Monday, March 8, 2010

United States of Obesity

Let me preface this by pointing out that I'm not forcing you to read this, so if you're offended by my statements that is no ones fault but your own.

Tonight I was at a friends apartment watching the Academy Awards and some lady who had to have been around 400 lbs was nominated for something or other (I wasn't really paying much attention) it made me laugh out loud how huge and awkward she looked and I commented on it saying it looked like she ate Modou (the 6'10" guy on my university's basketball team.) A few other people laughed, but this one girl who is slightly overweight, but by no means fat, flipped out on me. She went off on how some people can't help but to be overweight and it's a genetic disorder or something. I replied to her asking why this genetic disorder seems to only be prevalent in the United States and the United Kingdom. Rather than answer me she continued on about how shallow and rude and tactless it is of me to judge someone for being obese.

Did I mention that about 5 minutes earlier she was laughing at another guy in the audience who had gigantic lips who didn't fit his face?

So here's what I go out of this; it is okay to have zero self control and pig out on whatever food may cross your path, but it is not okay to have unattractive facial features. The reasoning behind this is that obesity is genetic and your facial features are something you have control over.

Okay does anyone else see the problem here?

At another point in the conversation I was asked how I would feel if people made fun of me for being skinny. I said, "they do, I don't care." This got me thinking later. I'm 5'10 (5'9 and 3/4 to be exact) and my weight varies between about 145 and 155 lbs. This puts me at a BMI of 21.5 and last I was tested I had 7% body fat, a cholesterol level of ~60 mg/dL and a resting pulse rate of 46 bpm which, if you're not a nutrition buff, is incredibly healthy. Yet at least once a week someone comments on how skinny and underweight I am. Now I do understand genetics play a small role in this and I am genetically predisposed to a fairly healthy build (my mom weighs like 100 lbs), but what confuses me is how I should gain weight or how I'm unhealthy. I even have a group of friends that refer to me as "Skinny Brandon" when statistically I couldn't possibly be much healthier when it comes to build.

America is fat and this is a problem. Yes you've heard this all about 500 times before, I know, but why does it seem like no one takes note of this. According to the CDC, 34% of America is "obese" 66% is "overweight" and in the newest edition of the DSM-V (the manual for mental disorders) obesity is actually being recognized as a disorder. Why does it seem that everyone simply looks the other way on how horrible this is.

Am I being harsh? Yes. Is it immoral to be obese? No. It just bothers me that we seem so accepting of it when things like smoking and alcoholism are considered to be evil. Do people really not realize that being at an unhealthy weight is far worse for them than drinking too much and smoking? We spend such a ridiculous amount of money on health-care in the United States and we still live shorter than nearly every other industrialized nation. This is why! Obesity kills.

What also bothers me is that it's not like discovering the reason that America is so fat requires a team of people with PhD's in everything from nutrition to theoretical physics solving partial differential equations to see the problem. I'll solve it for you all right now using my vast educational background of a GED and an A.S. from some third tier state school in Ogden, Utah.

We Americans live a sedentary lifestyle and eat large portions of crap food that is delivered to our car windows with 32 oz beverages. There, it's solved. Now how do we go about fixing it? Well, Jared (that Subway guy) seemed to figure it out. He walked every day and didn't eat massive amounts of fried food. I'm not saying Subway will make you lose weight, because it wont. Eating fresh food, smaller portions and actually getting off your butt from time to time will.

Or you could accept my friend's point of view and accept that America is just genetically fat and what really matters is being attractive and having plastic surgery done to correct imperfections such as your oversized lips. Besides, we can't even do anything about being overweight, except to maybe accept it and redesign everything from airplane seats to the clothing we wear to accommodate for the hoard of overweight Americans coming in present and future generations. I think the clothing thing is already ahead of us though, I already can't find pants in my size unless I go to the teenager stores at the mall.


  1. skinny = healthy and normal in our society. Some things regarding our health are genetically predisposed, but a lot of factors to our health are within our own control. How we eat is one of those things we manage on our own. One of the strongest forces of self-opposition we face is mastery of self. For some people, they cant master the ability to stop eating when they are satisfied or to have a healthy balance of different foods in their diet, or to resist eating a whole box of cookies at once. Anyway, back to my original thought. So skinny is healthy and normal here. But since being "healthy" is such a hard state to achieve for most people who lack enough self-mastery, they assume "overweight" is normal (it requires the least amount of effort) and "healthy" is skinny. It's a matter of self-justification. But in reality, "skinny" isnt skinny. "Skinny" is healthy. The word our society has attributed to the real skinny is anorexic.

    It is commendable that you have self-mastery in your eating (I know this not because I look at your physique) and you are incredibly healthy. You dont take up too much space in the hallways, and I think you look great ;)

  2. So I also was bored and flipping through channels and saw this lady you are talking about it. My roommate accidentally said something rude and covered her mouth followed by me laughing. Basically, I am saying I agree. I may not be the most in shape person, but I am sure not overweight. No one is perfect in their eating habits, but we are in control! There is not reason to let yourself go and become obese or even overweight... (I think I would cry if that ever happened to me.. which it wont)

  3. I agree with Brandon that it is wrong for people to try to get around the fact for being fat by saying that it is due to genetics. I have read a report that said that 2% of Americans actually do have genetics that contribute to their obesity.