"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Trying to Lose

Diet watch:
-15 lbs from a high I refuse to disclose and shudder to recall.
+15 lbs over goal.
Verdict - halfway there.

A couple of years ago I (inadvertently) traded my smoking habit for an extra 25 pounds, and I wasn't exactly fit to begin with. As much as I've fretted over those pounds and the battle to lose them, plus a few, my health was never really in question. Even at my highest weight, it was far better for me than a pack a day.

According to an article I read this morning, most people can't say the same. Apparently obesity rates among adults have doubled in America since 1991.

Doubled. In less than fifteen years. Zounds. What were we thinking?

Losing fifteen pounds was like pulling teeth. I can't imagine losing 150. Or 50, for that matter. Did you know that Denver has the lowest obesity (BMI > 30) rate in the country, at 14.2%? That's a lot, for being the lowest. San Antonio has the highest at a stunning 31.1%. It's true. Even keeping in mind that a fair number of obese people have medical conditions which make it impossible or nearly so for them to maintain a healthy weight without medications and/or surgery, those figures are awfully high.

Expanding (pardon the pun) our purview to include the obese and the overweight (BMI 25+), the winner is Portland, Maine with a 49.3% incidence. On the other end of the spectrum is Charleston, West Virginia with a mind-boggling 67.8%. If nearly half the people in the least overweight city in the country are overweight, we've got a problem.

This really is everyone's problem, no matter your weight. Having half the population in a perpetually unhealthy condition isn't going to do us any favors with regards to the cost of health care and health insurance, for one thing. For another, severe obesity can and does cause disability, which means more people dependent on public assistance. The list goes on.

We all know that we, as a society, have developed some very bad habits with regards to eating and exercise. We know what we should eat and how we should be active, but we don't do it. We understand that our health is easily overset by too much cheap food and too little exercise, but it's so much more appealing to sit on the couch and eat a pizza than go jogging and have a granola bar. It's hard to admit that most of us are fully responsible for our own squishy bits. We blame heredity and reach for the remote control. I know I'm guilty of it.

So where do we go? It's so easy to say "eat right and exercise", and so hard to do it. And yet, paradoxically, people who have eaten right and exercised and still couldn't lose the weight are scorned for taking the "easy way out" when they have life-saving surgery. Whatever you need to do, whatever your doctor urges you to do, go for it.

I was going to segue into a bit about increasing rates of childhood obesity here, but it's just too sad. We adults can handle the consequences of our own (in)actions, but children know only what they're taught. It seems like every time I pass a McDonald's I see at least one terribly overweight child waddling in behind an equally overweight parent, and I really just want to run up and shake said parent until their teeth rattle. Whatever the root cause of an individual's excess weight, fast food is not going to help.

But oh, it's so cheap and convenient. Here's a thought, however: its consequences aren't.

Granola, anyone?

1 rejoinders:

Fourth pew, center sounded off...

Ah, yes, San Antonio. Where, because of a high proportion of Hispanics, diabetes is also epidemic. Where they had to have police officers direct traffic when the first couple of Krispy Kremes opened. Where we have, much of the year, perfectly good weather for being outside and DOING SOMETHING!!!

And while, yes, some people do have a medical condition to blame, the number is not nearly as high as The Overweight (and I include myself in that group) would have you believe. Slow metabolism? Of course -- goes with plunking your butt in front of the TV/computer (ouch!) for hours every day.
Every year, more and more diet foods & exercise videos are sold. And every year we get fatter. Go figure.

Have you ever just stood near the front of a WalMart and watched people go by? Know what that tells you? That the official percentages on obesity are WAY low, that's what it tells you. It also tells you that, despite the wails of "There's too much social pressure to be thin!", most of society is apparently immune to that alleged pressure.
Look around you in the grocery store check-out line. The folks who need carry-out for $20 worth of groceries, because they can't walk & breathe at the same time, are the ones loading up on Fritos & Oreos & non-diet sodas.

What I'd really like to see is an explanation of the psychology involved. How can someone 75 or 100 lbs. overweight (with no excusing medical condition) STAND IT?
'scuse me. I hear my treadmill calling . . .