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The Obesity Epidemic; Everyone Has The Answers But Nobody is Getting Skinny

Updated on August 9, 2010

So what's the problem?

This hub was inspired by an Isabella Snow hub on Fat Amercians. She believes it is purely the individual's fault, and I completely disagree. Americans already know WHY (information overload on that subject) they are fat. If you want to hear the opposing side of what I'm stating here, then you should read Isabella's hub, but you won't find my comments there because they weren't approved by her.

We've heard all the reasons why Americans are facing an obesity epidemic. Isabella's hub is heavy on the blame and name calling, like American's "laziness" and glutton for convenience, but she's not the only one that claims these reasons for obesity. Blame and pointing fingers are easy explanations, but it is more complicated than simple will power and self-control. I've heard that information and argument more times than I.S has fans.

Reason #1 SHAME: Continuously reiterating the same old infromation about obesity is just adding unnecessary insult to injury. People who are obese are already ashamed, they don't need more chastising information and advice on how they got to that point- they were there every step of the way. For some it could be a thyroid disorder, hormone issues, emotional disturbances, or injuries that prevent them from easily keeping their weight down.

The blunt in-your-face approach about Americans doing this to themselves is applauded, but what good has ever been accomplished from a negative approach. Thus far it has not led to a constructive path out of this growing issue. Sadly, this negative approach increases peoples' shame, which can lead to eating disorders.The next person that mentions it's a personal problem and obese people need to just "control" themselves needs to personally not worry about obesity if they are not obese themselves or acting as a positive behalf of the solution or support system.

Reason # 2 ADDICTION: It is hard to break an addiction by yourself- over eating is an addiction for many. Food additives, caffeine, sugar, soda- all addictons. I don't want to get into the science aspect of it, but the research is out there for anyone to easily google. You will find out food addcitions are real and mess with your physiological chemistry just as any addiction does.

If you know anything about an addict, the worse they feel about themselves, the more they abuse their drug of choice. You can't just "snap" someone out of their addiction or make them feel so bad and shameful about themselves by calling them lazy or spoiled- how is that being part of the solution?

Very few win the obesity war all by themselves, and for good reason- they need help, not chastising. We don't usually expect drug addicts to "snap" out of it. We put them through a comprehensive drug rehabilitation program- and sometimes that doesn't even work.

Reason #3 NO REHABILITATION PROGRAMS: There are so many rehab clinics for drugs, but there isn't much for the complete immersion and rehabilitation of obese people. They are supposed to "do it themselves". If they could do it themselves, do you think they would be in their overweight state currently? Having rehabilitation for obese individuals would get the rest of us to accept it as a mulit-dimensional problem.

Take for example the very popular reality tv show, "biggest Loser"- this is a rehab for obese people where they get full support on a secluded ranch with only healthy options available. No they can't do it themselves, they have people that help them learn to eventually do it by themselves. They are forced to deal with emotional road blocks and learn or relearn healthy habits. The result? Many are very successful big losers. This is obviously the way to reverse this epidemic- obesity rehab. The caveat; there are more obese people than rehab programs for the obese.

Reason #4 TOO MUCH INFORMATION: Interestingly, there are way more diet books available today than many years ago, and the obesity rates are steadily climbing in correlation. Coincidence? No. The information overload gives obese people a guilt trip, as if to suggest that with all the information, they have no excuses. It's not about excuses though, it's about obstacles.

Diets label things as "good" and "bad". This doesn't work. It is truly a lifestyle of moderation and unfortunately diet books makes a simple equation appear difficult- count carbs, fat, protein, BMI, glycemic index, metabolic rates, blood types, food sensitivities, and all of this nonsense steers people on a more difficult path than the simple truth of a healthy intake of food and exercise.

Reason #5 CONVENIENCE AND PROXIMITY: I know there are several of you on hubpages that are not Americans and in some hubs I get the point that it disgusts those who see Amercians in this gluttonous light. But it is not totally the individual's fault. Let me explain, before you think I'm using bogus excuses for fat. If you put a drug addict in a city where there is limited amounts of that drug or it's harder to attain, then they will automatically be using less of that drug, not by choice actually, but rather scarcity. If you put the same drug addict in a city where they can spend 30 seconds and less than five bucks getting as much of their drug as they want and 24 hours a day, of course the addict is going to overdose. If people have a food addiction, America is where this addiction will get well fed. This is why I can't totally blame the person themselves- it's part addiction and part convenience.

Don't despair, all other countries, many of you are not far behind. Obesity rates are climbing in other countries as they begin seeing more fast food and convenience food popping up. People who come from other countries to live in America automatically gain weight, yet it is "Americans" who need to get control of "their" problem? This is a very narrow-minded approach to a broad problem.

Reason #6 COPING MECHANISM: Ever wonder why obese children have obese parents? It's environment- those unhealthy foods are easily attainable and they have a role model, their parents, displaying these habits. That's why kids who have smoking parents are more likely to become smokers themselves. If you are raised to believe that food (or smoking or drinking) is a way to cope with problems and you have not been taught better outlets and habits, then you will mostly likely succumb to that maladaptive habit the rest of your life. Yes, in this case it is arguably a choice, but most people by human nature will take the default habit they were raised on.

