I have been having what I suppose you could call a blog clog lately, or maybe a blogade. Lots of stuff and stories going around in the brain but they are experiencing a log jam while trying to get out in some type of orderly fashion.
This seems to have started when Pete showed me a Jane Brody article from the New York Times a few weeks back called, “Attacking the Obesity Epidemic by First Figuring Out Its Cause”. I should probably just have considered it a moot subject and ignored it, but it wrapped its little serifs around me and wouldn’t let go. You mean we haven’t already figured this out? Apparently not. And, this is the missing piece that has still been feeding the epidemic so to speak?
According to Ms. Brody, an impressive team of experts spent the last two years investigating the big O and published their conclusions in a series of reports in The Lancet. I will assume that what she goes on to describe is a reflection of their findings and not a cover-up for some obscure but shocking discoveries that will remain hidden in a boring medical journal.
Apparently, the impressive experts determined that the demise of the following is responsible for the puddle of fat we now find ourselves in. From the 1940’s through the 1970’s more or less– the years that preceded the epidemic–we played, walked and biked more; watched less TV, ate meals prepared at home by moms who mainly did not work, ate out only for special events, downed mainly hot or cold cereal for breakfast, had fewer mass-produced convenience foods, and consumed fewer refined carbohydrates as well as fewer calories.
I will try to keep my cynicism to a minimum but remember I did warn you about this side of me in Diet for a Small Caterpillar. Maybe this is breaking news or perhaps fascinating ancient history to those born after those more svelte decades, but two years of research, really? Those impressive experts could have just come and asked me, or better yet could have paid me. I’d love to be a paid impressive expert. I was actually one of those referenced skinny, cereal eating, hop-scotching kids on a bike, who occasionally ate out at Howard Johnson’s with my family when my non-working mother was too tired to cook. Wait, how old are those exalted researchers, anyway?
With all due respect to Drs. Gortmaker and Swinburn, et al who were cited in the article– unless I am remiss for not reading the source material, this is superficial and obvious stuff. A lot has changed since that time and the changes have had many effects on the human experience besides causing obesity. I think it is myopic to put the attack and hence the shame and blame only on those walking around with the visible consequences of our societal shifts or imbalances. Many things have increased since the 1970s besides weight like rates of divorce, cancer, childhood poverty, autism, learning disabilities, alcoholism, underage drinking, the perverse pursuit of thinness and high school dropout rates–and all carry a high cost as well–but these conditions are invisible in the rising tide of humanity. Still, even if we are to keep our attention just on the problem of obesity, one could identify other significant and more profound influences.
One of my impressive experts, Marc David, who I introduced previously in Three Good Mark(c)s, meaningfully and sensitively addresses this topic in his article, ‘A New Way to Lose Weight–Listen to It’. Moving beyond the easily observed poor food choices that plague us, he explores causes of the emotional hunger we face these days that propel people to overuse or abuse food. These are very important, and when personified, they are what present in my office every day–repressed feelings, unmet needs, self-doubt, chronic stress, disconnection from one’s body and loneliness.
These are associated as well with the larger cultural issues that he dares expose. These are not new, but the ramifications are coming to a head, perhaps similar to global warming. He speaks of a nation that has valued excess and overconsumption; a culture that values speed and ease; a world filled with fear, anxiety, and mistrust; and, a people separated from their spiritual source.
Though I don’t fit their demographic, I have come to enjoy reading the magazine, Outside. It is for those who live the active life–in a rather bold way–and is a tad less dry than The Lancet. In a recent issue, there was an article, Jamie Oliver Will Work 4 Food about renegade British chef, Jamie Oliver, who is sincerely trying to clean up our country’s food mess. I admire Oliver’s means and message. I share his penchant for crying. The author, Jeff Gordinier, describes the obstacles Oliver is facing here in America. He writes, “As one wag put it, Oliver “just doesn’t get the fact that excessive consumption is woven into our national DNA.” This concurs with some of what Marc David is saying.
If a lack of identifying causes is impeding solving the problem, then acknowledging our national and personal constitutional makeups is as important as looking at what we are eating for breakfast now, well, compared to in my day. Doing so would help to explain why we lay down reason in the feeding of ourselves and our children.
My own causative list would go even further. It implicates the usurping of the practice of medicine by the pharmaceutical industry, unethical corporate practices and the disempowerment of women in pregnancy and birth for starters. I’ll leave it there for now. As I’ve hopefully unclogged the blog, I will be able to pick up on those topics soon.
Stay posted. I promise that will be fun. And tell me what would be on your list.
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In health, Elyn
My Plate Haiku
Hunger tiptoes in
From bellies, hearts or minds
Feed me now she calls.