Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Fat gets fatter

Mirror, mirror on the wall, are my bulges big or small?  Chances are the answer is disconcerting.  Now that we are ready to air our skimpy, slinky outfits for the long, hot summer ahead, we may be dismayed to discover that some things do not fit any more.  What was well hidden under long, heavy winter garments must soon be revealed.  How does last year’s bathing-suit look?  Has weight silently crept up on us like a thief in the night, as it has on the rest of the world? 

The World Health Organization,(WHO), has been warning of a global obesity epidemic for the last two decades, but to no avail. The rate of rising fat is alarming and today WHO officially urges governments to take immediate action, before the battle is lost.

The scourge of obesity has plagued developed countries at an alarming rate, spreading rapidly to underdeveloped countries, and may already be out of control.  In an effort to avoid repeating the delayed action against tobacco, Health Centers around the world are paying heed.  For years abuse of tobacco took too many lives unnecessarily.  Unless individual nations move now to rein in expanding waistlines, “we will have missed the boat”.

Obesity is a global menace that disproportionately affects women and ironically enough, the poor. It threatens children as well as adults and risks bankrupting the health of nations that fail to act early enough.  Governments as usual are slow to respond, it is therefore left to informed individuals to carry the burden.

Surely you have heard or read all this before, but as long as scientists persist on stressing the perils of obesity with new  research and studies, we feel  obligated to return to that ungainly subject.

The remarkable increase of several chronic diseases is directly related to obesity, such as Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and several forms of cancer.  A recent study by the American Cancer Society produced chilling and irrefutable results.  After 16 years evaluating 900,000 people, who were cancer-free when the study began, concluded that excess weight accounted for 11 forms of cancer, 8 more than was previously known.  “It is absolutely convincing and therefore it is frightful”, said Dr Donna Ryan of the Pennington Research Centre.

Obesity makes cancer hard to diagnose, harder to treat and hardest of all to remove surgically.  The extra weight also affects the locomotive system from the ankles, knees, hips, spinal column and even muscles that are so clogged with fat, they cannot function properly.  Unattractive and cumbersome it leaves its victim unhappy with his predicament.  The concept that fat people are ‘jolly’ is oratorical and over-rated. The life-span of the obese is decidedly shorter.

A new word, “globesity” has now been coined to reflect the escalation of global obesity and overweight.  Millions are likely to suffer from the myriad disorders brought about by excess fat. For the first time in history the number of overweight individuals around the world has overcome the number of those underweight. There are 1.7 billion obese or overweight people and scientists consider the situation “a ticking bomb” for life expectancy levels.  If nothing is done to stop the trend, life expectancy will actually go down in less than a century. Is it not a great pity for Science to have toiled for decades to raise man’s life expectancy by every medical and technological means available, only to see it diminish because man is eating too much and moving too little?

For thousands of years man struggled to get enough to eat.  He worked hard for his bread and butter, and suddenly there was too much bread and too much butter.  Yet our bodies remain essentially the same as those of our ancestors, and food eaten in excess has become harmful rather than useful.  Then along came that painful discovery…Diet.   The world’s first diet book was published in 1850, by William Banting.   It suggested a low-carbohydrate plan which is as good today as it was then.

Diets are now a big business exceeding $50 billion in annual revenues from diet foods, centres, programmes, books, pills, beverages, drugs etc. There are over 900 diets and all will help you lose weight, but 95% of those who diet will regain the weight and then some.

It is ironic that most advanced nations have the highest rate of obesity.  The US leads with 60% obesity or overweight amongst its population. The reasons are many, not the least of which is ‘JUNK FOOD”.  American Junk food has invaded the world much as American pop culture has.  Their blue jeans, movies, I Pads, pop-tunes are all fine, but their junk food is a threat to a healthy long life. 

 Are you not enthralled by your reflection in the mirror?  What about all those summer holidays and beach parties you are looking forward to?  There is only one way out… a way that will disappoint you perhaps, but it is the medically sane and sensible way.  Start moving and eat a healthy diet, making every calorie count.

No crash diet please!  Physicians strongly advise against them.  Cut out the sugar and starch, consume a moderate amount of protein and load up on veggies and fruits.   An uglier word than diet is….Exercise!.  Start now and that divine figure will start to appear. Perhaps your mirror can wait till next summer for a lfat-free, healthier YOU.


” More die in the United States of too much food than of too little.”

                     John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)


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