Stop dieting!

Running like the wind in Sims 3

Run like the wind! You’ll love it, at least more than dieting. Or if you are too sick to run, just walk. Or do yoga, if your neighborhood is too dangerous. Don’t just sit there and diet! Do something!

If you know what’s best for you, drop that diet and back away slowly. Then faster and faster. It has been known for years that diets are ineffective; now it seems more and more clear that they are outright harmful, quite likely every one of them.

Of course there are situations where you have to avoid certain foods, such as allergies or particular problems of the digestion. I am here talking about dieting to lose weight, a multi-billion dollar industry which it seems (like so many others) is based on the near-demonic eagerness to exploit the ignorant as if they were cattle.

As I said, we have known for a while that diets don’t work except in so few and rare cases that it would be like relying on lottery for a living. There are in fact numerous diets that leave the subject noticeably lighter after a few months. However, after five years the number who has stayed down in weight is less than those who have actually grown fatter than they were when they started. In all fairness, they might have gained weight anyway, and they did get a brief respite. But in any case, this means we cannot make a correct judgment from the “before” and “after” pictures, but also need a “much later” picture in which you have regained your plumpness and then some.

Still, while I have mentioned this in the past, it did not move me to an impassioned plea. That only happened because of new reports coming in from several sources, including Norway’s University of Science and Technology (NTNU Trondheim), showing evidence that weight has virtually no effect on health and survival in a modern society. What causes the wide range of “lifestyle diseases” is instead inactivity. An overweight person who is physically active is no more likely to get diabetes, hypertension and stroke than a slimmer person. Only when obesity reaches a level where exercise becomes impossible, does it spell impending doom.

The flip side of this is that if you are slim but inactive, you are risking your very life. And this, dear reader, is the problem. Not that diets are ineffective; that is the Light’s own grace, if I may say so. The danger is the time in which the diet is effective and you actually lose weight. This means you no longer have to exercise to keep your weight down; the urgency fades.

If you can both diet and exercise to your fullest extent, then I suppose it is harmless. But the moment you choose between activity and dieting, you need to be aware which one is purely cosmetic and which one is likely to save your life.

***

Even children are at risk now. When I was a boy, 40 years ago in Norway, the idea of children dieting was unnatural if not outright blasphemous. Instead, they would run around. There were two fat kids in our village, a brother and sister; they had some kind of hormone disease, we were told. It is probably true, because they were giants from before they started school. The rest of us, including their brother, were slim. Boys would spend whole afternoon playing soccer; I am not sure what the girls did, probably something useful? In school breaks they were playing tag or throwing small balls.

These days, kids are sitting in front of the TV or computer monitor all afternoon instead. Well, not all of them all of the time, but enough so that there are fat kids everywhere. I very much doubt they have all suddenly  were born with hormone disturbances! And contrary to what you kids may believe, there was plenty of food 40 years ago. OK, so out in the countryside there weren’t potato chips in bags, but we made our own, cutting potatoes in slices and frying them in animal fat, salt and pepper, and frequently adding a fried egg to the mix. And then we ate until we were full.

Some of us loved a good book as well, and would read for hours. So we did not run around all day. But we ran around everyday. Or walked around, in my case, since I have exercise asthma since I was tiny.

But now we have, for the first time in history, teenager whose arteries are partially clogged by fat before they are even grown up. Medical science proceeds at a brisk pace, so hopefully they will live to old age anyway, somehow. But it won’t be cheap. And not particularly pleasant, I dare say. Wouldn’t it have been easier to run around at least an hour each day?

But mainly I write to adults here. You have the opportunity to make your own life decisions, at a cost. So you thought you would not spend the time on walking around (or you live in a neighborhood where you cannot walk around without being mugged / raped / killed, if you live in certain parts of South Africa or America). Instead, you will just eat less fat or sugar or bread, or whatever the fad is when you read this. And it works. You may feel hungry for a while, but you lose weight, and everyone is happy. Until your body starts degenerating from lack of use anyway, and you get the same illnesses as the obese people, only a little later.

Humans are made to move about on their feet, and if you don’t do it, there will be trouble. Even if you diet. So drop that diet and start moving! You’ll soon find you need your energy and can eat with a good conscience.

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