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THE OBESITY PANDEMIC: WHO’S FAULT IS IT?

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Talking about obesity is controversial in itself, but not talking about it isn’t better. Some believe that obesity is a choice, even a lack of motivation. They associate being overweight with being lazy and inactive, but is that really the case? I personally don’t think so. Let me explain why.


In the last three generations, say since your grand-parent's generation, the incidence of obesity has gone from one in thirty, to one in three. If you include overweight people too, the incidence goes up to 2 in 3. That’s almost everyone in the room with you right at this very moment. The obesity pandemic seems to have touched most countries, and is a worldwide phenomenon. Did everyone just get lazy or lose self-control? Ironically, studies show that the average person does more physical activity now than ever before. One can question if there's even any link between obesity and lack of exercise. Is it technology? Are TV remotes, lawn tractors and washing machines making us fat? Cars were invented before the 1900's and obesity didn't become a major issue until 60 years later. It must not be technology either. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is the energy we burn while doing yard work, typing or anything else that is not exercise or sleep. Although NEAT calories do contribute significantly to overall energy expenditure, their decrease over generations don't explain the simultaneous rise in obesity. Is it genetics? Were you simply dealt some bad genes? Although many genetic markers have been associated to obesity, they account for less than a few percent of cases, and do not explain the millions, even billions of people living with obesity.



Most people are well aware of the power of natural selection. The ability to overeat and store calories in fat may have given our ancestors an evolutionary advantage. Are we hardwired to overeat and store calories? In times of prehistoric scarcity, storing calories in preparation for hard times ahead was necessary for survival, not knowing when the next meal would be. In the modern North America, we are now surrounded by food on TV, in convenience stores and around the corner. Could there be a