Sunday, February 2, 2014

Inspiring message of the day: obesity is not a disease and you do have free will

Matt Walsh writes:
According to a new study, it does more harm than good to label obesity a “disease.”  Oh the Daily Mail, still your favorite source of information... Shockingly, the study finds, when you tell people that they are victims and that they have no control over their physical condition, you ultimately discourage them from attempting to improve themselves.
So when the American Medical Association suddenly decided to throw science out the window and declare that body fat is a disease like cancer or malaria, they knowingly and purposefully stoked the feelings of helplessness that many of us already struggle with on a daily basis. Oh, ignorant, ignorant, Matt Walsh. "Disease" is not a naturally, really-existing-in-nature category. It is a word that people made up to describe things they saw. What we choose to classify as a disease has always been and will always be arbitrary. So there is no science to throw out the window. The decision to classify something as a "disease" often hinges on considerations of how it will be funded and studied, etc.
They also enriched themselves by ensuring that government health insurance plans would cover obesity treatments and diet pills so you don't think it ever necessary for anyone to get treatments for obesity? also, what does "government health insurance plans" (Medicare and Medicaid, I presume) have to do with anything?, but I’m sure that was totally not a factor in their decision. You are saying this is all a get-rich-quick plot of the American Medical Association? 
Beyond the findings of this survey, there are many other problems with calling obesity a disease. Here’s one: it isn’t true. It is an arbitrary social convention, either way.
Obesity is not a disease.
Of course it isn’t.
Obesity might cause diseases, and there might be illnesses that make it easier to become obese, but obesity itself — the condition of having excessive amounts of body fat — is not a disease. Calling obesity a disease is like if I stab myself in the arm and then claim my bicep wound is an “illness.” Sure, the wound might become infected and cause a disease, and there might have been some psychological disorders at work which prompted me to knife myself in the first place, but the wound itself is simply a result of my actions. So, what if you smoke a lot and get emphysema... is that not a disease because it is a result of your actions? Do you even know what the definition of "disease" is? It is an abnormal condition. That could be anything.
Obesity, likewise, is a result. That's a very weird, black-and-white disease classification scheme you have there, Matt.
It’s also a cause, but first it is a result. We eat and the body converts that food into fat. That’s how it works. To call that process “diseased” is to fundamentally rewrite the laws of physics. Some people have slower metabolisms and some people have thyroid issues, and those can be diseases, or symptoms of diseases, or the results of diseases,  but ALL people gain weight by eating. This is a fact. It is not a disease. Yes, but not all people become obese by eating. And obese people do not necessarily overeat.
If the fat on my gut – which I rightfully earned from eating Hardees last week – can be called a disease no, fat is not classified as a disease, obesity is, then I suppose the number 2 has a disease because every time I add it with another 2, I get 4. Okay, now we've thrown all attempts at logical, coherent thought out the window. 
Obesity is a problem. It’s a struggle. It’s a hardship. But it isn’t a disease. The Bubonic Plague was a disease. It killed 100 million people, and they never realized that rat fleas were to blame. But fat is different. Fat is not a mystery. If you know what the cause is, it is not a disease?? You can’t “catch it” from parasites. You can’t become infected by it. The reason we have the term "infectious disease" is because not all disease is infectious.
If obesity is a disease, then smoking is a disease. And so is drinking, and so is running blindfolded across the highway in the middle of the night. Actions are not conditions of the body. That is why they are not diseases. However, chronic bronchitis, chirrosis, and traumatic brain injury are classified as diseases.
We are a fat nation, this is true. How can a nation be fat? I'm definitely not overweight. But why? Well, because the average American spends over 34 hours a week watching TV. And because Dunkin’ Donuts had so much success when they market-tested their Donut Sandwich that now they’re taking it national. And because Taco Bell has a Doritos Taco, and it sells like crazy no matter how many Taco Bell employees are photographed defiling food in the back of the store. And because we are so hell-bent on instant gratification that diet pills (or “speed,” as most drug addicts call it) are a billion dollar industry. And because millions of people have milk shakes and cake for breakfast, but they feel OK about it because we call them “Frappuccinos” and “muffins.” And because Mountain Dew. And because funnel cake. And because most Americans haven’t done a crunch since middle school most??? then why are there so many gyms?, not counting the Crunchwrap Supreme they ate this afternoon. And because we consume a ton of food a year while drinking 53 gallons of soda. And because microwaves. And because processed-and-packaged-and-wrapped-in-plastic food. You know who is behind all that? Corporations! Corporations create and market terrible, terrible food. They even purposefully engineer it to be addicting (Cheetos, for example, has the auspicious Zero Calorie Density). And then it is more corporations coming in with diet pills, diet products, fad exercise programs, etc.  Yes, people make choices to eat it, but the only people we can blame for the ubiquitous, unavoidable presence of all of this stuff is CORPORATIONS who are sacrificing our health for their own profit.
I don’t discount other serious factors that make it very difficult for some people to shed the pounds yes, you are pretty much discounting the other factors, but to label obesity a disease is to ignore ALL of the things I just listed. Well, here is what you are ignoring. There is growing evidence of a link between stress and obesity, as well as between stress and all the health problems that obesity supposedly causes. It seems likely that stress may be the underlying cause of varied health issues, and that also would explain the correlation of these issues to race and poverty. It is pretty dang stressful to be poor and marginalized.
