As we learned from the previous post, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff proposes that the idea of holding patients entirely responsible for managing their own weight loss — even with the help of professionals — is unrealistic, to say the least. The privilege he refers to is the amount of free time, energy, money, and enthusiasm that some people have for projects like cooking their own totally clean meals from scratch and enrolling in ambitious exercise regimens.
\Also, not many dangerously obese folks have the means or the time for the intense therapy it would take to get to the bottom of their eating issues. Dr. Freedhoff writes,
There’s a tremendous amount of privilege involved in intentional behavior change in the name of improving health, regardless of what that issue might be. …[W]e all have the same number of hours in the day, but our hours are not all the same.
I would argue that it is a very, very small sliver of the population who truly possesses the privilege to be able to prioritize this as a very important thing in perpetuity. Because this is a chronic condition. If you stop treatment for a chronic condition, the condition comes back.
As a compassionate professional who hears a lot of stories other than his own, Dr. Freedhoff is hyper-aware that many people are already handling as much as they can, and simply do not possess the physical, mental or emotional energy to change their lives in any major or significant way. This is because modern society is just not set up for that to work. He suggests that many aspects of life, even in formerly remote areas of the globe, are rigged to ensure that people continue to eat too much of the wrong stuff, in the wrong ways, at the wrong times, and for the wrong reasons.
Captives and victims of the zeitgeist
Particularly in the USA and other Westernized countries, the spirit/mood/trend of the times is to indulge to our hearts’ content. At the same time, we suffer from enough cognitive dissonance to believe that controlling the damage is entirely up to us. It isn’t. Gigantic corporations with bloated advertising budgets and huge sales staffs are determined to sell us as many worthless and harmful products as they can possibly manage, and we are no match for them.
Especially in America, we love the idea of freedom, even when it is used by greedy corporate interests to turn us into a nation of overweight, unhealthy, fat-shamed people who can’t figure out what’s best for us, and who believe we can do anything we set our minds to, including single-handedly defend ourselves against the corporate juggernaut. If only!
Dr. Freedhoff writes,
It’s true that weight is responsive to lifestyle changes… It’s also true that you can buy low and sell high in the stock market and become a multimillionaire. It’s true that if you just cheered up, you have less depression. So these aren’t useful truths.
Let free enterprise not reign!
As much as we dislike the idea of the government controlling our lives, Dr. Freedhoff believes that something like a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could help the situation a lot. Despite our deep resentment toward official interference, it’s quite possible that we could all benefit from stricter rules about advertising, especially when children are the targets. Maybe we need a stern government bureau to keep a watchful eye on the claims the food industry makes on their packaging, especially since the industry doesn’t seem to be so good at self-policing.
Perhaps it would be advantageous to keep a closer eye on what children are fed at school. As contrary as this is to the free-enterprise spirit, maybe we could all benefit from restrictions about how many fast-food outlets are built, and in what areas. Speaking of areas, there are still many places, both urban and rural, where people have a really hard time accessing things like fresh vegetables.
We have pretty much managed to get used to the concept of traffic lights and speed limits to save lives. Maybe we could be a bit more accepting of rules in this area, too.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “ Obesity (with Dr. Yoni Freedhoff),” TabooScience.show, 12/03/20
Image by Wall Boat/Public Domain