Welcome to the Swelling

Why will half of Americans be obese by 2030? You don’t need a doctor to know it’s ‘cause we’re injured.

Source: The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9793

Professor Boyd Swinburn of The International Obesity Task Force points out that obesity is “just a normal physiological response to an abnormal environment,” but a quick review of the causes of obesity shows just how ho-hum “abnormal” has become. Here are a few personal favorites:

Sedentary Lifestyle: Ye olde lack of exercise and physical activity: Opt for stairs over elevator? Ha! Park farther from work so I can walk more? Oh, sure! But be careful, sitting on your ass during the digital revolution means that when the real revolution happens, you’ll probably be sent to work camp.

Death by Junk Food: In America in 2011, the easier it is to obtain, prepare, and eat, the worse it is for you. Heavily processed food diets create neurochemical imbalances that trigger unhealthy food cravings for more crap food. (And follow the $$ there.)

Anxiety, Pressure, and Stress: American anxiety isn’t just about the lousy job and housing markets: it’s also about unfulfilled expectations and the fear that we’re not a) obtaining what we’re “owed,” b) providing for our families appropriately (i.e. servicing their increasing expectations), and c) treating others well when we know how internally corrosive treating them like shit can be. It’s also about levels of daily information consumption so high we’ve digitized character-building community contact. In terms of evolutionary psychology, which arrived first, social networks or the need for them?

Fatties Marrying Fatties: If obese men seek out obese women for companionship and obesity has genetic factors — there will likely be still more obese people in the next generation. (This one’s for those who over-rationalize or hide behind heredity.)

Chickenshit Fatigue: Personal responsibility improves relationships, but we avoid it like the plague. We’ll do just about anything to alleviate pressure: in the workplace, in our family lives, and with friends. We can’t deal with uncomfortable emotions any better than Americans could in the ‘50s when potentially “embarrassing” issues were ignored or hidden. With technology and the pace of life today providing so many more distractions and vindications, it’s even easier – and more detrimental – to cop out. Because it’s all so taxing.

Air Conditioning: Did you know that when your environment is too hot or too cold your body burns more calories in order to deal with it? Yet we act like someone spit on our shoes when we can’t have our temperature-controlled cars, homes, and offices.

I’m not saying overweight people are lazy, nor am I saying lazy fatsos aren’t crowding up the place. What I am saying is that we Americans communicate more but say less; our bad examples of leadership outnumber the good ones, yet it seems all we want are more scandals, gossip, cheating, and reality show ethics to use as a measuring stick.

Too many of us have become angry little pigs obsessed with getting more, more, more no matter what it is or what it’s made of. We work harder and harder for smaller and smaller rewards, and far too many of those “prizes” keep us stuck in temperature-controlled rooms with nothing more than beer and pie. Too many of us watch Dancing with the Stars but haven’t been on a dance floor in years. We love to catch a “perp walk” and we vote for expensive, harsh sentencing laws, but we assure ourselves that consequences are for “those people,” not us. Pharmaceuticals, the pervasiveness of motorized scooter-chairs and handicapped parking fraud, red-state-blue-state-blah-blah-blah, delusional women who dress themselves like high-schoolers, and men who allow TV

"Network" is one of my favorite all-time movies for a reason

commercials to convince them their dicks don’t work…I could go on ‘n on listing ways Americans are collectively injured: psychologically, physiologically, and spiritually. But I think I’ve listed enough to just repeat my question: What do injuries do, if not swell?

Half of all Americans will be fatsos by 2030. Welcome to the Swelling.