Obesity: A Disease…Or Not?

by Sue Taggart

Whatever your viewpoint is about the recent American Medical Association’s (AMA) decision to declare obesity a disease, the fact is almost 80 million American adults and 15 million children are obese. Of course, not all these individuals are overeating, couch potatoes, many have lifestyle-related metabolic or hormonal disturbances that also need to be addressed.

But can we, or should we, take what is basically a lifestyle issue and turn it into a medial one in an attempt to treat or change the condition with drugs? Where in all this does an individual have to take responsibility for their health? What next? Have we no control of our own actions? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t think we do. Banning sodas over 16fl.oz, maybe giant muffins will be next.

As a nation we are serious over-eaters, over-snackers and over-indulgers–anyone who has ever stood on line at a Las Vegas buffet can attest to that. Supersizing has resulted in a supersized generation passing on bad habits to the next— we are what we eat make no mistake about it.

So, perhaps something has to be done, as we can’t seem to control ourselves. NY cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum seems to believe so, she recently posted this on Facebook:

Recognizing obesity as a disease makes us pay attention and take steps to treat it. Making it a medical problem redefines it as a lifestyle issue, and allows up to make the statement that about 33% of our country is sick. We need to treat this illness with as much vigor as we have treated other diseases.

Ragen Chastain, a ballroom dancer, writer, public speaker and self-described “fat person” has a different opinion. She was offended,

Against their own recommendations, the AMA declared body size — including my body size — to be a disease,” she wrote on her blog,

While they both have a point, maybe there is a better solution. Putting physicians in charge of dispensing drugs to manage what in many cases is a food related issue seems incongruous. Why not go to the source….the food supply?

In his book “Wheat Belly”, William Davis, MD., concludes that the rampant obesity in America is caused by modern-day wheat. The fact that today’s wheat has been so genetically altered from the sturdy staple of our forebears has made the grain nutritionally bankrupt. According to Davis, modern wheat can cause blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar and has addictive properties that cause us to ride a roller coaster of hunger, overeating and fatigue, not to mention inflammation, intestinal issues and weight gain.

He may well be on to something.

Farming futurist and founder of Kamut International, Bob M. Quinn believes modern agricultural practices have gradually stripped food not only of its taste, but of its nutritional value. “It’s common sense that if the plants and animals we eat aren’t nourished properly, neither are we”, states Quinn. “As a country, we are well-fed but not well-nourished. Our kids are suffering from an abundance of foods that feed them but do not nourish them. The effect is a whole generation that will grow into adulthood manifesting all the life-threatening diseases that could so easily be avoided.” With a Ph.D in Biochemistry he continues the farming legacy that began in Montana back in 1920. A third generation farmer, Quinn has witnessed the evolution of our food chain and the diminished quality of crops due to impacts on the soil of pesticides and fertilizers. An outspoken advocate for organic farming Quinn believes that the famous quote from Hippocrates is as relevant now as it’s ever been

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

Throwing drugs at the obesity problem is not the answer. It might be a temporary solution, but until we get back to eating real nourishing food, we will never get back to good health. And isn’t that the way it should be?

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