Every day we are bombarded with media messages about the “obesity epidemic”.
The AP puts a new story on its wires and TV newswriters ends up “rewriting” the wire copy for broadcast, so the propaganda ends up in our living rooms.
Who is distributing the Press Release? What is their motive? What have they got to gain by scaring the public into believing we've all got one foot in the grave? Turns out, a lot of folks have a lot of money to gain.
In 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO), officially declared obesity a disease. You can not declare something a disease unless it's widespread and statistics back it up. Recently, we have seen how the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) advised inflating those numbers. The CDC was able to receive about $ 40 million dollars a year allocated towards obesity based on their previous numbers.
In 1993, a study by McGinnis & William Foege, MD published in JAMA estimated that the most prominent contributors to mortality in the US were, in order, tobacco, diet and activity patterns, alcohol, microbrial agents, toxic agents and firearms with “dietary patterns and sedentary lifestyle being the most common source of unnecessary death and disease among Americans “.
That was 18 years ago. Almost two decades. Yet, we keep getting told the same information as if it's new. They want us to believe that obesity has surpassed tobacco deaths. Maybe the people who quit smoking started eating.
Although, the alarming number of deaths due to obesity that Foege quoted back then were the same wrong numbers derived from the CDC.
Obesity programs are funded primarily by the National Center for Chronic Disease and Prevention. There's that word “disease” again. The budget? $ 747,472,000.
Turns out, a lot of folks want to get their hands on that money under the guise of conducting “obesity research”. The Medicaid Obesity Treatment Act of '01 required medicare prescription drug coverage to cover drugs medically necessary to cover obesity.
By declaring obesity a disease many unhealthy strategies for weight loss (stomach stapling, liposuction, diet pills, body wraps, herbal remedies, etc.) for weight loss might become warranted. Doctors could justifiably use these treatments and feel confident that they are improving the client's health simply by decreasing his or her weight.
Pharmaceutical companies would be able to market their quick fix pills and quacks could promote radical diets that promote fast weight loss. It must be emphasized that the effect of these treatments would only be temporary since they do not address long term behavior change, such as lifetime physical activity and improved dietary habits. In addition, even if weight loss is achieved and maintained there is no guarantee that it will be accompanied with health benefits.
It's bureaucracy growing in inverse proportion to its effectiveness. It can justify more government taxation under the guise of “tax policy as a social engineering tool”. There are so many special interest groups that want us to buy into the obesity epidemic because under their insatiable search for funding. When the truly obse do not respond to their efforts – then they go after the mainstream. More numbers enable them to justify their perpetual fundraising efforts.
The so-called obesity epidemic rises in revenue. In order for these organizations to keep the money rolling in they have to expand the nation guilty trip and falsify numbers. The motive is money. Plain and simple.
Foundations redirect their funding when a new disease pops up. Millions of dollars in grants have been awarded under the “obesity epidemic” war. There's some obese person out there somewhere who seriously needs help and does not have money, but that person probably never gets help. If these foundations really want to help people, why not make the grant application open to the obese individuals instead of research institutions and organizations that keep getting grants merely to reinforce that a problem exists. That would cost less and help more.
Long-term diet and exercise configurations are the only effective lifestyle changes that affect obesity. It does not take billions of dollars to make people aware of that. Yes, some people have a genetic predisposition towards obesity, but even they can make changes in their eating and activity level. Stop lowering the threshold for who is considered obese, so that more and more people fall into a category so companies can sell more drugs to them. So far, adults, children, elderly and even newborn babies have been included in this ever-expanding “Greed” epidemic.
A lot of wallets are expanding along with the waistlines and consumers need to be wary of studies and research reports that keep reinforcing the same ol ', same' ol with a new twist. The new twist is usually a result of some people sitting in a room saying, “We have to figure out to get more money” from this.
How does telling you you're fat get them more money? Because then you go to the doctor and ask for help. He recommends drugs or surgery. Fast food? The government puts another “sin tax” on it. What's next? A “sin tax” for computers and televisions because afterall, they do contribute to inactivity. Let's not forget the lawyers who benefitted from tobacco settlements who would love to go after another big industry as well.
Today's administration has made fighting obesity a priority. Media has applauded this initiative showing images of Michelle at the local market in Washington, DC gathering fresh fruits and veggies for her family. All Americans want to be healthy. Programs are begin with the end in mind. The questions journalists need to be asking and watching are 1) How much is raised in this program? 2) Where does it end up? and most importantly 3) How many people has it helped? If these items are not reviewed and history is any indicator, the ones being helped are politicians. It's not enough to view images or see Public Service Announcements. What percentage of money raised for these programs actually help people?
