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TACDGB Posts: 6,136
6/18/13 10:27 P

I do believe that it is a choice. Just like drinking too much is a choice so is eating too much and being over weight. I believe that as humans we are smart enough to know that we are eating the wrong things. I knew when I filled my body with Ben and Jerry's that was the wrong thing to do. But I was eating from my wounds of a bad marriage and a abusive childhood. I hate it when people call being over weight a disease. Usually a disease is something we have gotten and didn't want to have. I believe it's all about the choices we make for the life that we live.

TERRI77 SparkPoints: (402,580)
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6/18/13 10:21 P


BOUTTIME24 SparkPoints: (14,838)
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6/18/13 10:18 P

Everybody has made such great points and I'm loving the feedback! Thanks guys!!

I wasn't overweight until after I graduated high school. I began working in Preschool where it is required to eat meals and snacks with the children. It was a couple years after I started working there that my relationship with food became out of control. I was dependent on it (due to life, ya know what I mean?). It was my crutch. I'm sure you all can relate when I recall; happy? celebrate by eating, sad? comfort by eating, bored? keep busy by eating, etc, etc...And I always made excuses for Overeating. I thought "I can't throw it away" which lead to the blame game because as a child my parents never let me leave the table without cleaning my plate (you know, cause "there are starving kids in China" and "we're not made of money").

I remember when I first realized I was labeled as Obese. I thought "really?" I didn't FEEL obese. By the time I got pregnant with my first child I felt my body weight affecting me. After my second child was born I topped out at my max weight which caused pain on my short frame.

Wake up call to change? About six months ago my five year old daughter called me "fat." I was hurt, but I couldn't be mad because really she was just telling the painful truth. She made me realize that I wasn't doing well. She made me realize that I was damaging myself. And she made me realize that SHE needs me to be healthy.

So, I made a choice. I've chosen to do better for all of us. EVERY DAY I Choose. I've realized that my small, every-day choices make the difference in my life. I'm now preventing against diabetes, which both my Grandmothers and my Mother has, that scared the crap out of me. I'm teaching my daughters healthy habits. And I'm feeling better physically and emotionally.

I struggle. This is a hard journey that I've decided to walk for my life time. Granted I have no conditions (besides some depression and anxiety...which weight loss is helping me to cope with) so my journey is, of course, different from others', but I think if everyone started making small changes they could begin making good habits instead of bad.

I wish everyone lots of luck!!!

LOSIN_IT4GOOD Posts: 642
6/18/13 10:09 P

Disease is kind of a harsh word, but I don't think it's a choice either. I think the body is incredibly complex, and not everyone is made up of the right chemicals/genes to be thin. So I think it's more a condition rather than a disease. And like any condition, steps can be taken to improve or worsen it.

AGITATOR1 SparkPoints: (3,962)
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6/18/13 9:51 P

Seems as though 99% of the people who use the motorized scooters at the store are over weight. Then notice what kind of food they are buying and choice is clear

CHOCOLATELEA SparkPoints: (4,692)
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6/18/13 9:49 P

It's very case by case, I think. Definitely there are underlying "diseases" that can lead to obesity (actual medical conditions). But I think the worst "diseases" are boredom, depression, and misinformation/not caring. I would guess that in the majority of cases, obesity is a passive choice. People don't actually choose to be obese (most of the time), but they do choose not to be not obese. They choose not to exercise, they choose not to eat heathily, they choose not to control their portion size, they choose not to learn how calories affect the human body, and if they know how calories affect the human body then they choose not to pay attention to what they know. All of these things are the building blocks that make up obesity.

And once someone is there (or on the way), they become depressed and turn to food for company (perpetuating the cycle).

People who care about these people do what they think is best to help them, but that often means enabling them (buying the pizzas, saying they aren't fat, etc.).

It's hurtful to hear "you're fat" but it's also the truth. Obese people shouldn't have the fact ground into them (there's often a lot of leftover resentment from childhood — kids are patently mean), but they do need to be aware of it, and choose to act on it. And keep choosing to act on it. Every day we all make hundreds of choices, and people who have chosen to break the cycle and be not obese need to make the right choices every day, at every meal, and in every situation, to accomplish that goal.

