March 22, 2005
European Obesity Rates Surpassing American Levels

People are porking out all over.

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


Comments
MichaelA said at March 23, 2005 8:48 AM:

Of course, if any doomsday scenarios come to pass and modern industrial civilization is thrown into chaos then those people who have retained their genetic ability to pack on fat and burn it slowly will suddenly find their stock rising.

Dimitar Vesselinov said at March 23, 2005 12:14 PM:

Marshall Brain reflects:

"Something will have to solve this problem in the next decade or two. Either:

* Medical science will deliver a pill that overrides the hard wiring in the brain, so that the sight of food does not trigger the "EAT!" reaction. Or...
* Medical science will create a pill that blocks absorption of calories. Or...
* Medical science will create a pill that causes the body not to store fat. Or...
* Food science will create foods that taste normal but contain zero calories. Or...
* Vertebrane will do the exercising for us so we can eat a lot more. Or...
* Something..."

http://sadtech.blogspot.com/2005/03/obesity.html

Lono said at March 23, 2005 3:16 PM:

Man ever since I left college and started sitting in front of a computer over 67% of the day I have become a true fat ass!

Never one to follow the trends I suppose its time for me to lose the excess baggage...


"There's no better investment than one's self. A human being can accomplish amazing things. The reason that most don't is a lack of mastery of the self. People lack self-control, they have distractions, they have demands on their time, they have others to answer to.

People are weak. They lack the will to deny themselves the opiates that they know hold them back. They are slaves to their bodies and emotions. They would rather be distracted then face the work."


- Excerpt from Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent

samantha said at October 24, 2007 5:32 PM:

i just wanna say that this is amazazing

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