Americans continue to gain weight and run unnecessary health risks. The past several decades have brought marked increases in the intake of fatty foods, sedentariness, job stress, and squeezed schedules. Many people now accept carrying around an extra 30 pounds as normal, and diabetes and other illnesses that accompany obesity are prevalent. Mortality experts project that today’s chubby children will live shorter lives than their parents. Our healthcare system is inadequate to meet such a dramatic increase in care needs, and the cost of attempting to do so will be breathtaking.
Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Most of them have some awareness that their conditions are abnormal or dangerous, but few actually do anything about it. Exercising and maintaining a balanced diet require self-discipline, which is a scarce human commodity. Folks who suffer from obesity need to be motivated from within before they will take action to reduce without.
Pointing out some of the disadvantages to being overweight might help some sufferers get off the dime. Here are a few of the myriad problems that being heavy creates:
1. Breathing becomes difficult
Many weighty people struggle to breathe. Excess fat restricts the expansion of the rib cage and leaves less space for the diaphragm to move downward as it should. In addition, the lungs provide extra storage places for some of the fat, and that reduces the exchange of oxygen. Some heavy folks huff and puff as they perform the simplest daily tasks. Others must sit down to rest after climbing short flights of stairs. Impaired breathing is one of many ways in which obesity affects life quality.
2. Walking is an effort
Most heavy people are reluctant walkers. Imagine carrying a sack of potatoes around with you all day! Extra weight contributes to the breakdown of hips, knees, and feet. Some experts claim that obesity is one cause of osteoarthritis, stating that extra fats have a hand in the degeneration of cartilage in the joints.
I walk four miles every day, and on my route, I observe people walking, running, and bicycling. Some of them are pudgy, but none is obese. Walking is a freeing and healthful activity, and if you can’t do it, you are sacrificing life quality.
3. Tying shoes is a challenge
Obese folks struggle to do many basic things, like tie their shoes or trim their toenails. I know of one overweight woman who pays for pedicures because she cannot reach her feet. She doesn’t wear stockings, and all of her shoes slip on. Shedding some pounds would make many physical tasks easier for her.
4. Heart disease is common
Overweight conditions cause stoppage, clogging, congestion, and obstruction. Extra fat puts pressure on the heart, lungs, and other internal organs and robs energy and life quality in a number of ways. Even on the lighter end of obesity, the danger is real. Overweight people have heightened incidences of heart disease and strokes. Every day you hold extra weight is a day that might bring on a new malady.
5. Premature death is more likely
That heavier people die younger is well documented. Arguments to the contrary abound, though, so I’ll leave it to you to decide whom to believe. Anyone who has visited an assisted-living facility knows that heavyset folks are at a premium there. Do you know of any obese people who have reached the ages of 100, 95, or even 90? Infrequently, a slightly plump individual makes it that far, but by that time, the obese ones are long gone! Concluding that fat people’s lives will be truncated seems fairly intuitive. After all, they spend their lives with illnesses!
6. Life quality is poor
A life of gasping and wheezing and sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms is not a quality existence. Sure, modern medicine, with its blood-pressure pills, cholesterol medications, stent insertions, pacemaker implantations, organ transplants, joint replacements, and the like can extend a life for a surprisingly long time, but that does not tell the entire story. Obesity diminishes people’s lifestyles in countless ways, and the result is unhappiness and depression that often result in compensatory eating, which exacerbates the problem.
7. Back pain is prevalent
Proportionally greater numbers of heavy people suffer from chronic back ailments. Extra weight stresses the back more than is desirable for maintaining fluid, pain-free movement. Chiropractors and physicians who deal with back ailments consistently recommend losing weight and tightening stomach muscles.
8. The body manufactures stones
With increased weight, many people periodically have to deal with passing, breaking up, or removing kidney or gall stones. With a proper diet, however, these painful experiences are avoidable. A balanced regimen of raw vegetables, fibrous fruits, lean poultry, omega-3-rich fish, low-fat dairy, low-or-no-sugar choices, caffeine-free coffee and chocolate, and pure water will mark the end of creating stones. By the way, such a diet also leads to a healthy, trim body.
