The obesity epidemic

A touchy subject, and let me start by saying I’m most definitely writing this without judgement. How could I be judgemental on such a subject. It’d  be a case of the pot calling the kettle black for sure as I too am considerably over my ideal weight.

I was sitting at a picnic table overlooking the beach the other day, and couldn’t help noticing how many of the beach goers would have fallen into the morbidly obese category. I’m not talking a few kilos of excess weight here. I’m talking a weight of probably almost double their ideal weight. And I’m not talking one or two people. This would have been close to half of the adults in the beach.

How has this happened? Is it an unhealthy quantity of consumed takeaway meals? Is it that meal sizes are now huge? Is it because we’re constantly bombarded with food information, thus keeping food uppermost in our minds constantly.

There’s the healthy eating pyramid which has been drummed into us for years, albeit today’s pyramid is different to the one that was around 20 years ago. There’s all the information on so called superfoods. There’s the food fads (as apposed to genuine allergies) – the gluten intolerances, the dairy intolerances, the no meat, the sometimes meat, the no eggs….. the list goes on. Every magazine, and almost every newspaper will have at least one article divulging some new superfood, or some new food culprit that’s contribulting to our health problems.

And then there’s the cooking shows – there’s too many of them to list, but everyday there’s at least one or two we can tune into on our televisions. I don’t know about you, but I rarely watch any of these shows, and the rare times I do, I often find myself reaching for the chocolate as my appetite is stimulated. Watching the gastronomic delights being cooked up and consumed in front of me certainly gets my digestive juices working on overdrive.

The supermarket aisles are choc full of jars and packets of goodness what that you just have to add to meat to conjure up some sort of gastronomic delight. I have no idea what’s in them and who buys them, but the supermarkets wouldn’t be giving up their shelf space to these convenience foods if they weren’t selling heaps of them.

Like  I said, this is written without judgement. I just wish there was an easy answer. In my own case, it’s not takeaway, it’s not watching an abundance of cooking shows, and it’s not buying jars or packets of ready made sauces. Most times I cook from scratch, and I’m conscious of trying to incorporate the daily five veg and two fruits.

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Most days I get reasonably close. I’ve never succumbed to reduced fat dairies even when it was fashionable. I guess real food has always been my focus, and full fat dairy my biggest weakness. Together with a love of cooking, lack of self disapline when nibbles are on offer, and a haphazard, unregimented exercise regime I too weigh close to the morbidly obese line.

I know it’s easy for those that are slim to sit in judgement with statements like, ‘how can they let themselves get so big’. If you are reading this, and have made such judgements, let me assure you – THERE’S NOT AN OVERWEIGHT PERSON ON THIS PLANET THAT WOULDNT BE SLIM IF THEY COULD BE. It may seem easy to those that are either just fortunate by nature of their genes, or have sufficient self control and self disapline to remain within a healthy weight range. But for those of us like me, for whom the necessary attributes for remaining slim and healthy don’t come naturally, it’s bloody hard, if not completely impossible.

But this isn’t about justifying my own obesity, it’s just about wondering why. What used to be a rarity, is now evident in epidemic proportions. The culprit was recently considered to be fats, now it’s sugar. When I was growing up (back in the old days – yes l’m over 60), everyone had potatoes mashed with lots of butter and full cream milk almost nightly. We had our Friday night fish and chips, most often cooked in dripping. We had our Sunday roast dinners with several peeled and roasted potatoes cooked in the fatty pan drippings and smothered in gravy, also made from the fatty pan drippings. We had our rice puddings and custards to follow our main meals – made with full cream milk and real sugar. Yes, there were still people around with weight problems for sure. It just wasn’t in epidemic proportions.

The mind boggles. We didn’t question our food then. Meat, potatoes, and an orange and a green veg all cooked and served with sufficient salt and fats to make it palatable. Then a good serve of dairy to follow in the form of some sort of sugar sweetened concoction, usually with  some added carbs.

We’ve been trying to rectify our diets for the passed fifty years. There’s an abundance of research that goes into it and an abundance of information now available – yet the problem is getting worse. I don’t know why. What are your thoughts?

