published Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Obesity is worth celebrating

A British medical journal published a finding last month that might be the most encouraging and inspiring bit of news in the history of mankind. And few people noticed. And the ones who did notice did so for all the wrong reasons.

The journal, The Lancet, claimed that obesity is now a bigger health crisis globally than hunger.

Think about that. Throughout human history, the biggest challenge for man has been eating enough calories to work productively, fight off disease and not starve to death. But now, thanks to the development of high-yield, disease-resistant crops, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides -- not to mention the increase of capitalism and free trade throughout the world -- there is more than enough food to feed all the people on Earth.

The ability to feed all of humanity is a very recent occurrence. Throughout man's 3 million years of existence (give or take a million, depending on how you define "man"), billions of people died because of malnutrition and other hunger-related causes. In just the last half-century, food production and distribution techniques have advanced so greatly that most instances of starvation in the world today are the result of failed government policies and distribution issues, not a lack of food.

In fact, according to the World Hunger Education Service, "world agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase."

So how did the media respond to the medical journal's study that found malnutrition is becoming less of a health issue than obesity? Rather than celebrating the news, stories came from all corner of the globe with headlines like "In Africa, obesity is the new starvation," "Obesity: a time bomb to be defused" and "Obesity three times more deadly than malnutrition."

Even the federal government, through the taxpayer funded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claims that obesity has become an "epidemic."

If obesity is an "epidemic," it's too bad there aren't more epidemics like it. Obesity is largely the result of the human body's evolutionary hard-wiring to eat when there's food available -- that's the outcome of man being perpetually hungry for 3 million years. That availability of food has dramatically reduced childhood deaths from malnutrition and greatly increased longevity. Every year, people all across the world are living longer and healthier than ever before.

As a result, people are actually living long enough to die from things like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Hallelujah!

The news gets even better. It turns out the obesity epidemic has been outrageously exaggerated. A 2010 study by the CDC found that obesity rates were stable or declining. "For women, there were no statistically significant changes in obesity prevalence over the entire decade, while for men there were no prevalence differences during the last five years of the decade," a Cato Institute review of the study noted.

In an article for Worth magazine, author Radley Balko found that "the two diseases most linked to obesity -- heart disease and cancer -- are in rapid decline." The National Institutes of Health, after claiming that 400,000 Americans died each year from obesity reassessed its numbers and found that "the number of deaths attributable to obesity each year is closer to 100,000."

In reality, as the government's need to exaggerate the facts proves, obesity's dangers are relatively minor -- especially when compared to the millions of lives saved by cheap and easy access to food every year.

Rather than focusing on obesity, we should focus on the fact that people are being fed. For the first time in human history, more people are obese than hungry. And that is cause for every person in the world to celebrate.

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Easy123 said...

I'm truly baffled by the insanity of this article. Unbelievable.

January 5, 2013 at 4:44 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

we should focus on the fact that people are being fed

except that there are still people going hungry, and there are still children dying of malnutrition

January 5, 2013 at 7:26 a.m.
Gidget said...

This article should make readers think about the absurdity of the way media covers issues. If conflict sells and there isn't a conflict the media will create one. Thus, the obesity epidemic, the drug war, and locally, the gang problem in Chattanooga.

Easy123 - I'm confused about what is so baffling in this article. So, you're saying you would prefer tiny children to suffer from malnutrition and eventual starvation than them living a full life and passing away as a chubby 85 year old? Interesting. That says a lot.

Lkeithlu - As the author points out, people are no longer dying from a lack of food production but rather government involvement and failures with food distribution.

January 5, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
librul said...

Ahem ...

"The ability to feed all of humanity is a very recent occurrence. Throughout man's 3 million years of existence (give or take a million, depending on how you define "man"), billions of people died because of malnutrition and other hunger-related causes."

"If obesity is an "epidemic," it's too bad there aren't more epidemics like it. Obesity is largely the result of the human body's evolutionary hard-wiring to eat when there's food available -- that's the outcome of man being perpetually hungry for 3 million years."

"more people are obese than hungry. And that is cause for every person in the world to celebrate."

Seriously??????

First, I'm almost tempted to say "Hooray, the Free Press now recognizes Darwin was right!" But I won't. I would suggest that the diatribe be clipped and saved for future use, however. That time will come most surely sooner than later. And I can't wait for the creationists to skewer this tripe for the obvious endorsement of the concept of human evolution.

Beyond that, the sick sarcasm inherent in the nod to "the increase of capitalism and free trade throughout the world" that has resulted in "more than enough food to feed all the people on Earth" is beyond the pale.

I mean, if only there was a Wal-Mart and a Hobby Lobby in every remote pocket of the world where crop failure, religious idiocy and political strife are rampant we wouldn't have to endure Sally Struthers' commercials about starving children, right?

January 5, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
una61 said...

For the right side of the TFP to editorially admit that evolution exists and that the human species is more than 8000 tears old is a positive.

