The Obesity Crisis is mainly a western phenomenon that affects the well being and good health of hundreds of millions across the USA and Europe. To understand how this happened we need to look back at some of the dynamic social changes that have impacted on western societies since the end of the Second World War.
If you think of the enormous economic and social changes that have taken place in the last fifty years it is quite staggering. New technologies have transformed our transport systems, communications systems, workplaces and even our homes with all the mod cons.
And there has been one very big social change and that is in the workforce – women. Women have freed themselves from the kitchen and achieved a remarkable independence to build highly successful careers in business, commerce and politics that would have been unthinkable 50 years ago. Despite all these improvements there are some downsides – and one downside that crept up on us is ‘The Obesity Crisis’.
The Obesity Crisis dubbed ‘The Fat Economy’ is a direct consequence of the social improvements we have enjoyed over the past few decades. This has made us lazier, exercise less and eat food in a form quite different from earlier generations.
Women who once stayed at home and knew how to prepare and cook good food for the family don’t have the time now. The growth of fast food restaurants, junk food merchants and packaged food for quick cooking may well meet the demands of our busy lives but has also fueled the ‘The Fat Economy’. Obesity is not only a huge problem in the USA but becoming one for many countries in Europe. To understand the scale of the problem you only need to look at the figures.
In the USA sixty-four percent of Americans are now overweight and 31 percent are obese. Yearly medical spending on obesity is about 93 billion dollars and about half of that is paid by Medicare and Medicaid. Obesity is rapidly becoming a trillion dollar disease that may eventually bankrupt America’s health cost system.
A new initiative by the International Association for the Study of Obesity found that among EU countries Germany has the most overweight women and men. Among adults, the study found that 58.9 percent of German women are overweight; 75.4 percent of men are carrying excess pounds.
Running a close second among women was the UK, where 58.5 percent of women are overweight. Among men, the Czech Republic came in second. The thinnest Europeans of both sexes live in Italy and France. Beer, fatty foods and a lack of physical activity are the principle culprits behind Germans’ weight gain, according to experts, and rates of obesity and overweight in Germany now match those in the
In Britain it is estimated that over 3 million people are suffering from malnutrition. This is a shocking fact but hardly the result of famine conditions. On the contrary it is because people are eating too much of the wrong foods that are high in additives, salt, sugar and trans-fats – and low in the essential nutrients that are necessary for the body to function properly. This ‘hidden sickness’ will put ever greater strains on the finances of Britain’s overburdened National Health Service
Now all this is bit scary if you value living a long healthy life. Here is the view of an eminent American physician who specializes in anti-aging medicine:
“How did this happen? Why are Americans – who are supposedly so highly educated with plenty of access to whole food nutrition so overweight? It is astounding we know so little about how to eat properly. There is very little training in nutrition during our elementary education. Furthermore, there is little to no education in nutritional biochemistry during a doctor’s medical training. The obesity epidemic is not completely our fault, but is important that we learn how and what to eat.”
Of course you can’t blame the medical profession for all the social changes that led to our present eating habits that precipitated the obesity crisis. But it seems their training was hardly adequate to help us cope with it. Well, if the doctors couldn’t help, others would. Today you can get a million diet plans, pills, supplements of all kinds and of course you can visit your local gym all designed to get rid of the dreaded fat and keep you fit and healthy.
The weight loss industry today is huge. The information it pumps out daily is enormous and it is easy to understand why many people can be overwhelmed by it all and probably very confused. So the big question is what do we really need to do to reduce weight and secure our long term good health?
I believe the answer lies in nutritional self-education. This means accepting many of our eating habits are ‘killing’ our bodies by eating too much processed and junk foods. The speed of modern life gives us no time to slow down to prepare and cook a wholesome meal. Many people skip meals or grab a sandwich on the run. We don’t take time to chew thoroughly and digest properly which only inflicts more damage on our undernourished bodies.
Unless we are prepared give time to eating properly and not treat our meals as inconveniences that have to be rushed, no progress will ever be made in coping with the obesity crisis. There are no ‘quick fixes’, slimming pills, drugs or any artificial aids that can replace a solid understanding of nutrition – knowing what we are doing to our bodies by what and how we eat.