Our Health Obsession is Killing Us: or Why Companies Don’t Need Chief Health Officers

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

It sounds good right; companies already have chief financial officers, chief executive officers to oversee various aspects of large corporations, why not chief health officers to oversee the health and wellbeing of their biggest commodity— employees; not just physically but emotionally, not just another someone nagging people about their bad habits, reviving the horrors of 1990’s HMO’s, bean counting benefits rather looking at the work environment to see what major to minor changes can be made to positively improve the health of workers keeping healthcare costs down that way sans seeming overbearing, obtrusive, Scrooge like and maniacal.  Even better, the guy proposing it did more than just drop shocking statistics about lost productivity, sick days and exactly how many workers are above a healthy weight or have a chronic condition, actually putting forth some good ideas that surpass mandatory cessation of smoking support group meetings and yoga classes, harassment about your love of cheeseburgers, your lack of exercise and the number on that scale to help employees sustain good health and keep their job. Ideas such as if you mandate your employees work long hours, there should be a rest period during the day, an opportunity to nap during the day; if you are mandated to answer e-mails late at night, try blue filter glasses so light from your computer, mobile device won’t effect sleep. On site nurses, employee showers, accessible stairs, wireless headsets and treadmill desks were a few of the more neo-traditional concepts bought up in the CBS news segment talking with their medical correspondent Dr. David Agus. Good ideas or no, he was fuzzier on how to get employees to willingly accept the changes focusing on educating staff about why you are implementing health initiatives and matching insurance plans with employee needs then collecting data to be sure both are working in the right direction.  Unfortunately absent the two solid ideas Agus reverts to the same old common rhetoric; worse, in the wake of the recession appears to take the side of companies in this debate exhibiting an extraordinary amount of naiveté about how major companies would utilize such an officer and what the employee backlash would end up being, to say nothing of the cumulative effect on America’s working world— less people able to get jobs because their health is seen as too much of a cost liability. We saw it 2 years ago when the same CBS morning show unveiled and discussed a study on how much smokers truly cost their employers projecting an extension of the growing trend not to hire smokers potentially upheld by courts using the ‘firefighter example,’ “you can’t be 500lbs. and be a capable firefighter;” in other words where your health condition or your habits stands to significantly impede work performance. Similarly the current story was followed in subsequent weeks by segments on rethinking weight loss moving away from willpower and emphasis on character, personality flaws zeroing in on instead biology, physiology, humanity’s as a whole, yours individually and the makeup of the food you’re eating; less a commentary on chemicals in food and more how to combine them to facilitate weight loss, when it’s time to talk to your doctor about hormones and related factors hampering that loss, surgery and other medical interventions to achieve lifesaving, life extending weight reduction. A study, research experiment data showing what one meal consisting of high fat, salt and/or sugar can do to your sleep patterns, profoundly disrupting your rest, implication being forget long term effects of consistently bad for you foods on your nightly zzzz’s. Sleep known to effect weight gain especially when you don’t get enough, your sleep is disturbed.  While other news circuits, commentary sites, blogs took on the opposite side of the coin essentially calling out viewers and television show makers for our lurid obsession with mental illness watching people’s most shameful, humiliating moments, the lowest points in their lives on our screens, not for insight provided, suggestions on how to help their loved ones, connections to top help around the country, in their area for a singular, specific  disorder, but for titillation; viewing designed to say look, look how out there, bizarre, insane these people are. Programs like Fit to Fat to Fit, according to one article, oozing contempt disguised as empathy, one mother’s testimonial about her trials with healthy eating and battling the mommy clusters judging her for letting her kids have potatoes “I was an all-organic, clean-eating, sugar-free mom, too. It drove my family insane without making us healthier.” Another called out fad diets  and the lies we tell ourselves about them, fooling ourselves into believing we are healthier than we are, are employing healthier habits than we actually do on any regular basis. And the last one showcased within roughly a 2 month period discussed here; a testimonial from a Salon.com author who titled her autobiographical essay “I wasted decades feeling fat and ugly,” who at 74, reasonably healthy refuses to apologize any longer, flying in the face of the dooms day  health predictions for persons with type 2 diabetes and so forth. Question remaining, if this won’t make us any healthier, what will and what will we do to ourselves in the quest for healthy trying to find that ‘holy grail’ to live to be 100 or whatever the trend is today, what is an appropriate health expectation for the nation, you your family, how do you balance the ambiguous term ‘health’ and the practically of living?

