Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Well, it's official....The American Medical Association says obesity is a disease

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement." This statement made the usual rounds on many news sites like this one and this one AND including the Today Show. Impressive, isn't it? I'm not being sarcastic, for once. Obesity has been in the news from time to time, and a lot of people have opinions about it. Unfortunately, these same people don't have many facts about the recently named disease, other than "fat people need to diet and exercise" or "push away from the table, Tubby, or even worse, "They caused it on themselves; all it takes is willpower!". (There are other caustic observations that I've read on the various websites, but they are variations of the aforementioned themes. 

I know all too well the physical, mental and emotional torture of morbid obesity, as I have shared on this blog. I've done way too many diets, and the inevitable failure of each one became unbearably depressing. And I tried the "fat and happy" approach to life. It didn't work for me. Not when I was doing things like sobbing in excruiating pain becuase the cartilidge in my left was completely gone, and my hip bones were grinding into each other so much that they resembled a pretzel more than a normal hip on X-rays. And I haven't even got into my back and knees, which still give me a lot of problems, even though I've taken off a total of 158 pounds (It was 230, but I'm now coming out of relapse.) I couldn't resist to responding an NPR story in which made one of those variations on the same theme comments:
Beg to differ. There's a lot of research linking the escalating rate of obesity amongst children and the proliferation of fructose corn syrup in soft drinks and many processed food. If you looked at the labels of soft drinks prior to cane and beet sugar shortage in the 70s, you would have found NO high fructose cane sugar in the ingredients.But corn syrup is easily processed and a much cheaper ingredient for the beverage industry. Obvious translation: higher profits. Same thing with snack foods, which does really good business these days. The beverage and snack food industry intentionally put ingredients in food that will appeal to the senses in a very profound way, creating a longing for their products. (NPR had a story about this not too long ago.) How many people haven't craved a Snicker's or a Pepsi when they are tired? (I've learned that a nap works much better.) That craving is precisely what the food and beverage companies are going for with their products. And young people, with their still-forming brains, are particularily vulnerable to addiction to that junk. When they grow up, do you think they'll suddenly become spectacularly healthy and fit? No. They are hooked. Even if they diet and exercise to a normal weight, the research shows that they will gain it all back within a year plus 10-20 percent more. Yes, parents have a responsiblity to monitor their children's food intake. But it doesn't make a difference if the child is hooked on Cheetos and Cherry Cokes or cocaine, as the imaging done on people's brains after eating sugary products has demonstrated. A 14 year old brain hooked on high fructose corn syrup is no different than a 14 year old brain hooked on crack, legal issues and moral judgments aside. Both kids believe they ave to have it, and they will lie, cheat and steal to get it. Ask any mother who has an obese child. She will tell you all about how all the treats she bought for a party "just vanished", according to her very overweight child. This problem runs far deeper than anyone can imagine. This decision by the AMA is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, but that's all it is. One step.

So, will this decison made by the American Medical Association make a difference in the lives of obese people? Time will tell. But I really think it will make a monumental difference in the income of the pharmacuetical companies. They have several weight loss drugs lined up, just waiting for the doctors' prescriptions. 

1 comment:

  1. Another article from the New York Times:


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