Obesity isn’t a joke. It isn’t a moral issue. Right now, it is hardly a personal issue. We have, though our ingenuity and perseverance created a situation where it is the fastest growing health problem in the world. Other than subsaharan Africa, we have managed to export this problem to the entire world. Blame it on Henry Ford, blame it on McDonald’s, blame it on computers, whatever you blame it on, we can now eat more calories than we need through most of the world on a daily basis.
What prompted this post is an article on the Motley fool on the top 5 diseases caused by obesity. One of the sad things is that the Motley Fool is a financial website, and while it was decrying the effects of obesity, it was also speculating on which drug manufacturer would benefit from all this misery. And misery is the correct word. “Fat and happy” is a false notion. Maybe back in the day, when being fat meant you weren’t starving, but now people aren’t happy being fat. They may be happy in spite of it, but not because of it.
I keep mentioning it, as I believe it is central to my position in writing. I got into fitness as both my parents died of heart disease. Not from obesity, but smoking, and really bad genes. As of this point, I can’t change my genes, but I can control everything else. My central thesis for this blog is that it is about health and quality of life, not appearance. Of course, reading the motley Fool makes you realize it has a huge impact on society and economics as well. We all get hugely upset, and rightfully so, when people are diagnosed with cancer. 12 of the most commonly diagnosed cancers are largely impacted by obesity. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease round out the top 5.
Add to that the cost to society of obesity. There was a link from the first article I referenced to this one, the top ten costs of obesity in America. These two articles together point out that this is not about “choice”, and people having to “police themselves”. I don’t know how I feel about Mayor Bloomburg’s soda ban. If you want to make a difference legislatively, ban soda all together. I’m worried that it’s a case of the genie being let out of the bottle. 20 years ago, would you have seen every one competing with the latte’s and frappacino’s, with each one having more calories than the next? Maybe teaching kids to use calorie tracking software and measuring their portions in health class and teaching about calorie awareness will help? I don’t know if there is one quick and easy answer. Shaming manufacturers? People say there is a stigma to being fat, but it isn’t stopping this trend. People love food. People really love sweet, fatty food. Manufactures are only too happy to capitalize on that. Who do we address? The consumer? The producer?