http://www.msn.com/en-ae/travel/tripideas/why-companies-need-chief-health-officers/vi-CChV4X?refvid=CCoCNi

Chief health officers would be a great and timely addition to the workforce if they functioned as Dr. Agus only briefly mentioned, primarily filling an administrative roll, analyzing data, eying medical trends, cutting edge medicine and correlating that with insurance plans tailor-made to fit the unique needs of your company, your group of employees, ensuring you get both the best price and the widest variety of coverage per average age and family dynamic of workers. But Agus has to know it is a revival of 1990’s HMO horror stories only generated by employers this time, and their chief health officers; whether sitting in on interviews or monitoring out of sight of job applicants dismissing, ‘the fat person, ‘the smoker,’ whom you can smell cigarette smoke on them, the ‘old person’ not only likely to be in poorer health than someone 18-25, but possibly slated to retire with you meaning more of a benefits drain, as a qualified candidate based on assumptions about their health, not their credentials indicating their fitness for the position, typically positions with minimal physical requirements or none at all. Existing employees will be in an even greater predicament quickly forced to choose between so called healthy and non-healthy life options they believe to be none of the boss’ business and keeping their job, maintaining their health coverage; suddenly ordered to attend your companies chapter of overeaters anonymous, quit smoking support groups, get an employee gym membership, have suggested to them they seek help for alcohol dependence, use without a hint of addiction, at least reduce their alcohol consumption to better their health and by default the company’s bottom line. Company health officers who would doubtlessly soon be granted access to employee medical records upon hire and begin a campaign to revolutionize that employees life, call them in to discuss any recent hospital/doctor visits for them, family members listed on their health coverage bordering on interfering with raising their children, the privacy concerns Edward Snowden types should be worried about. Creating a by and large toxic work environment of a totally different kind merely adding to work stress and anxiety continuously being harassed about your lifestyle, getting it from at least 2 sides as co-workers are co-opted into the  ‘must be healthy craze’ invading your workplace. Chief health officers would be a viable solution to unraveling the cost mystery and keeping costs under control if their adjacent primary function to keeping a pulse on the medical world and choosing appropriate insurance plans, changing them as needed was to take a critical eye to the work environment, company policies, their impact on health; except any worker knows that’s exactly what won’t happen by any meaningful measurement in favor of stock answers to companies healthcare woes. He brought them up himself, treadmill desks, accessible stairs to get people out of elevators and moving during their workdays, employee showers presumably to use after that trip to the employee gym, the bonus incentivized yoga class, education to help people understand why you’re implementing what you are. Outside on-site nurses who could be a real asset in providing urgent care, family clinic like care before/after work, during your lunch break, advise you when you need to seek greater, deeper medical attention, inform you, your boss when you need to go home because you cold, flu stomach bug germs are contagious, the rest are just pathetically redundant white noise everyone but company execs., who stand to gain the most from it, stopped listening to some time ago. Then again possessing an on-site nurse runs the serious risk of sending the wrong message, your employer is so strict, so micromanaging they won’t even let you take time off to go to the doctor; how long would it be before said on-site nurses are ordered to operate like workman’s compensation physicians with the employers needs superseding the employees, sans medical ethics in many cases? Only a fool doesn’t know that’s the eventual outcome of something that should be a progressive, positive step in ensuring maximum health of all people. Interestingly on that subject, Dr. Agus doesn’t seem to comprehend how right he is on a related score, employees are smart, they will recognize quite quickly the ploy being used on them; they will comprehend right out of the gate their employer would rather badger people into better behavior than spend a few extra dollars on quality health coverage, realistic, holistic benefits care, an absolute no go in the post HMO, Obama care represents opportunity era. It’s the same notion behind why posting calorie counts on restaurant, fast food and concession stand items doesn’t work; because, people didn’t come to the ball park, movie theater, McDonald’s, Burger King, all you can eat buffet seeking health food, they came for the ball game, movie theater experience that includes that hot dog, bucket of popcorn, they eat out sparingly, so when they do, they focus on enjoyment, getting together with family, the occasion whatever it is, savoring their favorite item not how many calories are in it. Tying into the asserted need for chief health officers, people instinctively know A- too many people who chose all the right things exercise, ate well, did yoga to manage stress and still got cancer, still ended up needing bypass surgery, are still fat, overweight, obese and B- comprehensive health coverage and freedom from constantly having health thrown in their face, freedom to make the best choices for you personally absent judgment, implement changes on your own schedule, your own terms is more powerful than all the perceived perks and tweaks Agus championed.

