Added: Sat. Jul 05, 2008 7:47pm
“Obesity, be not proud” From the IrongeezerSays™ Series.
By Tatjana and Cliff Eggink
Two thirds of the American public is either overweight or obese. Adults and kids alike are gaining pounds and suffering dire, life altering, life threatening health consequences: Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease are among those consequences. We all know the list of diseases and their outcomes. So there is no need to belabor that point, is there?
Yet, why are so many of us unwilling to change eating and exercise habits? The doctors don’t know. The exercise physiologists don’t know. The researchers don’t know. The government doesn’t know. Actually, no one knows what to do about this looming health care crisis that will cost all of us, not just financially in increasing health care costs for everyone, not just for the overweight and obese, in increasing insurance premiums, money lost for sick days, and loss of productivity… (and yes, Michael Moore, the nation’s gadfly on health care in his recent movie Sicko, needs to participate in that aspect of health care – the diet and exercise - and not just rant about what others need to do)…, but most importantly, beyond the dollar signs of the issue, are the misery of lives reduced to couch sitting, huffing and puffing, missing out on really delicious, nutritious, fresh food, instead gorging on synthetic, industrial tastes of, let’s say, “Twinkies.” (however, any mass produced food will do fit the bill here- as long as it is cheap, fast and satisfies fat and sugar and/or salt cravings).
All the “health apostles,” as some call the reasonable voices for a sensible approach to food and activity, have tried to educate, cajole, beg, plead, threaten, negotiate, but have finally resigned. Doctors do it – resigning themselves to the prescription pad, managing disease with the latest pharmaceutical – statins for high cholesterol, for instance. What often should go on that prescription pad is a simple: “Exercise and eat sensibly!” Then, let’s just see what happens. Maybe that might prompt even one person to a positive change.
Doctors are not to blame though; some even try this approach, but are rebuffed by patients, who are irate that a doctor would discuss nutrition and have the audacity to suggest getting their duff moving. The government has resigned – it has tried throwing money, in the form of public education, at the problem, but no change has happened. The nation, the industrialized world as a whole, as a matter of fact, just keeps getting larger.
So, what happened? No one seems to know. We are suggesting that it is not the fault of television, the food manufacturers, the pharmaceutical companies, or any one else, but the “fault,” if we can call it that, lies within ourselves. As a people, we have an odd relationship to bodies, food, and who we admire and at what tables we worship. On the one hand, we salivate over every detail of some emaciated glamour life, and sneer at the discovery that this celebrity actually does have cellulite; that’s the euphemism for fat, by the by. All the while, as we are glued to the television screen fixated on this celebrities’ life, we are eating a bag of potato chips. On the other hand, we are willing to try most fad diets, at least once – swearing today that carbs are good, then bad; tomorrow, it’s the cabbage soup diet, the South Beach diet, and next, we discuss the “wondrous, marvelous, awesome” moment of sports television, a gluttonous, disgusting hot dog eating contest, complete with spewing vomit from one of the contestants. That’s just sick, depraved, and alarming on so many levels. What does it say about us and our culture when we award a person who can force-fed himself until he spews or wins? Metaphorically, not historically, we have sunk to the level of a declining Rome, just before the fall of that once great civilization. The Romans, too, vomited at their lavish banquet, so that could continue eating. Interestingly enough, force-feeding geese to produce foie gras is coming under scrutiny and has been outlawed. Right or wrong? At any rate, someone is watching out for the geese. But what about the overweight children? Isn’t it abuse on some level to allow your children to eat themselves into a state of obesity? Do we sense there is a disconnect here somewhere? Our mental state, our bodies, our nature are out of sink. And that’s the essence of the problem.
Can we fix it? Yes, but the cure is hard. It worked with smoking. Yes, bigger is not better; bigger is bad. We are not talking about people either. Don’t make the cars, houses, chairs, beds, plates, portions, etc, bigger: keep ‘em normal. Once we accept larger as normal, larger becomes normal, and we can grow larger yet. Not a good idea. But that’s not going to happen until we make obesity as much as a pariah as smoking has become. Remember, in the not too distant past, smoking was normal, perfectly acceptable; now, it is marked as a “disgusting, tumor causing habit” – well, guess what, so is overeating. I already hear the politically correct choir chiming – and yes, o course, the overweight are humans with feelings and no one suggests here that those should be ignored, or that people should be outcast, ridiculed or shamed in any way – we are all here to help. Just remember, if you think that this is tough medicine, substitute every idea about obesity in this sassy piece with smoking, and you will find, for instance, that smokers are people with feelings and rights, too, and we weren’t nearly as politically correct when it came to them. Why? Maybe because eating is a necessity, smoking isn’t. Maybe because eating is seen as benign, compared to smoking. Maybe because smoking, as in second hand smoking, affects others, but guess what, so does obesity – we all pay for that health crisis in the end.
And lest you think the authors speaks from a lack of experience: One has been a smoker, and I understand addiction, and one of us has weighed 205 pounds, so he understands being overweight.
Agree or disagree? Need help getting off the couch?: www.irongeezer.com and/or www.irongeezelle.com