Anne Squared

Life filtered through the lens of an INTJ, Mom, and healthcare professional.

Daily Prompt: You’ve Got the Power

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. 

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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:

1.5 million

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

http://www.statisticbrain.com/world-hunger-statistics/

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.

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Categories: Family Issues, INTJ and INTP, Public Health

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Even many of the homeless are overweight and obese.

    • You are correct. I do not think those are the people who are spending $43 Billion dollars per year in the US to lose weight.
      I am concerned about the chronic health condition of the homeless – that is another topic. I did my capstone project on that very issue.

  2. This is a great post and covers a lot of excellent territory on the issue, except that it doesn’t recognize that once those basic needs are met, we (as humanity) are doing very little to handle the emotional needs which lead to unhealthy eating (when it’s in front of people). Humans do not live by food and shelter alone.

    • I meant “when [the food is] in front of people.” heh

      • I agree. And that ties back to Pat’s post – the first one – of engaging in a healthy lifestyle, food choices, etc.
        And those are things we need to be taught to do. Those changes can be permanent, not a quick fix.

        I think if someone gave me 42 billion dollars – or even 1/2 of it – I could probably come out with a heck of a program – or some really great ideas. Wanna help?

    • Soul Restoration: My Greatest Lesson Learned on Accountability.
      http://wp.me/p2T0E9-G1

      Excellent site I follow – and today’s timely article – about food as a substitute for emotions and making the transition to a holistic approach to food and well-being.

  3. The solution is to ban diet foods…fraudulent rubbish which reinforces women’s insecurity about their appearance; ban processed food which poisons us and instead of sending the overweight to developing countries send the politicians who neglect the health end education of their citizens in favour of taking money from the lobbies of the manufacturers of the above items.

  4. It is amazing when you travel to these ‘developing countries’ and see how they live. Our country does not know what poor is I always think. And then you think how many of our obese are on government programs to subsidise a lack of income. I think your idea is a valid one!

    • I have worked with many people from developing countries in the US and abroad. I always ask their view of the US – “It is the land of milk and honey” or “The streets are paved with gold.” The same things over and over regardless of the country or SES of the people.

      I am very literal in my thinking so was not making the connection. I was discussing this with a group of immigrant women from a number of countries. Of course they got a good laugh – but explained it to me:
      “In America, even the poor people are fat. In our countries, the poor people starve and die. So, if the poor people are fat, there must be money lying in the streets and so much food that anyone can eat anything they want. That is why we all want to come to America.”

      Ok, now I get it.

      • That is an amazing story and I can believe and visualize every word of it. You must have some very interesting work that takes you to these people and allows you to work in these situations.

        • Most, but not all, of the work has been volunteer or community service work – but the skills I have are related to either medical or public health. I have also been very active with refugee relocation programs – and when you work with a family for six months, it is difficult not to become part of their family and community. And because I get miffed at the school system, I teach parents how to advocate for their kids – and I get to meet a lot of people that way too. (My children’s public elementary school had more than 50 nations represented there. Quite a diverse group for around 400 students. Awesome!)
          Actually, the group of immigrant women were classmates in a pre-req course I needed to get into med school – a course I took at the junior college. We were all older students and would study together. And exchange cultural information. 🙂 I answered all their questions about the US and our customs that they were too embarrassed to ask other people and in exchange, they let me “INTJ” them with all of my questions. (I never did finish med school – I switched to public health, my true passion.)

  5. Good analysis, however if we all were living our lives fully without the concern of what the magic number on the scale is every morning we may become normalized just by being active, fit, and happy. I have seen too many cases of overreaction to weight in the young, and too many cases of frank bullying of those children who are overweight to perceive the problem only that of weight. I fear fat is the last bastion of prejudice–having suffered from eating disorders in my youth, and still cringing when my BMI exceeds 24, I am super sensitive. Also have a family member institutionalized with anorexia, starving or stuffing are not healthy. Like the idea of natural foods.

    • I agree completely! I don’t keep a scale in the house and most coaches on nutrition advise against it. The media and ad campaigns are an issue that consumers can address – and are slowly making some progress, thankfully.

      Our lifestyles and eating has changed dramatically in the past century – and our weight reflects it. I have food issues, also – and have since I was 12 years old. I wish the best for your family member with the eating disorder.

      Actually seeing the result of true starvation, lack of food, proper nutrition, death – it was a very powerful experience for me. But so was being handed a baby that was a few days away from dying of starvation.

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