Friday, May 15, 2009


There are times when I feel like medical research is somewhat unnecessary, such as when it proves something already widely acknowledged as true. With obesity, the number of "studies" about the health and social effects of obesity is quite staggering, and the results unsurprising. Here is a sampling of the recent findings relating to obesity.

Being obese will...increase the chance a child will have allergies, lower a man's marriage chances, decrease one's productivity, worsen asthma symptoms, lower chances of receiving a raise or promotion, increase women's chances of pelvic disorders and decrease quality of life in old age, increase the chance a child will suffer lower body injuries, hide fetal abnormalities during an ultrasound, and raise the chance of being disabled in general.

This is supposedly new data, compared to the old data linking obesity to breast cancer, high blood pressure, shorter life span, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, diabetes, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disorder, back problems, and steeper decline in mental faculties after the onset of Alzheimer's or dementia. I don't understand why we need more proof that being overweight and obese is a serious health problem. If being told that they will get their feet amputated if they don't lose weight does not motivate them, then how will information about pelvic disorders sway them more? We also do not need data to prove that being obese makes one less desirable in general, everyone already recognizes that fact. It is mostly a superficial problem, but it is hardwired in our being to be repelled by the unhealthy. Unfortunate and discriminatory from a humanistic stand point, but logical and fair from an evolutionary view, where the population, not the individual, is most important.

To play devil's advocate, knowing definitively that something is caused by a person being obese could help physicians treat problems - they could abstain from prescribing medications they would give a non-obese person, if the potential benefits of the medicine would certainly be curtailed by the person's obesity. After all, a non-obese person may have an underlying cause for a disorder which is treatable, while the obese person may have the problem simply because of excess weight. I have been tempted to write about obesity before, and finally felt compelled by the many unnecessary "studies" posted in Yahoo!'s Weight Loss News. If nothing else, one can at least be impressed by the sheer number of health complications from being excessively massive.

1 comment:

  1. I think that technically, evolution is only just beginning to take part in the selection against obesity, since excess food was never a problem in our distant past. But you're right...we are instinctively repelled by disease, and obese people are definitely NOT healthy.