Authors on the other side of the equation holding a powerful point, what we’re doing isn’t working; we have arguably the most health conscious generations alive on the planet, access to astounding medical breakthroughs, more and more health engineered foods from probiotics to whole grain, less calorie, less fat, less sugar everything, soda consumption is going down, health geared apps for smartphones and electronic wearable’s like fit bit to remind people to move more, watch their diets and we’re still virtually all fighting the battle of the bulge. Recent information even acknowledges that it’s harder than it once was to lose weight, stay fit, be healthy, stay healthy particularly for millennials, and it isn’t merely our sedentary lifestyles, penchant for video games, smartphones, computers over physical activity, the latest convenience trend that has us moving less, super-sized meals, a propensity to eat out more than our generational predecessors. The Toronto study proving once and for all what multitudes have said for decades when they examined data determining people today who eat the same amount of calories, same percentages of fat, protein, carbs, exercised identically to those who came before them would indeed have to eat less and exercise more to achieve the same weight, avoid gaining unwanted pounds. “But the findings also underscore that weight management and weight loss aren’t as simple as calories eaten versus calories burned. ‘That’s similar to saying your investment account balance is simply your deposits subtracting your withdrawals and not accounting for all the other things that affect your balance, like stock market fluctuations, bank fees, or currency exchange rates,’ according to Jennifer Kuk study author. Study equally predictable in being fuzzy on the why behind the data, resorting to theories alone; of course mentioning meat and sugar heavy diets though as they affected gut bacteria and sleep, light at night, stress, and the go to these days, hormones in food along with increased prescription medication consumption like anti-depressants making the list. Contrastingly in the impetus to improve your health, ways to improve your heath column Dr. Louis Aronne’s book while saying all the right things to conform with current science, what we’ve managed to learn about obesity, weight loss and nutrition over the past 35 odd years, boils down to a slight, disappointment filled repackaging of the Fit for Life diet proliferated through a popular book circa the 1980’s, putting a shiny new cover on antiquated  suggestions for the majority, a marginally different view on popular new millennial offerings; think Eat this not that. Jumping on a familiar bandwagon claiming, not the old standby, fattening, sugary, salty foods are addictive going a step further saying fattening foods damage never cells in your brain making it henceforth harder to lose weight namely damaging apatite control centers, increasing cravings and causing you not to feel full. Despite the recognition of biochemical, hormonal exc. realities, following Aronne you combat those firstly by eating foods in a specific order protein in the morning for example, consuming carbs last at the end of a meal, the end of the day and sticking to a Mediterranean type diet, if that doesn’t work consult a doctor. Rendering him little more than the latest fad diet, diet book peddler out there using newly spun science to simultaneously lecture the public and sell product, a book, drumming up publicity for his affiliated weight loss center; are we bored yet?  On his heels the ‘latest’ sleep information, finding a connection to common bad foods, high fat, high sugar confections and sleep alteration, states the effect then launches into a promotional session on fiber, the implied counter to this effect engaging in guesses as to why ‘bad food’ disrupts sleep in the first place, speculating it moves the circadian rhythm causing us to fall asleep later; diet now being questioned as an underlying factor in sleep problems, sleep disorders; weight gain, obesity depression, immunity issues and increased calorie intake the consequences of less sleep. Testimonial time, being a person who will never be a size 4 or a size 8, who could be classified by medical definition over weight if not obese, a proud soda drinker who doesn’t buy into the negative hype, a junk food lover who adores cheeseburgers and pizza ice crème and every single one of the things we know we should avoid, but who isn’t consuming them daily, high fat, high sugar foods do not effect my sleep, the quality, quantity, restfulness or restlessness of it; neither does caffeine keep me awake if consumed late at night, too close to bedtime. My circadian rhythm was altered by attending night school in college and adjustments to when I slept in order to be at my best between 4:25 and 7:05, 5:15 to 7:30 sometimes taking the 7:45 to 10:00 pm classes to gain needed credits;  fortunately for me, unlike my classmates, I wasn’t also working at the time so I simply changed when I did things eating later yes, staying up later too but waking up later as well depending on what I had to do before going to class, when I needed to be on campus, habit I never completely got out of. Still not working in the standard sense and able to set my own hours for the freelance writing that I do, I’m able to likewise chose my meal and sleep times that work for me. But you don’t have to listen to my first-hand account; take famed organizer Peter Walsh who appeared in recent years on Rachel Ray’s talk show speaking out about his sleep problems, his journey to better sleep, ultimately diagnosed with not one but two sleep disorders, though the usually seen variety none of this “your diet is to blame” crap currently making the rounds and giving people something else to worry about. Virtually ignored by the sleep specialist unveiling the findings to the CBS morning show is how little sleep Americans across the country get owning not to disorders, a variation on ‘unexplained’ insomnia but because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accommodate huge schedules, put in some time with family, friends, loved ones, trouble falling asleep linked directly to stress, personal, job worries, anxiety about relationships, kids, changes to routine, when you sleep, when you wake up, work hours, meals—oops kind-a lost the forest for the trees don’t you think?  Yet it would make the job of a chief health officer stand out as reducing work hours, hiring the proportionately appropriate number of workers, adding shifts, insisting on use of work perk functions like flex time, more vacation and sick leave for people to take at will wouldn’t it?  If only we could get employers to do these things without a chief health officer beating them over the head with the workplace version of a cartoon hammer.

