A recent article in The Independent reported the opinion of a professor who believes that there is no obesity crisis. According to the article, Traci Mann, a social and health psychologist at the University of Minnesota believes, “Public health is being damaged by our fixation with weight when focussing on encouraging people to exercise more could save lives.”I beg to differ! Obesity related diseases are costly comorbidities that do lead to death- Alzheimer’s, multiple cancers, diabetes, heart disease, OSA and it’s associated issues. In fact, obesity is linked to 297 diseases. With obesity rates rising worldwide, McKinsey notes that “obesity is rapidly becoming a global crisis with the same economic impact of terrorism and tobacco abuse.”
In addition to chronic disease, obesity places mechanical stress on our body. Yet, Professor Mann believes we should focus on exercise. How do you exercise if your joints are destroyed from inflammation and mechanical failure? Exercise does help inflammation and insulin sensitivity and can help some comorbidities, but not enough to REVERSE most of those that are obesity related, such as type two diabetes. Plus when you exercise you get hungrier -when you’re hungry, you eat more.
According to Professor Mann, “The media, the medical community, they operate from the unwavering assumption that obesity is deadly, so any evidence that comes along that contradicts that, they just write it off.” The evidence is clear – obesity damages health and for some that damage can be deadly. This viewpoint is dangerous and can lead those who need help to ignore a problem that needs to be treated.
Professor Mann fails to consider things such as Leptin resistance that causes unchecked and uncontrolled hunger. This, in turn, leads to more weight gain, and more mechanical failure- to the point where one becomes even more sedentary.