Every day, in almost every way, overweight and obese people are the scape goat for all of society's ills, evils, failures, and problems. News reports show us "fat porn", with close up shots of big butts, bulging bellies, thunder thighs, and triple chins. Hands lifting oversized, greasy everything to hungry mouths, slurping the 64 ouncer soft drink. Those people.
Maybe you are one of them, and you are probably kind of tired of all this bullshit.
I am not going to suggest that being obese is good for your health, but not all obese people are unhealthy in other ways. There are plenty of slimmer people that also have self inflicted health problems from abusing drugs, alcohol, sugars, stimulants, diet products, pain pills, cigarettes. There are plenty of athletic people who drive up health care costs from their sports injuries and replacement joints. I also know that plenty of skinny people are mentally unstable and emotionally abusive to others, preening on their self congratulations. Their bio chemistry is different from mine. I don't want to be that way.
It is true that overweight issues typically stem from a few different things:
1) Not enough activity compared to food intake, but more specifically carbohydrate, sugar and alcohol intake. If you aren't moving around all day, or sweating it off in exercise, you will gain weight. Some of us are very efficient at turning those calories into storage fat. That is genetic, and much harder to overcome. Not impossible, just how it is. These same people would most likely be able to do lots of physical labor, and withstand longer periods of famine. They don't need to keep eating all day to survive, but the ingrained, hardwired, genetic predisposition to "gather nuts for winter storage" is always on.
2) Constant stress. I don't know too many people who aren't stressed out, due to family life, work life, relationships, children, not having relationships and children, not having work, chronic pain, etc. Now, on top of it, as a fat person, everyone gets to see "your problem" whether you like it or not, and you have become the target of politicians, comedians, the evening News, medical doctors, the fashion industry, pharmacy and insurance specialists. How does this not add on stress? Most people eat to relieve stress, especially if exercise has always been physically painful or exhausting. Always hearing about how "you just need to do...." is a constant reminder from the world that you are not acceptable. Maybe being overweight is a hardship. Mostly, it's a hardship on the person being overweight.
3) Hormones hormones hormones. Estrogens make fat. They also help with reproduction, but they are designed to help store fat- which makes for craving more carbohydrates. This is true of men as well as women. Some people make more estrogen than others, naturally, and some make more of the fat building variety, by nature. This is very hard to control, and requires avoiding almost all extra sugars, alcohols and starches. It gets worse as you get older. Environmental and dietary toxicity from estrogens (in dairy products, farmed animals, plastics, pesticides, solvents, household cleaning products) increase estrogen load (but cannot be measured very well) and store in fat tissue. If your body can't clear it (needs vitamins, minerals, enzymes, liver support), it will store it as fat. Everything your body can't get rid of gets stored in fat and bones, and it's very hard to eliminate. We accumulate a lot in our life, our food, water and air supply are contaminated. Some of us absorb this more than others. Thyroid hormones are also affected by the stress and high estrogens.
4) Unrealistic expectations. How can we expect to keep our weight down when we have long work hours, lots of driving, labor saving devices, and an unlimited calorie supply? We barely break a sweat, we barely shiver off the cold, we don't chop our own wood, we don't carry our own water, we hardly ever go without a meal. Now, we barely have to prepare or chew any of our own food, and there is nothing to block the steady stream of calories into our blood stream. Our genes haven't changed in 1000s of years, but our environment has done a 180 in the last century.
Meanwhile, everyone keeps saying that obesity is a drain on our economy (like the smokers used to be, but they have mostly quit, some have gotten fat from eating instead). Let's consider this:
1) They eat more food, they consume more beverages, they wear out clothes and shoes more often. That means spending more and keeping more businesses afloat.
2) Not sure if they require more doctor visits, because some are very health conscious, and some are not. Their need for pharmaceutical intervention keeps people who sell insurance, drugs, medical equipment and health care busy. I am pretty sure that they work hard and earn their insurance.
3) They do actually join gyms, they do actually try weight loss plans, they do actually consume diet products and healthy choices. However, some of this stuff doesn't work. Especially when the food industry doesn't have to be accountable for the kinds of garbage they put in food. Sugars are highly addictive, like cocaine and nicotine, and they are unregulated. Diet sodas and products are highly addictive, compulsive eating stimulators. They turn off self control. Excessive exercise without a good meal plan contributes to fatigue, overeating, and injuries- which lead to not moving around too much. Hmmm.
4) Studies show that "low self control" over diet plans has as much to do with the families, friends and work environments (with all those baked goods) pushing bad food on people as the person's individual will. If you want to be supportive, be supportive. Not a nag, not a tease, not a bully. Just supportive.
5) They are real people, one in two to one in three, who are not inherently more flawed than anyone else. With patience, diligence, and compassion, a person with overweight can be guided to make choices that work for their lives and their bodies. Shame, humiliation and excessive taxes are not the way to go.
Do we need to stop subsidizing poor health choices? Maybe, maybe not, but we already do in the way our farming and food industry is paid off by big oil and big pharma and big chem. We already do when we allow tons of toxic substances into our environment. We already do when we let industrial pharmacy and agriculture write our health care bills. We already do when we'd rather not pay for school health plans, physical education and good nutrition for the young- and then blast them and their parents for not knowing any better. All of us need to be our own best self advocate, but that is not enough. We need to help each other and stop pointing fingers. Of course, picking better choices means having them available, affordable, easily acquired and knowing what they are. You can thank the advertising industry for making sure we don't.