So, I just read this article, and I had to post my comments on how it relates to the growing obesity epidemic. http://flip.it/C7l9Bx. Let me know your thoughts.
I can’t believe this was a Forbes (Forbes) article, and I’m shocked they would actually attach their name to it. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure where to start when I started composing this post, but here goes!
First, the fact that this is focused around retail clothing without even mentioning the primary issues causing our obesity challenges seems strange. Second, the one person they quote as having trouble fitting into “regular” sized clothing is someone who has had a disability for the past 33 years, is hardly the “norm”. Finally, the fact that they rail on the fashion industry for failing to adapt to “the evolution of women’s bodies” over the past 10+ years is crazy.
Before I move on to my actual issue with society’s obesity trend, let me address the “fashion” aspect of this article. The fashion industry is about looks, and selling an image. The clothing/textile industry is in the business of selling clothes of all shapes and sizes. That’s it. In today’s world of on-demand products and services, there are options for every type, shape, and size of person (including, tall, short, , overweight, obese, athletic, and more). If options aren’t available, either the market hasn’t proven profitable yet, there isn’t enough demand for it (after all, it’s essentially a business of supply and demand), or you just don’t want to pay what the market is asking. As the old business adage goes, “The options for anything you want are fast, cheap, or high quality. You can pick any two of the three. Your choice.”
My biggest issue comes with the fact that people are OK with (and rarely question) the statistics that humans (not just women) are getting larger by the day. And NO, we’re not growing THAT much taller! Currently, two out of every 3 people in North America are either overweight or obese, and that number is expected to rise to about 85% in the next 10-15 years unless something drastic happens to our “normal” way of life.
To me, this is an abomination, and shows a complete disregard for the future health and vitality of humanity. However, I’m in the minority that has a “abnormal” body composition (meaning I’m NOT overweight or obese). So, maybe it’s just me that’s way off base.
Let’s set the record straight. YES, people can be overweight, and “healthier” than someone who is “normal” weight. However, this doesn’t make it OK, or the norm. If you are overweight, or obese, comparing yourself to a “normal” weight crack addict isn’t productive. Health isn’t a zero sum game!
All other things being equal, someone carrying significantly more body fat will be at a higher risk of a wide range of health conditions and diseases. This isn’t speculation, there is well documented science behind it. Equally, someone who doesn’t exercise, eats like crap, and is chronically stressed out will be at greater risk regardless of their body composition.
There are many “normal” and underweight weight people who are malnourished and unhealthy, but there are also MANY overweight and obese people who are the same (YES, even malnourished)…because, regardless of body composition, they aren’t consuming enough quality nutrients. While body composition is closely correlated with overall health, anyone who has taken a high school science class, knows that correlation does not equal causation (hopefully they still teach that).
The sad fact is that the North American (AKA “Western”) lifestyle has dramatically changed over the past 30 years. As a society, we are LESS active than ever, eat the poorest QUALITY food, yet consume the HIGHEST number of calories in history.
Seeing so many overweight and obese people doesn’t make it “normal”. It just means we have an epidemic on our hands! While I don’t agree with “fat shaming”, or disrespecting anyone in that situation, I’m adamant that we must be extremely careful in accepting this societal epidemic as “normal”. Being overweight, overfat, sedentary, generally unhealthy, and at greater risk of disease, and death, is not the way to increase the health, vitality, happiness, and longevity of society.
Far too many people today (of all body composition and size levels) are simply surviving, instead of thriving. While having a healthy body composition isn’t the only thing, I’ve yet to meet a person who was overweight or obese who would say no to this question…”If I could snap my fingers, put you at your ideal weight, body composition, and you would be in good shape, would you want that outcome?”
So, why are so many people failing to reach this outcome on their own? I think its because so many people think it’s impossible, or out of reach for them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, obesity has almost quadrupled in the past 30 years, but the primary thing that’s changed is our lifestyle, and our expectations towards what is “normal”.
We are at a critical time where society is gravitating towards the ends of each extreme. The number of overweight people has actually leveled off in the past 10 years, but the number suffering from obesity is still accelerating rapidly. On the other end of the spectrum are the very fit people. With CrossFit, Mud Races, triathlons, and all kinds of other sporting events, the active people are getting more active and fit, while there aren’t many people left in the middle.
So, what can we do to change this? It’s not something that will change overnight, but the first, and most important step starts with YOU! As a society, each person, including you, must commit to CHOOSING to live a healthy life from many perspectives. This includes being more active, eating proper portions of quality foods, engaging socially, and cultivating the mindset of health, vitality, and continuous lifelong personal development.
Society will not change, unless we first change ourselves. You have more power for change than you can possibly imagine. It all starts with you choosing to make a change. Once you decide that something must change, and are committed to making it happen, nothing will stop you. Even if you don’t know what to do at first, the solutions will present themselves. With the mindset of learning, growth, and development, there can be no failure…only opportunities for learning and future progress.
My hope is that more people will realize the path that society has gone down, and that they’ve gone down as an individual. Once this realization has been reached, there is the potential for change.
There are a myriad of factors that influence whether someone tends toward obesity, or being overweight (economic, genetic, social, familial, medical, and many more). While these things are much more in the spotlight now (and potentially more impactful) due to the connected nature of society, these factors are nothing new. They’ve always been there. The thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of people towards body image, obesity, and “norms” has always been powerful, and our perceptions of what is “ideal” and “healthy” have definitely changed throughout history.
However, my original point was to highlight the fact that a tipping point has been reached in the obesity and growing weight of western society (we aren’t getting taller at a corresponding rate).
This is not about “shaming” people who are overweight or obese. I work with many clients of all ages, body composition, and fitness levels. In fact, some of the greatest satisfaction in my work comes from seeing someone who is obese or overweight make a major breakthrough in their mindset and lifestyle. The life changing positivity they feel and exude to all around them is amazing. It’s not about getting to a certain size or weight, it’s about the confidence and joy that comes from the person knowing they are in control of their mindset, daily actions, and outcomes in life. THIS power allows them to do anything they desire, and is a key factor missing in many people today.
There are a wide range of actions and habits that can start this change. Clothing is simply one of them.
I’ve worked with many children, seniors, people with serious medical conditions, those who have never exercised, and world class athletes.
With all of these people, my coaching focuses around the 4 Pillars of Performance (Mindset, Lifestyle, Fitness, Nutrition). I’ve found that coaching for awareness and healthy habit building in all 4 areas is what produces sustainable results.
Every body is shaped differently (I’m never going to look like a kenyan marathon runner)! We all can be fit and healthy for our own body shape, size, and genetic profile. My original argument about the quadrupling of obesity in the past 3 decades speaks to the fact that human physiology and our natural body shapes have not changed that much over the same time period. Our lifestyle, eating habits, and environmental conditions are a massive part of this change.
While it was a bit rambling, hopefully this article has at least created a spark of questioning in your mind about the fallacy of the new “normal” for body size, body composition, clothing sizes, health, and happiness.
I believe every person has a right, and an obligation to live their best life. This is for your own benefit, that of your children, and those close to you. Living a healthy, happy, and vibrant life is much harder to do this when carrying the physical and psychological burden overweight and obesity.
I’m genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts and comments. I’m sure I will get an earful from many people, but for those who choose to comment, please leave constructive feedback and opinions. Life is too short for anything less. 🙂
Have a great day!