There is much discussion in the first decade of the new century about the “obesity problem”. And there’s no doubt that it is a problem that is growing fast. According to statistics more than a third of Canadians and Americans are overweight or obese. Break this down further and it looks even more grim:
* 58% of men aged 20-34 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 67.6% of men aged 35-44 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 71.3% of men aged 45-54 are overweight in the US 1999-2000)
* 72.5% of men aged 55-64 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 77.2% of men aged 65-74 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 66.4% of men aged over 75 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
Overweight prevalence statistics for women in the USA:
* 51.5% of women aged 20-34 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 63.6% of women aged 35-44 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 64.7% of women aged 45-54 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 73.1% of women aged 55-64 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 70.1% of women aged 65-74 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
* 59.6% of women aged over 75 are overweight in the US 1999-2000
50% of women aged 20 to 74 are overweight or obese in the US.
These numbers are frankly staggering and there is no doubt that the costs of this epidemic of bad health in human, emotional and financial terms is heavy indeed. It is, in fact, a peculiar example of human unconsciousness that we can normalize this deadly act of self-destruction. Someday, I am convinced, we will look back upon this moment in history and the overweight/obesity problem will be seen as an obscenity and a further condemnation of our death-loving culture.
However, there is a myth that our collective weight problem is one of over-eating; that it is a symptom of our prosperity. We North Americans, so the argument goes, and increasingly the whole planet are gorging ourselves on our wealth. It is another version of the old “humans are greedy by nature” argument that is used as an ideological prop for capitalism. It is also bunk.
The problem of obesity must, in fact, be understood as a nutritional problem rooted in economics. That is, there is a lack of nutritional value in the diet of the average US worker because they cannot afford it – and this has been confirmed by a recent study at the University of Washington.
According to researcher Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health nutrition, "The gap between what we say people should eat and what they can afford is becoming unacceptably wide. If grains, sugars and fats are the only affordable foods left, how are we to handle the obesity epidemic?"
Why is this happening? Because it is cheaper and more profitable to feed US workers the 21st century equivalent of saw dust. Processed food is jam-packed with nutritionless, cheap energy: literally, garbage. It is death and people eat it because they work too much and have neither the time, the money, the education nor the energy to prepare or purchase quality, healthful meals.
It is also a feature of the suburbanization of America, which forces everyone to get around via automobile - even to buy a candybar from the store, which is probably 5 kilometres away in a big box mall.
US workers drive to work - where they get no exercise or perform body deforming repetitive exercise - and then they drive home again where they eat the shit that is offered as food. Even the US government admits that the majority of the population are sedentary:
“The majority of persons in the United States do not engage in physical activities consistent with the recommendation of a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week. In 2001, a total of 54.6% of persons were not active enough to meet these recommendations.”
Some put it even higher: "Almost three-quarters of adults aren't active enough physically, according to the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
US workers are increasingly overweight and obese because they are literally starving to death.