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A Question Not Answered

One question not answered in the "Fat" discussion": why USA?
A question that was was raised in the "Fat" discussion that no one answered: why is obesity a big problem in the US, to a far bigger extent than any where else in the world? Why is it not such a big problem in Europe, even in cheese and bread-eating/wine drinking France? Is it because Europeans are more obsessed about appearance and hence don't get overweight due to social pressure? Or, far more likely in my opinion, is the obesity proiblem connected to the US's nature as the center of the empire, the far more extensive influence of the overwork/fast food/sentient lifestyle culture in America?
And if being overweight is "natural" for many people, why do those who live in hunter-gatherer societies, the most "natural" human lifestyle, rarely show excess weight? No, they are not underfed, people such as Marshal Sahlins have demonstrated in numerous studies that in fact they are well-fed, in good health, without the degenerative diseases of the industrial world, and work a lot less than us, and have societies that are much more egalitarian and in fact often non patriarchal.

For a full discussion of the question from a left communist perspective, see
< http://www.dailybattle.pair.com/weight_matters.shmtl>
Don't bother... 07.May.2003 14:30

Dark Woodsman

Don't even bother even discussing the "fat" issue because it will get gobbled up by the censors faster than Apple Crisp at the Homestyle Buffet...

How important is this? 07.May.2003 14:47


With all the really important issues to address: war, corporate greed, racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, environmental pollution- why would we want to waste time worrying about whether people are the weight that somebody thinks they ought to be??? As far as I'm concerned, this is just another prejudice and form of discrimination that we don't need. It's also a way for the marketers to cash in on people's insecurity and sell billions of dollars worth of diet books, Jenny Craig, overpriced gyms, etc., etc.

Corporate Junk Food 07.May.2003 14:54


Thats easy to answer. American food corporations advertise the hell out of their junk food, brainwashing Americans from infancy. Sat morning cartoons are sponsored by junk food corporations. Whole aisles of chips and soda at the grocery chains. etc. Junk food in America must be a multi-trillion dollar business. Europe is harder to market junk food in as it is broken up into so many countries and cultures and languages and I believe they have more TV ad regulations. America now has a junk food caused obesity epidemic (65%) which is begining to show up in a rapidly rising diabetes epidemic which is going to put such huge strains on our health care insurance system that some experts are predicting a US health care crisis. I say we should tax junk food even more than we tax cigs and alcohol as obesity can have worse health consequences.

misguided 07.May.2003 18:11

and inaccurate

Actually, the US is not the fattest country. In point of fact, pacific islands nations and many central and south american nations are fatter. So give the armchair fat thing a rest.

Obesity is a very important issue ... 07.May.2003 19:51

White Lilac

MartyZBear asks why bother addressing the issue of obesity. Perhaps he doesn't realize how pressing this issue is. Misguided and inaccurate, true to her name, suggests that we are not the fattest country in the world, but cites no source for this information. According to Dr. Robert Butler, director of the International Longevity Center, professor of geriatrics and adult development at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and former director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, "We have certainly perfected ways to age ourselves prematurely. 50 percent of our country is currently overweight and being overweight certainly decreases the incidence of hight blood pressure and diabetes, which leads to a decreased quality of life. We are now the fattest country in the world and that is a real shame. The consequences to both our quality of life and our health costs are enormous."

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of US adults are overweight, and nearly one quarter are obese. Less than half (41%) of US adults maintain a healthy weight.

Not only is there a major problem, but it is rapidly increasing in its dimensions. Obesity has made a relative increase of more than 50% from 1960 to 1994, and from 1991 until 1998, obesity increased in every state of the US, in both genders, and across all races, ethnicities, age groups, education levels, and smoking statuses.

Problems with obesity:

1. Increased mortality rate. Obese individuals have a 50-100% increased risk of death from all causes, when compared with healthy-weight individuals. Overweight and obesity are risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, breathing problems, and some forms of cancer. Obesity is often associated with high blood cholesterol, complications of pregnancy, menstrual irregularities, hirsutism (excessively hairy), incontinence, depression and other mental illnesses.

2. Increased economic costs. Obesity increases direct and indirect health care costs. A study by Wolf and Colditz found that in 1995, the total cost of overweight and obesity in the US was $99.2 billion. Currently we spend $117 billion a year.

All the arguments from smoking fit in here. No matter if you have a multipayer system like the US or a single payer like Canada, all of society bears the collective burden of its healthcare problems. If you're among the 42 million Americans without health insurance, I am subsidizing you when you need emergency surgery related to obesity ... or lung cancer, for that matter. So it's not just a 'it's my body and I can do whatever the hell I want with it, including cutting off my nose to spite my face,' but I think we all have a responsibility to maintain a minimum level of fitness.

