Trouble In The Temple

Trouble in the Temple — Fat LibertyAnyone can see that Lady Liberty has the freedom to buy whatever she wants, drink whatever she wants, and eat whatever and as much as she wants; but does liberty mean we can eat ourselves into oblivion?  If you want to lick the custard, you must click it.

I STOPPED OFF AT A LARGE AREA MALL OVER THE HOLIDAY weekend to have some lunch and do a little shopping.  But I was simply not psychologically prepared for the experience I had there.

I saw fat people.  Vast herds of them.

Full disclosure:  Imma somewhat vertically impaired person (5′ 7″) with a more or less normal body mass (163 lbs— four pounds overweight according to the government’s BMI scale—), so it’s hard not to notice that most people, including many children, are bigger than me.  A LOT BIGGER.

When I first moved to Boulder, Colorado in the late ’70s, it was equally hard not to notice the inordinate number of attractive, fit, health-conscious people; both men and women, young and old.  Bike paths and hiking trails were thick with them, and in all age groups.  Sure, there were people who were obviously overweight, and you could see an occasional obese person on the street or in the grocery store, but in those days, the People’s Republic of Boulder clearly belonged to the über fit.

ObesitySince those days, an epidemic of obesity has grown up around us.  Still, Colorado remains the only state in the union whose population is under 20% obese.  But that number is misleading, because it reflects an obesity rate that grew faster from 1995 through 2008 (rising 89%) than the nation-wide average of 67%.  During that time, the percentage of Coloradans classified as obese almost doubled, from one in ten residents, to nearly one in five.

Of course the prevalence of obesity-related diseases has increased too, especially type II diabetes, which has more than doubled in Colorado in the past fifteen years, from 2.7 % to 6.0 % from 1993 to 2008.

Pretty much everyone agrees that the cause of this nation-wide epidemic stems from just two things:  eating too much, and exercising too little.  Those who are obese due to “glandular problems” make-up about 1% of the population.  That means weight gain for most people is the result of increased energy intake and decreased energy output. And the more weight a person gains brings with it a host of increasingly severe health issues that make managing it all the more difficult.

Unfortunately, the problem is much more complex than simply expecting severely overweight and obese Americans to diet their weight away.  Far too many of them are already at a stage where last resort treatment— stomach stapling— is their only recourse.  But that’s not going to help, either— there are a hundred million of them— way too many to operate on them all.

Like so many other things, this can also be boiled down to dollars.  It won’t be the sight of so many obese people everywhere that finally causes the government to act, but rather the insane amount of money it will take to just continue coping with the problem— let alone solving it.  Eric Schlosser in his 2001 book “Fast Food Nation,” states that the annual health care costs in the United States stemming from obesity already were approaching $240 Billion.  But the cost of just the coming diabetes epidemic alone in our country is going to be “astronomically” expensive.  As the baby boomer “bulge” waddles into their fifties and sixties, their increasing weight-related illnesses will completely implode our currently dysfunctional healthcare system.

To make matters even worse, there are asshats like Richard Rick Dick Berman out there confusing this issue under the guise of freedumb and liberty.

The Center For Consumer Freedom sez:

A growing cabal of activists has meddled in Americans’ lives in recent years. They include self-anointed “food police,” health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats.

Their common denominator? They all claim to know “what’s best for you.” In reality, they’re eroding our basic freedoms—the freedom to buy what we want, eat what we want, drink what we want, and raise our children as we see fit. When they push ordinary Americans around, we’re here to push back.

That’s right, the CCF is “pushing back” against those who would tell you that you eat too much;  that you eat the wrong stuff;  or that you should ensure that your children are not becoming obese along with you.  If you watch Rachel Maddow, you’ve probably already been introduced to Berman. He’s the Dick who says it’s the minimum wage that’s keeping people poor, and that it needs to be abolished so they can lift themselves out of poverty.

He’s the Dickwad who was handed $900,000 from Phillip Morris to start the astroturf Center For Consumer Freedom, which tries to pass itself off as another grassroots bunch of “small businesses” concerned about “meddling bureaucrats” stealing your freedumbs by trying to tell you that gallon-sized sodas and gravy-covered curly fries every day is bad for you.  In fact, Dick took $200,000 from Coca-Cola  so that he can continue to say there is no “bad” food, and encourage you to manufacture outrage against anyone— including your doctor— who would dare try to tell you how or what to eat, in order to be healthier and avoid obesity.

• • •

I don’t quote the Bible much. But the concept of the human body as the “temple” of the spirit was put forth by Christ, and later Paul:

You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within— the Spirit you have received from God.  . . . So glorify God in your body.

The Urantia Papers reiterate and expand this notion:

” …how unkind knowingly to defile or otherwise deliberately to pollute the physical body, which must serve as the earthly tabernacle of this marvelous gift from God. All physical poisons greatly retard the efforts of the Adjuster [Spirit] to exalt the material mind, while the mental poisons of fear, anger, envy, jealousy, suspicion, and intolerance likewise tremendously interfere with the spiritual progress of the evolving soul.”
The Urantia Papers

    Someday man should learn how to enjoy liberty without license, nourishment without gluttony, and pleasure without debauchery. Self-control is a better human policy of behavior regulation than is extreme self-denial. Nor did Jesus ever teach these unreasonable views to his followers.
The Urantia Papers

Health, mental efficiency, and personal happiness arise from the unification of physical systems, mind systems, and spirit systems.  But when you truly know who and what you are, it is understanding our body is the earthly dwelling place for the Spirit of God that becomes the most compelling reason to take the best care of it you possibly can.  That means eating healthy food, drinking clean water, and taking reasonable exercise as a beneficial way of living life.

