What I’m about to say to you is not going to be for the faint of heart. It will be direct and unapologetic. Unfortunately, the time for niceties have long since passed and we are currently dealing with a crisis that goes far beyond what the mainstream media will articulate. America is at a crossroads. Covid-19 has put us in a place where we now must make a choice on whether we want to change or not. There has been a pandemic plaguing our society long before Covid-19 reared its ugly head. This pandemic I’m referencing has been talked about in the past superficially but hardly acknowledged. 

The pandemic I’m speaking of is obesity and unlike Covid-19 it doesn’t seem to be subsiding. What’s even worse is that it’s getting worse each year. 

What Is Obesity?

Before we get started let’s get clear on a few definitions and add in a few disclaimers. Since this article is about obesity I’ll start there. 

Obesity: the condition of being grossly fat or overweight.

Google isn’t very delicate in how it defines obesity. If that definition offends you I have a few more that may be more to your liking. 

Obesity: the condition involving excessive fat that increases the risk of other health conditions.  

Obesity: well above one’s normal weight. 

Obesity: has been more precisely defined by the National Institutes of Health (the NIH) as a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 and above.

How about one from the Obesity Medicine Organization? 

Obesity is defined as “a chronic, relapsing, multifactorial, neurobehavioral disease, wherein an increase in body fat promotes adipose tissue dysfunction and abnormal fat mass physical forces, resulting in adverse metabolic, biomechanical, and psychosocial health consequences.”

I think you get the point. No matter how you want to package it or whatever definition you choose there is no mistaking the scientific fact that obesity leads to serious life-threatening health consequences. 

Many in today’s media will now tell you that you should accept your body for what it is. It’s fate and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s a good thing to be unhealthy and to live in what amounts to serious physical and emotional pain. Obesity is abusive to our health no matter how hard we try to accept it and love it. Obesity has no interest in being our friend, it’s only interest is to slowly kill us. 

In the spirit of martyrdom we began to champion something that kills people every single day. And to what effect? Is it because we’ve become so fragile and simple-minded that we can no longer handle constructive criticism? Is it really too difficult for us to put in just a little bit of extra time to get our bodies healthy? This is precisely why the sheep shouldn’t speak. We’ve resorted to dispelling concrete science in an effort to protect our fragile egos. We’ve attached emotion to science when they mix just about as well as oil and water. 

Contrary to what now seems to be popular belief, obesity doesn’t bring about any benefits, not a single one. To think otherwise, is the equivalent of aligning yourself with the same people that thought smoking was beneficial prior to the 1960’s. 

The Statistics 

I’m here to tell you that we can change for the better and in the end save ourselves from a life of suffering caused by a preventable disease. 

Here’s the caveat though. We must make change ourselves. Nobody is coming to save us and we  shouldn’t expect them to. But here’s something we can expect if things don’t change soon. 

“Risks associated with obesity include hypertension, insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, and, in some studies, high total and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. There is an increased mortality from endometrial cancer in women and from colorectal cancer in men. Chronic hypoxia and hypercapnia, sleep apnea, gout, and degenerative joint disease can occur with more severe obesity.”

None of these diseases make one live longer, live more prosperously, or add any sort of additional comfort. There’s no reason for it and I’m tired of pandering to those that will not get out of their own way. 

You may be asking yourself, “if obesity is such a big deal then why has it been talked about less and less?” Why have we become so used to it and even accept it? While I can’t give one singular reason (situations that have been politicized are multifactorial) but one of the major reasons lies within a new found “fat acceptance” movement. This movement sparked the dad bod craze of a couple years ago. Where it had become acceptable for a man to look like the human equivalent of a melted ice cream cone. It is the same movement that has people applauding others who choose to be extremely overweight. It has given rise to an ideology that seems to comfort the minds of some at their body’s expense. In an effort to circumnavigate our past errors we’ve chosen to forsake science in an effort to lie to ourselves. This is how we’re coping. 

