Saturday, August 21, 2010

obesity

yes, it's what you do or don't do with your time, money, and mouth. yes, there are many options available and many influences that often direct your time, money, and mouth away from healthier choices. but...can society, politics, and the private sector work together to reverse the trend toward obesity in america effectively? can it, or should it? two separate questions. of course, if you believe as i do, that we're all in this together - we healthy people pay for the choices of others even by our own private health insurance, and even life insurance, policy premiums because of demographic statistics that are actuarialized to determine rates. furthermore, any public health costs are escalated to bank-busting levels by choices made, and fostered, by the many systems in our society.

this article in the Times addresses the possibility that the public and private sectors could re-tool themselves to improve our diet and our physical activity habits. it's by no means comprehensive in this endeavor but it's a start in getting folks thinking that maybe there are things that can, someday, be done to reverse the slide into obesification: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/business/22stream.html?ref=health

2 comments:

  1. as a person who suffers from the opposite problem, i think the we have to help each other. we weren't meant to do everything on our own. lets use "news" and publications to promote health and positive body image/strength...not negativity. thanks.

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  2. i concur. the issue with obesity as a public health matter has brought to the forefront the many layers of responsibility for how we handle it as a society.

    there are some - i won't categorize them as politically aligned with one or the other party but you will get my drift - who believe it's a matter of personal responsibility. and i do believe at some point in everyone's life, we must assume that responsibility to the extent we can. but, no one is born an obese adult. in other words, various influences, some likely in utero, some surely in genetics, but more definitely in the household in which you're raised, factor into one's body size and image. in other words, way before you can even hold your head up straight, you are being influenced in how to live your life so far as your body is concerned. did your parents carry you everywhere or did they make you walk? right there, you've been directed away from or toward independence...and activity. did your mom over manage your food intake or allow you to eat ad lib? whichever, but your psyche has been influenced way before you could articulate to your future therapist the details of your upbringing. as such you are not totally responsible for your psychic health.

    society, too, contributes and there's more than enough ammo for that argument. capitalism, by its very nature, encourages salesmanship, and rewards it with promotions, bonuses, etc. so, watching tv as a kid is one thing; desiring the junk that's advertised is another; getting your mom to buy it is a third; and eating it is....your choice. no - not really, not as a kid. but at some point, yes it is.

    now there are indeed physiological and metabolic effects from the lifestyles we've had imposed on us early on. obese kids are not big on movement/activity/exercise; they desire calories, typically fat and sugar calories; and they may in fact process these less efficiently than non-obese kids. it would require more than kid-size will power to alter that formula. but if the kid grows up, barring severe emotional disorders, he can start making changes in his life by making choices for his life.

    so, again, what role does society and the marketplace have in supporting healthy lifestyle choices? as a liberal exercise pro, i'd say a large one: more sidewalks, no busing so kids have to walk or bike to the local school (with substantial security provided in areas where this increases risk of danger), no ads for unhealthy foods before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. - when kids are most apt to be watching tv, less hi fructose corn syrup and other sweetening additives, no trans fats in foods, etc etc. and the print, film, and video media should be held to the fire too. there's no need for all movie stars and pop singers to have to be rail thin just to save them from the 10# gain that film produces. likewise, models should be able to wear clothes the way people should wear them - with enough size and muscle, and even fat, to look human, not photo shopped.

    in other words, it's in our nation's and our species' interest to get a grip and get everyone involved, not in making you feel good about your body - that's too much to ask from others; but in making sure you don't feel any worse about it than your parents or some other caregiver (think: religious leader) made you feel before you were able to take full responsibility for your life.

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Dr.Irv