Sunday, September 03, 2006

Obesity: A Product Of Affluence Or Poverty?

I've got a rather philosophical debate for you today that I have noticed lately in various columns I have read recently about the economic reasons for why obesity exists in the world today. It seems like everyone is TALKING about obesity getting so much worse with very little action being taken to actually DO something about it. Nevertheless, the point I want to make today about the economic causes of obesity warrants further discussion and feedback from you.

Here's the one simple question I have:

Is obesity caused by affluence or poverty?

Think about it for a moment. Especially in countries like the United States of America, widely known as the land of fruit and plenty, our affluence avails us the opportunity to have instant access to just about any kind of food we could possibly want. We don't have to walk for miles to get to our food (although we should to burn off some calories!) or wait in line for hours to purchase our food like people in other countries do. No, we can hop in our cozy cars, drive down one mile to our local grocery or conveniece store, go to the self-checkout, ring ourselves up, swipe a card and be on our merry way with food in hand within minutes. How convenient is that?

Is this kind of easy access to food making us fat?

On the flip side, you've got people who claim that since the poor can't afford to purchase the right kinds of foods because they are allegedly too expensive for them to buy, they make alternate food choices instead. So, what do they end up buying? Usually it's the cheap, high-carb, high-sugar foods with virtually zero nutrtional value whatsoever. UGH! Not surprisingly, a steady diet of this junk food will lead to a rapid increase in weight and health problems down the road. Not good.

Is the inability to afford healthy food making us fat?

I suppose it is possible to have both of these dynamics working simultaneously which is double trouble when it comes to tackling obesity as a societal problem. Government and health leaders need to be aware that it may not be one or the other but quite possibly BOTH. But neither one of these reasons is inescapable because there are ways to prevent obesity from afflicting the rich or the poor.

If the rich are buying food in abundance, then they need to be taught what kinds of foods they NEED to be eating so they can maintain their weight and health. It's definitely not an issue of resources for them, but rather making the right choices about what is needed to live a healthy lifestyle. Most people would envy the position of those with no monetary restrictions, but it does make you wonder what kinds of foods YOU would purchase if money was not an issue.

As for the poor only buying the foods they think they can afford, I can certainly relate to this problem myself as a former 400-pounder in the lower middle class who rationalized buying cheaper foods. Purchasing foods like meats, organic eggs, vegetables, and all those other healthy foods you can and should be enjoying while livin' la vida low-carb can put a real strain on your pocketbook.

However, considering I'm no longer wasting money on fast food, prescription drugs to treat obesity-related health problems, doctor visits, new clothes from the big & tall store because you either ripped the old ones or have become too big for them--NEED I GO ON?!--it's amazing how much more affordable these foods suddenly become as these dollars become available to me to get the good stuff.

We can blame affluence on our obesity and we can point fingers at poverty for increasing our waistlines. But when it comes down to it, the only thing we can blame for ever becoming overweight or obese is ourselves. That's right, it's nobody's fault but your own. You may not want to hear that and probably think that is harsh for someone to say to you, but I say it as someone who has been in the position of being morbidly obese feeling like I didn't have any hope in the world that I would ever be able to climb out of the deep, dark hole I had dug myself.

But I did. And today I am a healthier man because of it.

Right now, put aside the excuses for not living a healthy lifestyle. There's no reason good enough for why you should have to keep on living inside the body of a fat person. YOU SHOULDN'T! Remaining fat is NOT healthier than weight loss, so start eating the way you know you should eat, begin adding physical activity to your daily life where it has probably be nonexistent before, and begin your exciting new journey towards making your life exactly what you have wanted it to be for a very long time. Nothing--and I mean ABSOLUTELY nohting--is standing in your way of becoming the success you deserve to be today!

My new motto and the one I want to encourage you to take up is to "aspire to inspire before you expire." You never know who may be watching you as you take those first few steps towards a healthier lifestyle. A child? A sibling? A co-worker?

