bodies' of different shapes, heights, colours and physical abilities.

    The main reasonsfor the differences are genetic, and the fact that people's bodies change as they age. However, a huge range of research indicates that there are social factors too.

    Poorer people  are more likely to eat 'unhealthy' foods,  to smoke cigarettes and to be employed in repetitive,  physically difficult  work or the opposite:  boring,  inactive employment. Moreover, their  housing  conditions and neighbourhoods tend to be worse.  All of these factors impact  upon the condition  of a person's health:  the  physical shapes of bodies  are strongly  influenced  by social  factors.

    These social  factors are also closely linked  to emotional  wellbeing.   People with  low or no incomes  are more likely  to have mental  health problems.   It  is not clear, however, whether poverty causes mental illness,  or whether  it is the  other way around.  For example,   certain people with  mental  health issues  may be at risk  of becoming  homeless,  just as a person who  is homeless  may have an increased risk of illnesses such as depression.

    There are other types of social  factors too. Bodies are young or old, short or tall,  big or small,  weak or strong.  Whether  these judgments  matter and whether  they are positive or negative  depends on the cultural and historical  context. The culture  - and media - of different  societies  promote very different valuations  of body shapes.  What is considered as attractive or ugly, normal  or abnormal  varies enormously.   Currently, for example,  in rich societies  the idea of slimness is highly  valued, but historically this  was different. In  most societies  the ideal  body shape for a woman was a 'full  figure' with  a noticeable  belly,  while in middle-aged  men,  a large stomach indicated that they were financially  successful  in life. In  many traditional  African and Pacific island cultures, for example,  a large  body shape was a sign of success and a shape to be aimed at.

    It is easy for people to feel undervalued because of factors they have no power to change, for example,  their age and height.  Equally,  they can feel pressured into  making changes to their appearance when there is a choice,  which in extreme cases can lead to obsessions with weight loss and fitness regimes.

    Sociologists,   then, are suggesting  that we should not just view  bodies  and minds in biological   terms,  but also in social  terms. The physical  body and what  we seek to do with  it change over time  and society. This has important  implications   for medicine  and ideas of health.  Thus,  the idea of people being 'obese'  is physically related  to large  amounts of processed  food, together  with  lack of exercise. and is therefore  a medical issue. However, it  has also  become  a mental  health issue and social  problem  as a result  of people coming  to define this particular   body shape as 'wrong'  and unhealthy.

     

    1.    1.      In what ways do our bodies physically differ?

    2.    1.      Why do our bodies differ physically?

    3.     What types of jobs are poor people likely to have?

    4.    What aspects of poor people's living environments are not good?

    5.     What influences how groups of people value bodies?

    6.    What have wealthy cultures changed their opinion about?

    7.      In the past,  what part of the body could indicate that people were rich?

    8.        According to sociology, in what ways should we think about the body?

    9.     Which two physical factors contribute to whether people are obese or not?

    10.      What does society say that being obese is?

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