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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Don't Shoot the Messenger

Here is an interesting Editorial in the Globe and Mail on not being judgmental about people with obesity. The author is Irving Gold, Chairman of the Canadian Obesity Network's Board of Directors.

The editorial speaks for itself and there is little point in repeating it here.

The reason for my post is mainly to point out the interesting discussion with 100s of comments that were provoked by this Editorial. The range of comments very much reflects the nature of the current discussion on obesity by the general public and nicely shows how emotional people can get when discussing this subject (both on the pro and con side).

To me, the increase in obesity has always been just a symptom of living in an obesogenic environment.

The fact that this environment affects some people more than others is not different from other situations, where for the same level of exposure some suffer the consequences while others get home free.

Not every smoker gets a heart attack, not everyone who eats a ton of salt gets a stroke and not everyone who breathes in polluted air gets an asthma attack. But yes, more smoking means more heart attacks, more salt means more strokes, more pollution means more asthma.

Similarly, not everyone who indulges in junk food or lies on the couch becomes severely obese. In fact, we all know people (I call them the mutants), who can eat ridiculous amounts of food and never seem to gain a gram of fat. In fact, there is a whole "weight-gain" industry out there catering to young men who are tired of having sand kicked in their face by the jocks.

Obviously, the people likely to be affected most by our obesogenic environment are those that have familial, emotional, sociocultural or medical reasons for eating too much and not moving enough - the same people, who would have been the largest even 100 years ago. They are the magnifying glass through which we fully realise the profound impact of our environment on population weight.

The fact that we have more people with obesity is sending us a clear message: let's clean up our act and address the issues that are causing our obesogenic enviroment and provide help to those who are struggling the most.

Don't shoot the messenger!


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