Obesity, the Cause and Cure

In America today, fully two-thirds of the population is either overweight or obese. There are many factors that have worked together to cause this epidemic, but the root cause is simple enough to understand. We consume more food energy in our meals than we expend as heat and work.

While there are still many people without adequate food in this country, the vast majority of people have constant access to high-calorie, appetizing nourishment. A lot of people have given up on the notion of preparing their own meals and instead consume fast food and restaurant fare that has been designed to make people want more and more.

While the basic cause of obesity is simple enough to understand, the cure for this condition is problematic. In recent years doctors have been inclined to do bariatric surgery on obese persons that drastically reduces the size of the stomach and impedes the absorption of food. Many times the results obtained from these methods are temporary, with patients gaining back any weight they had lost.

Our modern world is filled with conveniences and labor-saving devices. Why walk or bike to the grocery store down the road when you can drive there instead? People have become inactive, not only in their employment, but also in their personal lives. We sit and watch movies in the evening instead of taking a walk around the block. When we do exercise, it is at a gym, for an hour, while listening to music or watching TV.

If you have a weight problem and want to change your body and your life, common wisdom holds that you should eat less and exercise more. What isn’t mentioned is that this method is often doomed to failure because we will inevitably be faced with the challenge of just what to eat and what to do to become more active. The problem many people face with food is that they rely on corporations, whose only motive is profit, to provide them with energy-dense tasty morsels instead of taking the time and initiative to prepare their own meals. The problem they face with activity is similar, in that they rely on gyms and personal trainers to tell them what to do instead of finding motivation in their own minds to do some physical work.

One method which may help you get a handle on your diet and physical activity is to keep a log of food and exercise. A cheap spiral notebook, a pen, and access to the Internet to look up the calories in food are all that is necessary to keep a meaningful journal. Of course, this would only be an approximation to your actual intake and output, but it will give you a good idea of just what you eat and do throughout the day.

It is best to plan meals in advance. Purchase the ingredients at a grocery store and prepare the food in your own kitchen. Instead of eating a greasy fast food hamburger and fries make your own with lean ground beef or turkey. Make your own oven fries with a very small amount of oil and some seasonings. Eat a lot of vegetables and some fruit. Get whole grains in your diet and pick up some extra protein by eating beans, peas and lentils.

Exercise is important, and in these times of COVID-19 we don’t all have access to a gym. Get some simple exercise equipment for your home. Start with a set of adjustable dumbbells. Try resistance bands. You don’t have to drop thousands on a treadmill or an elliptical machine, but you can get a small medicine ball, ankle weights, or a pedometer to keep track of the steps you take. Walk in place or take a walk outside if the weather is nice. Load an exercise video from some streaming service and follow along. Get a bicycle and ride it if you are able. Do calisthenics. There are many ways to add activity to your life without having to pay a monthly fee for a gym you might seldom use.

Obesity is not necessarily as simple as calories in minus calories out. There are hormones like insulin at play in the human body that determine whether we gain or lose weight. We can change our hormonal state for the better by getting enough sleep, keeping away from alcohol and other drugs, managing stress, and eating healthy foods. In the long run it is best to try and control your weight through your own efforts. Stay aware of what you eat and what you do to get into better shape every day. Even if you have a doctor help you with your weight problem, it will still be up to you to implement the advice given. Make time to take care of yourself, and your body will reward you with a long, healthy, happy life.