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The Fattening of America

By EmpowHER February 5, 2008 - 2:45pm
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Heard an interesting point today that came from a book called “The Fattening of America” where the author states that business and policymakers need to re-examine the role they play in America’s obesity epidemic.

Leaders, according to the book’s Web site, need to do exactly the opposite of where the economy is taking us. They need to make it cheaper and easier to be thin—not fat.

One example the author pointed out is that the advent of powerful, relatively inexpensive medication may have reduced the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of modern obese Americans to healthier levels than their thinner American counterparts decades ago.

So the question becomes, if the consequences of becoming obese are not as profound as they used to be, is obesity still an issue?

Add a Comment6 Comments

I didn't know that was a word. :)

I'm in the "overweight" category, not by much, but by enough that I have been working to get my weight down to "normal." I'm a slow fat runner, and even have a website for slow fat runners. But, we're not in denial about our larger-than-desired sizes; we're physically fit, or working at being so as the case may be, distance runners and walkers who train to compete in events from 5K to ultramarathons, and we're slowly getting results in girth and on the scale.

Like your friend the aerobics instructor whose own BMI is an issue, I'm baffled by my weight/BMI battle. My blood pressure is fine, my cholesterol is not. It's frustrating!

March 18, 2008 - 5:39pm

I did not know that there was a National Assoc. to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). I just read their website, and unfortunately, it had a defensive tone and the research sited was severely outdated (1980's). I was hoping they would have discussed the problem with weightism, instead of denouncing research that shows health problems with being overweight. I believe there is a big difference, and until our culture can accept people of all sizes, shapes and color, I do believe there will be a problem with overeating, undereating, eating disorders, body image and weightism.

I am afraid this organization's tone (and possibility of doing harm), is too similar to pro-anorexia sites. I was hoping the NAAFA site had more recent research on "fat people" (as they prefer to be called) whom are not able to lose weight and have a genetic component to their weight. The NAAFA did mention that some "fat people" are cardiovascular fit, and this caught my eye because I do have a friend whose BMI is frustratingly high; she is in the "overweight" category, and she is an aerobics instructor...very fit. I used to swim and run with her, and she could do laps around me tenfold! It would be wonderful to hear more about these people, who do not "yo-yo" diet, they eat healthy, exercise, are happy...but are "overweight" or have a high BMI.

It is important to remember that compulsive overeating, and being overweight, as current research tells us, can lead to health risks including heart attack, high blood-pressure and cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis and bone deterioration, and stroke.

March 18, 2008 - 1:56pm

or NAAFA, disagree that there is conclusive evidence that being fat leads to disease, disability, death or any chronic health problems.

Do people agree with this? Is this group in denial? While I agree that we need to end discrimination against fat people, I think they need to reevaluate their stance on the relationship between weight and health.

March 16, 2008 - 5:42pm

Have you seen the film, "Super Size Me" (2004) by Morgan Spurlock? He documented his experiment eating nothing but McDonald's fast food 3X/day for 30 days, while exploring the question whether they should be held responsible for their contribution to this country's obesity epidemic. Fortunately, his vegan girlfriend, now his wife, was able to "nurse" him back to health afterwards.

It's admirable that some in the franchise food industry have made attempts to provide healthful menu choices, and even smaller portions. However, the one truly responsible for what goes into her body is the consumer herself. This is why sites like empowher are key to providing education and encouragement to those who seek it.

There are a number of studies examining the relationship between affluent societies and obesity, the States not alone in this phenomenon. It's encouraging that obesity is getting attention as a global issue, demonstrating that we're not alone. Perhaps our offshore franchises - McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks, etc. - will also take the lead in the slimming of our global community. One can hope.

For more information:

NY Times: World Briefing|Asia: China: Affluence Brings Obesity

PLOS Medicine: "Rethinking the Diseases of Affluence"

BMJ: Report highlights obesity levels in Eastern Europe as affluence increases
Report highlights obesity levels in Eastern Europe as affluence increases

February 5, 2008 - 6:52pm

I believe obesity will still be a profound issue, even as medication improves and other physical health consequences are controlled. The physical aspects of obesity only tell part of the story, and do not take into account the "whole" person.

The other part of the story includes the emotional, mental and social aspects of health. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, there are Psychosocial Risks involved with obesity, especially childhood obesity, which can include:

1) being a target of early and systematic social discrimination
2) psychological stress of social stigmatization that can cause low self-esteem, which, in turn, can hinder academic and social functioning, and persist into adulthood

February 5, 2008 - 3:48pm

Interesting ideas presented in this book. I will say that I find it amazing that many major health insurance providers will not fund lap-band surgery today which would save them them thousands of dollars in health care costs associated with obesity (high blood pressure, Diabetes, and many others)

February 5, 2008 - 3:13pm
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