I think it was (NSFW) John Burk who observed that you can go on about the dangers of smoking, and nobody will question it.
But bring up the scientifically-proven damage obesity does, and you engage in "body-shaming."
The trouble is that it isn't sustainable. That isn't sustainable to the individual, and it eventually has an impact on the country as a whole. To the individual, it leads to a series of medical issues ranging from skeletal to cardiovascular. For the country, the damage it does to the individual puts increased pressure on the healthcare system, and limits the number of people able to enter military service. (Consider that the minimum body fat percentage right now is 28% for men and 36% for women.)
This week, we update Lethal Ignorance with news on CPR, and continue the theme of physical fitness with a look at the costs, on multiple levels, of obesity and a chronically unhealthy nation.
1.) Lethal Ignorance. There is one major update to Lethal Ignorance. For many years, CPR has been taught as a combination of chest compression and breaths into the patient's mouth. The new way of CPR being taught by organizations like the American Red Cross is hands-only CPR. This has become the "main" way for basic CPR to be taught, although the changes appear to have been mulled since at least 2015.
2.) Baseline. There has never been a study on Earth that has shown the benefits of obesity. This is primarily because there aren't any for a study to show. With conditions ranging from osteoarthritis and gout, to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. According to the American Council on Exercise, women with 32% and men with 25% body fat and higher are considered obese. The National Institutes of Health suggests that roughly 2 in 3 adults are considered obese as well. (Although they use the BMI system which is controversial at best.) This leads to the image that something that is proven to be extremely destructive is both widespread and apparently accepted.
Worse, it seems this has led a number of Americans to give up entirely on losing weight.
The CDC says that obesity leads to $147 billion in healthcare costs across the country, and also leads to a smaller pool of people capable of joining the military.
3.) Solutions. Given that rather bleak outlook, what can be done about it? In 2010, Nike and about 70 other organizations (including the American College of Sports Medicine), developed a project targeting kids under the name "Designed To Move." The name is derived from the rather obvious fact that the human body was never designed to be sedentary for the majority of the time one is alive. It's actually a remarkable campaign, and while Nike obviously has something to gain from it, they also have a ton of clout as an athletics company. (That, and people looking to make a living by serving the people around them is the basis of capitalism. If the country's health improves as a result, how can that be anything except an added bonus?)
Over in the UK, the government has taken the step of recognizing parkour as a legitimate sport. This opens the door to possibly being taught in schools or, at the very least, getting government backing as a way to get young people active. The Minister of Sport for the UK described it as a "fun, creative and innovative option," according to the BBC. (For the unfamiliar, think Mirror's Edge, or even American Ninja Warrior, the latter of which has led to a ton of gyms popping up across the US.)
Also, at least for the moment, we have seen fitness become a very public movement by way of Crossfit. Despite Crossfit's reputation for its weak coaching regimen and high injury percentage, Crossfit has exploded across the country, including an annual nationally televised event. It has made a game out of fitness, and regardless of one’s opinions on it, it has changed the shape of the fitness world forever.
3.) Benefits. There is an excellent site called BarBend. They are a news service for the strength sports (CrossFit, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, etc.) and have written a number of fantastic articles on the subject of the benefits of strength training. Rather than link to them within the writing, as is the Midnight Run style, I would like to instead simply list them. It's a lot of reading, but I believe all of them to be worth reading. (And, frankly, this section will have a heavy bias towards weightlifting, which works as that is also a major part of CrossFit as discussed earlier.)
But, outside of Barbend's articles, there are also studies showing the benefits of exercise and its ability to lower the risk of possibly lethal cardiovascular diseases.
In Denver, there is an effort to use weightlifting as a way to fight the rise of veteran suicides. (The emotional boost of exercise is extremely well-documented, so this is a natural evolution and an excellent way to combat the issue.)
4.) Bottom line. Put bluntly, the benefits of getting more physically active are as visible as the dangers of not. Burk's comments on "fat shaming" are depressingly relevant and accurate. There is simply too many downsides to being in a chronically unhealthy state; on an individual level, a national level, and an economic level.
Health insurance (if not healthcare) is becoming a major topic of discussion again. The complexities of the insurance debate are well beyond the scope of this Run. This week's Midnight Run instead proposes a solution to the problem that is simple, personal, and has proven long-term benefits. If the goal of the insurance debate is to decrease costs of care, would it not sense to free up resources by not requiring care in the first place? Simple supply and demand, therefore, would bring costs down on their own, as medical resources come under decreased stress (without a trace of irony). In addition to the obvious benefit of taking care of a massive problem with a beautifully simple solution, the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of exercise (whether aerobic, team sports, or weightlifting), make the trade beneficial to both the nation as a whole, and the individual. What's in it for me" is responded to by the mountain of medical science proving exactly what's in it for the individual.
As with Lethal Ignorance, the solutions proposed are both incredibly simple, and based solely on the individual. Whether through optimstic movements such as Designed To Move or more hard-edged takes like that of Burk (and even Milo Yiannopoulos), however, the issue of a chronically unhealthy nation simply must be dealt with. It will take effort, well beyond simply calling a representative. However, the impact of a nationwide movement built around physical training will be much more immediate and considerably more beneficial for all involved. Someone who is in excellent physical condition is more than able to help the people around him.
As with Lethal Ignorance, that is the thesis of this week's Run; improve yourself, and stand ready to improve the lives of those around you.
We return to the news next week.
Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.