The proportion of overweight or obese men is higher in some European countries than it is in the United States, experts said yesterday in an analysis of Europeans' expanding girth.
The International Obesity Task Force estimated that Finland, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Malta have exceeded the United States figure of 67% for overweight or obese males.
Some snobbish Englishmen told me years ago that Americans were lazy and had no self-restraint and that American obesity rates were a disgrace to the country. I've heard this from continental Europeans as well. I tried to explain to them that obesity is the inevitable result of tens of thousands of years of human evolutionary history where humans were calorie deficient most of the time combined with a high level of automation of manual labor, cheap food, and high living standards. Their societies were just not as far along down the road of making humans ill-adapted to their environment because they had lower living standards. They were all ill-disposed toward my argument. Well, all you snobs: Your cultures are not immune to obesity.
In the short run (5-15 years) I expect obesity to worsen in all the industrialized and industrializing countries and for human health to suffer as a result. But in the medium run we will have drugs to control appetite and prevent obesity. In the longer run we will have gene therapies that will reprogram our bodies to adapt us to the unnatural environments that we have created for ourselves. Note that by "unnatural" I'm not trying to imply these modern environments are innately bad. The problem is simply that we evolved to be adapted to other kinds of environments. Those other environments have plenty to be said against them (e.g. lots of diseases and temperature extremes that are stressful). We just need to adjust our bodies to be compatible with our technologies.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2005 March 22 01:54 PM Trends Health|