Tag Archive | "obesity"

Fatso! Obesity in America

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The term “obesity” describes human body weight considered to be unhealthy  according to certain clinical parameters.  Based upon body mass charts, these parameters are calculated using the heights and genders of non-obese individuals as standards for good health.  When a human being ingests food, the body converts it into glucose (a form of sugar), which is then delivered to the cells as energy.  If the person does not expend all of the energy, his or her body then stores it as fat.   While this explanation is accurate, it is also overly simplistic.  The human body is a remarkable, complex thing; many factors contribute to obesity.  However, our society has seen fit to blame every case of obesity on one’s inability to push oneself away from the table.

Government and the healthcare industry (soon to be one and the same) target those who are overweight, claiming that obesity is the root of clinical disorders ranging from diabetes and heart disease to overtaxed joints.  The so-called experts point to overeating and unhealthy eating as the primary cause of rising medical insurance.  But how true is this, when obesity is also linked to glandular and psychological disorders as well as a lack of exercise?  Why are obese people in the general populace painted as Satan’s spawn?

If we move beyond the general public and into narrower realms, we find that obesity is not only accepted, it is embraced.  Let’s start with the world of sports.  Football players do not suffer from a lack of exercise, yet the combined weight of an average football team can border on tons.  There are no featherweights among American or Japanese Sumo wrestlers.  And, most baseball, hockey, and basketball players possess body masses much higher than the medical community’s standards for “healthy.” 

The next group on the hit list is the czars of the food industry.  Everywhere we turn, we find fat-laden foods on the menu.  While fast food joints harbor the usual suspects of burgers, hoagies, fried chicken, and pizza, eat-in restaurants offer fare such as steaks, pork chops, and ribs.  A few weeks ago, Yahoo’s home page listed the ten unhealthiest foods served in non fast food chains, and guess what?  A salad on Chili’s menu made that list!

If we remove all of these products from the American diet because they are unhealthy, we’ll all be dining on lichee nuts, tofu, and stuffed peas.  What a miserable nation we would be without an ounce of fat!   A day without a little fat is like a day without sunshine.

Looking on the bright side and assuming we are not all going to forage in the forest for nuts and berries, the more obese among us will probably not live long enough to collect Social Security, which is now in serious jeopardy.  This situation will extend the funds for healthier Americans of whom we may say, “They died happy.”

So, instead of demeaning and blaming those who are hefty, I think the government and the healthcare industry should trim the real fat.  The fat cats in Congress have been bribed for decades to do the biding of the fat cats in industry (just take a gander at the ethics problems of Congressman Charlie Rangel).  For generations, both species of bloodsuckers fed off the public’s trust.  The fat cats gave birth to the national healthcare system.  Therefore, it is only fitting that we enact a law ensuring they are the first ones to be impacted by that system.   When and if that happens, those fat cats will become “lean and mean.”  Or rather, meaner. 

A Weighty Issue

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Recently, while in channel flipping mode, I was flabbergasted to stumble across a show featuring a woman whose fantasy is to weigh 1,000 pounds.   You read that correctly: not 100 pounds, but 1,000 pounds!  It turned out that this woman hails from our neck of the woods, Old Bridge, New Jersey.  Her name is Donna Simpson.  This forty-two year old mother of two is currently engaged to be married and now tips the scales at 604 pounds.  Her fiancé found her on the Internet, where some inner demon caused her to pose in a bikini (a sight that the program allowed its viewers to see, and one that I am not likely to forget any time soon). The fiance apparently has fantasies of his own, for he prefers his ladies super-sized.

Ms. Simpson’s motivation for racking up those pounds seems to have little to do with wanting to stake a claim to fame.  The current record for the largest woman in the world is held by another New Jersey native who weighed 1,800 pounds when she died, at age 49, in 2008.  However, Donna Simpson does hold the Guinness Book World Record for giving birth to her daughter at 532 pounds in 2007.  This accomplishment ranks her as the most obese woman in the world to give birth to a healthy child.

