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The current bandaid solutions for obesity

Obesity is a widespread problem in the developed world, it is an abundance of choice that has allow people to overindulge and eat for pleasure. Where the true problem lies isn't the lack of knowledge about food, most people could pick the healthier option between a chocolate bar and apple, but a life time of reinforced bad habits and a lack of will to change.

Should societies, rather than offering gyms and personal trainer, offer mental wellbeing centres or other mental development applications that expose people who want to physically change to harness their will power and build confidence in failing and learning from ones' mistakes.

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    Mar 22 2012: There is the simple matter of balancing calories in and calories out.If food is scarce and / or it requires substantial physical effort to get the necessities of life then it's easy to get that balance.

    But think of a typical day for many modern adults. In the morning it's a dash to work by car or train or bus. Then it's sitting at a desk all day, and the act of looking at a screen appears to lower the metabolic rate. Walking is reduced to the last few yards to work, and to the shops at lunchtime if there is no on site canteen. Even that walking is not energetic in many towns as the pavements are full of people shuffling along as they read or text or gossip or cope with very high heeled shoes. At the end of the workday there's only time to grab a ready meal from the supermarket before going to sleep in preparation for doing exactly the same next day.

    In other words, we have created a lifestyle forr many city workers which is designed to make them obese. There is minimal physical activity in the day and minimal time to fit in recreational activity. And many jobs are boring, which tends to encourage people to eat as a distraction.Today's lifestyle means that it really takes an effort not to get fat, unless you are lucky enough to have a metabolism that burns off lots of calories naturally. The problem is being handed down the generations as adults become more sededntary and, as parents, set an inactive example to their children.

    Of course, people can make the effort to avoid obesity, except perhaps the very few whose weight is dictated by some form of illness. But we are accepting a lifestyle which increases the likelihood of people getting obese. To reverse that we need to look at work patterns, commuting habits, and the structure of our cities.
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    Mar 22 2012: Well, combating obesity is not as simple as it seems. If you can separate obese individuals into three (3) causes: physical health & metabolic problems, mental health problems, and lazy/over-indulgers, it is the last group which this IDEA seems to be referring to.

    I am a drum circle facilitator and neuroscientist and will put on a workshop on rhythm, movement, aging and weight management in May 2012. My scientific premise is that body movements and rhythmic patterns tell our brains about how youthful we are, and the heavier we are, the more injured or slow we are, the less favorable and youthful image our brain's get of our bodies. Once a person is obese or injured (which restricts mobility) for an extended period of time, our brain's and subconscious mind then see us as older and unengaging, i.e. as in life is nearly over!

    The way you reverse this process is to MOVE! Any kind of movement is good, but rhythmic movements not just in rhythm & dance, but in walking, sports like basketball, or tennis, or swimming - the rhymic movements will not only help to burn calories, but it will provide favorable biofeedback to our brain's regarding our status and youfulness.

    But, the first step is BELIEVING. You must believe that this will work.

    The next step is DESIRING CHANGE. You must want to be thinner, more youthful. It can be life-changing!

    AND, it's also kind of scary cause if this works, you have taken RESPONSIBILITY for your health and appearance, and this is something no doubt you thought was beyond your control.

    Stephen Dolle
    Survivor, 10 Brain Shunt Surgeries
    Drum Circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist
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      Mar 22 2012: Mr. Dolle,

      Thank you for this information. After a recent visit to the neurologist with a family member, I see the value of your counsel.....movement is very necessary....especially in the elderly.

      I always tell my dad, move dad, otherwise your body and mind will think there is no life in you.

      I continue to think though that down deep inside obese people have issues.....the addiction to food and overindulgence is a very strong one.

      And I do think that BELIEVING you can make a new lifestyle work is the first step....Change your mind, change your life.

      Thank you for your insightful information.

      By the way...what is a drum circle? And where will you be in May 2012 to fascilitate it? Any on-line information you can provide a link to?

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    Mar 21 2012: Nathan, this issue is so important today.

    I have shed many tears watching the episodes of the Biggest Loser on tv.

