Obesity Wars: A New
Hope By Steve Edwards
From Team Beachbody - Click here for resources, tools and
information to help you to reach your health, fitness and positive lifestyle
We at Beachbody® are at war against the most formidable
opponent the United States has ever faced: obesity. It's killing more people a
month than our two other more high-profile combatantsterror and
drugshave killed this decade. Obesity is the Darth Vader of all the
dangers we'll face in our lifetimes. Smoking once ruled our universe, but a new
master has taken over the dark side. Here, in the final installment of our
latest trilogy on obesity, we offer a new hope of getting the force back on our
As usual, we begin in what appear to be ever
darkening times. Just last week, a report was released showing that an obese
10-year-old kid may have the arteries of a 45-year-old. Each time we offer a
solution, the obesity empire rebuffs our efforts. Earlier this year, we
T's Fit Kids Club. Vader laughed as our infant mortality rate
skyrocketed compared to the rest of the world. We offered
Smith's Project:YOU! Type 2 and then saw the number of people who
either are pre-diabetic or are already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes skyrocket
to nearly a third of our population. Earlier this month, we offered 10
solutions to the epidemic (see "10 Ways to Fight Obesity" in the Related
Articles section below). Last week, we're told that over half our kids are
projected to be obese within a generation. Admittedly, things look bleak for
the rebellion. But read on and you'll see that we don't need a Jedi to guide us
in this war. The force is very powerful. And it's controlled by us.
In the film Idiocracy, we're
offered a glimpse at a possible future should we continue to follow our current
patterns of regression. In the film, society has devolved into an
anti-intellectual state completely controlled by corporate advertising
interests. We're at a crossroadswe're watering our plants with a version
of Gatorade, the only beverage we consume, and our plants will no longer grow.
The corporate-controlled Food and Drug Administration's food pyramid features
nothing but fast food, sports drinks, and mind-altering legal substances:
alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. And while it's an over-the-top comedy, one
can't wonder whether the most unbelievable thing in the movie is that it's set
500 years in the future. At the rate we're going, we could be livingor at
least eatingthis way before the end of this millennium.
point: The latest studies on obese children. At the American Heart
Association's conference last week, two studies, done independently in
different countries, showed that obese children had a "vascular age about 30
years older than their actual age." This, of course, greatly increases their
chances for heart disease. So much so, in fact, that the American Academy for
Pediatrics is now recommending cholesterol-lowering drugs for some children.
"As the old saying goes, you're as old as your arteries are," said Dr. Geetha
Raghuveer of Children's Hospital in Kansas City, to the Associated Press. "This
is a wake-up call."
But the wake-up call needs to ring louder.
How we've become so unconcerned with our health isn't a mystery. We've simply
followed marketing trends, which have seen junky foods and other easily
consumable items become more and more a mainstay in our diets. Gas stations and
convenience stores are filled with virtually nothing but junk food and
drug-filled beverages. Supermarkets are only slightly better, placing their
healthy items on the fringes and filling the middle aisles with premade medleys
of genetically modified corn and soy. The companies that have become successful
marketing this said junk now dominate our airwaves to the point where a person
dropped into an American city could easily assume that we, indeed, do live
primarily on fast food, sports drinks, and mind-altering legal substances.
Our next wartime strategy is going to be to
consolidate our resources and simplify. If society's attention spans are
dwindling, we'll offer a simple three-point plan to unify our rebellion. With
or without the help of Obi Wan, this might be our only hope.
- Exercise. Somehow, someway, we need to find
a way to exercise more. Exercise levels have fallen dramatically over the last
30 years, and our health has gone along with it. Nothing has a greater effect
on our health than exercise. It's only through exercise that our bodies produce
hormones at healthy levels. And if we exercise enough, it even combats an
Unfortunately, we're doing a lot less instead of
moreespecially as children. It's estimated that children get somewhere between
20 percent and 25 percent less exercise than they did in the 1970s. Oddly
enough, this decline is almost inverse to the rise of obesity rates among the
The solution to this might be as easy as turning off the TV.
The American Journal of Public Health published a survey stating that
59 percent of children watched between 2 and 4 hours of TV and an additional 22
percent watched 5 or more hours per daywhich didn't include hours in
front of the computer. This is more TV than any kid I grew up with was allowed
to watch. We didn't watch this much TV in a week. Children are easily bored.
Take away their TV (and computer games), and there's a pretty good chance
they'll end up doing something active.
- Eliminate soft drinks (including "energy" and sports drinks).
It's estimated that American teenagers are getting around
15 percent of their total calories from soft drinks. Consider that this 15
percent contains nary a useful calorie, and you can see how these drinks can be
We don't need any sugar in our diets, but we get a lot of
it. When we find sugars in nature, they're generally wrapped around other
nutrients that minimize their negative effects and actuate their positive
effects. In candy and, especially, beverages, sugar's negative effects are
enhanced by the formulations because they are designed to perform more like
drugs than nutrients. This effect, commonly known as a sugar rush, does a lot
more harm than when we experience a sugar crash. This rush and crash effect is
one of the conditions that leads to type 2 diabetesthe world's fastest growing
Energy and sports drinks can be effective for sports.
Unfortunately, they are rarely used for these activities anymore. In fact, they
are commonly used for exactly the oppositeto give us an artificial high that we
once induced by actually exercising.
change in local government. Our ancestors went through a
lot of trouble to set up a government under that moniker "of the people, for
the people, and by the people." We've let their hard work fall by the wayside,
as we've become victims of the new American cry "of the corporation, by the
lobbyist, and for the shareholders." But corporations, in reality, still work
for us. And making changes is less daunting than it seems.
deregulation began in earnest back in the late 1960s, the United States sat
among the top of the statistical world in education, health care, infant
mortality rates, and life expectancy. We've been steadily declining. In all of
those categories, we now rate near the bottom of what we refer to as
"first-world" countries. This has happened while the top 1 percent of our
country has become exceedingly rich and our middle class has all but
disappeared. Our society became lazy and complacent about our world status. Now
our statistical leadership among modern nations has been relegated to the
Fortunately, our government still reacts to our
bidding. Individuals canand doeffect change in the way we do business. We have
many examples of Beachbody members who have promoted effective change on the
health of their local communities. Your school's lunch program, the
effectiveness of that school's recess periods and afterschool recreation
opportunities, and even the type of foods carried by your local market are all
controlled by you.
Our government wasn't set up to tell us what to do.
It was set up for us to tell it what we want. By accepting policies and
reacting to marketing schemes that lower our quality of life, we've been
acquiescing to a doctrine that doesn't have our health in mind. And all we
really need to do to change it is to realize we've been duped and demand
You don't need to run for office to effect change. Steps as
simple as taking interest in what your local market sells, that your community
offers a farmers' market, that your schools serve decent food, that recess is
not only offered in school but is enforced are all simple steps that lead to
real results. Because the obesity epidemic isn't a plague, it doesn't require
doctors, politicians, or Jedi Knights to change it. It only requires simple
alterations that anyone can make to his or her everyday life. Anyone can eat
better, exercise more, lose weight, and get healthy. And anyone can inspire
others to do the same. And, like the force, when our collective individual
minds change, we effect change across the world.
Ways to Fight Obesity"