Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Obesity Epidemic

I like this editorial written by Michael Gard on the ABC site.   I've heard some of the ideas before.   The basic idea is that the obesity epidemic has been exaggerated.  It's blown out proportion.

Gard talks about information provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.  He says they say that the life expectancy for Australians is going UP.  How can that be true when we're told people are getting fatter, and that fat people are more likely to get sick and drop dead?

Gard pretty much says we've been mislead by statistics.  It's said that 60% of Australians are overweight. But are they all dangerously obese?  No.  Many of them are just slightly overweight. 

My aunt sells vitamins.  The last time I saw her, I decided to help my health and her business situation by showing interest in buying some.  To my surprise, she cut me off with a mini-lecture.   Vitamins won't help you if you don't exercise or eat right!

What the hell?  Okay, so I'm NOT super thin anymore. According to the BMI thing, at that point I was at the tip top of the normal weight category.  According to other optimum weight standard things, I was slightly overweight.  Does that mean my health is in terrible danger?  Does it mean I never exercise?   Does it mean I'm undeserving of taking vitamins?

We hear that more and more kids are becoming obese.  Gard points out that this is exaggerated.  5.8 girls were obese in 2008, and the same percentage were obese in 1995.  And Gard provides other statistics along this line.   

Australians are not necessarily getting fatter,  and they're not becoming less healthy.  I'm sure the same could by said for Americans and other countries.

That's not saying people should eat tremendous amounts of crap food and sit on their ass all day long.  Obesity IS a health problem for some people.  But as Garth says, There can be no doubt that there is a little too much body fat around than is optimal for our health. Fatness is now one of the many middle-of-the road public health issues that we face. It should be treated with the middle-of-the-road seriousness that it deserves.

We don't need to freak out every time we see a chubby kid. 

I think the best thing to do is put reasonable limits on certain foods we eat.   And I AM a big believer in exercise.  I think it's good for the body, good for the mind, and good for the soul.  But we shouldn't beat ourselves up (or others) for being a few pounds overweight.  We shouldn't assume that fat little kids are going to be fat adults, get diabetes, and drop dead from a stroke.  Yeah. It could happen.   There IS a danger.   But seeing that there is also a lot of people out there with eating disorders, it could also be dangerous to obsess over people being thin enough.   

Personally, I think there are REASONS for us being led into thinking there's an obesity epidemic.

A) We're superficial, and we prefer to see people who are thin and petite. Look at the Disney Princesses. We're taught from an early age that skinny girls are GOOD girls.

B) Diet and drug companies can make a TON of money by making people feel insecure about their health and looks. 


I just remembered the most dangerous thing about children being overweight.   They might get teased. Don't let your kids get chubby! Someone might make fun of them.

Okay.   But I think I've also heard that kids are teased for being intelligent.   Mothers and fathers warn your daughters.  Sweetie, stay thin and act dumb.    Then you'll be loved by your classmates.

We should also prevent kids from wearing braces or glasses.  And definitely do NOT let your kid go to school if he's in a wheelchair or has a facial birthmark.   Yeah, and you probably should keep your kid away from others if he doesn't celebrate Christmas, or if his ethnicity doesn't match the other kids.