Alabama Bariatrics & Minimally Invasive Surgery

Bariatric Diet Orbera Gastric Band Sleeve Gastrectomy Gastric Bypass

W. Jay Suggs, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Madison, Huntsville, and Decatur
Phone: (256) 274-4523
Fax: (256) 203-8791

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Obesity Vs Movement: 

   Obesity, as far as we know it, is a large enough problem to be considered a public health crisis. It has been enough of a problem for both the national and state-wide government to take notice. However, we are only just now scratching the surface of what makes obesity tick, and what we can do to prevent it.

   You would think that it is simple thing for everyone to individually do, eat healthy, and get regular exercise, then everything will just work out right? However, we currently we live in a culture in the US that is not conducive to that sort of environment. I originally wanted to write about the other definition of movement, you know, walking around, jumping running/ etc, but this problem is much bigger than that. This is a big enough issue that America needs systematic changes across the board if we are going to fix this problem. That’s why I am utilizing the other definition of movement. When I say obesity vs movement, I mean the current policies that encourage obesity and the societal movements that need to change those conditions.

Nutrition and Availability

     The Obesity Problem

In an earlier post, I mentioned that there was a correlation between obesity, and poverty. These were due in part to lack of nutrition education in the lower income areas, but there was also a lack of availability for nutritional foods like lean meat and produce. The ratio of fast food restaurants to grocery stores was much higher in rural and low-income areas compared to cities with a higher income. 

And, it should be worth mentioning that what convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas stations that do exist in low income areas charge more for staples than they would in areas of higher income, all thanks to the free market and its supply/demand structure.

This is not something that is little known to the public. This is a problem that even the people at Washington Post knows about.  It is so problematic, that it even has a name: the grocery gap.

As long as this gap continues people in lower income neighborhoods will not only be demotivated to eat healthier, they will be outright encouraged to eat nothing but junk food the rest of their lives, and for future generations. Why? Because foods with preservatives and high fat content are cheaper, more easily available and can keep longer than produce, this trend will continue until Americans are 100% obese.

     TheMovement Solution

We need to incentivize grocery stores, farmers, gardeners, anyone who is responsible for the sales and distribution of produce and lean meats. National and State-wide governments could make it a policy to pay these people better, while at the same time increasing penalties and tax rates for fast food chains and their distributors. While this is something that is a drastic measure, this is technically a drastic time. When 1 in 3 people are obese in your country, it is time to admit that there is a problem, and that the health needs of many literally outweigh the financial means of the few.

Time for Health

     The Obesity Problem

People are bad to attribute the idea of fatness with the idea of laziness. “Fat people have no will power.” “They just need to stop eating and take a walk.” “Anybody can make the time if they try hard enough!” Did you know that the United States is the most overworked nation in the world? Did you know that Americans work 137 hours per year on average more than the Japanese? The Japanese, you know, that developed a word for literally working themselves to death?!And the people who keeled over while working aren’t weren’t manual laborers. These were salary menOffice workers.

   What’s more, it is becoming less common for American workers to even stop at 40 hours per week. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. In fact, the American productivity rate has increased 400% since 1950. In a perfect world, that should only take 11hours a week, or our standard of living is 4 times higher. We also have zero federal laws that require paid sick days in the United States. 

   This sort of scenario is a recipe for nationwide obesity. Not only are people in America working themselves to the point of being too exhausted, they are outright discouraged from taking care of their own health, because if they did call in sick they would run the risk of losing money they desperately need for the month, or run the risk of being fired from their fast food job that pays more than being an employee at Walmart.

   The data is right there. We have been working longer and harder than before. Why would people take what time they have left to also run on a treadmill or lift weights, when they could be doing something like seeing their family or taking time to mentally unwind.

     The Movement Solution

We need to investigate both state and national policies regarding labor and sick leave. Without the adequate time off necessary to recover from illness and prevent it, you silently encouraging unhealthy habits. If companies fire their workers for wanting to take time off to go to the gym, the doctor, or just reduce stress (which also contributes to obesity) then they are essentially punishing their workers for doing the right thing. We need to look at our legislative branch of government, our bosses, and anti-unions dead in the eye and ask them why they are trying to create an institutionalized obesity machine.

Conclusion

This does not excuse us for doing what we need to do on an individual level. Of course, we need to hold ourselves accountable for our own decisions. But even if you live in a place as small as the Huntsville, Alabama area, and you notice most of the people are obese, then there must be something environmentally or systematically wrong. Something that people are either too blind, too greedy, or to cowardly to admit. We need to move. As a community we need to take a stand against obesity through our movement.