The biggest problem for the American people is that we are growing. Nearly two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese. Although it is seldom a hereditary problem, obese adults tend to have overweight or obese children. It’s a serious health problem, and it’s not getting better. There are many treatments available, but statistics prove that they have limited success. Questions remain, but answers for long term results are few.
The American Diabetes Association continues to maintain that proper eating and a more physical regimen will slowly reverse obesity. The organization is adamant that Americans need to eat healthier foods, prepared at home, and consume smaller portions. Coupled with a less sedentary existence, and a simple exercise program, such as walking several miles each day, will create a lifestyle which will be effective in maintaining weight, and then begin a slow but safe process of losing body fat.
Not everyone agrees with this solution. Psychiatrist Doctor Christopher Ochner, PhD is a member of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He does not believe that diet and exercise alone will solve the epidemic. He alleges that medication, surgery, or a vagal-nerve blockade may help in many cases.
I do not know Dr. Ochner’s age. I do know that he is a member of a misguided group who label obesity as a disease. Obesity is a condition which is created by the individual. It becomes a lifestyle choice. When the media began a campaign to suggest that “plus-size people should be accepted for who they are,” they enacted a false sense of security within millions of people whose health and even lives are threatened by overweight and obesity. This is in no way an article which is bigoted suggesting that overweight individuals are unacceptable in our society; it is exactly the opposite. I want everyone to enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives. I don’t want to see anyone suffer from a debilitating disease or die years before their normal life expectancy due to excessive weight gain.
When any person’s body weight is 30, 40, 50 percent or more above the norm for their age, they are inviting a multitude of physical problems and diseases which are weight related. Unnecessary weight results in back and joint problems. It is the major cause of type two diabetes, and a major contributor to heart disease.
Fifty years ago, obesity was seldom discussed. When I was in school there may have been one or two of my classmates who were overweight. The majority of them suffered a medical condition. I, among many others was considered ‘skinny.’ The reasons for the difference then and now are far simpler than medical science will admit. For many of them it’s just another business avenue.
Our diets would not be considered the healthiest by any standards. However, there were no ‘fast food joints.’ We ate breakfast and dinner at home, prepared by our mothers from scratch; no ‘take-out’ and no ‘pre-prepared’ food. Lunch was packed in a brown paper bag by our mothers and usually consisted of a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and possibly Hostess cupcakes. We were given money to purchase a small carton of milk. We did not snack between meals, and ‘sodas’ were for special occasions; milk or water were the liquids we were given. And no excuses that mothers work; my mother was a single parent and worked six days a week.
There was no need for exercise. There was television but no computers or smartphones, and therefore no video games or time-wasting ‘sites’ such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; and no incessant texting. What did we do? We actually knew how to have fun. We walked or bicycled everywhere. When we arrived at a friend’s house, or a baseball field, a basketball court, or an open field where we could play football or any other form of physical endeavor, we played until we were ordered home by our parents. We ‘exercised’ four or five hours every day, and eight to ten on weekends.
Regardless of what some medical professionals claim, diet and exercise will always remain the answer. The proof is in the tales of those who gradually changed their lifestyles today.
Commentary by James Turnage