Much of America has a problem. We’re fat. Yes, I admit it. I need to lose some “lbs”. While I’m certainly not as bad off as some folks, according to my recent doctor’s visit, I need to shed 47 lbs. to be in my “ideal” weight range. That six pack I had just 17 years ago now seems a thing of the past. It’s under there somewhere. And finding it is no easy feat.
I’ve noticed over the years that it seems too many of us have come to accept being overweight or obese. In fact, there seems to be an all out movement in some segments of society to just “accept ourselves as we are”. While acknowledging that we’ve also had a generation of being “bombarded with images of the Hollywood body”, one author summed up the pushback this way:
“So society fought back, launching a movement that encouraged teenagers and young adults to stop comparing themselves to others and love themselves the way they were created. Society started telling us that there’s no need for us to change because we’re perfect just the way we are.
“But have we catapulted ourselves too far in the other direction?”
It’s an excellent question. And one that I believe is deserving of consideration.
A recent article demonstrated that childhood obesity in America is getting worse. In fact, North Dakota ranks #2 in the nation for childhood obesity. And while adults in North Dakota rank 15th, that means that 31.9% of us are obese. According to the CDC, obesity rates in the country, as a whole, have more than tripled since the 1970’s. These are not things that we should be proud of. Nor should we be telling ourselves “we’re perfect just the way we are”.
I’m pretty sure most of us know the risks associated with such an unhealthy style of living– high blood pressure, heart disease, bad cholesterol, stroke, and the list goes on. So, why would we ever allow ourselves to adopt the mentality that these things are okay? The previously mentioned author said it this way:
“Now before anyone yells at me, I am 100% behind us learning to love our flaws and our imperfections. Each one of us is unique, and it’s important that we learn to embrace our uniqueness instead of constantly wishing we were taller or thinner or more muscular. However, telling people who are thirty, forty, fifty pounds overweight that they’re perfect the way they are isn’t contributing to anyone’s self-confidence. It’s contributing to an epidemic.
“Society is trying to tell us that loving ourselves means accepting our bodies as they are, when what it really means is accepting our bodies as they were made. None of us came into this world obese; it’s not how we were made and it’s not how our bodies were meant to be. The true definition of self-love is not telling ourselves that obesity is beautiful and that our bodies look perfect with thirty pounds of excess fat. Rather, it’s loving our bodies enough to take care of them. Self-love is loving ourselves enough to change.”
This is obviously easier for some than it is others. Believe me, I know. The pounds don’t come off as easily as they once did. Nevertheless, pretending that it’s okay won’t fix the problem either. It’s clear to me that what I need isn’t just a diet, it’s a change in lifestyle. The pizza, cheeseburgers, and evenings cuddled up with a half gallon of my favorite ice cream– well, they gotta go. There’s just too much to live for.
I wonder if that isn’t the key– doing it for the right reasons? Finding the motivation to be our best? I think that it is. I was holding our two youngest children the other day and contemplating their futures. Then it hit me. Statistically speaking, I may not live to see my youngest child reach the age I am now. Kind of a sad thought. Yet, won’t my chances increase that I can if I make healthier decisions? I think so.
The World Health Organization has declared obesity an “epidemic”. In fact, they even run “public awareness” campaigns on the subject. Even our own North Dakota Department of Health has a “Division of Family Health & Nutrition” for the specific purpose of “promot[ing] healthy eating and physical activity in order to prevent and reduce overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases”.
Then there’s people like former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg who, at one point, was part of banning large soda’s— among other things. Is this really what its come to– government advocacy and intervention? This South Jersey author seems to think so:
“If our country does not know how to self-govern themselves and treat their bodies and children’s bodies with essential nutrients, should the government intervene? The health of American citizens is the governments number one priority, yet the continue to sit back and watch people not live up to their fullest potential because health risks related to obesity. We as citizens do have to right to choose what we eat, but when we do choose we should have to capability and knowledge to be able to choose beneficial meals that will only increase of well being. Having chips, soda, and sweets are certainly not a crime but they government can certainly make it less available and more expensive then fruit, milk, and veggies. We need to take charge and save our children from diseases that are on the rise, and if we cant, the government should.”
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us. After all, these are pretty much the same people who think government should provide healthcare for everyone. So, wouldn’t it naturally follow that these same people, who believe healthcare is a universal right, would also believe that government should have a say in matters of health? After all, it’s a matter of “public health”, right? Why not tax the heck out of unhealthy living? Or throw some taxpayer dollars at the problem?
Here’s why… government can’t fix our fat problem. They just can’t. Heck, they have trouble running the Post Office and can’t even trim a horribly obese budget. Why anyone would think they should have a role in matters of health is baffling to me.
But yes, what we do need is personal responsibility. We need to stop embracing obesity, just like we need to stop embracing big government. We’ll be better off without both.