Obesity means more parents will live to bury their children

Thomas Secrest's picture
Dangers of Obesity
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Lately the government has been much too busy trying to read your SMSs and emails and listen in on your phone calls to actually do something meaningful for the people of this country. Okay, I admit, I’m more than a little upset about the reports of the NSA using my tax dollars to listen to my phone calls in order to protect me from, what I believe, is a grossly inflated risk of terrorism.

Another source of consternation is that so many people view the risk of death from terrorism to be so much greater than the very real risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. The five things I listed are much, much more likely to kill you, or someone you care about, than the terrorist hiding under your bed; and the five I listed are just the tip of the iceberg. While the U.S. has almost unlimited funds for its many wars, regrettably, when it comes to money for medicine, longevity and a good life, we live in austere times.

Are we eating ourselves into an early grave?

It’s not that we don’t know that obesity is a serious health concern; it’s more that we just ignore it. It’s hard not to find something in the news every few days reporting on some new bit of research that has discovered something else bad about being overweight. What’s missing is any type of community effort to deal with the problem. Simply advising people to eat less and exercise more is like fighting poverty by telling people to be less poor. And let’s face it; banning 32 ounce beverages is not the solution, at least not for rational people.

What is BMI?

For starters you need to know your BMI. Yes, I will be the first to admit, that it is not a ‘perfect’ measure of obesity or lack thereof, nonetheless, it is the best, most easily accessible measurement we have and it does serve its purpose pretty well. BMI stands for Body Mass Index and it has been extensively studied and used to correlate your weight and risk of disease. I strongly recommend you visit the Mayo Clinic web site and use their online calculator to determine your BMI, and if you have children, you should get their BMI as well. There is a separate calculator for adults and children.

Are the longevity benefits of modern medicine being offset by obesity?

Apparently, the answer to the above questions is ‘yes.’ In a June 2013 study presented at the American Diabetes Association 2013 Scientific Sessions, Dr. Twig reported his research findings based on a large cohort of Israeli citizens. Because all Israelis have to serve in the military, Dr.Twig had detailed health records that went back decades for 2.16 million people. Dr. Twig examined the records and statistically correlated BMI and death before age 50. The results support many of the studies you have probably heard about. There was a positive correlation between increasing BMI and death

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Their final results were that compared to the normal BMI range, those that were overweight (25 – 29.9) and those that were obese (>30) had a 40% and 88%, respectively, higher risk of death before age 50.

Other studies have shown that childhood obesity is perhaps the worst. Even if the weight returns to normal, which is often very difficult, a considerable amount of damage is done during their child’s obese years; by the time they are adults, the cards for a potentially early death have already been dealt.

Selling a healthy life style

America is a consumer culture and a consumer society. Our economy is built on the principle of consumerism and has been since we outsourced everything in exchange for lower quality and lower prices. A healthy life style is, at its core, about consuming less, consuming smarter (and by this I mean better informed about the foods we eat), and consuming better (higher quality and therefore higher priced items). The business forces aligned against a healthy life style are formidable, which, in theory, is exactly where government is supposed to step in on behalf of the consumer.

America can produce high quality foods, but with millions unemployed and millions more underemployed, most Americans don’t have the discretionary income that allows them to enjoy better, healthier foods. Having financial access to high quality foods, shouldn't be a perk for the economically well off.

Today people scramble about working 2 or 3 jobs, usually at wages that aren't all that fair (relative to the cost of living) and with few or no benefits. Time and money are both luxuries and after the rent, bills and taxes (let’s not forget that through it all we pay taxes), there is precious little of either left for living healthy.

In my opinion, governance in America has reached a dead-end. Congress has become an institution comedian’s use to get laughs. The executive branch has more dirty little secrets than it knows what to do with; and the only thing they both agree on is that we are forever at war and we need to spend every dollar we can print to fight the wars and preserve whatever rights are left after we suspend all the rights that got in the way of fighting the terrorists.

Stress, depression, heart disease, cancer, alcoholism, premature dementia, diabetes and yes, obesity, these are the terrorists; they don't care about your religion or your politics nor do they hate you because you are an American, nonetheless, they will kill you if you turn your back on them.

Parents shouldn't have to bury their children.

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