http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/10/harder-to-be-thin-than-it-was-in-the-80s.html

Enter the socially sanctioned voyeurism known as reality TV raw, supposedly real shows such as TLC’s My 600lb Life, Skin Tight and Hoarders, A&E’s Intervention and Beyond Scared Straight, Fit to Fat to Fit meant to give a glimpse into the darker side of American life and their role in our current perceptions on everything from weight loss to mental illness to criminal justice. Writers linked below demonstrating people struggling with aspects of any and all of the above are as much victims of our cumulative, skewed social zeitgeist on the categorized subjects as their own addiction, mental health problem or destructive pattern. Shows argued to educate the public, help people understand disorders, encourage people to seek professional help when warranted, end up becoming gimmicks for ratings AKA television and advertising dollars; this we knew. What we perhaps didn’t know is it’s perpetual power to reinforce every negative we’ve ever heard about a subject— especially when the subject is weight, health and fat people; reinforce the blame game we level at such people for being who they are medically, physically, hormonally, biochemically, physiologically. Where we wouldn’t blame a woman for breast cancer, and Peter Jennings, though a smoker, received primarily sympathy and well wishes from the viewing public upon announcing his diagnosis, people were overwhelmingly saddened by his death, we certainly wouldn’t blame a type one diabetic or a born asthmatic for their medical status, we feel free to blast a type 2 diabetic for their diagnosis laying it at the feet of their lack of willpower and a lifetime of bad choices concerning food. Dido with fat people who  have had usually lifelong battles with weight, tried diet and exercise, gained and lost entire human beings worth of weight, who are destined to be socially cast out to boot for being lazy, smelly, slovenly and gross no matter if they have 5 lbs. to lose or upwards of 100. Take My 600lb Life, watchers of anything beyond a single episode begin to pick up on clear patterns; mirroring what the Salon piece exposed about Hoarders below, apart from holding up the most extreme cases for our enjoyment perusal, it feeds tired, worn out tropes about how disgusting they are compared to skinny people, every person with a weight problem manifested to this extent, even the mildest extent is enabled by stupid, notice the word used wasn’t ignorant, family members and plagued by a traumatic past, a history of sexual abuse, an un-dealt with sexual assault, unprocessed loss of a loved one marking their foray into using food as something other than sustenance, nutrition necessitating therapy to go with their bariatric surgery, if they can prove to god like Dr. Nowzaradan  they are sufficiently committed to making a huge lifestyle change to make surgery worthwhile. Both patients and doctor almost recite their ‘assigned role’ expected dialog about turning to food for comfort, handling their emotions by eating, post-surgery having to learn to cope with feelings minus using food.  Bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan repeatedly saying patients need to get their emotional eating under control, speaking to cameras telling viewers patient X doesn’t want to put in the work associated with weight loss; evident they say these things because they have been programed to say them by our collective psychology, our collective perceptions accepted as fact, not because they note they eat more when upset or anxious, because Nowzaradan believes if he’s seen one patient like this he’s seen them all, absent medical data to back it up.  