Friday, July 11, 2008

You've got to be kidding me!

I just read a commentary article on Slate about Pixar's new movie, Wall-E. The whole article is about how the movie is hurtful towards obese Americans, equating obesity with the destruction of Earth. I have not seen this movie and have no idea what it's about, but now I really want to see it.

Daniel Engber, the author, disagrees with the notion that obesity causes ecological destruction. I'm not sure I agree with this either, and isn't what has me shaking my head in disbelief. In an excerpt taken from the article, Engber pretty much states that obesity isn't a person's fault

How fat you are has a lot more to do with your genes than with your behavior. As much as 80 percent of the variation in human body weight can be explained by differences in our DNA.

I honestly don't know if that genetic bit is true or not. I haven't read the necessary scientific research articles about the issue. He goes on to say

there's little evidence that overeating causes obesity on an individual level and no real reason to think that anyone can lose a lot of weight by dieting. (Most of us fluctuate around a natural "set point.") We also know that children who watch a lot of television are no less active than other kids and that pediatric obesity rates are not the direct result of high-fat diets.

So let me get this straight. You mean to say, should I choose to eat a super sized Big Mac meal for dinner everyday, along with calorie-rich super sized portions for breakfast and lunch, and some savory high fat snacks throughout the day, I won't get obese if my genes are just right? Well, there's no obesity in my family so I guess I'm safe here. Why have I been watching what I eat all this time when I could have been safely stuffing my face with this crap?! Are you kidding me here?! As I was reading these words, I was in such disbelief that I convinced myself that this whole article was a joke of Engbert's, that he was going to write at the end of it, "Gotcha! Just kidding!" True, some people cannot control the fact that they are obese, no matter the effort they put into their diets, but that's not everyone's case! It's simple math for the rest of us here. If you want to stay slim, calories in must equal calories out, and daily calorie requirements are different for everyone due to genetic makeup

In college I managed to gain 25 pounds in the first year (eek, I went above the Freshman 15!). But how did I do this? I consumed more calories than I was used to consuming and my body compensated by growing larger. As long as you keep your calorie intake consistent, your body will reach an equilibrium state and you will stop gaining weight....but you won't lose it because now you are consuming enough calories to maintain your new, larger self. If I chose to eat even more calories I would have grown larger. So how did I lose that weight? Duh...I ate less. I just ate enough to maintain a lower weight. And of course I had to exercise too because being overweight and inactive can wreak havoc on your metabolism and hormones (why can't losing weight be as easy as gaining it?)

What do you all think? Am I crazy in telling myself that I will limit my children's TV time and try to be active with them, all the while feeding them wholesome, nutritious food?


Jaime said...

To start, we saw Wall E with the kiddos and it's wonderful so check it out.

The thing in the movie is (without ruining it for you) the people from earth are now living in a luxury airliner in space because the Earth is now a garbage littered wasteland from our misuse of it. Now people rely solely on machines to do everything for them. I'll leave the rest so you can see for yourself but suffice it to say, I find it laughable that people find this movie offensive toward obese people.

As for the healthy foods and being active debate, I try to find a balance. My children eat good foods but they also enjoy those pesky bad ones too. So each day I incorporate both. It's hard though, kids will be kids and they love Doritos far more than apples sometimes.

The problem I have with obesity is watching someone stuff a Big Mac into their mouths and in the next breath after tell you they can't help their weight because: "it's genetic" or "it's hormonal".

Emily said...

Wow, I can't believe that article either. Obesity does run in my family, but there have been times when I was active enough and health-conscious enough to lose weight. I have been time-crunched enough lately that it hasn't really been a priority for me, but I know for a fact that it is possible, and I do intend to do something about it, starting soon.

As far as Wall-E goes, I thought the premise of the peoples' weight/bone density issues was actually pretty accurate. I think that if anyone, especially generations upon generations, treated their bodies the way the humans in the movie did, obesity and other health issues would be practically inevitable. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but I also don't remember there being a single "old" (enough to be gray-haired) human on board the ship. Huh.

raecatherine said...

Wall-E seemed to have a lot of 'let's all recycle now boys-n-girls' propaganda. I can sort of see how someone who is obese might find the movie offensive, not that it was intended by the movie-makers to be offensive, but because of how the folks are portrayed.(lazy gluttons)

Personally, for me, I found the inactivity and downright gluttony of the characters to be uncomfortably close to the truth. A disturbing amount of people are really not far away from that--in addition there are also MANY who struggle with weight issues their entire lives. In addition the humans were constantly in front of a screen--and would rather interact with that (usually) than the person sitting next to them.

So in a weird, semi-disturbing way, it's a definite social commentary. Or, a warning perhaps.