Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Obesity Epidemic

I was reading Losing Waists post and I started getting worked up about something off her topic, but related. I soon knew I had a lot of thoughts, so thought I'd move over here and write them down. Thanks to LW for a great post and the food for thought btw, I highly recommend it, and all of her stuff actually, she's an excellent inspiration.

Okay, here's what bothers me: People can't figure out why we have an "Obesity Epidemic". Or if they think they can, they're wrong (i.e. because McDonald's & fast food places market so gosh darn effectively to kids and families)

Well wait, first off let me preface by saying that yes, it is an epidemic. There is an Obesity Epidemic. An epidemic qualifies as something that "is affecting a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time" The number of obesity in America over the last 20 years has become exactly that.

Alright, here ladies and gentlemen, is the reason we have that Obesity Epidemic. One reason is our diet as Americans (hormones, additives, worse food available easier, etc.) and one is inadequate treatment for thyroid and metabolism issues, and one is that kids are being raised with much less physical activities and much worse diets .

But HERE, is the main reason:

Throughout the history of humanity there has been people with issues: ranging from normal, to more serious, to severe. By issues I mean they were neglected growing up, or abandoned, physically abused, emotionally abused, sexually abused, were victims of alcoholic/drug addict parents, witnessed horrific things, had depression or other chemical imbalances, etc. These people are far more prevalent historically, and currently, that will ever be fully known. Suffice to say these people have been, and are, everywhere.

Here's how the average American lived from the creation of our country until the mid part of the last century: 1) Worked hard: either on farm, started profession (generally manual labor) at extremely early age, lots more manual labor work in general (agriculture, service, industrial, etc.) no computer programmers, secretaries, and other sedentary jobs - even the salesmen were frequently door to door instead of sitting at a desk on a phone. 2) Food consumption was less, less available/cheap bad food (fast food, cheap supermarket crap, etc.), less emphasis on eating (no commercials in magazines, TV, movies, newspapers, billboards, hats, cars, signs, saying to eat), and again, most importantly, what people WERE eating was being worked off in their daily routine.

Okay, having established the difference that existing between our culture for several hundred years and the last 50, lets go back to taking a look at that significant portion of the population that has always struggled with deep rooted issues because of any of the causes listed earlier, etc. Those people for the first couple hundred years in America may have become drunks, or drug addicts. They may have taken out their issues through spousal assault, may have have been sexually promiscuous to the point of serious personal detriment, may have floundered throughout life unable to cope, may have been called a crazy person, may have become a gambler and ruined their lives financially, may have simply led extremely unproductive, unhappy lives. WHY might they have done and/or become all those things? Because they COULD.

You know what was HARD to do then?

Sit on your ass all day and eat. Only the very rich could afford that.

Guess what? Now anyone can. Now tons of jobs that even middle class and even poverty level people have require no physical labor. Now the cheapest food to buy for you and/or your family are Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Little Debbie snack cakes, Ramen noodles, double cheeseburgers, $5 dollar little ceasar pizza, kool-aid, etc. Now even more middle class and poverty level people have a roof over their head and a couch and a TV. Now financial irresponsibility runs rampant, so its possible to become sedentary and eat tons without even having much of a job, or even one at all depending on what government assistance you qualify for.

SO, while your average person might become heavy these days or even obese because of a sedentary lifestyle filled with poor food options that America more easily offers than ever before, I believe the huge amount of people in this country who are REALLY obese people; those 5'4 women going 280, the 5'8 women going 360, the 5'10 guys going 410, and the 6'3 guys going 500, 600, 700, 800 pounds. Those people would've turned to one of the twenty ways you could deal with having issues in your life 80, 150, 200 years ago that I mentioned above (drugs/alcohol, abusing others, gambling, sex, hold it inside and lash out, etc.)

I think that's it.

What is food, but the latest great vice of a nation full of them. A nation full of people just trying to get by and live a good life, but overwhelmed by some of their struggles, and in need of what often amounts to misguided "solutions" to their problems.

And don't get me wrong, I don't think it's society's fault, or the media, or the fast food places fault that obese people get obese. It's still a symptom that each person is responsable for recognizing and then working to heal themselves and there issues and get healthy, but it's still frustrating how off track the mentality of the country is around the issue

For instance, I think nobody on a national scale acknowledges the facts on the matter because there's very few votes to be gained by talking about those massive fundamental problems that hide in every dark corner of our society. There's few votes to be gained by recognizing that obesity is about more than fat people not exercising and eating too much.

There's few votes to be gained by recognizing that the "Obesity Epidemic" is just the most recent epidemic in a long line of them that are simply human beings trying to cope with issues in life that are painful or hard to deal with. It's just a problem now because for the first time in American history, circumstances (availability of food, culture around food, sedentary lifestyle, etc.) are such that it CAN be.

That's it.

