College Essay Examples

A Rhetorical Analysis of “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong”

Philip Caputo Paper.

In his essay, “ Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong,” Hobbes begins by delivering a historical analysis of how other critical issues have been poorly managed and handled both by professionals and the society at large. At the start of his argument, he briefly outlines the historical handling of calamities and, more specifically, scurvy, which had killed approximately 2 million sailors whose lives could have been spared ( Hobbes, 2018). He attributes their death to neglect by the British Navy to save their treatment costs at the expense of the sailors’ lives. Hobbes argues that even with the promising research work concerning the treatment of the scurvy disease that was successfully conducted by James Lind, a British doctor, his work would only be implemented 50 years later. His historical flashback on the neglect of scurvy treatment, implementation of seat belts, delayed banning of asbestos is a foundation to his support on the wrongful handling of obesity. It is through these references that he hopes to capture the attention of his audience on repetitive mistakes of handling critical issues that end up messing the lives of most individuals. He attributes the anti-correlation effect of science and practice in our modern society in tackling the obesity epidemic and cautions us of the future regret and guilt in the hostile behavior towards obese individuals. Hence the most appropriate sentence that correctly identifies his thesis is “ Counterproductive ways in which the society handles the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways that fat people are forced to endure yet there are better practices and strategies of addressing it” ( Hobbes, 2018). Hobbes begins to build on his ethos by the credibility of his findings through incorporating personalized stories and reputable historical as well as modern sources. He utilizes logos well by citing compelling and convincing facts and statistics even though some instances are somewhat weakly represented since they point out irrelevant historical stories dating back to the 16th century. His integration of pathos can be related to his comprehension of the subject of obesity while at the same time interviewing individuals battling this epidemic in different contemporary setups. 

Hobbes’s definitive thesis and an extensive array of target audiences allow him to utilize logos and ethos in the most appropriate ways throughout his essay. He references the data by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in regard to the prevalence of obesity in the American population relative to breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and HIV combined ( Hobbes, 2018). This use of logos reinforces the weight through which his audience should handle obesity. Hobbes also drives his logos to trigger the medical community to shift its blame on fat people and focus it elsewhere on other factors like genetics. He argues that the view that fat people “strain our health care system, shrinks our GDP and saps our military strength” is not only unfactual and baseless but also driven by the barbaric excuse of bullying fat persons and pointing accusations back at them ( Hobbes, 2018). Subsequently, this only acts to breeds more social harms of distress than good. The young ones, as well as adults, are not spared in their quest to stay slim and skinny: “Forty-five percent of adults say they’re preoccupied with their weight some or all of the time—an 11-point rise since 1990. Nearly half of 3- to 6- year old girls say they worry about being fat” ( Hobbes, 2018). This statistic is just but a few of the many that he logically employs to support his claim that society will have no one to blame other than itself at the social and physical implications of treating obese people harshly. The facts and the details thereof strongly build on the appeal to logos stirring the target audience to have open conversations and discussions on this particular subject. 

By combining his strong logos appeals, Hobbes effectively incorporates pathos in his essay. He notes that “ I have never written a story where so many of my sources cried during interviews, where they double- and triple-checked that I would not reveal their names, where they shook with anger describing their interactions with doctors and strangers and their own families” ( Hobbes, 2018). This statement aims at eliciting sympathetic emotions to his readers. His further appeals to pathos are seen by his interview with Sam. The view of weakness and shame that Sam portrays indicates to readers on the damaged self-impression that fat people have on themselves. Therefore, Hobbes employs pathos to show that his address on obesity has more to do with his campaign against the societal approach than just the mere work of journalism. He relates to this culturally demonized subject from the way his mother’s used to pick him shamefully from school. His mother’s weight was the basis of her missing out on family photos and never spending enough time with him during his childhood. Her mother’s ordeal with her weight issue in her personal life and career evokes the reader to feel sympathy for her owing to the many opportunities she missed out on because of avoiding being discredited. Readers are equally left with feelings of anger to those who label the obese as ‘fat slobs’ and their self-reflections of frustration. According to Hobbes, negative words such as noncompliant, overindulgence, and weak-willed, used by doctors about fat patients, should be condemned (Hobbes, 2018). This is because they discredit fat people for their weight issues and not based on other factors that outlay their true personalities. 

Throughout her article, Hobbes samples strong and compelling sources that give weight to her credibility and appeals to logos. He points out research findings that discredit the reliability of dieting plans to lose weight: “Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism—a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight” (Hobbes, 2018). This appeals to logos indicate that the medical fraternity should not conclusively relate their approach to solving obesity on dieting. Therefore, obstructing individuals from emotional as well as financial costs in dealing with their weight issues. Hobbes states that even if previous studies have shown that fat people had worse cardiovascular health in comparison to thin people, individuals should not be treated as averages (Hobbes, 2018). Additionally, he points out that a better analysis of individuals should further incorporate food consumption and physical exercises, among other indicators, to fully understand them while making comparisons. His additional appeals to logos are found in the statement that “A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matters” (Hobbes, 2018). Hobbes’s references are meant to ease the pressure on obese people to view their weight through a substantive approach rather than medical reports in that every case is uniquely different. Basically, his argument is based on the medics’ evasion of the uncorrelation of weight and health.

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The audience that Hobbes is trying to address is clearly defined by his thesis, which touches on the fundamental purpose of his article. Through his target audience, which encompasses professionals in the medical and nutrition fields as well as most individuals in the society whose view on obesity is corrupted, he hopes to not only change society’s approach to this issue but also provide the most productive and rewarding ways of caring for the obese in a manner that boosts their self-esteem and confidence. His interviews on persons struggling with obesity have been key in helping the target audience resonates with their situations and therefore nullify their unscrupulous perceptions. This is why towards the end of his article, he helps readers to overly understand the realities of obesity and the need to embrace its existence while devising ways of accommodating those struggling with it through the words of Ginette Lenham, a diet counselor: “ these dreams are a trap. Because there is no magical cure. There is no time machine. There is only the revolutionary act of being fat and happy in a world that tells you that’s impossible. We all have to do our best with the body that we have. And leave everyone else’s alone”( Hobbes, 2018). This statement is in reference to Lenham’s patients who blocked their careers and family hood because of living in the past or future with their weight problem. 

In conclusion, Hobbes delivers a substantive argument through his effective employment of logos, ethos, pathos. His ethos lies in the fact that he not only experience the negativity imposed on obese people by society but also his comprehensive interviews on individuals struggling with obesity as well as credited diet counselors. His essay effectively employs logos and pathos in making appeals to the target audience both in the current and future setups. However, some readers might feel that some of his appeals to logos are outdated because they are more than 100 years old. Hence, it does not effectively relate to the subject of obesity in the modern world. 


Work Cited

Hobbes, Michael. “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong.” The Huffington Post, 19 Sept. 2018,

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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