Why are we getting fat? Our average weight is steadily increasing and not just in Americans. It is happening in all societies and it tends to get worse with age.
So, who cares? What is the problem with so many of us being fat? How does this effect those of us who try to take care of ourselves? Simple. Right in the pocketbook. Fat people cost way more in medical expense over their lifetime. 20% (and counting) of our medical expense comes directly from the problems related to obesity. In fact, obesity is now the single largest preventable cause of death in the United States. Remember when it used to be cigarettes?
Nobody that I know of wants to be fat. I certainly did not want to be fat. I found out I was fat at the age of 5. I was splashing around in the kid’s wading pool at Sidney Hills Country Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It was a Jewish Tennis club. We had to have our own because we were not exactly welcome at other clubs in the area. Metro Boston, 1960. The club is long gone - I think they turned it into condos. Anyway, I’m splashing around and some older boys walked by. One of them pointed at me and laughed, "Look, he has titties like a girl!” I’ve been self-conscious ever since, and I will not go swimming. Just don’t like it. Human brains. Amazing.
In spite of a trillion dollars a year worth of diets, diet food, drugs, surgery, and wishful thinking we are just getting fatter. WHY? Nobody high up enough seems to want to explain this. I suppose it is hard to make money on the truth. Fortunately, I'm fueled by a certain childhood memory and not by the promise of millions so here's some truth: we are getting fat because this is no longer our environment. Fish out of water, buffalo in a library. Dysfunctional! We did not evolve to function correctly in this environment because this environment evolved faster than we have over the last 10,000 years. And it's totally artificial. Nature did not do this, WE DID. Our physiology and instincts evolved in a much different environment where survival was a daily trial. You see anyone getting chased by a lion lately? See anyone chasing a lion? Our hunger instincts were designed around that level of activity, not this level of activity. That kind of diet, not this one. In the context of the lifestyle we lived at the time which is light-years away from the lifestyle we have now. We evolved over a three-to-four-million year period from Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens. One hominid after another. Our species popped up about 200,000 years ago in Southeastern Africa. Only about 10,000 years ago did we discover we could actually grow stuff and domesticate animals so that we no longer had to run around foraging and hunting. We grew so much food that a lot of us did not have to go hunting anymore at all. We could do cool stuff instead like make furniture and fly to the moon. In the process, we created on environment in which food was readily available and the level of physical activity dropped radically. Presto! Fat people. So, what do we do? We recreate the environment we came from in modern terms. Some of us are starting to get the idea. We eat what humans are supposed to eat and we maintain the activity levels humans are supposed to have. In this context our hunger instinct works just fine. But there are pitfalls particularity for us older people which are mostly instinctive and psychological. Arguing with that brain again. In the end, the solution to this problem is to teach a whole generation of young parents how to raise children for the current environment – one where much more subtle and pervasive predators threaten us daily.