And when surgery doesn’t work, like in the case of bedridden Penny, all his blame goes to the patient who didn’t make the right choices, try hard enough, throwing up his hands saying he doesn’t know what else to do. Accusations of being set up to fail uttered by the patient never reaching the doctors ears, a sent in nutritionist chastising her for making cupcakes for her 5 year old son’s birthday or graduation from kindergarten one and put down to the rambling excuses of a food addict not ready to face their addiction, take the necessary steps to achieve weight loss. Yet Dr. Nowzaradan apparently a pioneer in laparoscopy, possessing a cardiovascular specialty background, qualifications as a general surgeon doesn’t have the biochemistry, endocrinology, genetics understanding to know when something else might be going on. He even operated on a patient whom he had to open up to discover she had a vastly enlarged spleen and liver making typical gastric bypass impossible resorting to a gastric sleeve limiting weight loss chances. Now this is usually due to fat occluding medical techniques like ultrasound, weight limits on MRI machines and scant availability, to say nothing of expense, of open MRI’s, but standard blood work, a liver enzyme test wouldn’t have perhaps given you a clue, causing people to ask exactly what kind of medicine are you practicing?  Equally, challenger to the ‘empathetic nature’ of  Fit to Fat to Fit spot on in asking key questions about what we’re learning from it, but more importantly, how the trainer views food, how dangerous what he’s doing  is to his body and how it doesn’t put him in the shoes of a person ridiculed through childhood, discriminated against in public, on the job, maybe even within their own family, doesn’t convey the profound difference of people who enjoy the ‘bad’ food’ they’re eating versus forcing themselves to eat it for the experiment. Why is food presented as either temptation or torture, highlighted trainer JJ exemplifying the next question, “of his 3-year-old daughter, he said, ‘She helped me with some of my doughnut eating challenges. At doughnut No. 3 for her, she was feeling the pain I was feeling, so she was on the verge of tears and then she entered the food coma state and then she woke up nauseous and threw up. So it was good for her to see that this food is not as fun as it looks.’ How is this something we should be applauding? Why do doughnuts have to be something that are either gorged on or avoided?” Another informative section for the Salon piece deconstructing Fit to Fat to Fit showing the true possible results counter to the shows premise “Pfeister’s own unhappiness at his supercharged weight gain led him initially not toward empathy, but a much darker mind-set: “He became enraged in his heart when he saw obese people scooting around stores in their personal scooters and watching them stand in line for fast food. Of course he can’t possibly know what that person has gone through, but as he’d watch someone who needed to be on a diet order a biggie size meal with a shake, it was easy to assume that they were just making poor decisions.” Assumed poor decisions when you don’t know what they’ve eaten the rest of the day if anything, what they eat other days of the week, most of the time when the only place you see them is the fast food line and for the first time, you know nothing of their medical history, medications they take or don’t, their heritage, ethnic descent giving insight into body type, possible problems they would be susceptible to, but like all of America obsessed with skinny he felt free to judge them, hate them, try to vaporize them with his eyes. Leaving us with a final quote from the bottom link, “If trainers need to undergo a dramatic weight-gain stunt to empathize with their clients, we as a culture have a much bigger problem than anyone on this show…” Namely our combined fear of being the unacceptable fat, health consequences or no, and our self-righteousness about no matter what we do to ourselves, if we aren’t fat, then we’re better than other people.

