Frogs, famously (and apocryphally), will sit in an uncovered pot of water that is slowly brought to a boil, waiting there oblivious to their predicament until they die, instead of simply jumping out, which they could do at any time. This story has been used instructively in many contexts across many years to highlight the difficulty that we can have in recognizing the dangerous implications of slow change – from the menace of the Soviet Union to Global Warming.
It is tempting to use the same analogy to describe the gradual rise of obesity in America – in this case, the “pot” in which we float is our industrial food system that has over time created a nutritional environment that is systematically fattening us to death. The CDC has given us the perfect visual representation of how obesity levels have indeed been raised to the “boiling point” (I’ve shown the data progression below in 5 year increments from 1985 through 2010).
Let’s look at the definition of the word “epidemic” —
“Spreading rapidly and extensively by infection and affecting many individuals in an area or population at the same time, as of a disease or illness. (Source: The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, by Houghton Mifflin Company)
I’m going fly in the face of our current media and government rhetoric by saying NO, OBESITY IS NOT AN EPIDEMIC. There is no virus, infection, or transmission mechanism that would characterize a true epidemic. It would certainly be true to say that obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Unlike epidemics, however, the solution is not a breakthrough medical “cure” or eradication of a virus.
So, why is the term ‘epidemic’ used so frequently with regard to obesity?
Are Prescriptions and Surgery the right options to battle obesity?
When you go to your doctor’s office, prescriptions and surgery are the two alternatives for weight loss and weight related illnesses that most traditional physicians are equipped to offer. Both options are discrete and concrete treatments for the symptoms of obesity, but they do not impact the real, underlying causes of excess weight or obesity – namely, the industrial food system and modern eating habits.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about WeightNot, and for visiting our blog, WeightNotes.
As the CEO and Founder of WeightNot, I believe it’s essential to personally write all of our blog posts, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to do so. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve got some opinions and perspective that inform both the programs we offer and our view of the food environment in which we all live – this blog is my way of sharing our philosophy with you directly.