If nutrition and physical activity are the cure, and everyone knows that already –then is it possible that people who are sedentary and eating unhealthy are doing so by choice? If so, is it the government's place to take that right away from people? It's not. What the government CAN do is assure that healthy, low-calorie foods are readily available. The Farm Bill should be reviewed as this provides an incentive for fattening foods to be highly accessible.
The New York Times did a series asking why healthy food is so expensive. I recommend everyone read that. The truth is it is expensive to eat healthy and cheaper to eat fast food. There are additives in fast food and colas that are addictive, which make it a vicious cycle.
Public awareness and education are great, but they can only go so far as we see from the past. I had a health class in grade school as well as a physical education class. My parents packed a healthy lunch into a brown paper bag. My snack was an apple. I recall looking at everyone else's lunch and they all had healthy food too, except for one girl. She had dozens of meatballs and pasta drowned in sauce and yodels, ding-dings and devil dogs are her snack. She was obese. When I get through eating my lunch, I jumped rope with my classmates in the lunchroom. The girl who ate the meatballs did not participate. She stayed at the table. In hindsight, I now realize she was probably in a food coma.
Today, cafeterias serve kids lunch and I see a lot of fried foods, pizza and low-cost, high caloric items on those menus. There are organizations trying to improve those choices, but I wonder when the choice got out of parental hands and placed into the school's hands. No child should go to school on an empty stomach or without having lunch, but this responsibility is with the parent. I remember the cafeteria in my high school and boy oh boy were the food choices unhealthy. They may as well have served up Clogged Arteries, High Blood Pressure and Heart Attack on the menu. Everything was fried –even the bran muffins which were the closest thing to a healthy choice, but they drowned the muffins in butter. I recall they were sliced in the middle with the mound of butter thickly spread on the inside. In case you missed the butter in the middle, they fired it on top of the bran muffin too.
Today, I hope parents with children in grade school, high school or even college take a look at what is being served in the school's cafeteria. You are paying to educate your children. Health and fitness are part of education. If your kid goes to public school, you should still take a look at what is being served in the cafeteria. If there are no healthy choices –talk to your children about bringing their own lunch from home. If the lunch at school is free but unhealthy –it's not really free when someone gets physically sick later in life because of poor habits formed early on in life.
If parents can not afford to feed their children – what does that say about the state of the economy? We fail our children when we fail the parents.
Once parents are aware and educated, the next step is an economic one; make healthy food affordable for everyone in the world. Fitness is free to everyone in the world. Everyone can walk. Get up right now and walk around whatever room you're in. Pacing counts. Stretch. That's free too. You do not need to think it's hard or that you need to see results immediately. Aim for seeing them each year. Make a commitment first. Follow that commitment up with daily action. It's like anything else you want in your life. People who want things fast and easy lose in the end. Anything fast ends with a crash. You have to review history to see truth behind what at first glance appears desirable.
Since fitness is a lifelong habit, physical education in grade school, high schools and colleges are vital. Habits are being formed then. I still do exercises I learned in high school gym class. Yes, I hated gym class but I learned valuable tools in staying fit. Again, it's never about doing something fast, drastic or extreme. It's about daily healthy habits.
The two components making people otherwise healthy individuals obese are their food choices and their activity level. Anything other than those two things are hogwash and you are being hoodwinked by someone trying to sell you something. Educate yourself by reading about nutrition and fitness. If you can not afford books – go to your local library. Your local library is there for you to use for free. Use it.
After you're educated, start talking to your kids about nutrition and fitness. Go for a family walk after dinner. Try to cook or only purchase healthy meals that are unprocessed each night instead of driving through a fast food restaurant. The government should focus on fixing the economy, and making healthy food more affordable than junk food. If it were –it's served in our schools instead of all the corn based mush served in the past.
We've made strides in those areas through organizations that have been funded through the government, but it's the person who keeps causing you to scrape your knee now handing you a band-aid. How about if the person stops pushing the person?
Take control of your own health and that of your family, so the government stops trying to use your poor choices as a way to help themselves to your hard-earned money. Individuals with a genetic predisposition towards obesity require medical attention. If they can not afford it, that brings us back to the economy.