Obesity, Irony, and Addiction

Oh, the irony. Today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Front page—huge article entitled, “Obesity costs emerge as a major concern” and tucked within the usual assortment of ads, one page jumps out at me: The McDonald’s ad featuring pictures of huge burgers, shakes, some sort of coffee drink and some frosted other thing that I cannot really describe except as a sweet, fat-filled yucky thing people pretend is breakfast or a “coffee break” snack.

Oh, and, how nice of them—coupons for buy one, get one free, and the announcement that many McDonald’s are open 24 hours. You mean we can get all this at anytime? Cool!

I do not eat at fast food places. I do not know what some of these things are. I am a vegetarian, so I am unclear on a couple of these items. I do know this, however: These foods are made with fat, salt and sugar and to the people who eat them, they all taste really, really good. They do. People like them because they taste good.

There are a lot of people who are addicted because of the taste, the ease of getting their fix, and the prevalence and acceptance of these “food” items in our society. It isn’t just McDonald’s, of course.

It is the food industry. To quote Arun Grupa, editor of the Indypendent newspaper in New York City (www.indypendent.org), in his article entitled, “The Bacon Bomb”, “…The entire food industry has refined the science of processing the cheap commodities pumped out by agribusiness into addictive foods that represent far more than sustenance.”

According to David Kessler in “The End of Overeating,” the food industry has honed in on the ‘three points of the compass’— fat, salt, and sugar.

So I look at this ad, shake my head, and I do feel sad for the addicts. This is serious addiction.

I feel a lot of sympathy for people and that is one of the main reasons I became a Life Coach who specializes in Stress Reduction and Health Issues.

Some of these people have come to me for help in my coaching business. Many people share stories with me about problems with their health, and I truly feel bad for people. I try to help them to see how they can make different choices in their daily lives.

I have different feelings sometimes, too. Anger. I feel angry that people choose to live in a way that harms them and harms their children. These choices put a limit on how happy and healthy they can be.

They choose these limits. We all choose our addictions, and this addiction is no different than addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. It is sneaky and sordid and ultimately, life threatening.

I feel especially sad and angry about the children. This is a sore point for me. I want to help adults, and I do, but I am hoping that by helping them, they in turn will help their children.

These are some of the quotes from the article written by Ed Blazina of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Sunday, August 2nd, 2009:

• “The issues converged last week when a national study estimated the cost of obesity at $147 billion annually, nearly double what it was 10 years ago.”

• “‘If obesity was an infectious disease, it would be an epidemic,’ said Dr. Daniel Bessesen, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver and chief of endocrinology at the Denver Health Medical Center.”

• “The CDC estimates nearly 40 percent of American adults are considered obese based on their body mass index….That extra weight frequently leads to additional health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and pulmonary difficulties.”

• “Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Health & Human Services secretary told the conference [Inaugural Weight of the Nation conference], she’s particularly concerned about obese children. Statistics compiled by the CDC show that 25 percent of obese children stay obese as adults and have a raft of serious health problems. ‘If there was an epidemic of little kids getting cancer, it would be a national crisis,” Ms. Sebelius said. “But because it’s obesity and the damage doesn’t come until later in life, we’ve been slow to act. We can’t ignore this problem any longer.”

So, here’s the thing. How do you break an addiction?

1. Recognize that it is a problem. Own the problem. Do not blame it on anyone or anything else. State out loud that you make the choices that got you into trouble.

2. Write down what you want your life to look like. Really think about how you would like it to be.

3. Get help. There are support groups for every addiction, including Overeating. Ask friends for help, go to your church, and look online for groups that can support you. Hire help if you can afford it: A counselor, a coach, etc. Many insurance plans will cover some of this, but there is help out there for free if you look.

4. Take one day at a time. You didn’t get to this point overnight. It will take awhile to change your habits.

5. Change your lifestyle. Look at how you are doing things. Look at who you spend time with and what you spend your time doing.You can change, and it will take work, but it is worth it.

This is an addiction.

This is your life.

I am not trivializing addiction or obesity related problems.

This is serious.

This is important.

How good do you want your life to be?

4 Responses to “Obesity, Irony, and Addiction”

  1. 1 James Hahn II August 3, 2009 at 7:50 am

    “Life change starts with education, not inspiration. If someone’s an idiot and you motivate him, then you have a motivated idiot.” -Jim Rohn

    Another BIG key to overcoming any addiction is reading. When I started working on my sugar addiction, I read everything I could get my hands on; Potatoes Not Prozac, Sugar Shock!, Sugar Blues, Lick the Sugar Habit, etc. It was what I had to do to create what Kessler calls a “Critical Perceptual Shift.” I had to take sugar from a treat to a poison and I succeeded, thank God!

  2. 3 J. Scott August 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for this article. My mother for many years struggled with addiction (it wasn’t a food addiction) and her story of success included changes needed you mention here. The only thing that finally got her attention was almost losing her life in an alcohol infused mishap. She was able to find her way with the support of our family and the help of the staff at our local rehab center C.A.R.E. Florida (www.careflorida.com) here in Palm Beach Fl. I hope they are in your nationwide list of drug rehabs that you refer to because they were of immeasurable help to my family. Thanks, and keep up the great work of educating people on the benefits of abandoning addiction.

    • 4 coachfletcher August 29, 2009 at 2:32 am

      I am so happy for you and your family that your mother finally sought help and you were able to find such wonderful support. I know the support of her family was just as important. I wish you all the best and thank you so much for sharing.

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I am a Certified Life Coach, Author and Speaker and am an expert at helping people reduce stress. I work with individual clients and facilitate workshops and coaching for groups in my coaching practice. I am the author of three books and as a speaker, author, and coach, I offer easy-to-incorporate strategies to help people reduce stress. We cannot always change things around us, but we can change what's inside of us.


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