Only in USA..

Do you really think a person who warrants a seat this size doesn't "think about losing weight" all the time?

I've worked in the nutrition field, in some capacity for nearly 20 years, including helping obese young adults and people with disabilities live healthy lives (see below for more info).

A drug addict has a choice. He or she can choose to never do crack or cocaine. Even given that, most of us can empathize with someone in the throes of drug addiction.

But, unlike doing crack, we have to eat.

Imagine if we went to AA and said to the crowd, "Okay, we want you all to drink in moderation daily, but don't drink too much. If you fail, you're a piece of shit who should be publicly ridiculed." This is what you are being asked to do with your drug of choice: unhealthy foods.

I'll address those who are overweight and hopefully give you information that will be helpful, instead of jacking off to my own sense of superiority and self-righteousness. Some people on this thread must be suffering from carpal tunnel by now.

This is not a series of excuses to say to you, "It's not your fault, so, therefore carry on." But, just like if you had a drug addiction, it's something easier to overcome if you more fully understand it.

Chasing the candy-coated dragon.

The real culprit is not a "lazy gene". It's not fat. It's not will-power. It's not lack of exercise. It's SUGAR.

The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 5% of your caloric intake should be sugar. If you have a normal BMI you should consume about 6 teaspoons a day. One can of soda, on average, contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar. We tend to metabolize (use) 60%, we save 5% for “ready energy” (to be used in the near future) and store, for long-term use 35%. Half of this sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup and in foods labeled “fat-free”.

Most Americans (we won't be alone long, we're spreading our unhealthy eating habits to the world) who are overweight are sugar "addicts".

If you are eating a dozen cookies before bed, you are not feeding your body, you are poisoning your body, you are feeding something else. This is what drug addiction counselors call “self-medicating”. What you lack to combat the problem isn’t necessarily willpower. What you need is education and better coping skills. The sugar is making you sick, not stupid or lazy.

Remember: You are lazy because you are fat, you're not fat because you're lazy.

Those of you who are thinking, "That's not me. I’m not sugar addict. I don't even like sweets." Think again.

Go look in your cabinets. I'm serious. Take an hour or two one day and just weed through your cabinets and really consider what is in the food you're eating.

Sugar is hidden in almost everything in typical U.S. grocery stores. Here is a list of other words for sugar. This is only a partial list. I can think of others. Many processed foods have extra sugar.

If you're over 40, like me, you may remember a time when mom would say, "You can have one cookie." At some level, we knew back then that excessive sugar intake was bad for you. It was easy to limit sugar intake, the formula was simply: sugar = dessert. That's all changed. Now, we're being tricked into eating sugar where before it didn’t exist. It's much harder to make good decisions when you don't fully understand what is making you fat and what is making you fat is hidden in the product.

How did it come to this? When food producers started removing the fat from foods in order to put "low fat" (lower than what, you have to wonder) on packaging, they had to make the food taste just as good somehow. Enter: Sugar. Lots of sugar.

We were told fat is the problem. Take a look at any food aisle in the grocery store: Low fat! No fat! Those labels might as well read: HIGH SUGAR! ALL SUGAR!

But, the food industry didn’t just put more sugar in the foods, they lobbied to lie to you about it. Don't believe me? Go back to your kitchen. See on the labels where it reads "daily allowance of sugar"? No, you probably don't see that. Why? Because congress will not make food manufacturers include it on the labeling. If they did, they couldn't sell their products.

We are in the same battle with food companies now that we were with cigarette companies for so long.

Retrain your Brain.

Our weight problems are as much about what we put in our brains as what we put in our bodies. It’s not just a nutrition issue. It’s a cultural and miss-education phenomenon.

We hear catchphrases on the news like, "it's all about personal responsibility", "it's about willpower", "it's about exercise". Those same news stations make millions from the food (sugar) industry. The anchors and reporters have talking points influenced by “sponsors”. I know it’s true, because I started out as one of them. I was a health reporter; a job I quit precisely because it was all about defrauding the public.

Don't kid yourself. The simple fact is we are not on a level playing field with the sugar-pushers, their corporate backing, near-limitless funding and cunning lobbyists. None of these entities care if you are fat. I take that back, they do care. If you’re fat, you’re already in the cycle and you’re lining their pockets. If you die, that’s okay, you’ve likely raised your kids the same way and the cycle continues. Then, they have the balls to blame you and only you. And everyone else will get on bored and be so consumed with blaming and rattling on about personal responsibility we won't stop for two minutes to consider possible other issues needing to be addressed.

Any lawsuit claiming fast food chains should take some responsibility for what they are selling is met with the same talking points:

Kids now are just lazy!

Everyone's looking for an excuse!

This is the end of personal responsibility!

You're fat because you're useless and lazy, stop blaming others!

This is a frivolous lawsuit to get money!

The point is to marginalize the opposition. If you say you disagree that must mean you're lazy and don't support the idea of individual responsibility, so shut up! That’s the message and it works. It keeps us paralyzed and in fear of being labeled as whiners.

Look here, y'all, if we had advertisements for crack cocaine on every inch of available space, if we had cartoons meant to encourage kids to do crack, had vending machines full of crack along every wall, if we hid crack in foods and corporations deliberately mislabeled those foods to make folks buy more crack, if crack was being served in schools, we wouldn't concentrate so much on personal responsibility. We would demand some government and corporate accountability.

Actual quotes from parents of my (very overweight, unhealthy) students:

You're telling us our kids have no control! You're making them into victims! You just don't want anyone to take personally responsibility!

To be honest, I resent that I even have to address this. It's like saying, "I believe the internet should remain free of government interference” and someone responding with, "You just love child porn then, huh?! Hey, everybody, look at the child rape supporter over here!”

To be clear: I am not saying you do not have a personal responsibility regarding your health. I worked at behavioral programs which trained individuals to change their lifestyles. If I didn't believe it couldn't be done, I wouldn't have worked there. I also believe that any individual must take personal responsibility to live healthy. I absolutely believe in personal responsibility in a big way.

But, haven’t you already tried to take personal responsibility? Haven’t you cleaned your cabinets out more than once and vowed to eat only foods labeled “diet”? Were you hungry, miserable and edgy despite your best efforts? Don’t you only drink diet soda, after all? Don’t you already lay in bed attacking yourself for being a failure? Don’t you starve yourself? Haven’t you spent thousands of dollars on diet aids and in pursuit of change? Haven’t you been on a diet of some sort or another for years? Maybe your whole life?

I propose that education is taking personal responsibility. And I propose that if it were only about personal responsibility, none of us would be fat.

I'm not making anyone a victim, I'm simply rejecting the idea of blaming the victim while ignoring other real issues. I am not saying you don't have the power to lose weight, you absolutely do! You just need the proper tools. Accurate information is the most important tool and most of us do not have it.

So, by all means, take personal responsibility in your health. Start with retraining your brain to recognize the real problems.

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