My failure to stay in shape means you pay for my health care problems. I wish more people would realize this.

I'm going to say that again in nice big letters: MY FAILURE TO STAY IN SHAPE MEANS YOU PAY FOR MY HEALTH CARE COSTS!!!!

Read Fat Land by American journalist Greg Critser. He credits Earl Butz, Nixon's secretary of agriculture, with unwittingly unleashing an obesity epidemic by axing trade barriers and deregulating the food industry, stimulating a surge in production while costs plummeted.

3. Marketing gimmicks. Americans spent $33 billion annually in the early 1990s on weight loss products and services. Of course, depending on who you are, maybe this isn't a problem, but I think it's money better spent.

4. Environmental devastation. Our obesity problem has been linked to fast food, and much of that is horribly devastating to the environment, from production of food to disposal of the tremendously wasteful packaging. Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Perennial Books, 2002. Did you know that chicken McNuggets have twice as much fat per ounce as a hamburger? Or that in 1960, a serving of McDonald's fries had 200 calories, compared to 610 calories today?

Anyway, the environmental devastation comes in with the damaging effects of grazing not only here in the US, but especially with rainforest devastation around the world. Forests are cleared by burning to quickly develop grazing land, yet the scale of the devastation remains largely hidden to the west. We're tired of hearing about the rainforest, although the closest most of us have even gotten to one is at the Rainforest Cafe. In 1997, fires started for clearing land for grazing in Borneo and Sumatra burned for so long that the air was unbreathable in Singapore, the Philippines--even parts of Thailand and China (Cunningham and Saigo, 2001). Countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Burman, Thailand, Vietnam and Haiti all have precious little old growth forests left.

Speaking of Borneo and Sumatra ... these are the only places left in the world where orangutans still live in the wild! Current estimates give them 15 years before they are extinct in the wild, to slowly become extinct in zoos ... and due in no small part to the American hamburger.

I don't mean to focus on cute furry mammal conservation ... we need to focus on biodiversity, and consider the harm being wrought by grazing to species as diverse the Devil's Hole pupfish to orangutans.

It's a terrific epidemic, if that's the way to say it. Fifty million people in the US are clinically obese!!! But take heart: Men's Fitness ranked Portland as the 6th fittest city in the US (after Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, Colorado Springs and San Diego, respectively) in their February 2003 issue.

I understand that many overweight and obese are very sensitive about their weight, and I am sympathetic to them. However, it is disappointing to see so many people simply react with denial to a problem that is literally killing them. There's everything from outright disgust to well-rehearsed excuses about how I only eat half a sandwich for lunch. Who are you kidding? Only a handful of people have gland problems or other medical condition that keeps them overweight. The calories have to come from somewhere, and consuming them out of sight doesn't change anything.

Does anyone have good ideas on how to respectfully approach someone about their weight, without turning them away permanently? It's a difficult situation, because I think most overweight and obese need a situation where they are constantly encouraged--or, if you will, pressured--to keep working on their weight. Not talking about the problem, along with giving up when your friend flies off the handle at you, does not solve the problem. It's the same with smokers, drug addicts, etc. -- constant vigilance, a supportive atmosphere, and encouragement (positive peer pressure) from friends are desperately needed to force a lifestyle change for the better.

Operation 07.May.2003 20:46


I think the best way to cut weight and keep it off is through surgery. The statistics are that 90-95% of people that lose weight gain it back because they still have the fat cells. SO surgically removing the fat removes these hungry fat cells.

URL 08.May.2003 10:36

Jack Straw

The URL i had included in the original post was left out, it is < http://www.dailybattle.pair.com/weight_matters.shmtl>

god 08.May.2003 17:53

Alex Zeibserg

If more than half the people are fatter than normal than wouldnt the normal acutaly be the fatter people? so basicly us skinney peole are the less dominate race of the US of A. Also i think free fat surgery should be offerd to everyone in the US and world. Becouse i really want to remove the big boobs i have on me. Im a dude just for refrence. A strait 100% male. I think.....

Think about it
Alex Zeisberg

I need my tapes back sooooooon

Transplant 08.May.2003 18:22


Alex maybe you could be a boob donor.ha

I'll take them! 09.May.2003 02:48

small-breasted chica

If Alex wants to transplant his boobs, i'll take them! i could certainly use some.

Dietary fat is a disease promoter 09.May.2003 15:50


U.S. is the fattest nation on earth. An article that point to Honolulu, HI as being the leanest "big" city and Portland fairly close, points to Houston, TX as the city with the highest % of overweight/obese citizens.
Fat in the diet is a major concern/problem. The top two killers in Oregon, heart disease and cancer, are fueled by dietary fat. The worldwide incidence of these two diseases also have a high dietary fat consumption.