By Dr. Dan Chong
Examine the photo above closely. It’s a random shot taken at a crowded, early beach in the early 1970s. Is something missing to you?
OK, I’ll be more direct:
Do you see a single adult or child with obesity?
...neither do I.
Currently, the adult obesity rate in the US stands at around 41% and childhood obesity stands at about 20%. At these rates, a random snapshot on a busy day like this in the summer of 2022 would undoubtedly contain a significant number of people dealing with this all-too-common condition.
Interestingly, and concordant with the above photo, CDC data shows that adult and childhood obesity rates didn't begin growing quickly until around 1980, and have skyrocketed since then.
The American Academy of Pediatric’s (AAP) brand new Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Obesity suggests that it is “a chronic disease with complex contributing factors”, including “those related to broader policies and systems; institutions and organizations (ie, schools); neighborhoods and communities; and family, socioeconomic, environmental, ecological, genetic, and biological factors.”
In my humble opinion, the language here is clearly diluting and de-emphasizing certain modifiable contributors, in an effort to equalize them with others that have no real and actionable solution (eg- genetics and biological factors). After all, how could these factors be equal? How could they all take a sharp turn for the worse in some obesity-specific way in 1980?
They couldn’t have. That would make no sense at all. And, in the case of genetics, not nearly enough time has passed for any meaningful differences in human DNA to have occurred anyways.
So what has changed since 1980?
Here are at least a few things to consider:
- Introduction and skyrocketing use from the 1970s and on, of the herbicide glyphosate, used in the popular weed-killer, Round-Up, and other chemicals, all falling into the general category of “obesogen”, or chemical compounds that causes weight gain.
- Antibiotic use within the first 2 years of life became normalized, killing off microbes that positively affect metabolism.
- Massive increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods, many of which are addictive, high calorie and with now nutritional value.
- School lunches which detract from, rather than support, optimal health and weight.
- An ever-growing onslaught of advertisements which push these foods on the public, especially children and teens.
- Adults and children being less active than ever.
The worst part about all of this is that guidelines, such as those put out by the AAP, are turning further and further away from the idea of promoting health as a foundational support measure to combat this rise in obesity, and closer to the same model used for most other “diseases” in conventional medicine: Deemphasize efforts to address underlying causal factors, and then use drugs and surgery as the primary and/or most “effective” solution. Yes, the APP is no recommending obesity drugs and bariatric surgery for children as young as 12.
Conventional medicine calls obesity a disease, offering “life-saving interventions” as a solution, which don’t happen to require any effort on the part of the individual to take control of the situation themselves, while making "big pharma" and conventional medical systems gobs of money. These recommendations side step the glaring need for regulation in the massive industries which are harming us all.
We should be asking WHY
In the type of work I do, however, I think about obesity from the same perspective as all other chronic “diseases”, and that is from a perspective of health. When health is not present, we should be evaluating why.
As providers, we should work to clarify the factors in a person’s life that would facilitate their capacity to maximize the health they are naturally endowed with. This approach does not deny the impact of biology, genetics, or the difficult life circumstances faced by so many people. It acknowledges those factors and asks what is possible to overcome the various aspects of their lives and environments that may be contributing to their condition.
In contrast to conventional thinking, I hold a strong belief in the healing capacity of the human body.
The underlying reasons that drive conventional medical approaches of “health deficiency” are many, yet they all appear to have at least one thing in common. They do not, in any discernible way, support the health sovereignty of the person involved or their innate capacity to realize the health they are capable of. If anything, they instead create further dependency of the person on someone or something, outside of themselves. Whether or not this is by design is a question for another article, but the results are undeniable.
A glance around any boardwalk, mall, or airport provides immediate and clear evidence that the optimal expression of health inherent to human beings has all but disappeared entirely.
I would feel more disheartened about this scenario if it weren't for the work we do at BioLounge, because the timing is actually perfect. While the overall human state of disease may not reflect it, people’s ears are more perked up, and their eyes are seeing more clearly than ever before. This is driving a better and better understanding of the shortcomings of the conventional system as well as their place within it.
And this is not to say that medication and surgery don't have a place, but they are much more appropriate and effective when the root cause of obesity has been explored and foundations of healthy living have been laid.
People are ready for something better and I am proud to be part of a group whose goal is to truly help them and to do so in the right way.
Life equals health. If you have lost your way, we are here to remind you and to show you what you are capable of. See you soon!