Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Weighty Questions About America's Obesity

NPR has been airing "Living Large: Obesity in America," which focuses on not only the facts related to obesity but also the contributors.  If you haven't heard it, check it out here. It's informative, factual, compassionate, and sobering.

What gets me about this series is the gap between what we know (we need to be healthier) and what we do (keep celebrating food). It brings up a lot of questions.

Fat Acceptance: should we accept overweight as a lifestyle? I'm a compassionate person; I don't feel at all comfortable with someone feeling shameful because of their size. On the other hand, I feel strongly compassionate about the need and responsibility we all have to manage our weight. Are television shows like Mike and Molly great because they celebrate people as they are, or harmful because they mainstream one of our biggest national epidemics?  I don't know.

The Cost of Being Healthy: it tears at my soul to hear stories about low-income families who feel like they have to max out their calorie-per-dollar in food that is keeping their children in a state of malnutrition. There are numerous resources for eating healthfully on a budget, but the message isn't reaching the populations who need to hear it and learn it. What can we do?

The Behind-the-Scenes Agenda: there are plenty of conspiracy theorists, myself sometimes included, who will evangelize that at the root of our obesity problem lies a politician with a big fat wallet.  Food manufacturers are called to task for their marketing tactics, but if their sales drop, people lose jobs and our economy suffers. Pharmaceutical companies are dependent on people being unhealthy. Plenty of advocates would be out of work if our problems were suddenly solved. The cynic in me asks, "what does America gain from this?"  I don't want to know.

It's on my mind. I'm getting out there and getting healthy, but that won't be enough for long.

What's next?


Ellen said...

There are some people in the US making positive changes:

I saw a piece about this produce bus (Fresh Moves) that brings fresh fruits and vegetables for sale to "food deserts" in Chicago. Here are a few articles I found about them, too:,0,1974199.story

Something we can all support!

Anonymous said...

Ellen is right - there ARE groups and people making a change...but there are also people unwilling to change or care (Sarah Palin's poking fun of Michelle Obama's efforts on childhood obesity comes to mind.)

One of my best friends told me that our generation, as parents, just has to try harder than the generations before us. So sad, so true.