Do people choose to be obese?

It is really a long time that I wanted to offer my key to the belief that people choose to be obese. I will try to go in order trying to make you understand as best as I can what my thinking is in the hope to offer you a key to reading certainly a little different from stereotypes. It occurred to me to write this article when, a short time ago, while watching a live streaming on twitch, I read a person who wrote about this:

Obese people shouldn’t be victims when they are mocked or for the inconvenience of this condition because they choose to be obese.

Needless to say, I was very sorry when I read this sentence. What may not be clear is why I had this kind of emotional reaction. Do not think that phrases like these are rare. Those who have the misfortune of being fat hear them all the time and they are said with a lightness directly proportional to the embarrassment they arouse. In fact, we can admire these pearls of wisdom in comments on socials and in daily discussions when it goes well.

I believe that most of you do not know what an obese person is. Without a shadow of a doubt you can recognize it if you meet it on the street (maybe), but that does not mean that you know what an obese person is. Now I will explain to you what an obese person is or better to say “who he is”. Let’s start now to say, even if there should be no need, that from a psychological point of view an obese person is a creature like you who has feelings. These feelings can be satisfied or hurt just as they are with you when they compliment you or make fun of you. From a physical point of view, an obese person is a person who fights with life like you and who does so with a lot more weight trying harder and overcoming more obstacles.

Please read this article as a personal thought of mine, do not think of it as a guide or anything similar. However, it is important to emphasize that what I am about to write in this article is my personal key to reading about one of the many stereotypes that circulate about obese people.

With the word stereotype, I don’t want to necessarily mean something negative. When I refer to the word stereotype, I mean a model that is learned from several sources because it is shared and repeated by several people, including the interlocutor.  Having said that, my article will be focused on myself because I have no title or mandate to speak on behalf of all categories of obese people. So, in order to diminish the natural predisposition of someone to feel targeted, although to a certain extent improperly, when I am referring to the obese, consider that I am talking about me and only me.

It is necessary to specify that I am not a dietician, a doctor, a psychologist or any other kind of professional in the field but I will try to present the facts as I think they are based on my empirical experience in the matter. This experience extends over a period of about forty years.

I have been a big fat person all my life and therefore I should know a little more about a person who has never had this “characteristic”. I know, you would have almost read more willingly the word “problem” instead of “characteristic”. I hope you will understand later why I decided to use this term.

At this point, many of you are probably thinking that this is yet another article written by an untitled person and that because of my obese condition, this writing can never be objective and honest. We will see if you are of the same opinion in the end. In any case, if you think you can accept this premise then continue reading it, otherwise I suggest you to leave immediately to better use your time.

How do you recognize an obese person? My dear readers, the answer to the question may seem apparently obvious but I am sure you would be surprised to know how few people really know what the benchmarks are to understand if they are dealing with an obese person or not.

Let’s start, as almost always happens with the definition. According to what I consider the best encyclopedia for my language which is Italian (the Treccani) obesity is that “multifactorial pathological condition characterized by increased fat mass associated with a significant increase in morbidity and mortality”.

As you will surely have noticed from this definition, there is no reference to the physical aspect, which is almost the only reason why obesity is named as much by the non-obese as by the obese.

Let us therefore try to explain in an even more elementary way, if necessary, the previous description. A pathological condition, in this case, is a condition of suffering of the organism. Multifactorial means that to unleash this condition, many different factors can also contribute together or disparate.

The morbidity should not be confused with morbidity. It is in fact a word that is used in statistics to define a number of cases of disease that are examined in a given period compared to the total number of people examined.

So when in the definition we speak of morbidity, (from morbidity) we mean that obesity can increase the predisposition of the body to develop other diseases, illnesses, “diseases”.

However, after all the hard work that I did to write this article, it would be fabulous to receive a comment (if you like obviously).

We have seen the definition of obesity but the question that arises at this point is: how do you understand if a person is obese? The answer will not be new for those like me who have a few dozen extra pounds but we explain it anyway. Let’s not forget that having a few extra kilos does not necessarily mean being obese. Which yardstick is the body mass index that can be calculated very easily by dividing the kilograms over the square of the height in meters.

So if I weighed 150 kilos and was 1.8 meters tall I would have to do: 150 / (1.8*1.8) = 46.29.

At this point, you may be wondering what you can do with this number since you have calculated it and what it could mean. There are tables that indicate the severity of a certain obesity, i.e. less than 16 you are very underweight, 16 to 18.5 you are underweight, 18.5 to 25 you are normal weight, 25 to 30 you are overweight, 30 to 35 obesity grade 1, 35 to 40 obesity grade 2, more than 40 obesity grade 3;

Some of you, noticing a certain symmetry in the sequence of numbers might think that I made them up. Instead no! These numbers are really the result of scientific research. These numbers are obviously indicative and in no case replace the visit by a professional specialized in the field.