The psychological message broadcast by a body that is obviously out of balance is that you don’t care enough to take care of yourself.  Slightly more than 63% of Americans are overweight or obese.  That’s a staggering number, and it says we’re losing the battle against obesity and its attendant diseases.  But it’s not too late for you as an individual to take personal responsibility for your earthly vessel, and thereby, your spiritual well-being.

Our times are filled with tyranny, intolerance, gluttony, and drunkenness;  the weak incline toward excess and brutality.  The hour is striking for the rediscovery of the truth of our potential eternal nature, which has been with us from the beginning:

You are a distinct portion of the essence of God; and contain part of him in yourself. Why then, are you ignorant of your noble birth? Why do you not consider whence you came?  Why do you not remember when you are eating, who you are who eat; and whom you feed?  Do you not know it is the Divine you feed; the Divine you exercise? You carry a God about with you, poor wretch, and know nothing of it.
Epictetus, A.D. 50



  1. Seeing Eye Chick

    Eating too much and exercising too little. Well that is but one facet of this issue of obesity. Since the 70s, food manufacturers had begun to hide more sugars and more fats in every kind of food. I have to carefully read the labels on cans of even stewed tomatoes because many are packed with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Boulder does have sidewalks and bike paths, but many places do not. Where I live there are no bikepaths, no sidewalks. I do have a membership to a gym and I do use it.

    The best part of this conversation, is the lack of medical care for conditions that cause obesity. 22 million people in this country suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism.

    Meaning we have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism but the stats on our blood tests show in the low range of normal or normal. Many doctors will not treat you for that. This is caused by other Hormonal imbalances that are also not being treated and have went undiagnosed for years. Now I know what is going on, but trying to get treatment for anything these days as someone who is overweight–well all *ALL my problems are because I am fat, and not–that I became fat because I have these other problems. Doctors have a very negative emotional response to women who are overweight and that begins with women who are as little as 13lbs overweight. —Incredible how sexism is revealed in fat-aversion. Perhaps docs should start putting signs on their doors, “No Fat Chicks!”

    I walk miles, I bike, I swim, I work in the garden and take care of livestock and take my kids to places like the zoo and hiking trails. I know that the Quacks I see would like everyone to believe that I sit on my fat ass all day and eat bon bons and binge on cheesecake–because that takes the pressure off of them to admit that they have 0 diagnostic skills. I am very bitter about this. Because I hear that bullshit all the time, eat right and exercise. I hate being fat. I was not always fat.

    What I know is that you can put an overweight person on a diet. You can get them exercising. But if you do not address the issues that lead to the weight gain in the first place, then all you are doing is putting this person in a loosing battle with their own metabolism and they will loose.

    I know that if we think that eating and being lazy are the only things that cause obesity then everyone can sleep soundly at night–because that can never happen to them. Getting fat is then just a spiritual and corporeal punishment for the lazy and the greedy, and not a possible symptom for other underlying medical conditions.

    1. Hi Chick, thanks for your comments, and especially the links.

      Of course— “eating too much and exercising too little” are just a couple of the facets of this issue, among an inactive lifestyle, environment, genes, family history, health conditions, medicines, emotional factors, age, pregnancy, stopping smoking, lack of sleep; but they are still, I think— by far— the biggest two.

      When it comes to health conditions, though, Hypothyroidism in particular is a real bag of snakes. Most people who suffer from it are women; and as you pointed out, the medical profession is far from any kind of consensus on how to deal with it, despite that it is pretty easy to diagnose. (See “The thyroid debate”: )

      One of the articles you linked to is worth quoting here:

      “Preliminary evidence collected more than 10 years ago [from 2001] suggests that health professionals hold negative attitudes toward those who are overweight. . . . Such studies show that nurses, medical students and physicians ALL hold negative attitudes toward, and stereotypes regarding obese patients. . . . [But] it remains unclear how these attitudes toward heavier patients translate into physicians’ intended behaviors and medical care delivery.”

      So here’s a question: would you feel confident seeing a physician who was a hundred pounds or more overweight? I don’t think I would. (I saw my physician today, actually, about a neck injury I have; she’s not overweight.) But is that a “negative attitude” on my part, or a “stereotype”? I.e., that a physician look healthy, act healthy, not smoke cigarettes or shoot heroin…

      One of the difficulties in writing about a national and pandemic obesity problem is, for me, at least, that it always has to come down to each person’s particular unique mix of circumstances. I appreciate you sharing some of yours, but it’s absolutely impossible for me or anyone else for that matter, to try to assess what’s going on with you.

      My circumstances are typical, I think, but there are dozens of issues that are at work in my picture, just like yours. For instance, my grandmother gained weight as she got older; my mother struggled with her weight all through my childhood, and is still overweight today as is my younger sister. Two of my four brothers are moderately top seriously overweight. My dad worked hard most of his life, but ate meat and potatoes and drank milk at every meal, and was thirty pounds overweight when he died.

      It means that I have to work hard not to gain weight as well. I spend far too much time in a chair in front of the computer, so I simply cannot eat as much as I would like — even a week or two of some beers and pizza can put ten pounds on me that then takes me a month to lose.

      Many overweight Americans eat a horrible diet. Corn is in everything that’s processed in some way, it seems. Sugar is everywhere, too. Bottom line— no pun intended— no matter who you are or what your afflictions and propensities, you have to watch every morsel that passes your lips.

      In the end, (uh sorry) no matter what conditions cause a person’s body to store inordinate amounts of fat— no matter what we choose to blame as the reason(s) for our weight— when it’s all said and done, it is still a simple fact that overeating eventually causes weight gain and leads to obesity. It is also a fact that if you stop eating altogether, you will lose weight until you eventually starve to death. I still think the evidence says the vast majority of overweight Americans eat too much of the wrong stuff, and exercise too little.

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