In the mid-19th century, diabetes and obesity were not problems in America. Today, they represent an epidemic, not only in America but also in other countries that have adopted a Western diet and lifestyle. One in 11 Americans has diabetes. Most of us Americans are overweight (including me). Many are obese.
The situation is not benign. Far from it. People are dying prematurely. People are getting joint replacements at record rates. Most men age 60 and above suffer from heart disease. The percentage of people with high blood pressure is high. A substantial number of people are taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Medical costs in the U.S. are the highest in the world on a per capita basis. We’re spending huge amounts of money (an estimated $1 billion a day in the U.S.) to deal with obesity and diabetes. It’s a big problem.
If you’re interested in learning more, there are ample resources and evidence available: books, news articles, magazine stories, research studies, etc. If you want to explore the topic briefly, I recommend this podcast of Gary Taubes.
There’s also ample evidence from observation. You’d have to be blind not to see what’s going on: what we’re eating, what we weigh, what it’s costing us (in both quality of life and money).
Given the size of the problem, I’m surprised we’re not doing more about it. Then again, I’m not surprised. I’m guilty. I love many of the food products that are bad for us.
Periodically, I try to clean up my diet. But I always backslide. So I carry more weight than I should, even though I know better. I hate it when my willpower comes up short. It makes me feel weak. And not in control. I hate it.
I like how I feel when I weigh less. And common sense tells me my joints appreciate it, too. And my heart. And especially my liver and pancreas. Perhaps even my brain.
It’s true I exercise more than most. But being in shape doesn’t compensate for being overweight. Or being addicted to sugar.
Perhaps you’ll have more willpower than me, Vera. Perhaps this won’t be a problem for you. But just in case, I’ve decided to be a better role model.
I have to keep it simple though. If the plan is too complicated, it’s more likely to fail. So here’s my plan: to declare war on sugar.
Clearly, sugar is the main culprit. If I conquer it, victory will be at hand. That’s a simple enough plan for me.
But it’s also hard. It won’t be easy. Sugar is a psycho-active substance. It’s addictive. It’s powerful. It will resist. It will fight back. The question is, Who is stronger? Who has the most willpower?
No one likes to lose a war. So in framing it as a war, I’m hoping to muster a psychological advantage.
I’m also using you, Vera, in my psychological warfare. You will help me with accountability. You don’t know it; you’re too young. But you have a role to play. When I think of you, or see you, you’ll be a strong reminder of what’s at stake.
I want to be able to do things with you. To play. Run. Ride bikes. Hike. Climb. Whatever. And I want to be around to see you grow up. And I don’t want to spend my time in doctor’s offices or hospitals. I don’t want to have surgeries. Or pay a lot of money buying meds. And, most importantly, I want feel good.
Feeling good is important. I think we underestimate its importance.
I feel better light.
So I’m waging a war. Sugar is my enemy. Prepare to die, sugar!