A weighty matter

You can barely blink without seeing another article about how as a nation we keep getting fatter and fatter.

The latest (that I’ve seen) says that right now, 34 percent of our residents are obese, and predicts that the obesity rate will just keep on growing over the next 40 years until 42 percent of us have a body mass index of 30 or more (that’s 180 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, 209 pounds for someone 5-foot-10).

A team of researchers from Harvard University says that the the obesity epidemic is being driven by the phenomenon that if, say Sally’s friend Jane becomes obese, then the chances that Sally herself becomes obese increase by half. In other words, you can “catch” obesity from your friends and family.

This phenomena was first reported on in 2007. About a year ago, I read some interesting commentary on how that news was reported in the U.S. and in Great Britan.

Typical U.S. headline: “Are you making your friends fat?”
Typical British headline: “Are your friends making you fat?”

Interesting spin on the “blame game,” there.

Strangly, the researchers found that having thin friends doesn’t help you lose weight. In other words, “You don’t really catch healthiness.”

Hmmmm….

In related news, it’s no secret that being obese can be a burden on the heart (and contribute to heart disease), but I never exactly understood why. I don’t have all the answers, but I did learn one important reason in one of my A&P (anatomy and physiology) labs this week.

The lab was about blood flow, and the various factors that affect it. Essentially, if a person is obese, they have to have longer veins and arteries in order to get nutrients and oxygen to all the body tissues (and to haul waste products back for disposal). The greater the length of your blood vessels, the harder your heart has to pump, and the more your arteries have to constrict, to move blood all the way out, and all the way back. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Does that take a toll on your health, yes, my lovely readers, it does.

Move your body! Eat some vegetables! Ask yourself if you are really hungry every time you want to put food in your mouth!

Photo: © Grzegorz Wolczyk | Dreamstime.com