Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obesity - Ten Points to Consider

1) Obesity is a major health problem.

2) Childhood obesity is on the increase and a bigger problem than ever.

3) The primary responsibility for any issue dealing with a child lies with the parents - including taking measures like going to a nutritionist or even a psychotherapist if necessary.

4) There should be a public effort to deal with the problem but not by eliminating certain foods from the public square - which includes public and private schools. Education - both for adults and children is the key. That's the best way to get it into the public consciousness. Education about obesity should include the dire consequences to those who become obese and include case histories, medical problems developed by obesity and their morbidity rate. It should include video interviews with those people and their physicians.

5) If a normal healthy child wants to buy a candy bar in school for a mid-morning snack he should be able to do so - if his parents do not object. How to monitor that is a technical issue. One that in my view is not insurmountable.

6) The primary cause of obesity is over overeating. Sugary snacks while a possible contributor is not the cause and should not be the focus of public attention. It's not what you eat but... how much! Anyone who tells you that eating sugary snacks will make you obese is either ignorant or lying to you. As long as you don't eat more calories than you burn - eating sugary snacks will not gain you an ounce.

7) If one maintains the proper BMI (Body Mass Index) they will not develop diabetes even if all they eat is sugar.

8) People with genetic illnesses like diabetes or people with allergies to things like milk or peanuts where even a slight amount would be life threatening should not in any way inhibit healthy people from the ability to buy and eat whatever they can - wherever they choose.

9) Discussions about how to deal with other societal ills are irrelevant. Cigarette smoking for example is responsible for heart disease in many cases and the vast majority of lung cancers and many other repertory ailments. Candy bars can be eaten all day long and as long as one does not go over their caloric limit and supplements it with other important nutrients one will not suffer any negative health consequences as was demonstrated in a recent experiment by a nutrition expert.

10) My final and perhaps my most important point is the following: I am absolutely in favor of nutritious well balanced diets. In no way do I advocate eating candy bars all day. I can't emphasize this enough. The body needs other nutrients not provided by candy. That is all part of the adult education I mentioned earlier.

Arguably the biggest health problem facing people today is obesity. The best way to tackle that problem is to get people to eat less. I don't see how anyone can disagree with that - or any of the other 10 points I made.

Personal responsibility seems to have been abandoned as the focus of dealing with issues like this. It has been replaced by communal activism to see to it that society does for them that which they are unwilling to do for themselves. To me that is both socialist and totalitarian - pure and simple and I don't like it even in the context of a school. It is one thing for society to remove a social ill that is in and of itself harmful. It is another to remove an item that is only dangerous when abused.