I love reading www.weightymatters.ca.
Written by Canadian nutrition watchdog, family doctor and founder of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, the good doctor always makes me think and causes me to challenge my assumptions.
His April 29 post was about a twitter battle between Obesity Panacea and an OB/GYN who was making fun of one of her patients for being overweight on Twitter. Yoni then went on to discuss the growing epidemic of fatism — essentially, discrimination against the overweight — that permeates society. These people are “lazy.” They just need to “get some exercise,” and “stop eating so much junk food.”
It’s not helpful, and it isn’t really true either.
The reason why obesity trends more than doubled in the last 35 years has nothing to do with a genetic shift — genes don’t change that much in a single generation — but it has everything to do with a change in society.
Dr. Freedhoff says, “Our environment has changed, and living freely in this environment causes the vast majority of the population to gain weight. Blaming individuals for their environment isn’t helpful.”
Technology is making physical activity less and less necessary, and more of us have desk jobs than ever before. More importantly, however, is how the food supply has changed. There is an over-abundance of inexpensive and highly palatable (meaning yummy) food that permeates our world now. Healthy and low-calorie choices are hard to find amongst all the high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt garbage.
And it’s not only that, but the food manufacturers don’t fight fair. They specifically design their ingredients list to promote over-consumption, and then blast us with an advertising budget that is second only to the automotive industry. For the majority of people, the call of the cookie is overwhelming.
Saying to them, “Just get some exercise and stop eating junk food” is not going to solve anything.
And it gets worse.
Here is where the charlatans come in, what with their “miracle weight loss” pills, products, plans and other preposterous poop. They flog the idea that weight loss is quick and easy, when it is neither. These are the profiteers of an obese society, just looking to make a buck off a desperate situation.
Society needs to change, and the food manufacturers need to be reigned in from shot-gunning high-calorie garbage all over the population. Failing that, if you really want to lose weight, it does come down to you.
As a guy who used to carry 50 pounds more fat than I do now, I can tell you the shift is anything but easy. Weight loss becomes like a part-time job; one you can’t retire from. It takes a tremendous amount of your focus and your will, and there aren’t any corners you can cut. Over time, it can become second nature, but for the first year or two it has to be forefront in your mind to make the tremendous lifestyle shift stick.
There is only one way I know of to make lifestyle change stick, and that’s learning to love it.