Obesity: A Health crisis or a moral one? | INFJ Forum

Obesity: A Health crisis or a moral one?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Quinlan, Aug 4, 2009.

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  1. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    This is an interesting interview with Paul Campos, author of "The Obesity Myth".

    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/americas_moral_panic_over_obes.php

    He makes some interesting points:

    What do you think?
     
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    #1 Quinlan, Aug 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
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  2. mallory knox

    mallory knox Community Member

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    I am not a health professional but I agree with most of it, I wouldn
     
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  3. bamf

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    I think being significantly overweight and obesity are a problem, but I agree with the author that it's not as huge of a threat as we make it.

    The fact of the matter remains however that people are heavier and more people are gaining more weight faster than have previous generations of people. This is a health concern. Being significantly overweight or even obese is unhealthy. It puts undo stress on the immune system, cardiovascular system, and skeletal system just to name a few.

    With that being said, making everyone thin (which is probably impossible) wouldn't solve the problem. Dramatic weightloss is dangerous, no matter how much a person weighs. Weight loss should be done gradually, and through fitness and healthier eating choices, not diets.

    People have to realize not everyone is made to weigh the same. We are genetically different and there will be frail and skinny people and big and somewhat heavy people who both are healthy. Not every fat person is unhealthy and not every skinny person is physically fit. There are a number of factors that determine our "natural" weight including heredity, genetics, and metabolism.

    Dieting (as in eating less, not eating healthier) is usually followed by binging and weight gain. A lot of diets fail in the long run and can actually be very unhealthy. A "diet" for one 300lbs person could be completely wrong for another 300lbs person. Dieting doesn't change genetics or metabolism.

    If people made healthier eating choices, exercised moderately, and realized that some people are naturally larger than others and are still healthy, the whole obesity craze might be over.
     
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    #3 bamf, Aug 4, 2009
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  4. mallory knox

    mallory knox Community Member

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    I agree, and agree with the kerouac quote too...
     
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  5. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    I think any focus on weight is counter-productive, as it leads to otherwise healthy people in the overweight and obese weight range to damage their health (through dieting) and it gives a false sense of security to unhealthy people in the "healthy" weight range.

    How often do you hear people say " I can eat all I want and still stay trim because I have a fast metabolism"? These people could very well be killing their organs with internal fat but because they're skinny on the outside they think they're perfect.

    The goal is obviously health and wellbeing, but the way of getting there is through good eating and exercise regardless of whether you lose weight or not. Weight should be removed from the equation entirely, people of all sizes should look after themselves and can live healthy lives. The focus on weight rather than overall health and wellbeing, is discouraging, unrealistic and leads to damaging behaviour.
     
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  6. BenW

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    The BMI is complete bullshit right off the bat, it was never intended to be used for what it currently is.
    So, yeah.
     
  7. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    What about diabetes, heart disease, etc? How can being obese not be unhealthy?
     
  8. bamf

    bamf Is Watching You
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    Yeah, this is what I was thinking too on top of my post.

    Being overweight/obese can be dangerous and decremental to a person's health (but by no means does this apply to everyone, people are naturally all different sizes).
     
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    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Correlation is not causation.

    What we do know is that if an obese person eats right and exercises often then they are less likely to be afflicted by those illnesses than a "normal" weight person who doesn't.

    http://www.bigfatfacts.com/

    Therefore it is entirely possible for an obese person to exercise and eat well and live a long, healthy and happy life.
     
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  10. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Not exercising and eating right is what is dangerously unhealthy and that can be done by anyone of any size.
     
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  11. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    Absolutely agree. Fat "prejudice" also does a number on the significantly overweight too. It is possible to be fat and fit, and it is possible to be thin and sick. I can't remember if I saw it on Dateline or another news show, but several years ago they featured a marathon runner who would be considered "obese" to "morbidly obese" but this fellow was 100% healthy. He ate healthy foods, trained well, and ran every day. But he had to be nearly 280. But his doctor did every test and he didn't have high cholesterol or any hint of heart disease.

    The truth is, health can only be measured by the individual. Are you physically healthy? Are you active enough to do everything you want and need to do? If yes, then the scale doesn't really matter. Sumo wrestlers are morbidly obese, but they're extremely healthy folks. But when they *stop* training, they can sometimes run into many weight related issues.