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21 thoughts on “The obesity epidemic

  1. For me…when I found out I couldn’t eat gluten I started eating gluten free goods…argh so much sugar. I have now lost about 15-16 kg by not eating gluten free goods. If I want something sweet I bake my own and reduce the sugar content. Or I add honey. I eat roughly most days only two meals…brunch and dinner. no packet stuff. However since injuring my knee…I felt sorry for myself and what did i do…eat biscuits etc.. my housemate mother kept buying me sweet biscuits…and i ate them. I have stopped again and Im back to my “clean eating” so I have removed the couple of kg’s that I put on. I still have a few more to go. I do wonder what and how people can eat all the rubbish they do. I see chips, chocolates soft drinks packaged meals etc in their trolleys. The line up at the take aways astounds me. I am lucky that I don’t like take away.

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  2. Me too, I don’t like takeaway much, and most times my shopping trolley looks a picture of health. Paul will often come home with a bag of crisps or corn chips – he says, because they were on special. Although it’s a rare thing for me to buy them, if they’re in the house I’ll eat them for sure. Recently someone brought us over a box of chocolates, the ones called ‘favourites’. They were overly sweet, and absolutely awful. Did I still eat them? I absolutely did. I don’t know why!

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  3. Omgoodness yes thats my trolley too. Greg my housemate/carer is the one who buys the chocolate and chips. do I watch him eat them. Yes and next minute I have my hand in the bag stuffing them into my mouth. I always feel awful after. Oh they are sweet those “Favorites” but yes if someone bought them for me I would still eat them 🙂

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  4. I understand, from being morbidly obese to mown obese having lost 82 kgs I do understand
    I think have become less active in the last few decades 😕 and the availability of ordering food and not cooking etc

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  5. It’s definitely a combination for sure. I just find it credible that so much research, and so much knowledge at our fingertips, the problem is compounding. It doesn’t make any sense.

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  6. I agree the food choice we make are so important not just for the looks for the health as well. Moderation in eating and physical exercise is also very important! great post Chris!

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  7. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. To my mind processed foods and reduced activity could be the difference between our generation and those that are younger. Cooking your own food gives you control over the quantity and quality of ingredients. As for activity, well even driving a car was hard work in days gone by. Remember changing gears and life before power steering and waving your arm out the window to ‘indicate’.

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  8. I think bigger meals are a huge thing too. I remover my mum cooking a leg of mutton for our Sunday roast, feeding 9 from it, and using the left overs for shepherds pie on the Monday night – also feeding 9. Now the same sized roast would be lucky to feed 6 for one meal.

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  9. Great post Chris! I think the obesity epidemic can be blamed squarely on the increased consumption of processed and junk foods which are quick and easy and the move away from fresh, natural ingredients and home cooking from scratch which is time consuming. Combine that with vastly increased sugar consumption and its addictive nature and you’ve pretty much got the answer. Once people have reached a point at which they are obese exercise then becomes more difficult for them and therefore they are less inclined to do it. The food industry needs to look at what they are adding but we need to take far more responsibility for the food choices that we make.

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  10. I wish you were right, but I think there’s more to it than that. Im probably going to sound like I’m making excuses and not being honest with myself – I would eat takeaway no more than 3 or 4 times a year. I cook from scratch (very few added ready made sauces etc), and I eat a good balanced diet with lots of fruit, salads and veg. I know I eat too much bread, and I eat some home made cakes, and I have 1 tsp of sugar in my one coffee of the day. I do exercise, but not enough. I weigh a lot, lot more than I should. It’s honestly not because of takeaway, or ready prepared meals or meal additives, and not from eating or drinking an abundance of sugary drinks. I think there’s more to the obesity epidemic than that. I don’t know what it is – but in my case it’s not junk food, or even sugar related.

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  11. You are right Chris it’s a really complicated subject. When you say that you eat too much bread, how much are you talking about and is it homemade or sliced white from the supermarket? Also do you know what your daily calorie intake is? Would really love to help if I can but understand if you don’t want to answer this type of personal question :O)

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  12. I wouldn’t have a clue on my calorie intake. We don’t eat supermarket bread. Sometimes we make multigrain, but lately we’ve been buying a grain authentic sour dough and a white sour dough each fortnight. We slice them and keep them in the freezer. We also buy 1/2 dozen slow rise (24 hour rise) white rolls weekly – 3 each, We don’t eat low fat anything, and I definitely eat to much. But it’s not takeaway, and I don’t use jars of sauces or anything like that. Thanks for the offer for the help, but basically I’m happy with what I eat, even though I’d like to be thinner and fitter. I am working on the fitter at the moment trying recover what I lost after a recent injury.

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  13. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I’d like to magically change about me – just happier not putting the necessary changes into place at this point in time. One day perhaps…

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