http://www.salon.com/2016/01/23/stop_watching_hoarders_our_lurid_reality_tv_obsession_with_mental_illness_has_crossed_a_line/

http://www.salon.com/2016/01/25/its_dear_fat_people_for_tv_new_fit_to_fat_to_fit_show_oozes_contempt_disguised_as_empathy/

Truths underscored in the link below by Erica Manfred whose tale of fat shaming before we called it that or understood its detrimental psychological effect on fat people and their weight gain is also a tale of realistic bodies that don’t fit the mold 24/36/24, labeled fat kids, teens and adults who are still fit, active, would have been happy if not for people’s reactions to them, constant lectures and dire warnings, who despite those are, functional persons, citizens with minimal health problems, a tale of aging gracefully, by their own standards, and someone who didn’t die from being fat. Yes she became diabetic at 40, yes she had gastric bypass upon facing insulin injections with marginal success, her diabetes at 74 still well-controlled on oral medication. She is the poster child for why food exclusion doesn’t work, especially with kids, making the entitled eaters article that much more important and for never satisfactorily answered questions and rarely talked about realities, like there is a significant difference between someone who is classified overweight, obese at 40 and after having to do with metabolism as we age, changes to our body as we age; we do occasionally see it in celebrities along with the general population, think Richard Dean Anderson as late as his Stargate SG1 days compared to now, Kate Mulgrew in her Star Trek Voyager days alongside her  character in Orange is the new Black. Diabetes fundamentally affects someone over 40 differently than under; the later in life you get it the more arguable you got it from things that go haywire with time, not the blanket awning ‘lifestyle choices.’ My grandmother’s sister was pronounced diabetic in her 80’s; that’s not a result of lifestyle choices but what can happen as your body refuses to work as well as it did at 25, 55, why there are things like the pneumonia shot, the shingles vaccine, because as we age our bodies need more protection. And in our ever youth obsessed culture, influenced by magazine stick figure models airbrushed to the hilt we possess no comprehension that people can’t possibly look that way, forget maintain looking that way beyond their teens and twenties, what a realistic over 40 body is supposed to look like. We have to see pictures going viral on the internet of real pregnancy bodies to know the fitness trainers and the celebrities who employ them along which chefs are the oddity not the new mom struggling with post baby weight, whose hormones, metabolism and so on were altered by the birth of at least one child. Unknown is that if part of the reason Manfred became diabetic is her social pressure induced yo-yo dieting known to wreck metabolism; for others it’s a long standing family history of the disease a more probable explanation for ‘fat people’ too than all the other theories combined. Speaking of her diabetes and her ‘failed’ gastric bypass, unexplored: is there a way to change gut bacteria, gut hormones thought to be responsible for insulin resistance (part of, a pre-curser to diabetes) without bariatric surgery, way to ramp up, repair yo-yo dieting damaged, over eating reversed metabolisms beyond late night infomercial diet schemes and impossible exercise programs? Yet is if there is such a thing as food addiction, emotional eating, what makes some people turn to drugs, some to booze and others to food?  