In all fairness, I’ll throw everyone a bone. Getting in shape is hard, especially when you’re extremely out of shape. Forming healthy habits is difficult. Meal prepping can be time consuming. Doing research is boring and confusing. The food industry has developed foods that act like drugs, giving us feelings of euphoria. While these may be facts to some extent they are also, and more importantly, excuses. 

Where there is a will, there’s a way. But we no longer have the willpower to do what’s necessary and we’ll suffer the consequences nonetheless. 

“Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. There are 7.8 billion people total on Earth. ¼ of the population is overweight. Of these 1.9 billion people, over 650 million were obese. Breaking it down precentage wise, 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese. Most of the world’s population live in countries where being overweight and obese kills more people than being underweight does. 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2018 with numbers contining to climb. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. Obesity is preventable.

Those stats and quotes came directly from the World Health Organization. I see people on the internet claim they are offended because they were “fat shamed.” To that I’ll reply that I’m offended that 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese and will more than likely grow up to be obese. 

Millions of kids suffer from the crushing weight of their own bodies. That’s the true crime in all of this. How is this okay? 

If we’re not willing to fix ourselves then we won’t be able to tend to those we care about. We will require others to care for us. We won’t be able to contribute to society as much as we’re capable of. Our kids and our grandkids will suffer. And it’s not because we’ve been dealt a bad hand, it’s because we chose to fold. 

As it pertains to current events, a study by NYU scientists has now pinpointed that those who are considered obese make up the large majority of patients who require a ventilator due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Not shocking in the slightest, but somehow this detail seems to go unnoticed by those reporting the news. In addition to this finding, the same study said that age and people who are overweight are the ones dying at much higher rates. According to Bloomberg, in Italy 99% of patients who died had other health conditions. Those patients with 3 or more comorbidities made up 50% of deaths. 75% of those deaths had high blood pressure about 35% had diabetes and about a third had heart disease.

We can’t control our age, father time remains undefeated. However, we can control our weight. 

Our Pockets Are Getting Shallower 

If you’re not on board yet I have one more point to make. Being obese will pull money out of our wallets. According to a study done by Adam Biener PhD, John Cawley PhD & Chad Meyerhoefer PhD as well as data based on the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), indicates that, between 2005 and 2010, the amount by which obesity related medical costs per obese adult rose from $3,070 to $3,508 which is an increase of about 14%. Furthermore, during that same period, “the aggregate costs of obesity in the adult, noninstitutionalized population of the US rose from $212.4 billion to $315.8 billion (both in 2010 dollars), an increase of 48.7 percent.” What’s even scarier is that these figures are from 10 years ago and there has been no stoppage in the obesity pandemic. 

Figures based on 2018 health reports now state that obesity related health care costs rose to $344 billion dollars. That information comes from the Partnership To Fight Chronic Disease. 

So, what does this all mean? To put it simply it means we are suffocating our economy because of increased sick days, medical costs, insurance costs, and ultimately funeral costs. Then, when a pandemic occurs we shelter at home because we are not healthy enough to withstand a virus. Our lungs are collapsing in on themselves from the sheer weight of our own bodies, adding a virus to that is a death sentence. 

We shelter at home, nobody can work, the economy crumbles, and our healthcare systems are still overrun – still think this isn’t a big deal? Or that health guidelines are a social construct made to make us feel bad about our bodies? 

Others Are At Risk 

There is a separate factor that often doesn’t get included when obesity statistics are vocalized. Being obese puts others who are not obese at risk, mainly medicial professionals. My brother-in-law is a paramedic and it is all-too-often that he encounters someone that is having some sort of complication but cannot fend for themselves because of their weight. The ambulance is called and he and multiple other people are called in to extract the person from their bedroom. They can’t move, but it’s not because they are so physically ill that they are incompasitated and it’s not because their legs are broken. It is because they are just too big to move themselves. I’ve seen him laid up on his off days with various injuries due to lifting people 3 times his size or more. 

