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Or, I liked this too:

Beware the Ides of March

when choosing a title for my March contribution to the NWTC newsletter, What’s Cooking.

This one was a relative quickie, only a couple of hours, but I was pretty revved up after spending three or four hours on an earlier post on another place; however, I did shamelessly plagiarise my good friend, Wm. Shakespeare.

Beware the Ides of March

Perhaps you heard the good news? The obesity rate among adult men and women has plateaued at 35.5% and 35.8%, respectively, when compared to the data from ten years ago. The bad news is that the obesity rate among adult men and women has plateaued over the past ten years, rather than decreasing. Moreover, pediatric obesity has not leveled off; obesity rates for boys (2-19yo) rose to 18.6% from 14% in the past ten years while the rate for girls remained stable at 15%.

Obesity trends have been followed by the CDC since 1960, and the rate remained fairly stable through 1980 at around 10-12% but then increased steadily to their current rates. If you include those overweight, the total incidence of overweight and obese is 68%.

I suppose it’s the old analogy of the cup being half-full, or half-empty. Maybe the US citizenry has reached the apogee of obesity and it’s physiologically impossible to become any fatter. Hmmm…not very likely because I know I could easily become fatter, and in fact have even become so despite the plateauing and my best efforts, and a fifteen pound carrot cake I made last week; but, I am only one out of 300 million, and wasn’t one of the 9000 measured.

Maybe the incidence of obesity is as a baseball thrown mightily skyward, rising steadily, pausing briefly at its point most distant from earth (this would be now) before coasting back to the baseline level of historical normal. I suppose this is possible, but we’ll need to wait ten years to find out. I have my doubts. Something changed after 1975, and I don’t know what it was; if I did, I’d probably be writing this from a private tropical island. There are plenty of suspects that I’ve previously written about; the adenovirus-36 (first isolated from the feces of a diabetic in 1978), High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which is so ubiquitous in our diet that any attempt to remove it would be akin to trying to remove the argon (0.9%) from the air we breathe, video games, the proliferation and ready availability of high-fat/high carb empty calories, etc., etc.

There have been no new anti-obesity drugs in the past decade because the ones in development proved to be too risky; one was linked to brain tumors in rats, another seemed to cause oral clefts in babies of mothers who took it, and yet another was held up because of a need for a large study about heart risks. There is still no magic pill, and the most effective surgical treatment is a fairly invasive procedure that requires stapling your stomach nearly shut, hooking up a loop of intestine to what remains, and it still requires a lifestyle modification.

Fie, on’t fie! Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely. Woe unto us! Beware the ides of March, and all that…Perhaps our national epidemic of obesity is as Julius Caesar approaching his demise on the 15th and joking with the seer on the way to the Theatre of Pompey, “The ides of March have come,” to which the seer replied, “Ay, Caesar; but not gone.” Perhaps this leveling off of the obesity rates is our ides of March…to which I would proffer, “Ay, citizenry; but not gone.”

Taking responsibility for your weight and losing weight is no easy matter; and keeping it lost does not become any easier, unless you would be so fortunate as to become infected with a tapeworm that is not of the variety that spreads hematogenously to your liver, lungs and brain. It is not the case that there is a lack of public awareness of the problem of obesity for we are literally surrounded by the evidence if not evidence of it ourselves, speaking as a formerly obese, now merely overweight, adult male. The problem is a lack of education; not that it isn’t there, but that we do not avail ourselves of it; or, if not that, then failing to act upon it.

Pray thee, take heart Citizenry. Take heart you quintessence of dust, you paragon of animals; for you are noble in reason, in apprehension how like a God you are.