I hear a lot about genetics, but people in the 19th century had genetics, didn’t they well no, actually, they didn't have genetics. Genes, yes, but not genetics? Yet they didn’t have an obesity epidemic. You know what else they didn’t have back then? Cinnabon. Coincidence? Probably not. If one takes stress seriously as a factor, one could also note the breakdown of communities, the alienation of a consumerist, industrialized society, the increasing inequality, the ballooning costs of basic health care, etc. etc.
Do my genetics stop me from exercising? Do my genetics sneak into my bedroom at night and inject sugar and grease into my bloodstream? I ate a double beef burger and fries for lunch this afternoon. Did my genetics make that choice? And yet, you are not obese (judging by your pictures). So you can eat this crap and not automatically become obese? In fact, I have noticed that it is often non-obese people who can get away with eating crap, and obese people who are more careful about what they eat. Everyone is different, of course, but it is definitely apparent to me that you cannot predict a person's weight by what they eat.
Emphasis on choice. Yup, we all live in vacuums where only personal choices matter, and society has no affect on anything.
I’m often told that some people “just can’t lose weight,” and that it “doesn’t matter what they do.” I’m sure some people have a much harder time losing weight, but can it be the case that there are human beings on this Earth who literally CAN’T? If obesity is genetic, then I suppose this would stand to reason. It’s a funny thing, though: I’ve never in my life heard of someone getting lost in the woods for five days, or locked in a cell in a POW camp, or coming down with a bad stomach virus and vomiting for 56 hours straight, and coming out of it having not lost any weight at all. Oh my god, you've got to be kidding me. This is where you're going? Now, I’m not suggesting that we starve ourselves. Ok... But I am suggesting that starvation leads to weight loss for EVERYONE on the planet, which clearly proves that obesity is not simply a genetic issue. Oh my god. This is killing me. The fact that people can always lose weight when they don't eat anything does not in ANY WAY prove that genetics is not a significant factor in obesity.  It proves that lack of food leads to less weight, which proves that more food leads to more weight. Yes, if you don't eat ANYTHING, you will lose weight. But seeing as to how that is not healthy or in any way feasible, it is perfectly valid to say that if a person can't lose weight eating healthfully, they can't lose weight. Getting locked in a POW camp or contracting a stomach virus is not a legitimate option for weight loss, so therefore, none of the options available to them allow them to lose weight. They can't lose weight. 
Let me put it to you another way. Height is mostly determined by genes. If you have tall parents, you will likely be tall, and there is not much you can do to make yourself stop growing. However, if you are severely malnourished, you will not be as tall as you would be otherwise. The fact that malnourishment can make you shorter does not prove that height is mostly just a personal choice.
See, we’ve done a horrible thing by turning every shortcoming and every personal struggle into a “clinical” issue, or a “disease” requiring surgery and medication. When we attempt to pawn our flaws off by pretending we are the victim — rather than the cause — of them, we severely diminish ourselves. We diminish ourselves by rejecting our own potential and dismissing the power of our own will. Sorry, I have known too many people who have done everything right and are still overweight. It is not always about willpower. Once again, we live in society and society affects our lives in deep ways. If we are too quick to turn to medication, maybe that has something to do with the pharmaceutical companies doggedly promoting medication.
We also insult the Lord Himself.
When God made human beings, He gave us an awesome gift. He bestowed on us an enormous power. He gave us a power so great that it makes each of us more significant, more impactful, and more essential than even the biggest stars in the sky. We can do things that no other creature on Earth can do, we have a capacity that goes beyond any other known entity in the entire physical universe.
We are set apart from all else.
We are set apart by our power to change. Our power to create. Our power to choose. Our power to use our will. Our free will.
My free will and my immortal soul are the things that make me more significant than a raccoon or a dung beetle. I am not a beast, and this is why. I am not a slave to instinct and programming. I have urges, but I can transcend them. I am weak, but I can be stronger. I can desire one thing, yet do another. I can want something, yet refuse it. I can long for gratification, yet delay it. Except when gratification is achieved via emoting and insulting people. Then you just cannot hold it in.
I can. I might not, but I can. I have that potential. You have that potential. Unlike an insect that simply is whatever it is and does whatever it does, and can never be more or do more that that, you and I can change. You and I can ascend or descend, improve or falter, succeed or fail. This is what makes us human.
I am accused of being a downer and a cynic, and this post will surely bring out those accusations all the more. But it isn’t true. I want so much out of life, and I truly desire for everyone to be fulfilled and to better themselves.
It’s modern philosophy that is negative and cynical. It’s the Freudian quackery that tempts us to retreat from our humanity, descend down to the level of a skunk or a snake, and embrace the cowardly and convenient notion that we have no control and no say over the things that we do and the sorts of people that we become. I don't think you even know what you're talking about here.
We DO have control over our obesity. Who is the "we" and what is collective obesity? I'm not familiar with it. I do know that some people have control over their obesity and some people don't.  I know it is not a popular thing to say, but popular things are rarely worth saying at all. And some unpopular things are also not worth saying at all. (Besides, I think fat-shaming is quite popular.)
Obesity is not a disease. To say otherwise is to toss sound science, medicine, biology, theology, and philosophy out the window. And what is left?
Nothing, really. Just an ugly and pointless world populated by animals and robots, where we all suffer, we are all helpless, and we are all victims. And then we die.
Calling obesity a disease ---> world devoid of meaning
This is the picture many people paint – the world in which they wish to live.
And they call me the cynic?

This post had slightly fewer insults, but many more lapses in logic and inappropriate analogies.

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