Sadly, there are of course plenty of votes to be gained from grandstanding about this darn nemesis of good old American can-do-ness: the Obesity Epidemic. There's plenty of votes to be gained from taking coke machines out of schools and encouraging people to just stop eating at fast food places so darn much!

Anyway, I have plenty more thoughts on what role obesity and obese people can, do, should, or shouldn't play in society, or how I feel about how society treats me and other obese people, but I'll save those for another day.

For today I just felt like I needed to get out some frustration around the media, the government, and society generally scratching their heads or pointing to misguided studies to try to solve this obesity issue. This apparent enigma of a problem, wrapped in mystery, inside a riddle.



They can't see that while plenty of people still smoke some pot or beat their wife to cope, other people now (BECAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY, THEY CAN) stuff their face with a few extra double cheeseburgers in between breaks at their job sitting typing reports?

Fucking REALLY?!?


  1. Ugh...It's sickening! Great post.

  2. Great post! You make some great points. My son just "studied" this very issue in a cultural anthropology class and while they wanted to gloss everything over with study after study, the truth is our society in which we live is as much to blame as the obese person themselves. You are right, there are no votes to be gained in this venue...... we are on our own for sure! But, hey, that's ok by me!

  3. I agree that it's much bigger than eating the wrong foods & not moving. It's the nut of it that we're overlooking or dismissing as irrelevant.
    There's a whole lotta hurt out there and a shortage of compassion & empathy.

  4. Excellent post. I believe this is my first time commenting on your blog and I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading it. As with many others, I look forward to going along on this journey with you. Take care!

  5. I felt the same way. I found something I'd like to share with you.

    It was about four months ago when I ran into an old friend of mine at Starbucks and he told me about an amazing product that surpresses the appetiteand burns fat cells. Well I said here we go again. I have tried shakes, and special meals. Of course nothing seem to help long term. I kept an open mindsince this one was unique and had three government pattents. I thought maybe this is the one to help me get rid of those stubron pounds. My friend Mike told methis product took ten years to develop. The herbs and vitamins had to have cynergy and taste great. It also came with a money back guarantee. I felt I had nothing to lose but weight. Now four months later I am at my weight of 30 years ago. I am 6' and weigh 235. Not bad since four months before I was 290. Went from a 42 waist to a 38. I accomplished this with very little exercise and still ate what ever I wanted. I made a voul to share this life changing product with every one I meet. From mal I call it a Miracle on a Stick I't easy and fun

  6. That story by anonymous was some really great spam. LOL.

    But dude, great post. There are so many political issues that just get the surface treatment, because fixing the problem doesn't make profits. The prison system is just one example.

    Oh, and you might want to check out these posts by Kim Ayres. Touches on the same things, but on a more personal level rather than the national level.

  7. You are right, of course....Food has become a vice for many.

  8. I really felt what you are saying! The population shifting from one coping skill to another... I have tried other coping skills myself an none compare to food.

    It is pretty fucking stupid for the issues that demand coping not to be addressed- especially in a time where we have embraced some of the world of psychology...

  9. Great post!! I agree with ya completely!!

  10. Great Post! I'm glad you found my blog and I am now following yours.

  11. Great post, I know for me that's why therapy is so important.

    I think having a blog and following great blogs like yours helps too. I think not being alone in our journeys is so very important, we really do need each other.

  12. We have a built a society that conserves human energies, while wasting natures engeries, time we flip that.

  13. Wow. I never thought of it in those terms (historically, what we have had access to or could get away with) -- brilliant.

    ~Jenn (ExHotGirl) :)

  14. Excellent post my friend!

    I've been thinking about it a lot since I first read what you wrote.

    One thing that contributed to my poor eating habits was that I started with sugar cereals, fast food, and soda pop at a fairly young age.

    When I was a kid, I really believed that Apple Jacks were part of a balanced breakfast. I also believed that a Happy Meal was really happy. Ronald and the Grimace really cared about us. I believe I was conditioned to eat these things.

    My natural inclination (as a child) was to believe that food was safe and that the food companies and bodies such as the FDA actually cared about my health.

    I'm not going to get all conspiracy theory, but I could. I just think it is sad that the people in society who often need the greatest help are the most abused by those in power.

    It is expensive to eat a healthy diet. Last year, we put our son on an organic diet and it cost a fortune.

    It seems as if the only solution is to take charge of our own lives through understanding what makes us tick. I appreciate your writings because you are working these things out. :)

  15. I couldn't agree more.
    I don't even know what else to say.
    Your blog is fantastic and I look forward to commenting on every post. I'm tempted to do it right now, but if I don't get off this computer, I'll never get moving toward my goals.

    I hope you're doing some moving today too.

  16. Im with hopefool above but more think, when it comes time to comment, youve said it all and better than I can anyway.

    but Im reading.

    wanted you to know.