Obesity: New Age Smoking
Living standards were quite different during the medieval times. Showering on a daily basis? Nope.
Surviving the common cold? Nope
Texting your friend about Donald Trump denying Covid exists? Nope(although this is probably a positive)
Being skinny is a sign of beauty, and success? Nope
Wait hold on, being skinny wasn’t the desired and acclaimed body type the way it is today? Not at all, being fat, or using political correctness, being overweight, was actually a sign of power, and prestige as only the rich had enough food to actually be overweight. Following this timeline, the industrial revolution began in 1760, eventually leading to food being produced in abundance. People living during the medieval times would never have been able to predict that in a few hundred years, obesity would actually be the leading cause of death in Americans (and many other developed countries). This abundance of food, and more specifically processed and fast food, has lead to an obesity pandemic, one of gigantic proportions (pun intended). So to me, this begs the question “Why aren’t we doing more about it?” When cigarettes were consumed like candy and then everyone found out they were horrible to consume, people eventually started shaming their friends and family for smoking. This, on top of mass marketing from the government to get people to quit has led to significant reductions in smoking.
Yeah everyone knows that being overweight is bad, but I feel there’s not enough being done about it. Smoking was killing people but also costing the government a ton of money through the hospitalization costs of caring for so many people. Smoking is bad for you, it increases your chances of developing lung cancer, having a stroke, increases your risk of getting coronary heart disease etc. Obesity on the other hand increases your chances of: all causes of death, sleep apnea, strokes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, high blood pressure etc. Its evident that being obese is unhealthy, what’s not clear enough is the social pressures we’re doing to stop it.
I think we went wrong during the age of fat shaming. During this time, overweight people were(and still are but it’s not socially acceptable) teased and made fun of for being overweight. With this came a strong movement not to body shame individuals based on their weight or the way they look, something I agree with 100%. A biproduct of this though, has been that we’re so scared to speak up regarding someone’s weight. I don’t see enough people (myself included) trying to educate and motivate others to lose weight or even simply eat healthier (this applies to people in a healthy weight category but eat like shit). Yes, there needs to be broader sweeping changes with respect to education around food, exercise and information on things like sugar, carbs and how they interact with our bodies. But these are big changes that require the public to demand from our government’s, macro changes that won’t come about until we start micro changes.
My intuition tells me, conversations regarding the foods we consume, how active we are being and the dangers of being overweight need to be talked about more between friends, families and colleagues. Similar to how we hold our friends accountable if they’re smoking consistently, we need to hold our friends accountable if their eating fast food everyday, or not getting enough exercise.
I don’t believe in ever body shaming someone who is overweight due to the physical aesthetic, but mentioning that losing weight will
- improve their quality of life,
- statistically set them up to live longer
- reduce their medical bills
- increase their productivity
can’t be such a bad thing can it? Let me know what you think!