Donna revealed that she consumes 12,000 calories a day toward her goal of weighing half a ton.  This is approximately six times the AMA guidelines for a non-nursing woman’s intake; if you’re a woman who is dieting, it’s approximately 800 calories less than that.  Although she claims to eat healthy meals, her two favorite foods are sushi and doughnuts — not exactly neighbors on the food pyramid!  Donna also stated that her grocery bill is a whopping $750.00 a week.  Knowing that all the world’s a stage, she is using the Internet as a forum to allow visitors to observe her as she eats.  With a food bill like hers, I am flying under the assumption that she demands payment for this privilege, but since I won’t visit her website, I’ll never know.

When she’s navigating her neighborhood and not the Internet, Donna is constrained to get around in a scooter; because of her tremendous weight, she has a terrible time rising from a sedentary position and walking.  None of this, and more, seems to phase the woman looking to add another 396 pounds to her already overtaxed frame.  Beyond grabbing her proverbial fifteen minutes of fame, it’s been rumored that Donna was offered a book deal and a crack at a reality show, perhaps to be titled The Biggest Winner(?).  Oprah is also allegedly reaching out to her … whether for an interview or to get Dr. Oz on her tail, it wasn’t made clear.

While I hesitate to judge this woman, I do have to wonder about and feel sorry for her children. What will this way of life cost them?  At three years old, her youngest child’s life must be far from normal.  Her mother has prevented herself from doing all of the normal things that a mom does with her children, such as playing tag or T-ball or even taking a stroll through the park.  And then, of course, there is the inevitability of other children taunting this little girl mercilessly, as children are wont to do.  As much as we may try to breed cruelty out of children, it seems to be a genetic flaw in Homo sapiens, and is particularly acute in young children.

There are also the very real health issues to be considered.  What is this woman to do when — as seems inevitable — she falls ill?  What if her boyfriend dumps her?  Her astronomical grocery bills will, no doubt, generate horrific medical bills, and if her boyfriend decides to run off, Ms. Simpson will seek other means of paying those bills.  Under Obama’s new law, we taxpayers could be footing those bills for adverse cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, or embolisms, which are all byproducts of obsiety.  It’s not fair for hard working taxpayers to be saddled with the medical bills of one who has consciously done this to herself!

In the Land of Plenty, obesity is a long-standing problem.  The Obama administration has put a new focus on improving children’s health. Concerted efforts are now in place nationwide to wean the little ones off the junk food traditionally found on school menus and in soda machines.  The President is even revoking the once all-American privilege of having bake sales!  More locally, New York City recently found itself on the thorny horns of a dilemma when Mayor Bloomberg pushed an act that would remove salt from every recipe in every restaurant in Manhattan.  And for years, even fast food chains have made the calorie contents of their items available to consumers, in an effort to promote the sale of healthier menu choices.

Not even the U.S. military is exempt, for they are being forced to turn away potential enlistees  because of their obesity.  Since our armed forces have to ensure that soldiers are fit to fight, hike for miles, and carry large backpacks, for starters, they must utilize a specific test to determine an individual’s body fat.   Against standards long deemed healthy by the AMA, an person’s weight and height are used to measure body fat.  These standards were introduced after World War II, because of underweight soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.  Ironically, the standard is now used in reverse, to knock overweight people out of the running for jobs in the military.  Approximately three out of every ten people attempting to enlist are rejected due to their body weight, as the economy pours more and more hopefuls into the military pool.

Weight is a major factor in the quality of our lives.  A vast body of medical evidence collected over decades proves that obesity limits our choices and ruins our health. Those who are seriously overweight cannot perform well, either in sports, just getting around to do daily chores, or to pursue simple pleasures such as horseback riding or hiking.  There is also the issue of finding stylish clothes to wear, which can impact a person’s self image.   And perhaps the last prejudice in this nation is not color or religion but obesity.  Employers are not keen to hire hefty  people, period, particularly now with so many applicants from which to choose.

In a way, I applaud Donna Simpson for being comfortable in her own skin.  But mostly, I feel sorry for her, her children, and anyone like her who makes a conscious decision to live such an unhealthy life style. 

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