I grew up in the 40's and 50's when my meals consisted of garden fresh vegies cooked by my mother on a stove, so obesity was not an issue ("clean your plate").

If obesity is to be celebrated, do we also celebrate increased occurrences of diabetes and heart disease due to obesity?

January 5, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I'm with Easy here. This article makes no sense whatsoever. Both obesity and hunger are extremes that are completely undesirable, each leading to illness and premature death in their own way. Besides, like lkeithlu said, there is still hunger. Too many people go not get nearly enough decent food to eat. But there are more fat and unhealthy people than there are hungry people, so let's celebrate being fat and unhealthy. Woo-hoo!

To celebrate obesity because it signifies there's no hunger is like celebrating a flood because it signifies there's no drought. Idiotic.

January 5, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Gidget,

"So, you're saying you would prefer tiny children to suffer from malnutrition and eventual starvation than them living a full life and passing away as a chubby 85 year old?"

No. Millions of children each year suffer and die from malnutrition and starvation. And the world life expectancy is about 69-70 years. Obesity reduces life expectancy by an average of 6 to 7 years. And that's just being obese. Obesity increases the risk for every major cancer, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, DVT, pulmonary embolism, stroke, GRD, and the list goes on and on.

"people are no longer dying from a lack of food production but rather government involvement and failures with food distribution."

People died of lack of food production thousands of years ago. People die because they cannot get, plant, farm, food. Take Africa for example. Many places on the continent do not have arable land. Having enough food to feed everyone in the world means nothing to people that don't have any food. But "Hurray!" for food production and obesity, right?

There is an obesity epidemic. Obesity shouldn't be celebrated. But apparently people like Gidget will believe anything that is put in print. This article is insanely idiotic. And Gidget, you are a fool.

January 5, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

People died of lack of food production thousands of years ago. People die because they cannot get, plant, farm, food. Take Africa for example. Many places on the continent do not have arable land. Having enough food to feed everyone in the world means nothing to people that don't have any food. But "Hurray!" for food production and obesity, right?

The food that we in the western world consume is controlled by the infrastructure we live under, and should that fail we who have lost the ability to grow our own food will have to trade our possessions or skills to survive. In areas of the world where food production cannot match population and unstable infrastructure does not allow for food to be delivered people still starve. That obesity is prevalent is rather shameful, but understandable if you understand human evolution. Curious what creationists would use as an explanation....

January 5, 2013 at 7:11 p.m.
Easy123 said...

ikeithlu,

"should that fail we who have lost the ability to grow our own food will have to trade our possessions or skills to survive."

I agree with you to a point but it's not hard to grow certain crops as long as you have arable land. All you need are the seeds and some water.

"but understandable if you understand human evolution."

I think a tiny bit of obesity is due to the evolution of lactase. Humans being able to digest animal milk has changed our bodies. The introduction of more simple sugar into our diets, evolution of alcohol digestion, and the (fairly modern) use of oils and fats in cooking have all added to the obesity problem as we have evolved as a species. All of those are just factors in our diets. I haven't even mentioned our sedentary lifestyle. A whole lot of factors came together over time that made obesity inevitable in countries like our own.

"Curious what creationists would use as an explanation...."

I'm sure they'll just say that "God" told Adam that the earth was made for man and we should reap the benefits of it. Some people just overdo it!. Whatever their answer, it'll be idiocy to the highest degree.

January 5, 2013 at 11:09 p.m.
DJHBRAINERD said...

This is a very strange article. Yeah obesity? Living longer but brush aside quality of life.... cant get around, cant bathe yourself, cant even go for a walk with out fatigue... yeah obesity... Back pain knee pain surgeries sleep apnea o2 tanks obstructions mood swings the list never ends. Diabetes chf , gonna chop off little bits of you at a time.... yeah obesity is so cool! Why is this even in print?

January 6, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I agree with you to a point but it's not hard to grow certain crops as long as you have arable land. All you need are the seeds and some water.

As a possessor of two black thumbs, I know I will be begging others to trade for food. I couldn't grow weeds if I tried.

That said, the food distribution in most countries is a day to day operation; those in rural areas have the space (not always the water) to grow crops but it takes time, and things can deteriorate faster than one season. If you live in a city, you are screwed. I had this (unsuccessful) argument with Ken Orr, who seems to think there is room on the earth for billions more people, without taking into account the arable land, fresh water, and energy needs to supply one human for a year. Depending on the productivity of the land, the water and the skill of the human, it is pretty high.

Of course, that's a little off topic. I am amazed at the extremes on earth: watching people live hand-to-mouth in developing nations while we feed beef to our pets here. That you can feed your family entirely by dumpster-diving behind a supermarket speaks volumes.

January 6, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Stupid article.

The reason many of us are obese is due to consumption of low grade chemical and sugar laden processed food. I would hesitate to feed most of the boxed and canned goods in the centre of the grocery store to pigs, at least if I intended to eat those pigs.

Save a life, stop eating that stuff!

January 8, 2013 at 2:41 p.m.
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