    Determining fitness based on appearance is prejudicial. But judging based on lifestyle makes more sense. There has to be a balance in everything we do, whether thin or fat. Everyone needs a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and limiting processed foods is really the healthiest option for everyone, regardless of size or shape. But to really know how healthy you should be, it's best to visit a doctor regularly and visit with a nutritionist to know what's best for your own body. We're all different, and it would stand to reason that we all have different health needs.

    I actually had started a thread similar to this a bit ago - with a different question. But I was looking for a similar discussion.
     
    #11 arbygil, Aug 5, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
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  12. Azure_Knight

    Azure_Knight Community Member

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    Obesity is a health crisis; but it is not the only one, nor is it limited to a crisis of health. Obesity is as much a social problem as it is with health: how many fast food restaurants do you pass by when you drive to work (or anywhere else for that matter)? Bringing children up with the garbage that they serve instead of proportioned, healthy meals is one of the problems. Another is the selection of food by both children/parents. While genetics may play a role in obesity, I think that the majority of the obese population is not there because of only genetics. It has a great deal to do with choices and personal responsibility.

    You could look at obesity as a moral choice, but there are limits to it. What if someone is obese because of their genetics? Aren't you discriminating against someone for a reason that they cannot help? I do think that it is morally wrong though if there are a few people who are being well fed while the rest of the country is literally starving. To a much lesser extent, I think that it is also wrong to not take care of your body (such as by eating too much). But that is a personal belief; as long as the person isn't wasting food (by eating two bites of everything and throwing the rest away), then I personally wouldn't say anything. It's their choice.

    It may sound odd, but the situations surrounding what is perceived as excess is more important to me than the excess itself (in most cases).
     
    #12 Azure_Knight, Aug 5, 2009
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  13. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    Agreed, Azure_Knight.

    Something else to consider: Although it's not quite been proven, I think there's a link between extreme obesity and poorer states in the United States. When you're poor, you discover that processed foods are cheaper than real (whole) foods. It's cheaper to buy a month's worth of macaroni and processed cheese food and butter and milk and cheap cereal than it is to buy fruits, veggies, whole grains, organic meats, fish, and olive oil. I really do think there's a direct correlation between obesity and poverty in the United States.

    Now, for the middle and upper class, I think other reasons may also come into play. But there are no simple answers.

    There are many reasons for obesity, and the answers might not be as simple for an individual as "diet and exercise." I've seen many obese people try and fail diets multiple times - and their defeat is not for lack of trying or laziness, I can tell you that much.
     
  14. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Weight is an unnessary part of the equation here, those issues are concerning regardless of how fat the individuals are! If everyone was skinny but with clogged arteries would the health issue suddenly disappear? Weight doesn't even need to be considered.

    This is yet to be proved, we don't have the knowledge to even try and understand the size of the genetic, social and economic mountains these people have to climb, starvation is a proven weightloss treatment, but everyone's will has a breaking point. You can never know untill you're in their shoes how high their mountain is to climb. You can make all the best choices and be completely responsible and live a happy lide and still be obese.

    Unhealthy living is the problem, and people of everysize can live unhealthy lives. By focusing on Obesity we just make scapegoats, and excuse the behaviour of the unhealthy people of all the other sizes.

    People of all sizes can eat too much, just because some have fast metabolisms doesn't mean they aren't still abusing their organs internally.
     
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  15. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    And why do they give up? Because their goal is not health it's weight loss, because people are told you can't be big and healthy as well, when they fail to lose weight they give up, what they don't realise is that just because they aren't losing weight doesn't mean that they aren't dramatically improving their health on the inside.

    The obsession on weight distracts and discourages people from the goal of overall good health.
     
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  16. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    I absolutely agree.

    Add to that another thing: You don't need to kill yourself to be healthy. Walking thirty minutes a day or twenty a day can add to one's overall health.
    It's actually dangerous to have people over exert themselves too quickly. Dangerous, and a little pointless. If exercise is too painful, you're not going to continue it. Why not start out with yoga and healthy walking and stretching exercises, and then when you get a bit more energy try increasing the exercise regimen, if it's something you're shooting for. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were Romanesque bodies.
     
