It’s an increasingly fat world.
Not just in the US, though this changing map shows how far we’ve altered the American profile in the past twenty years. All over the globe, in places where mass hunger is not present (due to crop failures or the corruption of armies, rebels, and officials), people, including children, are getting bigger and bigger, and sentencing themselves to what the author of Forks Over Knives calls “diseases of affluence”.
Remember when this began? When even officials said there was no problem? When the effects of obesity were not known? After all, we’d never confronted the specter of widespread fat before, though we knew quite well from the post-World War II research in Holland the longitudinal effects of starvation. Decades after the war, the descendants of Dutch women who were pregnant back in the starvation winter of 1944-45 are still being affected. Their children are smaller at birth and more likely to show lower intelligence and weaker health. The effects of starvation thus carry over generations, and it is wholly implausible to believe that the effects of obesity will not follow the same pattern.
These days, we know more than we did about obesity over the lifetime of an individual. That is, we know more collectively. But as individuals? Don’t count on it.
A recent Guardian article disclosed the results of a study examining what people know of the health effects of obesity. Most of them knew of the links between fat and heart disease, and between excess weight and diabetes.
Here’s what they didn’t list: sleep apnea, infertility, arthritis, and cancer.
Yes, cancer. People who are substantially overweight or obese, and smoke, are beyond double-whammy. They’re into exponentially harming themselves, in multiples of risk. I’ve noted this before, the connection between cancer and excess weight – one of the reasons is that estrogen, what I term the “mommy hormone for cancer” is stored in body fat. More fat means more estrogen which leads to more cancer.
As we all know from math, if A = B and B = C, then A = C. More fat means more cancer.
Plus, it appears, new types of cancer.
Sleep apnea affects health, memory, attention, how aware you’re going to be the next day behind the wheel of a car. Excess fat presses down on organs, making them struggle to function as they’re intended to.
Infertility has been found to be such a major result of excess fat – which alters the body’s hormonal levels – that some Australian clinics have developed a protocol that insists that prospective patients reach a healthy weight and maintain it for an entire year before presenting themselves for IVF or drug-induced ovulation.
Arthritis . . . well, you can see that one, can’t you? The human knee was not designed to carry the weight of obesity. Abused as it is over months and years of bearing a heavier load than intended, naturally it gives out.
If you and people you love know about the fat-associated risks of diabetes and heart disease, terrific. It’s time to educate yourselves about the other diseases and conditions created by or worsened with fat.
Arthritis. Sleep apnea. Infertility. Cancer.
Now, fill a bottle with water, go for a two-mile walk, and stop over-eating. Every day. Because you shouldn’t sentence yourself to ill health.