Everywhere you go, people are getting fatter and sicker. Two Billion (yep, billion with a “B”) are overweight or obese.
We realized that not a single country has had a significant decline in obesity, that tells you how hard a challenge this is. – Christopher Murray of the University of Washington
As a follow up to that story: How Your Tax Dollars Are Making America Fat. This is primarily stating how the federal government subsidizes the industries that create edible products attributed to increased calorie intake.
Over the past six months or so, I’ve learned that the issue of obesity is so much more complex than calories in, calories out. In fact, that idea has been soundly debunked!
It’s also not a matter of exercising yourself into the ground. Nor is there a magic supplement or superfood that can melt away the L.B.s.
And as much as the First Lunch Lady gets it wrong that you should eat whole grains and move to solve the problem, that’s not it either.
Here is a short list of factors that together impact the obesity epidemic:
- eating habits (obviously)
- mobility or physical activity (obviously)
- genetics (did you know that if your grandparents or even great-grandparents were ever literally starving, it could mean that you keep the weight you put on?)
- environmental toxins (mostly molds)
- stress levels
- hormone imbalances
- vitamin and/or mineral deficencies
- your gut biome (the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines and such) in disarray (Candida, you’re often evil.)
- unknown food intolerances (gluten??)
- thyroid problems
- certain medications like steroids
- menopause in women
- aging (slower metabolism)
- hidden sugar
- not getting enough sleep
Take your pick of any and all of these, mix ’em together and you get a shaken-not-stirred cocktail of ill health and obesity. And those are just potential sources. I won’t even get in to the litany of illnesses and health complications that are attributed to obesity.
When you do your homework and dive deeply into the scientific details pertaining to human health – especially specific to fat loss, muscle building and digestion — and double especially if you don’t have much of a scientific education, your perspective and attitude toward obese people changes.
I’ll admit, I used to think it was all in a person’s power to have the body they want. You just have to work for it, duh.
Now, I can tell you from my own learnings and personal experience, that’s BS. Losing weight is not easy. Discipline does not grow on trees. Sugar and wheat and soy lurk in every food, it seems! And as I’ve listed above there are a dozen combinations of factors that you may or may not be able to directly control.
This is a big fat problem without a big fat solution.
This is a big fat problem with a hundred tiny, tweaked, altered mini-solutions that have to be thoughtfully considered, implemented, checked, rechecked, modified, reimplemented and etc. Oh and, each and every mini-solution is unique to each and every person.
With issues like this, it’s no wonder the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States), “Let’s Move” campaign and redesigned food plate (instead of food pyramid) is barely scratching the surface when it comes to childhood obesity. There is no one hard and fast answer. There are 2 billion x 30 (approximately) answers.
Why this matters:
Forget the dollar impact on each person, or the health impact on people and families. Those are obvious. But this matters on a global level because the way we think about obesity is wrong.
You see it all the time: the obesity epidemic.
An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease. Obesity is not contagious. You can’t contract it from another person. Yes, it’s common for families to have obesity span generations due to frequent and close contact leading to common habits. But I can’t shake hands with a person who weighs 300 lbs and instantly gain 10 lbs myself.
So no, it’s not an epidemic. To fight an epidemic, we can create drug therapies or vaccines. We can enforce quarantine. We can do a number of things.
You can’t do any of those things against obesity.
And if you’re not defining the real problem, you’ll never find the right solution.
If obesity is the culmination an person’s environment, genetics, habits, and health, the solution must be down to that person too. That’s the only way to combat this disease – hand to hand combat. Metaphorically – I’m not suggesting we have all obese people get into the Hunger Games – though it would probably help them lose weight – that’s just ridiculous.
As long as people look at this disease as a social, communicable disease, it will never have a cure.