FILE - In this July 7, 2011 file photo, people walk on the street in Montpelier, Vt. The battle of the bulge so far has been a big, fat failure for U.S. drugmakers. But that hasn't stopped them from trying. For nearly a century, scientists have struggled to come up with a diet pill that helps people lose weight without causing side effects that range from embarrassing digestive issues to dangerous heart problems. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

You’re Too Fat

That is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to tell you, though not exactly in those words.

New research by the CDC is showing that the adult obesity rate in the U.S. is now just shy of a whopping 40% and it’s over 18% in youth.  These rates are climbing at a shocking pace, up 30% in the past two decades.

CNN interviewed Michael W. Long, assistant professor at the Milken Institute of School Public Health at George Washington University about this rate increase and (I believe) inadvertently stumbled upon a leading cause of the problem.

Here it is:

What is ‘very striking’ about this information is that there has been a 30% increase in adult obesity and 33% increase in youth obesity from 1999-2000 data to 2015-16, despite government-focused efforts to address the issue, according to Long

The key phrase is “government-focused efforts.”  From the War on Drugs to the War on Poverty to the War on Obesity, conservatives have long known that government-focused efforts to reduce something always—always—result in more of what those efforts try to reduce.  Like with those other programs, it seems to me that the more the government attempts to solve the obesity “epidemic,” the worse it gets.

Look at how many children rejected public-school provided “healthy” lunches after new government health standards when into effect a few years ago.  Did that help?  Local governments like to force restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, but that does little if anything to influence customers’ decision making.  Heck, if I’m having trouble deciding between two or more options, I am more likely to choose the item with the higher calorie count because I know it will taste better!

Government too often tries for a one-size-fits-all approach because it’s easy for politicians to implement, but rarely effective.  One-size-fits all solutions won’t work for everyone because we’re all individuals with our own lives, our own preferences, and our own lifestyles.  The key to health and fitness is finding what works for you as an individual, not what the government says you should do based on statistics.  No one knows you better than you.

America doesn’t have an obesity problem.  Obese Americans have an obesity problem.

This topic comes up a lot in conversation.  Almost universally I hear people talk about how our country just has “too much food.”  I disagree.  There is no such thing as “too much food.”  Having food in abundance is a blessing!  Historically civilizations have struggled to provide their population with enough food to survive. You had to be wealthy and powerful to be able to eat every time you were hungry. Now if we get hungry, we can just go down the street and get a full meal for less than $5!

If you’re serious about your health and fitness, then you need to find what works for you and what doesn’t.  Don’t worry about what the government health guidelines are telling you.  They’re written by bureaucrats who have other agendas more important to them than your personal well-being.  Besides, the government doesn’t know you or what in your life is affecting your health.  Again, no one knows you better than you.  Good luck trying to make sense of the government guidelines anyway.

I have spent my entire adult life attempting to stay fit and healthy.  At times I have been more successful than at others, but as I went along I learned a lot about myself and what worked for me versus what didn’t.  I’m not a dietician or a nutritional expert, but I have learned a few things along the way:

  • Ignore the government guidelines
    • Like I said, they’re written by people who don’t know you and have their own agendas. Besides, how often do you hear that Food X is bad and Food Y is good only to find out twelve seconds later that Food X will now cure cancer while Food Y will make your eyes bleed.  They have no idea what they’re talking about!
  • Ignore the fad diets
    • They’re almost as bad as the government one-size-fits-all solutions. Your health and fitness goals need to be tailored to you as an individual.  Look for success stories from people who live similar lives to you and learn from them.
  • Your body is a laboratory
    • A great way to help find what works and what doesn’t is to carefully note how your body reacts to the food you’re eating, when you’re eating it, and how much you’re eating. For example, I noticed that it became much easier for me to keep weight off once I cut wheat out of my diet.  Feel free to experiment!
  • Intake versus Output
    • Health in many ways boils down to the ratio of how much you’re eating versus how much work your body is performing. Your body can only handle so much food per day. I try to walk at least an hour every day.  If I want ice cream, I walk to the store to get it.  When I eat out, I order smaller portions, split a meal with someone, or eat half of the meal and box the rest. Cut the intake and increase the output.
  • Do your own homework
    • You have the Internet at your disposal. All of the information you need to make smart decisions is out there.  You just have to go and find it.

As with so many problems in our society today, the obesity problem is not going to be solved by the government because it isn’t the government’s problem to solve.

It’s yours.  And mine.  Your health is your responsibility and my health is my responsibility. It’s no more complicated than that.

About the author

Russell Patten

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