And that's why there's Spark—to help us make those decisions. (Yay!)

SZIMM04 Posts: 94
6/18/13 6:20 P

I definitely think its both.

BREWERFAN71 SparkPoints: (32,482)
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6/18/13 6:07 P

Hey PT.JEFFGIRL-what I was trying to say is that with other addictions, you don't require the object you are addicted to in order to survive. Other addictions where overconsumption of the object (like alcohol) harms your body, when you choose to receive treament & stop the addiction you no longer have to consume that thing. But you can't do that with food & you are forced to make it a daily decision-making process. So what I am trying to say (& not doing a very good job of it :), )is imagine if recovering alcoholics were told they had to have one drink a day & that's it. True, they do struggle daily to not drink, but it's not a life-sustaining necessity. And that maybe people who never had a problem with overeating or food addiction maybe don't realize how hard it can be to just "stop eating too much" to lose weight, it's just not always that simple.

I still don't think I made my point very well-it always sounds so much better in my head! So I guess to answer the OP, I don't see obesity as a choice. I see it as a disease that might be created by choices, but the reasons for those choices are complex & not just choosing to eat poorly.

MADEIT3 Posts: 2,586
6/18/13 3:54 P

Touchy subject and way too complex for a simple answer. Like others, I vote for both.

JEFFGIRL Posts: 11,272
6/18/13 3:53 P

By BrewerFan-I did not understand that statement you made about telling an alcoholic they can have one-but just one drink-for the rest of their life. An alcoholic can never have one drink-it it the first one that leads them back into their disease. Perhaps I misunderstood.

Edited by: JEFFGIRL at: 6/18/2013 (15:54)
BREWERFAN71 SparkPoints: (32,482)
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6/18/13 3:42 P

I second the standing "O" on Anarie's post. And I was thinking the same thing as I was scrolling thru other posts, that obesity is a disease that is ruled by choices.

I know that eating too much of the wrong foods got me to the point of being about 80 pounds overwieght at my highest. So others can sit there & say, well, there's your problem! Simple solution, just stop doing that! But WHY do any of us make that series of choices? Why did I or anyone find comfort in food, & why didn't I have better coping mechanisms?

Food is the one addiction that cannot be quit cold turkey-tell an alcoholic who wants to quit they have to have one drink every day for the rest of their life, but just the one. Tell a smoker that wants to quit they have to have one cigarette a day, but no more, for the rest of their life.

I think that breaking any kind of addiction or bad habit has to come from the same place-the person who needs to lose the weight will only do so when they want to, when they make that choice for themself. I have a friend who had lap band surgery, but because she wanted to lose weight but not change her lifestyle or get at the root of why she overate, she gained a lot of the weight back. I'm not saying that it's not a good weight loss tool for many, I'm just saying that too many people make the mistake of thinking the solutions to lose weight are so simple, that there's no reason to not be able to lose weight. But when you don't address the "why's" it's not so simple.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
6/18/13 1:35 P

Wow Anarie... particularly the last couple of paragraphs, standing ovation.

ANARIE Posts: 13,204
6/18/13 1:15 P

I think about my obesity risk and recovery the same way I think about my skin cancer risk.

A lot of it is a result of my choices. I know most of the things that raise my risk, and I try to avoid those things, but there are times when social pressures or laziness get in the way, and there are times when I just make a mistake. I know that I should wear sunscreen every time I step outdoors, but when I think I'm only going out for a few minutes, I admittedly don't always bother. I know that I should always take something healthy with me for lunch so I don't eat fast food, but when I think I'm going to be home before lunch, I don't always bother.

