The skinny on obesity

October 18, 2011
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Andrew Terefenko

Opinions Editor


The world is now on the precipice of the new Black Death, but it comes in a form so innocent that we may not yet understand how dire it really is.

Obesity has crept up on modern civilization ever so steadily, and without realizing our efforts, we have perpetuated its growth. We do this in many ways, but it comes down to two main offensive fronts that have defended this epidemic in a method most secure.

First, society has quickly shifted from a “looking good” mentality to “positive self-image,” where one is encouraged to be at ease with their own bodies in any shape or size, rather than strive to change it at all, whether for good or bad.

While there is merit in that concept, it becomes problematic when you are satisfied with an unhealthy body, exceptionally prone to health risks and exhaustion. Being proud of your body is a great idea, but one should always strive to stay healthy in order to fully enjoy a long and panting-free life.

Second, and this facet of obesity-extension is not new in any sense, we are entering a third decade of popular fast food culture. Unhealthy food options are becoming cheaper than the vitamin-rich alternatives, and quicker to get from your wallet to your stomachs. This has never before been as big a problem as now; with the recession slimming down everyone’s budget for food, waistlines expand instead.

This twofold defense has made great leaps in creating and maintaining a world where being overweight is the only way to be, for the large majority of people with no time and even less money.

I imagine the mother of five has little choice of nourishment for her litter when she is faced with the options of a two to three-hour chef session, crafting the perfect blend of nutrients for her young, or a ten-minute trip to the burger joint, where she can even get them toys and sides. There is so much incentive to eat unhealthy, and thus very little drive for people to take the steps needed not just to stay slim, but to stay healthy.

If you want a laundry list of the reasons to work toward a healthier lifestyle, here are just a few of the things you and your kids are at risk for, at a glance: heart disease, blood clots, type two diabetes, infertility, dementia, gout, cancers of many varieties, sleep apnea, erectile dysfunction and so much more. There is more at stake than body image, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

An individual is considered obese when their body mass index, or BMI, is greater than 30 kilograms per square metre, and you would be hard-pressed to find a doctor who doesn't warn you of the myriad of health risks involved with obesity, not to mention the statistically proven reduced life expectancies. It sounds kind of like the disease that only one in one hundred people might have, but in reality it is so much worse.

We sleep soundly knowing that the United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, 33.8 per cent in 2009, but most Canadians don't realize just how close we are to that figure. An astonishing 22.7 per cent of Canadians are obese, and that figure is already seven years old, so a even quarter of us must be in that undesirable piece of the pie chart by now.

The steps to ‘recovery’ are themselves inaccessible, where gym memberships are so financially obtrusive to people who only have time to visit once or twice a week, but still have to pay for the same year-plan as everyone else. We have to work earlier and longer hours at work to compensate for a weakened economy, so a quick jog in the morning is also becoming a daydream of the past.

I feel that this is only going to get worse, and as the United States nears having half of its population classified as unhealthily obese, we follow close behind, as we are oft to do in the wake of American trends.

There are many kinds of people who are obese, and many reasons behind it. Some people are stuck with bad genes that have hammered their metabolism with brute force, and others who are stricken with psychological impulses that they can’t control. For every person that is obese without good reason, there may be a person that is stuck in the state with little to no hope.

Before long, the officials involved with determining obesity rates may feel the need to lower the requirements of obesity, as I think it may becoming bizarre for less than half the population to be considered healthy.

Rather than Black Death of the 1300s, we face the spread of the Fat Death, and unfortunately we can’t kill rats to end the epidemic.

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