The Obesity Epidemic: What’s making us fat and who should we blame?
It’s a weighty issue: People on both sides of the pond are just getting fatter. More than one-third, 35 percent, of American adults are obese, according to the US Centres for Disease Control, while in the UK, 26 percent of adults are obese, according to the NHS. In both countries, those figures are only going to rise, experts say, while the attendant health risks, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, are going to cripple more and more people. And as the health toll rises, so too does the financial cost, as Tony Leeds pointed out at Politics.co.uk.
So, what are we going to do? And who should we blame?
The ‘flab jab’: Eat all the junk you want and still stay slim!
The big story out this week is the development of the so-called “flab jab”, a miracle vaccine that, according to inveterate weight watchers The Daily Mail, “allows people to gorge on junk food yet keep trim”. The less sensational Press Association explained that the vaccine, which stimulates the immune system to attack a hormone that encourages weight gain and metabolic slow-down, showed positive results in tests on mice. Further studies on the vaccine, developed by US researchers at Braasch Biotech, are required before this miracle jab will ever see the light of market, however.
Want to lose weight? Marijuana can help!
Cannabis is typically associated with increased food cravings, but researchers at GW Pharmaceuticals have recently found that two compounds made from cannabis leaves can actually increase the amount of energy the body burns, The Telegraph reported. Tests in mice have so far shown that the compounds boosted their metabolism, decreasing levels of fat in their livers and reducing levels of cholesterol in their blood stream. Clinical trials on humans are now underway to determine whether the drugs can be used to treat “metabolic syndrome”, a situation where obesity-related illnesses diabetes and high blood pressure combine to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
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Blame Nixon for the global obesity epidemic
Shamed former President Richard Nixon didn’t just shake America’s trust in her elected officers, he also caused the obesity epidemic, Jacques Peretti argued in a recent piece for The Guardian. Americans and Britons are fat because consume more sugar than they ever did before, often unwittingly. Nixon, facing an uphill battle for re-election in 1971 as food prices soared, needed to get the farm lobby on his side in order to force the cost of food down. He did by asking Earl Butz, an agricultural academic, to broker a compromise; Butz then pushed American farming to produce more corn than it ever had before, to make more money than it ever had before. Surplus corn went into high fructose corn syrup, which then went into just about everything, and the rest is fatty history.
We need to treat food as a drug
In order to deal with the obesity epidemic, America needs to treat food as it would any other drug, wrote Alexandra le Tellier at The Los Angeles Times. “If we’re going to treat drug addiction like a disease, per the recommendation of Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama’s top drug policy advisor, we should take a similar approach toward caring for food addicts.” Food, like drugs, has been designed to keep us coming back for more, while it is increasingly harmful. The solution? “Identify the enemy (sugar, corn) and kill it. Stop eating it, stop subsidizing it, stop promoting it. In fact, slap warning labels on processed foods and put ‘em in the same category as tobacco, so that at least consumers will know that microwaveable low-fat creamed corn isn’t the good idea they think it is.”
Nanny state out of control
But while some want the government to intervene on their behalf – citing the fact that the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses has increased the tax burden on others in both the US and the UK – others are crying nanny state, the Christian Science Monitor reported. Especially, and perhaps unsurprisingly, those in the snack food and soda industry – in fact, it didn’t seem that the paper was able to find anyone other than high-calorie businesses to comment.
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