And sometimes I kind of defiantly choose not to be safe. I really shouldn't go boating or skiing because the reflected sunlight is so dangerous, but I don't WANT to stay home when everyone else is having fun. I really shouldn't go to buffets or potlucks because the abundance of food is so dangerous, but I don't WANT to stay home when everyone else is having fun. In that sense it's a choice; I choose to participate in life events that are likely to lead to some health damage, and just try to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

And some of it has nothing to do with my choices. A lot of my risk is due to choices that were made for me before I was old enough to choose. One of the biggest risk factors for skin cancer is blistering sunburns before age ten, and I had a bunch of those. Should I blame my parents? They knew that sunburn was unhealthy, but science hadn't really figured out how serious the risk was yet. They knew it might give me wrinkles; they didn't know it could give me cancer. And my dad in particular is dark, so he didn't really have much of an idea how much time I *could* be in the sun before I burned. Mom was fair and constantly sunburned herself. Obesity is the same. I was overweight as a child, which is almost a life sentence. They knew that letting me eat too much cake was unhealthy, but science hadn't really figured out how serious the risk was yet. They knew it might make me chubby; they didn't know it could give me diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer. And my dad is thin, so he didn't really have much of an idea of how much I *could* eat before I got fat. Mom was overweight herself.

Then there's also the genetic component. I don't think you can completely blame genes, but when there is a genetic predisposition, it's mean to blame people for not doing everything possible to prevent the disease when it means not being able to enjoy the same things other people enjoy. My grandfather loved to garden. He was also strawberry blond. Should he have been blamed for "giving himself" skin cancer? He wouldn't have gotten it if he hadn't spent so much time in the garden.

Really, I don't think "Obesity: choice or disease?" is the question. With the exception of childhood cancers and a few bacterial or viral infections, almost ALL diseases have an element of choice. You can decrease your chance of ovarian and breast cancer by having babies or by using the Pill for 15 years or more, for example. If you never have sex in your life, your chance of cervical cancer is almost zero. You're much more likely to get tuberculosis if you travel internationally.

But obesity is pretty much the only one where they humiliate you, blame you, and refuse you treatment because you could have/should have made different choices. Even smokers don't get denied treatment for lung cancer, though they do have to pay more for insurance sometimes. If I get ovarian cancer, I'm pretty sure the doctor isn't going to say, "Well, if you'd gotten on the Pill in college or cranked out a couple of kids, you wouldn't be having this issue now. I don't know what you expect us to do when you're the one who's been neglecting your health for years." And I'm not afraid to go to a doctor because I think he'll shame me for not having children or taking the Pill. We can go for a Pap smear without worrying that the medical staff are all going to roll their eyes and mutter, "Well if you'd just been celibate, you wouldn't have this problem, would you?" Obese women (and some obese men) are hugely likely to avoid doctors because they think they'll be scolded about their weight instead of getting tips on how to reduce OTHER risks.

So the question isn't whether it's a disease or a choice. It's a disease that can be prevented or treated by choices. The question is why it's the ONLY preventable disease that's so strongly stigmatized.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
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6/18/13 1:12 P

To me it's not a useful question and leads to more noise than light.

RIET69 SparkPoints: (47,087)
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6/18/13 11:42 A

I think it is both. I think that obesity is a disease once you have it; I also think the way to obesity is making wrong choices that are not healthy in the areas of food and exercise.

PARKSCANADA Posts: 4,802
6/18/13 10:43 A

We live in an obesogenic environment, so I'm not sure either view is correct. Given the additives that the big food companies put into our food that causes some of us to become "addicted", the constant bombardment of food advertising on our TV's, in print, on billboards and the plethora of places to buy food products at every hour of the day, it's more amazing that everyone isn't battling weight. Obesity is not a simple problem but one that involves how the body processes food, how the individual reacts to food emotionally, whether or not food is an choice, disease? I don't believe that the label we give is that simple.

