Mainstream media’s take on obesity—the new normal?
In Frank Bruni’s opinion column earlier this week in the New York Times (see link below), he actually suggested that it is surprising that more of us are not obese already. That’s because, as he also suggests, we’re just following our natural instincts in an unnatural world. And I agree.
But we are the brightest of all species, we have a superior cognitive niche and we should be able to figure out what we should be eating. And we should be able to share that simple information with humans everywhere. Further, the leaders of the world should take steps to make sure that a superior diet is not only available—but also attractive and affordable for everyone. From his article:
What if we have it backward? What if the 310-pound man trying to jam into the middle seat and the 225-pound woman breaking into a sweat only halfway up the stairs aren’t the undisciplined miscreants of modern American life but the very emblems of it?
What if fatness, even obesity, is less a lurking danger than a likely destiny, and the surprise isn’t how many seriously overweight people are out there but how few?
Those are among the unsettling questions raised, at least implicitly, by “The Weight of the Nation,” an ambitious multiplatform project that takes the full measure of our girth, its genesis and its toll. (That documentary will premiere on HBO on May 14, 2012; a book with the same title will be published prior to the airing by St. Martin’s Press.)
Following in the heavy footsteps of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “The End of Overeating,” “The End of Food” and much else, “The Weight of the Nation” makes an especially persuasive case that gluttony isn’t Americans’ problem. Agriculture and abundance are.
Whose fault is it? I agree that modern agriculture and abundance are indeed problems, but they are like crazed juveniles running wild with no adult supervision. And the supervision that is missing is our government, our schools of nutrition, mainstream medicine and the media that’s supposed to be keeping everyone honest.
The root of the problem is that our schools of nutrition have become nothing but puppets for the the vast food industry. We have thousands of nutritional scientists advising us on what we should be eating—yet only a precious few of them are telling us exactly what we need to do to promote health. That’s because it wouldn’t be very profitable for the food giants that are paying the bills.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is one of those precious few men of integrity. While chatting with him this past Sunday at a conference in Massachusetts, I asked him, “Besides yourself, how many nutritional scientists have genuinely and fully embraced the whole foods, plant-based diet as what we all should be eating?” He couldn’t think of any others—which explains the background for his recent article in a Cornell newspaper. Academic “Unfreedom” at Cornell—T. Colin Campbell
Telling the truth about nutrition. Sadly, we’re a long way from seeing the day where our scientific community “gets it right” and is willing to take a stand against the food industry—to which it currently owes its livelihood. Eventually, we must tell the truth about nutrition to everyone.
Dr. Campbell and his son did just that in The China Study (2005). Although that great book has been read by about one million people, over 99% of our population has never heard of it. And, while most of Dr. Campbell’s scientific peers have heard of it, he estimates that most of them have not read his book.
To restate the root issue, “we’re simply following our natural instincts in an unnatural world.” And Bruni describes the problem very well in the article—but comes up way short on the necessary solution:
“We’re simply not genetically programmed to refuse calories when they’re within arm’s reach,” said Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, when I spoke to him recently. He is one of dozens of leading physicians, academicians and public-health experts who appear in “The Weight of the Nation.”
John Hoffman, an executive producer of the documentary, told me: “Evolutionarily, there was no condition that existed when we were living with too much fat storage. We’ve only known a world of plenty for maybe 100 years. Our biological systems haven’t adapted to it.”
My proposed solution continues to be what I call our Harmony Project and it all begins with dispelling the protein myth. What will it take to execute that project before it’s too late? The late, great Dr. W. Edwards Deming would say, “Three things are essential for change: Leadership, Leadership, and Leadership!”
Bruni’s New York Times column—And Love Handles for All
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation