You probably saw that the AMA recently decided to categorize Obesity as a disease.
I have no idea how so many intelligent, highly educated people can be so obstinate in the face of things like data and research. Obesity is a symptom.
Last week I read this amazing article about obesity. The beginning of the article overviews the current thinking about weight issues, summarizing it this way:
And so we appear to have a public consensus that excess body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or above) and obesity (BMI of 30 or above) are consequences of individual choice.
Then the author starts to talk about reasons why that isn’t likely and some facts that the media hasn’t bothered to mention.
Did you know that America has fat marmosets? Really. While people have been gaining weight the marmoset population has gained 9% every decade. Are they watching too much tv and eating too many Snickers bars? Less amusing, but considerably more disturbing is that fact that laboratory animals, who are monitored and weighed and measured and have every morsel they eat strictly accounted for and every lap on their exercise wheels strictly documented, are getting fat too.
…lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.
Didn’t see that in Time magazine, did you?
The author quotes a number of findings from Jonathan C K Wells, professor of child nutrition at University College London that fail to support the thermodynamic model of obesity (calories in, calories out). Much of that research supports the epigenetic ideas that our environment is completely changing how our bodies handle things, not just candy, but stress, pollution, air conditioning, all sorts of things that are relatively new in our environments, biologically speaking.
…the line of reasoning is not that stress causes you to eat more, but rather that it causes you to gain weight by directly altering the activities of your cells.
Then there are the studies that show the effect of ‘obesigen’ chemicals. Or the effect of all manner of chemicals and environmental factors on a developing fetus. How about some well designed studies on the effects of electric lights and temperature controls on bodies that may need more of a challenge? What about a virus well known to cause weight gain in a number of species, but of course can’t ethically be tested on humans so is considered ‘unlikely’ by those who want to assign blame.
The author ends with this conclusion:
Today’s priests of obesity prevention proclaim with confidence and authority that they have the answer. So did Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s, when he blamed autism on mothers with cold personalities. So, for that matter, did the clerics of 18th-century Lisbon, who blamed earthquakes on people’s sinful ways. History is not kind to authorities whose mistaken dogmas cause unnecessary suffering and pointless effort, while ignoring the real causes of trouble. And the history of the obesity era has yet to be written.
Yes, I’d like to see a lot more study and a lot less victim blaming. There is a lot of science out there that shows it is not a simple issue. I’m not saying that cutting down on soda and donuts and occasionally going for a walk can’t make a difference. But when making simple sensible changes don’t make a difference? Let’s not assume it’s a personal and moral failing.
If it was truly easy, everyone would already be doing it.