T Nation

Superb Article on American Obesity


A really interesting article; from the New Yorker, on some of the possible causes of obesity: genetics, evolutionary, economics, etc. Give it a read and let me know what you think.


really.... another thread on obesity


I didn't read the article but I couldn't help but notice the lack of "eating too much" and "not doing any physical activity" in your list. Please tell me it is included in etc?


Oh yes the eating too much, and the lack of doing things was there. However the author seemed to be interested in find out why people would do that. Do we eat to much because a thousand years ago it was necessary for survival? or is it because calorie dense but nutritionally empty foods are the cheapest and therefor the most affordable to the general public.


Good article.


"just as it is natural for gorillas to love leaves, it is natural for people to love funnel cakes."

Wow. Just wow.

"Tellingly, humans, unlike most other animals, have no set season of fertility. Instead, ovulation is tied to a womanâ??s fat stores: those who are very thin simply fail to menstruate."

This is very misleading. It's almost like saying, "The fatter you are the more fertile you'll be! So women, if you want to have kids you better start packing away those cup cakes."

"The human body is â??mismatchedâ?? to the human situation. â??We evolved on the savannahs of Africa,â?? Power and Schulkin write. â??We now live in Candyland.â??"

I actually like this analogy.

All in all, what the article actually says early humans scoured for food and it wasn't in abundant supply as it is today; out bodies aren't genetically predisposed to handle the amount of food we consume in relation to the energy we expend. Some of the examples in the article are almost saying that it's ok that you're fat you can blame your ancestors!! Fucking people...


3 words: Lacking physical activity

When every man, woman, and child was out tilling the land, falling trees, building stonewalls/fences, building/cleaning the stables, swinging hammers/axes, pounding iron, sawing wood, hauling crates, digging holes, walking to town, cooking all food from scratch after growing/raising it, harvesting/killing it, cleaning it, and cooking it, "we" didn't seem to have this problem.


I took a few of minutes to skim through the article, and nope, I didn't see any direct mention of "lack of exercise" as a reason. "Eating too much" was mentioned, but blamed on "reportioning" by food sellers or falling food prices etc. Here are some choice quotes:

"Such a broad social development seems to require an explanation on the same scale. Something big must have changed in America to cause so many people to gain so much weight so quickly. But what, exactly, is unclearâ??a mystery batter-dipped in an enigma."
=> Hmm I wonder why...

"According to whatâ??s known as the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis, early humans compensated for the energy used in their heads by cutting back on the energy used in their guts; as manâ??s cranium grew, his digestive tract shrank. This forced him to obtain more energy-dense foods"
=> As man's cranium grew, he was able to come up with more and more excuses to get/stay fat.

"In America today, by contrast, obtaining calories is very nearly effortless; as Power and Schulkin observe, with a few dollars itâ??s possible to go to the grocery store and purchase enough sugar or vegetable oil to fulfill the average personâ??s energy requirements for a week."
=> Sugar and oil; and they wonder why they're fat.

"The elasticity of the human appetite is the subject of Brian Wansinkâ??s â??Mindless Eatingâ?? (2006). Wansink is the director of Cornell Universityâ??s Food and Brand Lab, and he has performed all sorts of experiments to test how much people will eat under varying circumstances. These have convinced him that people areâ??to put it politelyâ??rather dim."
=> Lol, you don't say.

"Among the founding principles of the discipline is that weight is not a dietary issue but a political one. â??Fat studies is a radical field, in the sense that it goes to the root of weight-related belief systems,â?? Marilyn Wann, who describes herself as five feet four and two hundred and eighty-five pounds, writes in her foreword to the â??Reader.â??"
=> See remarks on second quote.

And finally the conclusion after 4 long pages:
"The problem goes even beyond the corporate interests that have brought us â??eatertainingâ?? foods, Value Meals, and oceans of high-fructose corn syrup. Collecting the maximum number of calories with the least amount of effort is, after all, the dream of every creature, including those too primitive to dream. With the BKâ?¢ Quad Stackerâ??four beef patties, four pieces of bacon, and four slices of cheese for $4.99â??man edges close to realizing this ambition. And thatâ??s without the fries."
=> Damn. Looks like it can't be helped that we're genetically predisposed to dream of becoming fat.