What is the science, not the psychology, going on in a ‘fat person’s’ brain either causing their addiction centers to light up when they eat unhealthy food, causing them not to feel full or experience intense cravings? We don’t know and essentially don’t care; doctors content to lecture patients on behavior, Fed X them to addiction services, surgery rather than delve into what is happening to their body on a chemical level. At the same time our social zeitgeist is denigrating fat people for being fat, calling anyone with a weight problem an addict, an emotional eater, we have normalized the terms emotional eater and the tendency to down a pint of Hagen-Das, an entire bag of chips over a break up, an exam failure or whatever the emotional crisis du jour is for you, not as a serious emotional problem, indication of a negative pattern, potentially necessitating counseling but typical reactions to stress, emotional pain, loss, and we wonder why people are confused about food, turning to their fridge for comfort. A craving is an intense desire for a food, a thing, a person an outcome if you are skinny, an abnormality if you’re fat and referring to food and too flippantly overused to describe people who simply want variety in their food decisions, buy something they haven’t eaten in a while, get something unique for their birthday, plan to cook a food favorite for a special occasion. While obese people resort to deep brain stimulation to stem cravings and the public spent years condemning Lara Flynn Boyle and Calista Flockhart as anorexic and part of the please eat something club, though present pics of Flynn Boyle would have most of our jaws in the floor, render her unrecognizable; what happened, she aged. People so fascinated by the former occurrences they don’t stop to ask why it works, they don’t stop to ask why addiction centers light up in some people, release natural pleasure chemicals and in some it’s the opposite. Why are some people not ‘normal’ with food from a chemical standpoint, neuroscience standpoint, not a psychological one?  Already proven underlying factors can effect more obvious ones sleep, lack of it and weight gain was the example paragraphs before; what about a correlation between stress and cholesterol? Just look at the man in the link below who after heart attacks was following his doctor’s orders changed his diet, was getting exercise, taking his meds; nothing changed until he cut back his work load, spent more time with his grandkids thus reducing his stress. So for harried Americans running to and fro, constantly reporting stress on every public survey given perhaps it’s time to examine that as it relates to obesity in more ways than just sending them to their refrigerated to sooth overwrought nerves. Emerging scientific fact revealing the key to being a centenarian, a person who lives to be 100, overwhelmingly depends on genetics less than those things pegged lifestyle choices; recent centenarians telling interested reporters they smoke, drink wine, eat unhealthy food, lead a laid back not inactive lifestyle— think “Pop” from Grumpy Old Men. Recognizing you play the hand your dealt in circumstances and genetics; sure you can eat like a rabbit, be as controlled as a lab rat envious of what others at your own family table are eating for a potential few more years or you can eat like a sane person simultaneously enjoying the time you are given.

http://www.salon.com/2016/01/25/i_wasted_decades_feeling_fat_and_ugly/

http://www.salon.com/2015/12/05/stop_telling_me_im_poisoning_my_kids_food_crusaders_sancti_mommies_and_the_rise_of_entitled_eaters/

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/03/diet_fads_are_destroying_us_paleo_gluten_free_and_the_lies_we_tell_ourselves_partner/