  17. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    While I agree that body shapes confound the problem of defining obesity, I still think obesity is a growing problem in this country. Just because a person is fat does not mean they are less healthy than the general population, but the probability is that they are. Simply taking a walk through the local grocery store tells me how bad the problem of obesity is getting in this country. I'm by no means innocent as I'm in perhaps the worst physical shape of my life at present but I do think people have an individual duty to look out for their own well being and health.
     
    #17 Satya, Aug 5, 2009
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  18. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    I don't think anyone's arguing against taking care of oneself, Satya, but the answer might not be as easy as "eat that, don't eat that, do this exercise, don't do that exercise." Everyone seems to have an idea of what "health" is, and everyone seems to have an answer...but if the same answer worked for every person, we wouldn't have obesity in this country. Some studies suggest that merely dieting can cause obesity (site third party, Slate Magazine, July 4, 2007), and when people were followed for an extended period of time after a significant weight loss, it was found that an overwhelmingly large percentage (95% or more) gained all their weight back, and then some. Diet and exercise are part of the solution, yes. But I think what needs to change is the approach itself.

    What if we told folks that nothing is forbidden, as long as they added fruits and vegetables and whole foods into their diets? What if they were told that they could choose any exercise they wanted, and that it was a choice - and that if they skipped a day it was okay to do so? What if they had the freedom to own their bodies? What if they were told it's okay to be the person you are now, and you'll still be the person inside whether they're fat or thin?

    What if thinking changed? What if they loved themselves enough to treat their bodies with respect now, and not their future selves?

    Obesity, in my opinion, is more of a mind issue than a body issue. We self-sabotage because we think we're unworthy fat and we'll only be worthy thin. So if we're worthless now, we're going to treat ourselves as worthless and continually have a bad self-image. And it doesn't help when society continually tells us that we're "bad" or "lazy" or (god forbid) "American" if we don't lose weight.

    This is what needs to happen in the United States for weight loss to be successful.

    1. Americans need to stop being schizophrenic. We adhere to the Adonis ideal, but we have a MacDonalds on every corner. What's up with that? Let's kill the Ideal American Figure and see each other as ordinary. And then lets bulldoze or destroy one fast food chain for every ten miles of city (and replace it with a health food store!)

    2. Exercise needs to be seen as a pleasure, not a punishment. We don't need to jog to be healthy, we can walk. We can do yoga. We can even meditate to keep our stress levels down.

    3. Food needs to be viewed as food, not as a reward or a punishment.

    4. Organic and whole, "real" foods need to be the same prices as processed junk, and processed junk should be taxed like cigarettes and booze.

    5. Reward companies for making healthier food distribution choices (tax breaks, etc)

    6. Clean up the environment so the foods we *Do* consume from the land have the most nutrients possible.

    7. Start by making little changes, every day, with food choices and exercise choices. Make strides to enjoy who you are. Don't punish yourself because you're not someone else.

    And so on, and so forth.

    I could go on and on about this, but I'm going to stop now. All I'm saying is, it's not an easy answer. There are several key factors, and it's all intertwined with so many, many things. I know I was healthier in England because I walked everywhere, and because the food (at the time) had far fewer additives than American food has.

    The American lifestyle is conducive to weight gain. Ask anyone who comes here from another country. But is it food quality, exercises quantity, genetics, or a combo of factors? That's the question we have to ask ourselves individually.
     
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  19. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Is obesity the problem or is bad health the problem? Is the slight creep of average weight over an arbitrary line a problem in itself?

    The general population IS fat!

    Being overweight is ideal in terms of life expectancy, obese and "normal/healthy" are equal and underweight people have the shortest life expectancy.

    Now you're just heading into the realm of anecdote and personal bias/experience.

    Does this not apply to people of ALL shapes and sizes? So why the obsession with the obese? You can be obese and still be looking after your well being and health (although fat hysteria makes wellbeing a heck of a lot harder for these people).
     
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  20. OP
    Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Down the rabbit hole we go:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2006/11/obesity-paradox-1.html

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2006/12/obesity-paradox-2-how-can-it-be.html

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2009/06/figure-flaw-paradox-does-it-really.html[FONT=&quot]

    [/FONT]

    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/533543/?sc=dwhn
     
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    #20 Quinlan, Aug 5, 2009
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