Personally, I have never been obese, but I have been overweight and had to lose weight after having a baby. I also have an obese, diabetic mother so I've seen the life long path of obesity and I've seen my mother cry while eating a whole bag of M&M's. I don't think she ever ate out of gluttony, but rather a way to deal with problems. Everyone deals with problems in some way- anger, which I think is a bigger problem than obesity, drugs, gambling, alcohol, smoking, and for some it's food. Yippee for those that deal with problems healthily and constructively, but that's not the majority reality.

Unfortunately obese people wear their problems on their overweight bodies for everyone to see and judge, which sets them up for a tirade of comments and not so helpful "tips" about how they just need to move more and eat less and stop being so lazy. For those of you righteous skinny people who proclaim this arguement and put all blame on the individual, don’t call it tough love or useful advice- call it what it is- B.S! You're taking the easy way out of exaplaining a complicated issue.

Isabella Snow claimed she once had weight to lose and it was hard, but she did it. Well, she of all people should not chastise the obese. It is hard, and just because she overcame it doesn't give her the right to better than someone else.


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    • profile image

      wtran510 7 years ago

      They know that people who watch a lot of TV is most likely already overweight as I say before in my pervious paragraph “kids who watch more TV are mostly to be overweight”. There commercials are targeting them there is no better way to adversative food then on the TV after all overweight people spent more of their time in front of a TV. They know not to waste their time putting up advertisement on a billboard they know that they don’t spent a lot of times out doors.

    • morrisonspeaks profile image

      morrisonspeaks 8 years ago

      I also read that one in five Americans aged 18-34 is obese! Yes, I have noticed the spread widening on Americans as we sidle up to yet our next buffet or super-sized fast food meal.Thanks for sharing this.Here's my take on this topic :)

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      cwhiting- yes! to all that you said. I forgot to mention that there are several physical reasons why people are overweight. My mom has had a bad knee, from an accident, most of her life and now has hip problems from overcompensating for her bad knee. There aren't a lot of exercise options for her and now that she's a diabetic, she eats better than I do but it is very hard to lose weight for diabetics. 

      Like I mentioned in the hub, sometimes skinny people have worse habits and issues, but we tend not to judge them as much or give them a hard time because they "look good".

      You bring up a serious point about the lack of help for people with eating addictions. THere is help everywhere for every other addiction. I'm not the first to say the healthcare system doesn't help. THey are not interested in paying for any preventative care. I couldn't believe my health insurance didn't pay for a physical or cholesterol check- some insurance do but you pay extra for getting preventative care.

      Whenever people can judge a book by it's cover, they do, and it isn't helping the obesity problem by calling it tough love or any other b.s.

    • cwhiting profile image

      Connie Whiting 8 years ago from Columbus,Ohio

      All very good points. Also there are those of us (yes I am a fat American) that also have medical reasons for weight gain. I have medical conditions that cause me to be inactive and on top of that a thyroid disorder. I eat right.I admit in my younger years I didn't but I was active enough thatI didn't gain. Now that I am older it is so hard to exercise when my muscles and joints hurt and/or freeze up. Nobody looking at me knows about the health issues they just assume I eat a lot of junk and am out of control.I get laughed at. Little kids make jokes,parents snicker. Everything is so polictically correct now..unless you are`fat. Fat jokes are everywhere and judgement is everywhere and it hurts and you really have nowhere to turn for help if you have an eating addiction instead of physical causes for the weight. If you are addicted to drugs you get free help sometimes, free counseling,and can even get disability. But if you are fat for whatever reason you pretty much face it alone and all the negativity and fat jokes and assumptions can make a person feel why try since they obviously are "so worthless" anyway. Other people with addictions, or health issues like blindness or deafness or in wheelchairs are taught not to define themselves by that. Fat people are repeatedly told by society that their fat is the only thing that defines them and anything else they are, any talent they have, anything else that makes up who they are is ignored. When a person feels of little worth it is hard to feel confident to make changes and it hurts so deep inside. Well, I didn't mean to write a book :)

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      daveearley- yes I agree about marketing. I see more fast food and unhealthy commercials while watching tv than healthy commercials. So if someone is already a couch potato, the marketing on tv is only going to get them off the couch long enough to retrieve some junk food.

      Thanks for your comment and understanding my point. There are so many reasons why obesity is flourishing, besides only the person themselves.

    • daveearley profile image

      daveearley 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Marketing is also to blame. Eat this, eat that, eat now, eat more, it's all over the place, and never ending. Marketers get paid to make people buy things on impulse, and this includes food as well. We also have to add to our education how to not buy so much stuff, and how to choose the right things to eat.

      For the average person, it may be easy with daily exercise and abstinence from a lot of grease and sugar, but it's not always true with everyone.