In addition, some of you may have noticed a problem with this calculation. Since muscles have a higher specific weight than fat, what happens with bodybuilders? Are they obese too? Since the calculation speaks of obesity, i.e. weight above normal yes. However, they may not suffer from the same pathologies that a fat person suffers. So the most accurate system, which I recommend and that can be done by a professional, is the calculation of the percentage of fat mass with a special caliber.

In practice, the practitioner pinches certain areas of the body with a gauge called a plicometer (do not worry, it is not painful).

Why is a person obese? After finding that I am an obese person, I asked myself why. The answer, quite simply, is that I introduce more than I consume. I admit that the sentence is not mine but it was told to me by a doctor but I completely agree. I am of the school of thought according to which nothing is created and nothing is destroyed but everything is transformed. The problem, however, is how it is transformed! I will try to explain with an example my thought and I want to hope that it will not be misunderstood and exploited.

It is scientifically proven by very accurate research that about 70% of obese people synthesize fat more efficiently. For those who want to deepen the subject, there are a lot of published scientific articles that you can search on the search engine “google scholar” that link genetics to this kind of pathology. In addition, obese people tend to be much more hungry than people who are not. We perceive a craving that is hardly comparable to that of “normopeso” people.

This happens for several reasons that can be psychological in nature with a mechanism similar to a dog biting its tail, psychiatric neurological when there are certain dysfunctions such as a deficiency in the appetite mechanism or malformations, physiological when for example hormonal dysfunctions are observed or even anatomical when for example an increase in the stomach’s capacity to contain it.

I am trying not to make it too technical using constructs that are not necessarily formal and 100% correct, to make it better understood even to those who are in a situation of secularity in the matter in question. This article, is written only in the hope, for better or for worse, to be a cue to lead some people to ask the right questions to their doctor, dietician or psychologist.

I will base this example on dogs because they are creatures to which I feel particularly attached. My life would not be the same if I did not always have such a noble creature at my side. When we look at an English bulldog and read its characteristics, we learn that it is a massive dog, lazy and tends to get fat very easily. A greyhound instead is a fairly active, slender and agile dog.

Both are dogs and both love food. At this point we have to ask ourselves what could go through the minds of those people who believe that there is no direct, unequivocal and absolute relationship between genetics and what we are.

Usually, when I point this out to some people, they tell me that they all like to eat, that they do a lot of physical exercise and that their being slim is the result of fatigue and discipline. They do not realize that by saying these things to me lightly, they are doing me an absurd psychological damage. To know everything there is to know about obesity, it would not be enough the commitment of thousands of scholars and scientists committed to studying only that for decades, let alone if the subject can be dismissed so quickly and so superficially.

Now that I think about it, in fact, it is not unlikely that for tens of years, thousands of scientists have been studying this “pathology”. However, one does not have to be a nobel prize to know that for centuries breeders have been selecting cattle from certain bloodlines because they produce more wool or have a tendency to gain more weight than others. If you live in the real world, you cannot overlook the reality of the facts. The picture becomes very complicated when external factors such as other diseases, events and the taking of certain drugs come into play.

To give you an example, if all the relatives are obese, if you take drugs such as cortisone, if you also suffer from arthrosis type diseases and if you stay two months at home because of a lockdown, not only are you particularly unlucky but there is a serious risk that you enter a vicious circle from which you can only get out with a constant commitment. When I point this out, I am usually told that it is just a matter of nutrition education.

It is clear that you would gain less or no weight by having a controlled, adequate diet and following a daily program of physical activity. At this point, as someone said, the question arises. Why does an obese person feel the need to eat? Is it an educational question? Is it a psychological question? Is it a psychiatric question? Is it a neurological question? Is it a physiological question?

I am convinced that it is to a certain extent a combination of things. Going a bit further with the fantasy, I imagine a subject who by nature is fat, that is, has a predisposition to be fat. He has a higher production of adipocytes (fat cells), he is lazier, he feels more tired, he is depressed, he tends to eat, with time his stomach dilates and at this point, as you will have understood, you start a path where you are rarely treated with the respect due to every human being.

It is useless to deny it, someone enjoys making fun of fat people. They do not wonder how these people live. They don’t wonder what it feels like when you can’t find clothes in your size, when you are not able to run, when you are not successful in love, when you try to live with insecurity, when you believe that others, the thin ones, are somehow more deserving and valuable.

You immediately recognize people who at least once made fun of someone for their size or for a defect. Some cultures, in some mythological texts, represent heroes as slender and symmetrical people. Likewise, the villain almost always presents himself as the unpleasant looking monster. Even Dante Alighieri placed the throat as a capital sin and therefore unforgivable.

In fact, I had the impression that those who tend to have this kind of preconceptions, have the predisposition to justify them by labeling the subject as a person particularly accustomed to vices as the throat and therefore deserves ridicule and other problems. I am not an expert of these mechanisms but I think it is more the usual human predisposition to be both jury and executioner but without losing a certain spirit of self-indulgence.

