In the 1950s, in the UK, less than 1% of the population were clinically obese. Now, almost 30% of British citizens can be classified as obese. Shockingly and in a very bad sign for the future, more than 25% of 10-year-old children are also obese. How did the world get into this terrible obesity crisis? The negative health and subsequent economic consequences of mass obesity are very substantial. It’s a huge problem.
Note: In the article I am generalising. I have to. There are millions of exceptions. Perhaps the world is becoming an unhappier place. People are eating more to find fleeting happiness.
I thought I would go to Google Scholar to see what the experts thought about it. Did they have any idea as to why this is happening? They agree that it is an international problem. One group of experts say that “the aetiology of obesity is multifactorial, involving a complex interaction among genetics, hormones and the environment.” Big words, no clarity.
The word “aetiology” refers to the cause, set of causes or manner of causation of a disease or condition.
I think that the scientists are over complicating the cause of the problem. Of course, there might be instances when an individual person is predisposed to becoming obese because of their inherited genetics. We can sympathise. But it is humans who create human society.
Just eat less
The biggest problem is ‘environmental’ if you want to put it that way. I will put it this way: people just eat too much. They’ve become lazier. They eat convenience foods. They eat processed foods. These are unhealthy relative to unprocessed foods.
I’ll say it again: people eat too much. They could halve their diet and still eat more than enough. Turn the dinner plate over and eat the amount of food you can place on the underside. If you want to lose weight there are two ways: either eat less or burn more energy through being more active. Or you can do both. Of the two, eating less is much more efficient. All you have to do is eat less which appears to be beyond hundreds of millions of people. And eat wisely. There’s tons of advice on what that means.
And that’s the crux of the matter. It’s about self-discipline or a lack of it. The world has changed and it’s become sloppier. The old-fashioned concepts of self-discipline appear to have been eroded. They were in-place after World War II and it appears to have gone downhill since then.
Perhaps overeating is due to unhappiness. People eat to feel better. It is therapy eating. But when you eat more, you become fatter and you become unhappy and therefore are inclined to eat more. It appears to be a vicious cycle.
Spreading bad norms
The added problem for me is this: people are adjusting their norms about what their correct weight should be. Many people think that being obese is acceptable. They see that as the correct body shape. The correct BMI. But it isn’t. They need to readjust their norms to the way they were.
Spreading the problem to pets
And the problem with adjusting norms like this is that you spread your misaligned norms to your pets. You overfeed yourself and then you overfeed your pet. You think your pet is the correct weight but they are obese. The human obesity epidemic has migrated outwards to companion animals. You will find that veterinarians almost universally agree that there is a cat and dog obesity epidemic predominantly in the West, the more developed countries where overeating is, yes, a norm.
The problem appears to be mainly among more elderly people because their metabolism declines but they continue eating as they did when they were younger. Older people simply have to halve their diet or even eat one third of what they used to eat. This requires an enormous amount of self-discipline. An elimination of self-indulgence. Forget well publicised ‘diets’. Just east LESS.
It demands a desire to be happier through being healthier. It’s a simple formulation. In therapy eating people are seeking happiness in the short-term. Immediate happiness through the pleasure of eating. If they thought long-term by understanding that being slim they would be happier because they’d be healthier the world would be a much better place both for themselves and their pets.
This, then, is also about short-termism versus long-termism. The world is becoming more and more focused on short-term gains in a convenient way without effort. But in the past the focus was more on long-term gains from self-discipline. Saving for the future rather than spending all you’ve got now. That’s another mentality which seems to have developed over the past 50 years.
Spenders versus savers and self-indulgence
Old people tend to be savers and young people tend to be spenders. There is a softening of self-discipline and a drift towards self-indulgence. Self-indulgence was apparent during Covid-19 when there was a mass adoption of baby-like dogs such as the French Bulldog which is the unhealthiest dog on the planet. It is a money pit. It has a seven-year lifespan. People have since learned about this horror story. But appearance is all important in adopting a pet. If you start with this mentality and ignore the inherited health of the animal you are going down the wrong road. But the problem is the same: a lack of rigour and self-discipline in adopting the right animal which, by the way, would be a rescue dog from a rescue center who needs a home.
People are adopting too many purebred dogs from irresponsible breeders. Another symptom of the modern world. It is linked to obesity indirectly because it demands the same human mentality. It’s time for change. With this current kind of mentality, we are sliding into societal breakdown which I’ve discussed before.
Less cohesive world
I believe that this kind of attitude is leading to a more fragmented world with the distinct increased possibility of war towards which we are already sliding on a global scale. War is the ultimate consequence of a lack of self-discipline. It seems that we might be heading towards some type of World War III, I would argue.
To return to eating less. In eating less there will be less of a demand on food production. This will help the planet. And there are vast amounts of food waste through careless shopping. Often people buy far too much food and throw far too much away. For them there needs to be a complete change to no food waste. We should eat almost everything that we purchase. Good purchasing and good management within the home eliminates food waste.
Cat world mirrors human world
In a separate but linked topic, a pet topic of mine, there is a trend in the world to keeping domestic cat companions indoors full-time for their safety and to protect wildlife. That’s all well and good. But there’s a huge lacuna (an omission) in this formula: cat owners are leaving their cats in a sterile barren indoor environment with nothing to do but eat for pleasure. Cats are becoming bored and obese just like their owners. And they often rely on convenience foods for their cats, namely dry cat foods. There is a mirror problem in the cat world to the human world. Unsurprising because humans make the cat world.
Note: I am not a dietitian. Nor a doctor or veterinarian. I am a realist and I understand the world. Humankind is reluctant to face their weaknesses. We need to, to save ourselves and the world.
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