P.S. If you've already read many similar "Why we're fat" articles then it's probably not worth your time reading this one.


I didn't see where the author condoned being overweight. He's simply looking at half of the equation; i.e. why the calories consumed has increased so much in such a short time.


I'm hungry.


Isn't this really only a problem in the USA? In Europe, most people are slim because they walk a lot and eat smaller portions. In most other industrialized nations, they simply don't east "western" yet. I hear Japan is becoming obese because they just love that American stuff.


Due to the current predicament, these statues will be modified to reflect "new beauty".


i dont need some New Yorker Magazine to tell me what causes obesity.

sedentary lifestyle

poor food choices

wow, i should be a columnist

it doesnt matter about whats convenient either. you could surround me with heroin addicts all day long and guess what, i wouldnt do heroin, in fact i would stop hanging around with them especially if i knew what negative effects heroin had on the body. now just replace the word heroin with junk food and you can see what so many people in america ARENT doing. you can pre cook your meals and bring them with you to work, you can drive the extra 5 minutes to Panera instead of McDonalds, or spend that extra $2. take the stairs, the stairs are too hard? no, you're too weak, stairs are just stairs; they're inanimate and to blame an inanimate object for your short comings is pretty weak also.

i know so many people who just refuse to walk places, its so sad. like if they cant a ride to something thats like 6-10 blocks away they wont go because its "too far". these are people who carry a bag of groceries up the stairs and the next day have considerable DOMS.


I have noticed the eating habits of obese people I have worked around and most make food into a celebration. Lunch time is party time. Every social interaction they have is food related. Much like you wrote, if they wanted to change, they could...but they act like it is too much peer pressure to avoid meeting friends at a fast food place daily for lunch.

Most of them also snack on junk all day long yet would all claim they have "tried everything" if you were to ask them about weight loss.


Well I would rather look at avatars of pretty girls with months in their names
but sometimes you have to exercise the gray matter.


We just got a new secretary at work, and she's kind of a whale. We have these technical department lunches every other week, where we order pizza and sit around and listen to someone present a technical topic. She stuck around for the pizza and listened to this presentation which I'm pretty sure she didn't understand at all.

Combined w/ aging, and sitting at a desk all day being part of her job, this isn't a pretty picture. The old secretary was kind of fat too, not around the waist, but she had a humongous ass, and not in a good way. I went w/ her to do some kind of errand one time, and she refused to walk up the stairs saying "I'm lazy" without a hint of shame.

I glanced over at the new secretary a couple of times to see how much pizza she ate and the speed and voracity w/ which she consumed it. I was not surprised and she had her share, but it wasn't like she madly grabbed slices of pizza and shoved them down her throat.

I've heard of how weak some detrained females can be, particularly old ones and I wondered if she could even walk up a flight of stairs. Then I really thought about it, and couldn't figure out how many flights of stairs she could walk up. I wanted to ask here if she thought she could make it to the top floor of the building, kinda like how much do you bench, and realized it would be kind of impolite considering it was her first day.

I really wish my boss hired a young, attractive, and athletic secretary for the office. It would make my days so much more enjoyable. It certainly is better than studying the eating habits of fat people; I would much rather stare at something attractive, and think of sexual things I would like to do to with her.

Another point, is there are a lot of underweight people in this country too. I'm dissapointed when a room full of males cannot finish 2 large pizzas. It pisses me off really, and I usually take it upon myself to finish all the leftovers after I have consumed my regularly scheduled meal.

This is part of the problem too, where people usually just eat whatever, usually something non-nutritious and lacking in adequate protein, until they are full. They don't get hugely fat on it, but they do kind of waste away.


I enjoyed this post.........

I too work in an office setting.....with one girl who is nice to look at (short, petite, huge rack) she goes running or mtn biking every day......however shes dumb as a box of rocks and lacks common sense.

Then there is another BIG girl I work with.....eats junk alot......but shes nice and I can actually have a good conversation with her......

but its still nice to have one hot chick to look at and one to carry on a nice convo with.....cuz it gets boring here sometimes.


Try working at a hospital emergency room. Jesus fucking christ I do not see any good looking women.


Has anybody seen this yet? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31845266/


i saw it on my AIM menu thing, didnt even bother