My proposed law: All people who are deemed overweight and/or obese and suffering medical problems because of the aforementioned must spend six months in a developing country providing community service to the indigenous population and adopting their culture and customs. Upon return to the US they will then be enrolled in a follow up program to set health goals for their benefit.
I adopted my daughter almost 17 years ago, from – to be politically correct – a developing nation. But to call it what it was, a third world country. When she was put into my arms, hours after I arrived, after 3 days of travel, once the women from the orphanage left, I realized this child, at the age of approximately 3-4 months, was not any more developed or larger than a newborn in the US. My biological son, born 5 weeks early, was only a pound lighter than this little one.
To complete the adoption I remained in the country for several months. I lived in a number of places, from hotels to yak-dung homes in remote villages. I traveled to parts of the country that tourists are normally not permitted. As a student of medicine and public health, these were my observations:
When basic needs, ie, food, shelter, medicine, are not being met, there is no concern for car seats, fire alarm safety, seat belts, – think: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
There was not a “diet” soda or anything with reduced calories to be found. Why should there be? The entire population as a whole existed on less calories per capita than it takes to survive. That is why they only have 2 meals/day and the people are of smaller stature. That is not to say they are by any means weak or impaired. (Apply Darwin’s survival of the fittest.)
I eventually returned to the US with my tiny but strong and lively daughter. She had the appetite of a truck driver but never did put on weight. I carried with me, in my head, the picture of all the dead and dying, of illness due to malnutrition (at that time the mortality rate was 50% at 5 years) and in spite of the lack of diet food, I lost 20 lbs – started and stopped within an acceptable BMI. I pledged that I would never, ever, spend another dollar on weight loss products again. Not after what I witnessed over there.
But then I was asked to do a presentation on justifying the obesity factor in the USA. Huh. Well. I did some research. This was back in the late 1990’s. I will update the numbers for today. I came back with the idea that I, after seeing people, children and adults, morning after morning, dead from starvation, from not enough calories, the bodies being collected and stacked like firewood into a cart. Yet we in the USA spend money to eat LESS calories….
Americans spend an estimated $42 billion annually on weight loss foods, products, and services. (June 13, 2013) http://www.medicinenet.com/diet_plans_and_programs/article.htm
World Hunger Statistics
Total number of children that die every year from hunger:
Percent of world population considered to be starving: 33%
Total number of people in the world who suffer from hunger and malnutrition: 800 million
Total number of people who do not have enough to eat:
936 million people
Total percentage who do not have enough to eat who live in developing countries: 98%
Total percentage of world’s hungry that live in 7 countries: 65%
Number of people who died of hunger today: 20,864
Total number of people who will die of hunger this year: 7,615,360
Research Date: 5.7.2013
So my presentation was not exactly what the sponsor asked for. But it was well documented. It just shocked the heck out of people. Who says “Put their fat ass on a plane and let them live and work like the rest of the world for six months. Then they might appreciate what life is really about.” No one says that.
Well, I am an INTJ and we are known for novel solutions to complex problems. I know several people who have moved their families to the country I am speaking of, and invested in it, and raised their adopted children there – and avoided the pitfalls of life in the US. The children are not obese and have have received an excellent education. Their parents are not wealthy, by any means.
So what do we need to do to stop the “obesity epidemic” in this country and improve the quality of life in developing countries?
$42 BILLION DOLLARS? For less calories? That does not include the cost of healthcare for the disease inflicted on the treatment failures.