    Many of the obese people today are carrying around major issues that are unresolved in their life. Everything from the death of a loved one in a horrible accident, to being molested when young.

    Food becomes a way to nurse their injuries. Others turn to alcohol or drugs or even shopping.

    I really never thought about the connection between mental health and being overweight until I watched the Biggest Loser. The trainer Gillian, when she was on there, got those people talking about why they gained the weight. From my understanding, one of her parents is a psychologist, and so she had an understanding of why people seek comfort in food.

    And while one can stop the eating and lose the weight, if the core issue of the addiction isn't dealt with, the weight will come back, or the person will just trade one addiction for the other.

    Wouldn't it be nice if there were clubs all over the place where people who are overweight could go in for counseling, exercise, and treat all ills at the same time? Usually it's one or the other. What I envision is like a Weight Watchers/LA Fitness.........does such a thing exist???

    I for one would love to see this happen.....

    Great topic of conversation
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    Mar 21 2012: I am not of the opinion that addressing mental health as you suggest can overcome the fact that people place huge discounts on the future. We know what’s healthy to eat in both quantity and quality yet we consistently choose to be happy now over being happy in the future.

    When my Father turned 40 he was a healthy man. When he died at the age of 69 it was due to complications of obesity and other poor health choices. He knew they were bad long term decisions but enjoyed their immediate gratifications more than he loathed the long term costs.

    Therefore the only was to truly address this issue is to bring the costs associated with obesity to be in line with the rewards of a full belly and another piece of cake. Where I grew up as a child there was an abundance of food available but very few of my classmates had weight issues. I believe public shame had a lot to do with that. It increased the cost of over eating to be on par with the perceived benefits.

    Along the same lines of equalizing the costs of obesity we should really look at where our food subsides go. I saw a pair of charts once, wish I could link, that compared the new US food pyramid for a balanced diet to our food subsides and they were essentially opposite of each other.

    I also believe we should adjust our corporate sponsored health insurance premiums to be equal to the risk we carry rather than equal dollars per person. As someone who exercises an hour a day I subsidize people like my Father who chose to eat everything they could get their hands on. Again, he never bore the costs of his decisions until it was too late to change.
  • Mar 27 2012: Market usually reinforces some habits through pricing. Although mental health is important, it would be easily overruled by market. For example, as other conversation showed, the price of one meal of fast food is cheaper than one with healthy meal. Therefore, people are more likely to choose fast food over healthier food on the menu.

    In my opinion, the growing obesity in US is a market failure, since the market itself cannot offer a correct/healthy idea on food choice of general people (bad meal is always cheaper).

    If the market cannot correct the problem, the government is needed to offer some help. I would propose a government subsidies on fast food restaurant to reduce the cost of healthy food. For example, one combo meal with bottle water would get subsidies of $2, in that, it makes the overall price less than one combo meal with Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

    This is a rather simple case, and of course it has a lots of loopholes. Some people would get the combo meal with bottle water with $2 saving and use this $2 to get a Pepsi with extra change.

    At least, he has a free choice to drink the bottle water which sits in his food tray. Later, this may lead to a change of habit to reduce Pepsi consumption gradually, and stop finally.
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    Mar 24 2012: I was wondering whether to start a conversation just to post a vid interview with a neurosurgeon on excitotoxins,here's the link if anyone's interested.
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    Mar 22 2012: Mary,

    I wish my book were finished and available. I've been working on it for a year or two. I live in Orange County, California, and I showcase my methods in drumming and the brain on the 2nd Friday of each month at the Temple of Light Spiritual Center in Lake Forest, California. I maintain a variety of percussion instruments that I use to go on location and speak and put on drumming events, should you be in the Orange or Los Angeles county area.

    You can visit my web site at and "Like" my Facebook fan page as I post here on my brain related research and developments.

    I'd love to be a TED speaker and am regularly told I should be.

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      Mar 23 2012: Well Stephen, it sounds like you would be a great TED speaker. Let's spread the idea!!

      Thanks for the reply...California is far away from Florida.....maybe one day Stephen.

      Be Well,
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    Mar 21 2012: abundance of choice is the reason? it has nothing to do with, like, lack of discipline for example? or ignorance?