I’m Not Fat, I’m Festively Plump

Denial – not just a river in Egypt.

A recent study of obese adults indicated that 75% of them claim to have healthy eating habits, while 40% claim to exercise vigorously 3 or more times a week. Doctors are not sure whether the study participants are in denial, or if they simply don’t know what constitutes a “healthy diet” or “vigorous exercise”.

“There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy and what is vigorous exercise,” said Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, the Michigan-based health-care research firm that conducted the survey.

The survey found that 28% of obese participants ate two or more snacks per day, compared with 24% of the normal-weight participants, but no records were kept of exactly what any of the participants were eating, or how much.

“In my experience,” explains consumer health advocate Mike Adams, “very few people truly understand what it means to follow a healthy lifestyle. Most consumers suffer under the dangerous misimpression that processed, factory-made foods can somehow be healthy, even though they are stripped of nutrition and laced with chemical additives,” he says. “Part of the problem is that the FDA allows food companies to make ridiculous health claims, such as claiming that chocolate milk powder, made primarily with processed sugar, is good for kids’ bones because it contains a tiny amount of supplemental calcium.”

So are the “festively plump” among us fudging our numbers a bit (mmm.… fudge!), or are we wearing magic rose-coloured glasses that lower the calories and increase the nutritional value of a chocolate éclair to that of an apple? Speaking from personal experience, while I eat extremely healthy meals, admittedly, I have a tendency to eat crappy snacks, such as cookies, pretzels or potato chips. And while I hit the gym for an hour or so most days (something that didn’t happen before I moved into a building with a gym), I used to think of myself as an “exerciser” when I really wasn’t, unless you count a stroll around the block with the dogs.

While the study doesn’t conclusively prove why people are obese, it is an indicator that doctors need to look more closely at the situation. If the respondents are telling the truth, then medical professionals need to spend more time looking at genetic causes of obesity, but if the respondents genuinely are in denial about the quality and quantity of the food they’re eating, far more work needs to be done on teaching people healthy eating habits and how to tell the difference between an apple and an apple turnover.