A recent “article” – actually a “commentary” which apparently does not need to be grounded in reality – by Patrick Luciani refuted the view that the food industry is at the root of the obesity epidemic.
He begins by pointing out that BMI is flawed (which is true) but this does not mean that we don’t have an excess of overweight and obesity in Canada as Mr. Luciani would have us believe. Just because the measurement tool isn’t accurate doesn’t mean that we don’t have a problem.
Luciani continues by suggesting that some people choose to be fat and are content with their weight. Yes, there certainly are people who are overweight and are perfectly content and healthy. However, there are also many others who are unhappy with their weight and who are suffering negative consequences both social and health.
His third argument is that humans have always been gluttons and that the onus is on us as individuals to control our eating; not on the food industry. These three arguments don’t seem all that cohesive to me.
I certainly agree that the food industry is not entirely to blame for the state of obesity in our country. It’s got many different causes and the food industry is but one of them, albeit a large one.
For once I was really impressed with the comments on this article. Rather than rephrase them I’m going to share a few below:
1. The writer is promoting a harmful line of thought when he says:
“And modern medicine has made it easier to carry around that extra weight. Cholesterol-controlling statins, diabetes and blood-pressure medications and bariatric surgeries have lowered the medical costs of those few extra pounds.”
What we take from this is that an unhealthy life-style is no problem – just take some pills.
The treatments he casually mentions have their own limitations and side effects. Aside from this, many older people are suffering from weight exacerbated joint problems that severely impair their mobility and/or require costly surgery.
2. Some of us like the way we are just fine. Some of us don’t.
3. Such paper thin arguments piled up to justify the author’s agenda. The BMI is flawed (which it is) so there is no obesity epidemic? There were some overweight people 300 years ago so we can ignore the things that are leading to so many of us being overweight now. There was a poorly designed tax in another country that didn’t work so we should just give up on broader solutions. People are overweight because they simply choose to eat more and that’s uninfluenced by our evolutionary drives, our upbringing, or our environment that encourages overeating (research would beg to differ).
The insinuation that public health advocates are inflating the crisis for their own benefit is a typical projection by those who do view the world from a “what can I gain” perspective, not the “how can we best help people help themselves” approach advocated by those who want to do something.
It’s no wonder the author’s book was nominated for a Donner Prize as it furthers the Donner Foundation’ agenda to denigrate what communities and governments can do and put the blame on the individual.
4. This author’s opinion is truly a stretch. What percent of the population do professional athletes make up? Definitely not enough to impact the overall obesity statistics. There are many, many reasons for people gaining weight, but all age groups are getting heavier and this needs to be addressed. In our current lifestyles making the healthier choices is the more difficult choice and any way we can change this is worthwhile. Trying to deny or explain away the obesity statistics is not helpful.