Mythbusting Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery Myths Part 1
You’ve told your friends and family that you are actively trying to lose excessive weight. Everyone is happy for you, and helps however they can and offers support.
You’ve genuinely tried dieting and exercising repeatedly, and nothing happens. Maybe you’ve lost 10 to 20 lbs of your 100 lb goal, but hit a plateau that lasts more than a few weeks. What do you do?
You decide to consider weight loss surgery and the immediate reactions of those loved one’s shift.
Some of them are calling you lazy for taking ‘the easy way out’, others are worried for your life, and are telling you to consider a will.
Why the sudden shift in attitude? Aren’t your loved ones supposed to be supportive of you?
This shift in attitude is the ever-present double standard in American culture when it comes to how people view obesity and weight loss which is based more on societal stereotypes and conditioning instead of legitimate scientific study or fact.
We are going to be busting several logical fallacies that are common in American culture regarding weight loss surgery and obesity.
Myth : Obese People are Obese because They are Lazy
In America, we have been conditioned from birth to equate fatness to laziness and lack of will power. In fact, the running stereotype for fat people is that they are lazy, unattractive slobs. But stereotypes, in general, only fit a small number of people and ignores the bigger picture.
I have met skinny people who are lazy, and eat nothing but junk food but still stay skinny. I have met fat people who eat healthy, and exercise daily but still stay fat. So, what gives?
Obesity is not only factored by food and exercise. Side effects of medications play a part in significant weight gain and weight loss. Hormones, also play a huge role. If your thyroid gland is underactive, or you are overproducing steroid hormones, or if you can’t process insulin, then you are likely to become obese from this alone.
There are also genetic factors. One genetic cause of obesity is leptin deficiency. According to medicinenet.com, Leptin is a hormone produced in fat cells and in the placenta. Leptin controls weight by signaling the brain to eat less when body fat stores are too high. If, for some reason, the body cannot produce enough leptin or leptin cannot signal the brain to eat less, this control is lost, and leads to obesity.
Weight can be a sign of poor health, but it isn’t the only caused by poor health habits, that is why it is perfectly reasonable for anyone who has tried and failed to lose weight many times over to seek other options.
Myth: Obesity is a new Rising Epidemic
In a world of clickbait and sensationalist headlines, we hear constantly that the rising rate of obesity is a new epidemic that has been trending and is now reaching an all-time high. That it is a crisis that needs to be solved immediately!
In fact, Time Magazine was one of the first news outlets to report on this crisis…in 1954. The article was titled, “A Plague of Overweight” and cited the following statistics, “”Some five million Americans,” LIFE wrote, “medically considered ‘obese,’ weigh at least 20% more than normal and, as a result, have a mortality rate one-and-a-half times higher than their neighbors. . .. Another 20 million Americans are classed by doctors and insurance men as overweight (10% above normal) and are drastically prone to diabetes, gallstones, hernia, kidney and bladder impairments and complications during surgery and pregnancy.”
There was even government action made to combat the ‘childhood obesity crisis’, in the form of the Presidential Fitness Test. Out of fear that Americans were being outperformed in athletics by other European countries, a military like P.E. routine was born for public schools as a measure against the “softness.” In 2013, the test was abolished in favor of a more well-rounded version that focused long term health habits over physical prowess.
Even today, the definition of health is different among generations. Baby boomers, for instance, see weight to height ratios as an indicator for overall health. The latest generation, Millennials, see healthy eating and exercising as an indicator for health.
The point I am making is that it is not a new epidemic, and that it isn’t a crisis for everyone. Health education, just as much as any other field of education is evolving.
While obesity is a disease that needs to be addressed, just like cancer, diabetes, and other major illnesses, this is by no means a new issue. It is just being brought to the forefront through various media outlets as we learn more and more about it.