9. Depression sets in
Many corpulent people don’t know what feeling good is like, because their overweight conditions mask such things. Depression is complicated, but it can result, in part, from stress caused by having out-of-balance body chemistry, feeling unattractive, being socially isolated, not finding a mate, and other factors. For some suggestions for combating depression, see Overcoming Depression – Fifteen Tips For Combating Depression And Anxiety.
10. Diabetes is a near certainty
An epidemic of type-2 diabetes has already begun in the United States, and experts expect it to get worse. Obesity and lack of exercise directly contribute to contracting this condition. Once diagnosed with diabetes, the diabetic’s life is forever altered. This risk alone should provide sufficient incentive to lose weight.
11. Clothing does not fit
Hefty people struggle to find clothing that looks good on them, although some retailers have added product lines for large men and women. Buying bigger clothes as your waistline expands, however, is a loser’s game. The better practice is to note that you no longer can wedge your way into some of your clothing and to work on returning to your original size.
12. Finding a mate is difficult
Many people will not consider pairing up with someone who is obese. If you’re looking for someone with whom to spend your life, the best practice is to reduce at least until your hook is set. Once the person has fallen in love with you, you may be able to get away with being a couch potato, but then again, you may not.
13. You lose respect
Losing self-respect and failing to command the respect of others go hand in hand. When your physical appearance sets you apart from mainstream society, finding and keeping friends can be hard. Your low self-esteem can cause others to shun you, and the isolation can contribute to the depression discussed earlier.
14. The workplace rejects you
Some time ago, I worked with an attorney who refused to hire anyone who was overweight. His belief was that plump people work too slowly and tire before the workday ends. Under modern rules, he might not get away with that, but right or wrong, physical appearance weighs heavily in employers’ hiring decisions. Few people look better heavy, and many employers want the sharpest-looking, fastest moving crew they can find.
15. Meeting and keeping friends is tough
As superficial as it may be, people tend to befriend folks that they are pleased to introduce to their other friends. As more of us enter the ranks of the stout, this may change, but for now, the reality is that making friends is difficult if you’re heavy.
16. Seats in planes, theaters, and automobiles are tight
Have you ever sat next to a large person on an airplane? If so, you know that the experience can be a miserable one. Once I sat next to a man who was so big that he spilled into about a third of my seat. I’m not small at 6’1” and 180 pounds, and I spent the entire time leaning into the aisle. The guy, at probably 6’8” and 400+ pounds, was appropriately apologetic, but that didn’t make my ride any more comfortable!
17. Broken-down feet
Feet tend to break down as they strain under additional weight, and complications can develop. One result of obesity is that the arches collapse and the feet flatten. Such breakdowns often accompany diabetes, and if not treated properly, can lead to amputation.
18. Double chins and sagging skin
Pendulous jowls and other drooping body parts accompany obesity. With weight loss, most or all of this extra tissue disappears. Frequently, heavy people’s faces puff, their chins sag, their triceps flap, their derrieres fall, and their guts hang over their belts.
19. Knee and hip replacements
Every year, more people seek hip and knee replacements, and many of those folks are overweight. Carrying around additional pounds causes excessive wear and tear on the joints that support the body. As life spans lengthen, the frequency of such operations will increase.
20. Perspiration and body odor
Although overweight people don’t necessarily have worse body odor than anyone else, the fact is that many of them do. Folds of skin decrease air flow and cause perspiration, both of which contribute to body odor. In addition, big people have reduced energy levels and are sometimes depressed, perhaps making them less prone to bathe and change clothes as often as necessary to eliminate odors.
I am aware that overweight people may take offense at some of the points made above, but receiving and accepting such criticism comes with the blogging territory. My intention is not to belittle or berate the obese, but rather to motivate people to review their dietary and exercise habits. Losing weight does not have to be difficult, but to those enmeshed in the problem, it seems so.
I shall follow up with an article on the advantages of being thin. Hopefully, the two sets of observations will move some readers to change their lives. In subsequent writings, I plan to make suggestions as to how to reduce in a safe, healthful manner.