This blog post was going to happen in one form or another, sooner or later. It turns out, sooner. Honestly, I've been putting it off and was going to keep this reading light(er) for as long as possible, and just reference here and there about the current situation in health. But the current updates on obesity, the rise of related issues, the costs on health, and the impact on the quality of lives of everyone involved, trigger my concerns.
Being passionate about health, working with people on a 1-to-1 basis as well as groups, I could say, I've realized, it's the same no matter where you go:
1. People love food.
2. People lack time.
3. People seek convenience.
We all do it. There is no way to avoid it. But the key difference is how we do it.
Let's focus on the last point for a bit, shall we? It's hard to avoid conveniency, where the shops, fast-foods, and even hospital cafeterias do their best to solve the problem for us. Surely they don't mean to harm us, after all, they are all working according to the public opinion. And a good business will never work against it, right?
So we're left to our own choices. How well are we prepared to make these choices? Do we fall for these simple traps, or step out of the comfort zone? Does obesity become a norm (it has already, no worries) or do we solve the problem?
Now, I know it's not an easy thing to do. But others have done it, so why shouldn't, couldn't we? Is it easy to put on weight when under stress for a long period of time? Yes! Is it hard to plan every bite we're about to take? Depends. Can we control our weight, to the extent that it helps us maintain a good quality of life and good health? Absolutely! The idea of this post is not to point a finger at anyone in specific. I have no idea of all the circumstances that influence us to make poor health choices. But, working with those who've struggled with their weight most of their lives, you get to get an insight of what's going on on the inside and how hard they work for each result, each step they take on the road to success. And on top of it, often they don't even get a guarantee they will get there...
As recently published in JAMA*, the obesity levels are still on the rise. As they've been for the past 20+ years. But what concerns me, is there are fewer people wanting to do something about it! I can only assume what would contribute to that:
1. Lack of knowledge, or lack of access to reliable, evidence-based knowledge.
- sometimes even information taught at schools tends to be outdated (I'll never forget the dietician teaching us seriously outdated information, that stood no chance once applied in practice).
- Nowadays, everyone is an expert on fitness, nutrition and health.
- media coverage: In 2015/16 while the EU media was all against the consumption of (all) meat and eggs, the US was promoting bacon and eggs as safe and beneficial.
2. Contradictory information:
- you walk into the doctor's office, and the doctor advising you to lose weight is obese as well.
- you're at the hospital visiting someone after their heart-attack. You go to a cafeteria, and can barely come up with one, maybe two meals you could really classify as healthy.
- you want to cook a healthy meal from a blog, and half way through realize it may have one or two healthy ingredients, but the recipe is anything but healthy.
- you buy a product aimed to be sold to children, it's labeled 'healthy', yet it contains high amounts of fats, sugars, and other ingredients.
3. Lack of support. Your 'Monday' is finally here, you start full of enthusiasm, even get amazing results. After a week you're bombarded with questions as: - 'Are you still doing 'that' thing?' - 'You don't look too healthy, or you ok? Maybe you should eat something?'
- 'Why are you on a diet? You look just fine!'
- 'Why would you do this diet and mess with your health?' - 'What's wrong with our way of cooking? Is not good enough for you?'
I'm sure we can all come up with more of these, right? A question like this doesn't come from a bad place, but it doesn't help either.
4. Idealization of a woman and public image
How do we compete with those polished, modified images of women professionals and public personas? Always looking as they're ready for a photo shoot or TV appearance. Bouncing right back after they've just had babies. No stretch marks, no saggy skin, no cellulite, no dark circles under the eyes. How do you even compete with that?
Reading through the last point, I see I've focused on women (as that's the problem I easily identify), but the 'perfect body image' goes for men just as well.
Recently I've noticed, we're not supposed to mention obesity. Unless you're in a health institution, working directly with a concerned patient, you can not mention it. Talking about obesity is turning into a taboo. The backlash is inevitable. It's quite easy to become labeled as judgmental, discriminatory, narrow-minded. But whatever you want to label me, the problem remains. So, if the problem exists, how can we help?
Obviously, this subject gets to me. Surely others notice at some point, that some obese people are trying, looking for advice, information, support, help. How are we doing as a community, are we supportive enough? I'd love to hear from you. Should this major problem be a norm? Should we strive for solutions?
In the future posts and webinars I'll do my best to shed some light and provide some answers to the points listed above. But for now, what I can promise, is that I'll continue to seek inspiration, knowledge and training from experts who know exactly how to approach prevention of obesity. Those who have a history of realistic results, evidence and credibility in the medical / research community. And who know how to make it fun (yes, fun!), simple and effective! It was done before, we can do it again! And again! For as long as it takes to turn these numbers, to change the norm. Until next time...
Yours in health,