Before it's too late and the good Lord takes you home in His perfect timing, vow right now to DO SOMETHING positive for your own health so that others can see that it CAN be done. Be that example for others to follow. It is a privilege that comes with the responsibility to keep doing those things that must be done to keep your weight and health under control. That's why I'm still livin' la vida low-carb two years after losing 180 pounds. And I'll keep doing it for the rest of my life.

Obesity is NOT inevitable and weight loss is NOT unattainable if you put forth the effort to make it happen in your own life. Stop waiting for the government to come up with a plan to lose weight for you. End this crazy madness of expecting a new scientific discovery to create a "magic" weight loss potion to dissolve the flab from your body. You KNOW what you need to do and now it's time to DO IT!

Don't hold back one ounce of energy in this effort and commit yourself fully to doing it. If you start to struggle, then lean on those who love you the most. And if you ever need someone to talk to about anything related to the low-carb lifestyle or losing weight, I'm always just a mouse click away at No more TALK about why obesity exists. Rich or poor, if you need to lose weight then consider this your wake-up call. YOU CAN DO IT!

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Blogger Kevin Dill said...

While it may seem counter intuitive, our poor people here in the US are quite affluent by world standards.
More than one hispanic imigrant I have conversed with has told me they came to the US because the poor people can afford to be fat.

9/03/2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

It's the same in Asia. The poor eat low-quality, extremely cheap, overprocessed white rice and, predictably, get fat and ill. The rich eat too much Western-style comfort foods (because it's "in" and a display of wealth) and sugary junk.

The working middleclass, however, the man-in-the-street, is usually healthy, slim and slender and active.

Although the obesity and diabetes epidemic in Asia is still by far not as serious as in the US or the UK, things are already changing for the worse, and many health organizations are ringing the alarm bell already. Unfortunately the "do-gooders" and (media based) "experts" are noisy here too and tend to overshout the real scientists. Many Asians have a sweet tooth and it won't take long before things really get out of hand here too - eventhough they usually have much higher physical activity levels. Companies like Nestle are flooding the market with extremely high-carb junk, and it sells like hotcakes.

9/03/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Poverty. I couldn't afford healthy food. I still couldn't if my Dad didn't help me a little. Healthy food is EXPENSIVE. Processed crap is CHEAP. I survived on rice and pasta and potatoes because I could afford those things.

I live in a poor city is a lower middle class neighborhood. There are LOTS of fat people here because carbs are what they can afford.

9/03/2006 11:31 PM  
Blogger The Happy Low Carb Taco said...

I can only afford to spend about $80-100 a month on food (and this does not include eating out, which I don't) and I manage to eat healthy. My income is very low, only slightly above the poverty level. I do not receive food supplementation money from my family.

It IS possible to eat healthy while poor. It's a question of how badly you want to.

Maybe some other things in the budget should be cut in favor of good food, like cable TV or internet access. I did these things and I am better off.

9/05/2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

It goes back to making good choices again. You are SOOOO right, HLCT. We haven't had cable for six years and that amounts to about $4300 MORE we could spend on healthy food. Sorta puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? :)

9/05/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

One of my readers wanted to post a comment about this blog article, but had difficulty. I am posting this for a woman with the username meredilm who has a blog called The Pilates Body:

I love the passion you have for this important topic. And congratulations to you for making such a huge accomplishment!

I thought your statement about not “waiting on the government to come up with a plan” was the most notable. I agree it is not the responsibility of the government to help the obese and overweight lose the pounds, and I also do not think they should wait around for the government to do something.

However, I think the government should provide the ability for everyone to be a member of a health club or fitness program. As a Pilates instructor, I know it can be incredibly expensive to have a consistent trainer and pay for club memberships. Americans simply do not have the extra money to pay for these things.

If employers and insurance companies covered fitness regimens in their policies, I truly believe people could stay motivated to lose the weight and keep it off. It’s all about access and motivation, and I think there is something the government—and employers--can do!

9/17/2006 7:31 PM  

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