As a culture, we are drowning in calories of mostly very dubious quality, and drowning in an excess of labor-saving technology. I have compared obesity to drowning before, but want to dive more deeply today into the implications for fixing what ails us.
America hates fat people. There, I said it. I'll say it again: America hates fat people. We make America feel uncomfortable. We require attention. You cannot ignore us as we walk down a street, or sit in our car, or dare to enter a mall.
Obesity bias needs to be fixed. We are most likely to fix it when standing on a solid bedrock of understanding it at its origins. We can then replace the crude and obsolete survival-related imperatives bestowed to us in our genes, with the better angels of our nature.
Kaiser Permanente's evaluation has shown promising results since it launched its Thriving Schools effort, aimed at helping students, staff and teachers focus on making healthy choices so that schools can become a focal point and beacon of health throughout entire communities.
America's appetite is out of control. Yes, we have an obesity epidemic. But far more disconcerting is the rampant lack of understanding and compassion for the daily, minute-to-minute struggle that the vast majority contend with being overweight or obese.
Diabetes is hurting people both at the personal and the national levels. The best way to fight Type 2 diabetes is to avoid it in the first place. Developing healthy nutrition and physical activity habits are critical factors in avoiding diabetes.
The reason we don't always make healthy choices is simply because it is hard. Even people who are highly motivated and have strong willpower may fail to establish healthy habits in the long term if they don't adopt the right methods.
I don't think the holidays should be canceled. A more precise solution is needed to tackle a more complex problem for a rising population in our society. But let's have that discussion instead of one that perpetuates the the tired and unhelpful way we currently talk about obesity.
There is no single silver bullet in fighting obesity. Government legislation, corporate responsibility, education and personal responsibility, combined with web and mobile services, can all help people eat healthy and fight obesity.
As my colleague and I illustrate in our recent paper, the trend toward larger portions coincides with the availability of calories in the U.S. food supply and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity. So what can we do about this continued trend toward larger portions?
Weight does not measure human worth. It is not an indicator of character. Bathroom scales are not designed to weigh merit. The boy in the Nike ad may well be full to the brim with greatness -- but none of it has anything to do with running.
We now must act boldly to combat the obesity epidemic. There are many opportunities across the lifespan, but it will require a shift in social norms and an unprecedented social movement for obesity prevention.