Testimonials again win the day, of course if you go from eating an obscene amount of calories a day to eating less you will lose weight, go from eating every meal out and/or eating high calorie fired chicken and cheeseburgers to veggies and lean meats you will lose weight, eating one sweet once a week not after every meal, every day you will lose weight. But  as a person born with a physical disability and a growing spare tire around their middle the fact is eat about 2 meals a day, rarely snack between meals, occasionally use a snack when I’ve woken up too late for a ‘lunch’ and want to make it to a (sane for me) dinner. I don’t eat when I’m not hungry, I don’t eat when I’m bored, I don’t engage in ‘mindless grazing,’ don’t eat out more than twice a month and when I do order take-out I usually avoid eating anything all day as to both enjoy the food when I do have it and not gain an extra pound,2 or 5 in the process, when we commonly went out for special occasions to buffet style restaurants birthdays, mother’s day no one ate anything for the rest of the day. My first experience with ‘weight gain’ was puberty where I went from the skinny kid to the teen with curves, to the late teen, 20 something with junk in the trunk and thunder thighs; think Raven-Symoné in her Cosby Show days to her That’s so Raven days—that just never went the other way. Still I don’t eat to deal with my emotions and can clearly ascertain when I’m full; my appetite actually flies the coop when I’m upset. There are times when I eat more and times when I eat less, as mentioned above my life allows me to set my schedule to only eat when I’m hungry; this may sound simple but is a hurdle for so called overeaters, emotional eaters exc. Missed most don’t have that luxury; if they eat breakfast in the morning they do it before work scarfing a bowl of cereal, pieces of toast at home, grab something in a drive through on the way, down a meal bar or similar item before their meeting, their lunch break is either pre-determined by their employer, the stack of work on their desk or when they get out of their midday meeting, wrap up their last midday client, dinner for those with families, people who have to get up early and do it all again had at a reasonable time for kids to do homework, baths before bedtime, who usually come home from school ‘starving,’ singleton’s grab odds and ends for dinner in between answering after work e-mails, ironing the next day’s shirt and using a Swiffer on the floors, walking the dog. Returning to myself, I only ‘fantasize’ about food when I’m already hungry, which is my cue to eat something I normally would, not gorge on chips, reach for that takeout menu; when I ‘crave’ something red meat, ice-cream, I buy it at the store, cook it at the next opportunity and call it done. Further I refuse to diet, gain and lose weight, cycle through clothing sizes and take the chance of ruining my metabolism more than age will anyway, if that’s because I understand my limitations of physical activity due to my disability and focus on maintaining ability, function and doing the normal everyday things we all have to do, most would call that common sense, regardless of the number on my scale. Should I walk down the road of so called lifestyle related illnesses I won’t be bullied by zeitgeist entrenched doctors, won’t repeat my mother’s mistakes who was 50/50 a victim of life choices and medical treatment seeking errors. She was placed on Glucophage the diabetes drug of the day that didn’t control her blood sugar and kept her sporadically on the toilet most days, ultimately costing her, her job; when her health declined, she refused to talk to her doctor about pain management, anti- inflammatories to treat her tendentious, pinched nerve, afflicting her arm mobility after 2 decades of factory work convinced the only choice was surgery they wouldn’t perform on a diabetic. She refused to talk to her doctor about mobility aids, assistive devices convinced the doctor would place her in a nursing home, convinced there weren’t walkers, wheelchairs and so on big enough for her though bariatric supplies weren’t new 12 years ago in the midst of her fast track to what she dreaded most. Her assumptions proved utterly false, though not in time to prevent her from the fall coupled with menopausal bone weakening that savagely broke her ankle and cost her, her leg. Even the heart problems and series of potential heart attacks that ended her life could be attributed to lifestyle, lifelong obesity or it could be the Avandia she was prescribed that had the advantage of controlling her blood sugar but was later found to produce life threatening side effects including cardiovascular ones. Or the sleep apnea that wasn’t diagnosed until her mod 50’s though she had probably had it all her adult life, then refuse to wear the C-pap machine meant to treat it; sleep apnea seen in children, young adults and skinny people not, merely the overweight and obese, commonly prompting removal of tonsils and adenoids to open the airway. Stories all proving health and medicine both aren’t one size fits all, one dimensional and chief health officers as they would be used only serving as another source of nagging, anxiety, pressure to those pressured enough, white noise to a public already not listening.

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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