Obesity – NOT an issue of character.

Just read this report from NPR Health and my head almost exploded.

“Physicians need to tell more overweight and obese patients that they are overweight,” the authors of the second study say. “This may help encourage them to change their behavior to lose weight and lower their risk for many diseases.” http://n.pr/eJ0mGR

My question is, what is “change their behavior”? This seems to be referring to the (#untrue) assumption that it’s simply a person’s willpower that is lacking if they are overweight. It pays no attention to the hormonal and chemical imbalances that CAUSE people to want to eat more (because extra energy is being stored as fat and NOT being used by the body). Yes, the law of thermodynamics applies (#conservationofenergy), but it is a SYMPTOM of obesity, not a CAUSE.

It’s time to stop thinking of weight gain/loss as a simple Calories In/ Calories Out equation. These two sources are not independent of each other, they are CONNECTED.  When we exercise more, our bodies want more food.  When we reduce food, are bodies don’t want to move as much so that they conserve energy (clever devils).  So how exactly is someone supposed to, by shear will-power, do both of these at the same time?!

66% of Americans are overweight or obese. Doesn’t it seem just a little bit beyond credulity that 2/3 of us just don’t have the strength of character to be healthy?  #questioncommonknowledge


2 thoughts on “Obesity – NOT an issue of character.

  1. Marshall

    I think you raise some good points here. On the other hand, I do think that the obesity problem, on the scale it has become in America, is largely due to behavior. Perhaps even more so, it’s due to our need to have instant results.

    It takes incredible willpower (I believe it’s beyond the threshold of what most people have) to lose a lot of weight. However, weight loss programs are almost always geared towards people who are already in a deep hole healthwise, and they almost always offer a plan to get out of that whole quickly. Once you’re in a hole that deep, it’s hard enough to get out without having to do it all in 12 weeks (or less). On the other hand, if more our of shape people took a long view and just made very small changes, I think we’d start to see progress against the obesity epidemic. For example, replacing soda with water or packing a lunch instead of fast food won’t likely get you six-pack abs in a month, but it can make a big difference over the long haul.

    I’d like to see more books touting a 12-month plan to lose 10 pounds.

    1. Matt Post author

      I agree! Results quickly earned are quickly lost again. We see this all the time on programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. Yes, it is important for people to start making lifestyle changes – I was more upset at the thought of a bunch of doctors simply telling patients to: “eat less, workout more” without explaining the complexity of the situation and helping them to get sustainable results.

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