Rise in Obesity Motivates Big Business: Be Cautious, Take Preventative Measures


Obesity  As we kick off a New Year people are always wondering how to lose those holiday pounds, how to jump back on track and become a healthier version of ourselves. Resolutions encompass weight loss goals and lifestyle transformation objectives, but to complement these aims the business world frequently has opposing motives. The realm of commerce is constantly thinking “supply and demand” or of ways to increase traffic of a particular product or service for their own maximal benefit. And the truth is… unfortunately most businesses aren’t going to have public health and well-being as a top priority at all.

Take for instance the health care industry here in the United States.We spend more annual GDP on health care expenditures than any other country in the world says a 2007 study, with private expenditures over 8%!

It’s no secret that obesity rates have been on the rise for the past 20+ years but this doesn’t make sense if there is a whole industry dedicated to doctoring people to good health. A study from 2009 showed that adults in the U.S. had the highest %BMI leading by 4% over those in Mexico who ranked 2nd. Without this customer base the health care industry would not have been able to project such a high growth profile. The U.S. Department of Labor had predicted that health care related occupations are among the fastest growing economy and that salary in this field will have a 24% increase through 2014! The numbers can be a little overwhelming, but what we have to understand is that looks can be deceiving. With an increase in national obesity the market for health care will also grow and businesses might play this to the advantage of their own bank account before prioritizing your health. Extremely important is the ability to select reputable sources of information or advice to trust, check multiple sources when you are unsure of answers or do your own research, it will help you decide what works best for you. Don’t be afraid of asking questions!

Among countless others, the pharmaceutical industry also uses obesity as a huge benefactor to their business. Patients with chronic illnesses are their prime customers since they will need to be lifelong consumers of any given drug to sustain a manageable health on a daily basis. Billions of dollars are poured into the pharmaceutical industry for research in hopes to create pills for inflammation reduction, cancer prevention, weight loss, you name it! What isn’t always advertised is that drugs are often only treating symptoms. So while pharmaceutical companies are stacking up their profits regardless of the outcome of patients, illness and disease are still rampant in society. Americans are obsessed with being able to have a pill for everything which teaches that we don’t need preventative measures, instead we can wait until things get bad and pay someone for the cure. This isn’t reality.

Paula Deen, Food Network show host and cook recently made public announcement of her diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 2. She coincidentally also made public announcement of her endorsement of a Novo Nordisk, a drug company that is to release a drug that will help people with type 2 diabetes. Stories like this don’t get any farther from promoting preventative measures and ironically her son has publically taken a stand to this. Bobby Deen has aired a new show called “Not My Mama’s Meals” on the cooking channel where he whips up healthier versions of Paula’s meals. This illustrates the understanding that in order to see a health change among a population or generation, it is the quality of ingredients that go into the food that matter. Although quality is a significant concept to embrace, we must also consider the idea that what Bobby deems “healthy” may not necessarily be the healthiest alternative. This is another instance where the individual is responsible for having an intelligence to be conscious of false information and research. Just because we see or hear something through the media does not indubitably make it valid. The source in which information is accessed is always a good place to start when questioning the accuracy of a message. Bobby Deen advocates using less butter, but butter is a healthy fat! Over a year ago I mentioned that “for the past 30 years Americans have been told to lower fat intake to lose weight. But the message to avoid fat has backfired, since we have turned to carbohydrates as the alternative. Carbohydrates, especially those with refined flour and sugar may be to blame for the rise in type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

Food quality is a property of the agricultural industrywhich is anothermarket typically only focused on business gain. The mass amount of processing that goes into food today results in unhealthy and “low-fat” alternatives that have dangerous effects on the population not limited to gene interaction and mutation. Last July I blogged about a study from 2009 that showed the beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet as compared to a standard Diabetes diet. Yet 3 years after the study we are still seeing a rise in obesity related sickness and disease. Again, the theme of business growth> disease/illness prevention is witnessed.

These are just a few brief examples of how gaining weight is profitable for business. Hopefully they have opened up your frame of view to be more cautious of health claims promoted by the mass media and big business corporations. A healthy diet and lifestyle are some of the best preventative measures an individual can take to dominate his or her well-being.