Just the other day he was called in to fly someone to the hospital. This individual was so big that the helicopter nearly buckled under their weight. If the weather conditions hadn’t been conducive for flying, this individual would not have received the medical care they needed when they needed it.  This individual was 450 pounds. 

Maybe I should take my personal stories out of it. According to the National Health Services of The United Kingdom in 2016 923 medical workers were injured due to treating obese patients which totaled four years and seven months of lost sick time. This results in lost pay for workers and hospitals cannot treat patients as effectively or timely. 

When we choose to be overweight we are choosing to make ourselves sick. We are choosing a life of suffering and decay. And when a pandemic arises, like Covid-19, we essentially stamp our own death certificate. Our bodies are amazing at keeping us alive despite the circumstances we put them through but eventually our bodies do reach a breaking point. 

Conclusion

Just to clarify, I’m not saying we all need to walk around looking like supermodels or bodybuilders with 5% body fat and 20 inch arms. But it is not unreasonable to ask that we stop weighing over 300+ pounds that sends our BMIs through the roof. Shouldn’t we want to feel good in our own bodies? You can’t tell me that getting winded from walking up a flight of stairs makes anyone feel good about themselves, mentally or physically. 

In science, there are almost no extremely clear answers. Very few actual laws exist and there are typically two sides to every story, but not when it comes to obesity. Usually when someone wants to argue a point they can find a study that supports their argument. 

I’ve presented you with the data. The unbiased and substantiated data. I’ve given you both anecdotal findings as well as scientific research. If you’re someone in this position, then you should leave this article a little scared. 

But there is hope and I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be you. I’m not saying all of this because I do not care. In fact, I’m saying this BECAUSE I care. If I didn’t care, I promise you, I wouldn’t be this upset. I wouldn’t write this article and I certainly wouldn’t speak with such conviction. 

Being obese doesn’t make someone a bad person. It doesn’t make them less of a human being and it doesn’t make anybody not worth celebrating as a person.  Being the fat kid that gets picked on was never okay but forgoing science as well as our health is a pendulum swing into the jaws of death. As Covid-19 burns through the world’s collective consciousness and reeks havoc upon everything that was once normal, obesity lies in wait, like the embers left in its wake of a forest fire. Instead of bringing about new life the embers linger only to be reignited later. While obesity is a problem, it is a problem that can be solved. 

I can’t stress to you enough how important your health is, not only to you but to those around you. It’s important to those that love you and want to see you live a long and healthy life. Good health brings one happiness and both can be yours with a little bit of elbow grease, a different perspective, and a strengthened resolve. 

Our society must choose to make the change now. The reckoning has come and we have two choices. Make the sacrifices now for our long term well-being or we can choose to die in coffins that we can’t squeeze into. The choice is ours. 

P.S. I’ll be writing a continuation post about strategies you can take to improve your health and overall well-being. You’re not in this alone. 

 

References 

 

(2017, August 29). What Is the Definition of Obesity? | Obesity Medicine Association. Retrieved April 14, 2020, from https://obesitymedicine.org/definition-of-obesity/

 

 (1991, June 1). Health implications of obesity – Oxford Academic Journals. Retrieved April 14, 2020, from https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/53/6/1595S/4732416

 

 (2020, March 3). Obesity and overweight – World Health Organization. Retrieved April 14, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

 

 “Age and obesity are the biggest risk factors for COVID-19 ….” 13 Apr. 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/04/13/age-and-obesity-are-biggest-risk-factors-for-covid-19-hospitalization/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.

 

 “99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says.” 18 Mar. 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/99-of-those-who-died-from-virus-had-other-illness-italy-say. Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.

 

 “The High and Rising Costs of Obesity to the US Health Care ….” 7 Mar. 2017, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-016-3968-8. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.

 

 “New Data Shows Obesity Costs Will Grow to $344 Billion by ….” https://www.fightchronicdisease.org/latest-news/new-data-shows-obesity-costs-will-grow-344-billion-2018. Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.