The Echoes of the Mind (169) Health


To keep the body in good health is a duty. Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha

The mind and body require regular exercise to stay in shape. In contrast, the gut needs as little workout as possible.

The Collective have got that timeworn wisdom going in reverse: sitting for extended periods, watching TV, munching away. While eating like a horse, they’re not eating like a horse: apples and carrots are far from favored fare. On the menu instead are fried foods, milk and cheese, processed meats, fizzy drinks and sugary snacks: everything a body needs to go for gout and blow one’s porchlight, but not before suffering for decades with the ills of accelerated decrepitude.

There is no greater fignorance (fact-ignorance) than not even knowing what to eat to stay healthy, nor having the discipline to do so. Yet that is the situation for at least 98% of the population throughout the world.

Taste is the main driver of food decisions. ~ German marketing academics Robert Mai & Stefan Hoffmann

Overconsumption of refined sugars (and their chemical substitutes) is commonly cited as a health hazard, even as such sugars are ladled into most packaged foods and drinks to appease the taste buds of the populace.

There is an unshifting dominance of ultra-processed and ready-to-eat foods as major calorie contributors to US diets and their poor nutrient profile. The highly processed foods that households are purchasing are higher in fat, sugar, and salt, on average, than the less-processed foods that they buy. ~ American nutritionist Jennifer Poti

One lesser-known aspect of dietary ignorance is the pronounced preference by consumers for packaged foods which are advertised as being high in protein. It is practically impossible not to consume far too much protein, even with a healthy diet. Excess protein intake is a tax on the bodily system to be assiduously avoided, especially animal meat. (See Spokes 4: The Ecology of Humans.)

Then there is the issue of quantity: most everyone overeats.

Obesity is preventable. ~ World Health Organization

Over 10% of the world’s people are obese. 33% of the world’s populace are merely obviously blubbery, including 20% of children and teens. There are more obese people in the world than underweight people. Obesity is particularly pronounced in the lower socioeconomic strata.

China has witnessed exceptional expansion since the early 1980s, both economically and physically. The percentage of Chinese who are obese grew 7.7 times 1980–2015. Childhood obesity is becoming common.

In China today, people eat more and are less physically active. The traditional Chinese diet has shifted toward one that is high in fat and calories and low in fibre. ~ Chinese physician Ying-xiu Zhang in 2016

From 1975 the average adult has gained 1.5 kilos each decade. Obesity doubled worldwide from 1980 to 2015 and has become 7 times more prevalent among youngsters. The rate continues to rise, though public health agencies don’t bother to monitor it closely, nor do anything about it.

No country has reduced overweight or obesity levels. This is astounding given the huge health and economic costs. ~ American nutritionist Barry Popkin in 2018

There is an even more serious problem – an overfat pandemic comprised of people who exhibit metabolic health impairments associated with excess fat mass relative to lean body mass. Many overfat individuals are not necessarily clinically classified as overweight or obese. The well-documented obesity epidemic may merely be the tip of the overfat iceberg. ~ American health enthusiast Philip Maffetone et al

The world’s biggest fast-food chain – McDonald’s – tried to improve the nutritional quality of its menu by offering side salads, fruits, and vegetables: but they did not sell. Other fast-food chains have had the same experience.

Only a tiny percentage of the world’s population bothers to eat parsimoniously well, exercise frequently, and get enough sleep. For those not with the program of requisite discipline, the outcome is accelerated aging. You can see it in the face of every politician, and even in most movie actors, who, out of professional self-interest, should keep themselves fit. Few athletes retain physical fitness regimes into their 40s and 50s.

Physical inactivity is the most important modifiable health behaviour for chronic disease. The level of physical activity is shockingly low. Physical inactivity in England has a large socioeconomic gradient, with both education and household income strongly associated with inactivity. ~ English economist Carol Propper et al

Lack of even the most basic exercise is the norm in the US and UK, as well as many other countries. Most adults don’t even bother to take walks on a regular basis, let alone exert themselves physically. Public Health England found in 2016 that over 80% of middle-aged Britons weight too much, drink too much, or do not exercise enough. 40% of Americans were obese in 2016, 8% severely so.

Some 20% of the world’s population smoke something to modify mood. 38% of adults drink alcohol with similar intent. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in males aged 15–59.

The preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality. ~ Herbert Spencer in 1896

Flagrant flab signifies self-indulgence but is more generally symptomatic of a species that has lost its way in so many ways.

Most people who eat fast food on a regular basis have no concept of how these foods are produced, or the food’s effect on the body. Most people are not troubled by such ignorance, but rather remain content to let specialists or experts make corrections when something goes wrong. ~ Joan Ferrante