Obesity is a vicious cycle or eat too much, exercise too little. Research shows obesity is linked to another vicious cycle: poverty, reported NZ Stuff from a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report Feb. 24. TLC’s “My 600-lb Life” explores how morbidly obese people got so fat. My 600-lb Life illustrates in dramatic living color how poverty and obesity cause and affect each other.
Each week viewers see human train wrecks on My 600-lb Life. People need custodial care for basic life functions–toileting, feeding, transportation. It’s like they’re quadriplegic; but it’s fat not paralysis that disables, carrying around 4-5 times normal body weight. It’s the equivalent of five people living in one body.
So how do people so grossly overweight? They don’t start life that way. Babies aren’t born at 40 pounds (five times normal birth weight). It’s nurture: environment, says NZIER. People in low socio-economic areas are 1.6 times as likely to be obese. They are more likely to be unemployed.
As shown in My 600-lb Life morbidly obese people can’t work. They can’t even walk. They can barely move. They can’t exercise to burn the massive amounts of calories needed to sustain such huge bodies. This season’s featured person is Pauline who weighs 678 pounds. She can’t shop, prepare food or get out of the car, She eats only drive-thru fast food.
Obesity is part nature, or heredity, too. NZIER found that children of obese parents were usually fatter. They are malnourished. Malnourishment can go either way: too little food or too much of the wrong food. Obese kids are malnourished in that they eat the wrong things. Deprived, underweight kids may get overweight when they finally get enough to eat. Pauline speaks of constant hunger as a child. Growing up in lack, she never learned limit switches. She ate all she could to compensate.
Children caught in the poverty-obesity cycle suffer. They don’t do as well in school. They feel shame and cut themselves off from society. Pauline’s son is socially and emotionally crippled by a life of constantly caring for mom. He is overweight. The caregiver dilemma was underscored in the movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”
The conclusion in both the NZIER report and in My 600-lb Life is that people need help out of the poverty-obesity cycle. But they have to also help themselves by making healthier choices.