Peter D. Vash, M.D., MPH (Metabolic Weight Management, Inc., amatteroffat.com) Expands on Recent NY Times Article, Many Fronts in Fighting Obesity

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For many heavy individuals, being overweight is a matter of fat, a world unto itself with deep powerful forces lurking beneath their stigmatizing fat. These forces are fueled and energized more by human emotions than by a logical medical rationality.

To blame the individual entirely for the use of food as a coping mechanism is a worthless endeavor that frustrates all who are involved.

While obesity is the result of food, often times the use of food is an emotional response that needs to be examined as much as the food. Jane Brody of the New York Times wrote a recent article on the Many Fronts in Fighting Obesity(N.Y.T. 5/20/13) and Dr. David Katz wrote a blog about how the Obesity Bias Needs to End(5/18/13). Dr. Peter Vash contends, "while it is true that obesity is a complex multifaceted issue for some and a problem for others, it also appears to present as many sociocultural problems for society as it does medical problems for the individual. However, our genetics didn’t change in the past 30 years when the obesity epidemic started; rather it was our relationship to cheap, calorie laden, carbohydrate rich, and readily available foods in an increasingly competitive and stressful world that changed. We have consumed, and continue to consume, higher calorie foods in larger portions more frequently as we also do less physical activity."

Dr. Vash continues, "to argue fat caused the obesity problem of today misses the obvious, but not simplistic fact, that the overweight condition is largely a behavioral issue and the result of consuming more calories, over an extended time, than the body needs. However, individual eating behavior is influenced by many potent forces that exert significant pressures on the individual to eat. But to blame the individual entirely for the use of food as a coping mechanism is a worthless endeavor that frustrates all who are involved. Our social and cultural codes of behavior are what they are, having evolved over time, modified by strong psychosocial forces, seen and unseen to exert a bias and predisposition on the individual to guide them in deciding what is good or bad, right or wrong."
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The many overweight in our current “thin oriented” society find their path is often a difficult one; filled with unspoken disapproval and a cultural resentment; it is not right but it is there."

Dr. Vash concludes, "for many heavy individuals being overweight is a matter of fat a world unto itself, with deep powerful forces lurking beneath their stigmatizing fat. These forces are fueled and energized more by human emotions than by a logical medical rationality. The world of obesity is what it is, determined by the fragility of the human condition. Those individuals who have allowed food to dictate and control their place in that world must now struggle to assert themselves and find their voice to claim their place in an inclusive world."

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