Even I, who am a fat person, am not immune to self-indulgence. Who has never interrupted a diet when he was sick for some reason? Please friends readers, do not trivialize the drama of obese people. It is not as simple as you think. It is not reduced to eating less and moving more. Do not make confusion between overweight people and people with severe obesity.

How do you become “normal”? When I talk about my obese status, it sometimes happens that I relate to people who expose me to another of their problems. Among them, there are those who complain because they are too thin and can’t gain weight even though they eat a lot.

I will not lie to you, for an obese person, to lose weight permanently is extremely difficult. It is possible even if it is not easy (under normal conditions) to lose weight but keeping thin is no small feat because you have to maintain a constant commitment throughout life. The fact that an obese person has to maintain a strictly controlled diet throughout his life is unpleasant but it is the truth.

This is completely different for people who do not have a particular tendency to gain weight and who are free to lead a normal life without any particular dietary constraints. Let’s be clear, everyone is good for a controlled diet and appropriate physical activity. However, there are those who are forced to do it every day of their lives and those who are not. There are those who can let themselves go for a certain period of time and those who cannot lose their way even for an instant.

In the unlikely event that you can reach your weight, an obese person will have to be much more careful than others about what they eat and will have to engage in constant and adequate exercises. As I said, this will be necessary because obese people, in most cases (not all) fatten much more easily than others. In fact, there are some pathologies that push the body to conserve fat at the expense of blood glucose levels and therefore, there are also obese people who if they were to eat like normal people, would feel married and without strength as a normal person fasting.

Of course, these pathologies are not just talk, they have a name and a large number of scientists who study them with dedication and professionalism. I wouldn’t want to take too long because otherwise I would risk being too verbose and getting bored. As I said before, there would be so many aspects and topics to analyze or propose that probably a thousand books would not be enough. But this is not the purpose of my article, my dear friends, ask the right questions and think about your health.

If you are fat like me, I suggest you accept the fact that you have a problem and fight to mitigate it. Make sure you feel good for yourself because the older you get, the harder it will be to get results. Ignore stupid people who speak out of turn and ignore people who think they are doing you good by provoking negative emotional reactions about you. We have now reached a point where medicine can help us get better. I understand that it is a kind of commitment for life and I understand that those who must always stay on the right path will always feel a little different from others.

But let’s realize that there are people who have different pathologies that prevent or limit them in speaking, hearing, walking, moving or reasoning. They, like us, must adapt their lives to what they are and not to what they would like to be. They have to take care of themselves and their physical and mental health. So, let’s take note of who we are, let’s forget the malicious or benevolent judgments of others and take our lives into our own hands with the indispensable help of professionals.

Well yes, in this article there are no miracle diets with bananas, I am advising you to talk to more than one professional even if it will cost you in every sense. If I can express an advice, first of all, I would declare the firm will to lose weight to my doctor who will certainly be very pleased. The next step, is to collect your medical history trying not to omit and “integrate” the missing documentation. The second step is to do as many examinations as possible related to the causes that may lead you to gain weight.

I recommend that you do not only do the classic blood tests, you have to go very deep. You must make sure that any aspect that may lead you to gain weight has been well analyzed and diagnosed. So you will have to spend, I am sorry. Once you have collected your medical history and examinations, I would like to inform you that there are specialized hospital centers, even public ones, with teams of doctors who will analyze your condition and give you the most appropriate and appropriate advice.

Do not forget to go to the psychologist because it is important. I know, many of you are ashamed to go to a psychologist but I can assure you that if you want to take a serious path it is of fundamental importance. Then it is clear that the results will depend on your commitment and the quality of the professionals because not everyone is equal and not everyone is capable.

However, I must warn you. If you are particularly fat, there is the possibility that you may be offered the surgical alternative. You will be the one to judge but based on my experience, it only made my situation worse, at first it was great but after some time, I came back worse than before and the serious problems started from there. It could be a case obviously maybe with others it works but I always recommend to rely first on yourself and then on others for anything.

Clearly you do what you think is best following the advice of professionals. This article is not the bible, it seems normal to me that the opinion of a professional is more reliable. Also ask yourself about the various pros and cons and the experiences of those who have done it before you. Please ask the people who have done this a long time ago, because what matters are the long-term effects.

At the end of this article I also wanted to dedicate a thought to those who, not having problems with obesity, have the tendency to talk about the subject with a certain superficiality and arbitrarily allow themselves the luxury of ridiculing people “of our caliber”. I am referring to those microcephals from whose unworthy jaws sometimes come out words like fat, lard ball, pig, whale, walrus, hippopotamus and the like.

Those who laugh when at the restaurant someone doesn’t get into the chair because of the armrests that are too tight. Those who exchange nods with friends when they see someone in the mall who, with the attitude of someone asking for forgiveness, ask if there is their size. Those who snicker among themselves or improvise comedians when we exercise our right to be at sea, maybe in a T-shirt because shirtless like the others would be too much. Those who curl their lips as if they were watching a horror movie. Those who underestimate our intellectual capacities.

I forgive you.

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