Friday, June 27, 2014

Who's Fat?

Problem solving techniques are pretty generic.  There are books and seminars, papers and processes, skills, games and strategies; but the steps are similar and always start out with “define the problem” or some variation of this advice.  If you don’t know what the problem is or refuse to admit it, there is, short of blind luck, very little chance of solving it.

Here is just one of many examples easily found in an Internet search:

That’s why it’s disheartening to find this headline on NBC news:  “What, Me Fat? Most Americans Don't Think So, Poll Finds.”  That’s right, despite the news that more than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, a Gallup poll shows that many of those people are in denial.  "More than half of adults (55 percent) said they don't think they are overweight and aren't making an effort to shed pounds.”  (The proportion is higher for men who are more apt to be overweight.)

This denial is reminiscent of the stages of death and dying, which apply to most any change or abrupt receipt of bad news.  The mirror tells the bad news; the scale tells the bad news; perhaps even the doctor tells the bad news; yet the recipient of that news denies the problem.  What problem?  I don’t need to lose weight!

It makes no sense to reconstruct the list of diseases linked with obesity.  The sad fact is that there are so many that obesity itself is now considered a chronic condition.  Reminders of this fact jump off the page.  “As prevalence of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes continue to increase in the U.S. population, we have some unnerving news: in the near future, there may be a shortage of doctors able to treat these patients.” (Emphasis added)

So what can we do about it?  Continuing to deny the problem will not solve the problem.  Waiting for someone else to solve it has the distinct disadvantage of the diminishing resources, the predicted shortage of doctors.  The only resort is to take control, accept the personal responsibility.  There will be no solution until people have defined the problem.  Until then, we don't have an obesity epidemic.  We have a denial epidemic.

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