TIG123GER SparkPoints: (77,547)
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6/18/13 9:55 A

I definitely think it is a choice because we choose to put the foods in our mouths that make us fat BUT I think there is something that makes us make those choices that are sometimes beyond our control. I know EXACTLY what I should do but I don't always do it even though I know that those choices are stopping me from being healthy. I don't consciously choose to be unhealthy but there are times that I can't resist that fried cheese stick no matter what I say to myself. So is that a choice? Why can I resist sometimes and not other times? Just saying that it isn't as easy as just saying "I'm not going to do that anymore" and it changes...otherwise no one would be fat and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

SUNSET09 SparkPoints: (562,575)
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6/18/13 9:40 A

It's like cigarettes and drugs......if you put it in you, it's a choice you make! That's my opinion as I know "they" want to cal it a disease so that the medical coverage can pay for it! emoticon

Edited by: SUNSET09 at: 6/18/2013 (09:41)
6/18/13 9:10 A

I think obesity is a lifestyle that leads to a plethora of other conditions and diseases. When your obese, you must change your entire lifestyle.

NAUSIKAA Posts: 4,848
6/18/13 7:45 A

They aren't mutually exclusive so the real question is just, is obesity a choice or isn't it. I think that people who struggle with obesity often make poor choices but making the right choice can be astonishingly difficult when the fat cells, brain, and digestive system work together to convince us to eat more calories than we strictly need to survive. Newer science seems to suggest that people who are predisposed toward obesity would have to be almost super human to make the right choices all the time, given the forces that conspire against us (and I don't mean food industry - I just mean our own bodies). But, a person can certainly make the Choice to have themselves locked up and fed exactly 1200 calories/day for the rest of their entire life, which will probably prevent obesity in just about everybody.

SHERYLDS Posts: 17,501
6/18/13 6:28 A

I think Both...our food choices, calories, and lack of exercise makes it happen. Our relationship with food keeps it going. And our genes can make us predisposed to have faulty metabolisms with any number of physical problems. In many ways we are lured into making bad choices towards empty calories that set us up for addictive cravings. Mentally and physically we enjoy indulging, so we keep going back for more. And eventually our bodies start breaking down with all types of other diseases which make it harder to recover from obesity.

6/18/13 5:52 A

Having been obese, I know that you get to a place where you CANNOT help yourself anymore. The success rate for losing weight and keeping it off when you are morbidly obese is something ridiculous, 2% if I remember correctly.
High Cholesterol can be prevented and cured by diet and exercise, is it a disease?
Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented and cured by diet and exercise, is it a disease?
Losing weight is easy, keeping it off is almost impossible.
I think the cure for obesity is emotional healing.
Thank the Lord I am healing.
Wishing you all healing and happiness, SPARKIES!

JUNIAAGAIN Posts: 4,169
6/18/13 1:22 A

I don't think anybody chooses obesity. But it is not a disease in the classical sense. After all, if you have predispositions to obesity, there are ways to work against them. The problem of course is - can you? Does managing it take up too much time and energy from living your life? These are just random thought after many years of fighting.

JANIEWWJD SparkPoints: (597,632)
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6/18/13 12:00 A

It depends; some people do have thyroid problems.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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6/17/13 10:29 P

Cancer is a disease, but choices can absolutely increase your risk. Do you claim that lung cancer isn't a disease, even if the person who has it gave it to themselves by smoking? Of course not.

The causes of obesity are many; for some, it IS a self-destructive choice. For others, it's a function of medications, or genetic predisposition. Still others have metabolic issues, or unforeseen injuries or medical conditions. Some have all of the above, a loaded gun, and the trigger was pulled by crappy parents with the same disease who never gave them a chance to be healthy and learn the right choices. We've seen those kids. They are already obese. Are they any less sick because they were never taught how to be healthy in the first place?

There's no solid, one-size-fits-all answer.

For me, it was an unwitting choice. I didn't plan to get fat, but I had no genetic predisposition ( in fact, I'm quite gifted genetically), no lifestyle training (my dad was a health nut), just life and laziness struck me.

My husband, however, suffers from depression and alcoholism, which is causing his.

My uncle has a severe eating disorder that causes him to binge. We have all accepted that his disease will likely kill him (it's already stealing mobility.)

For each of us, our stories are different. Cancer. Genetics. Upbringing. Disease. Injury.

JUDYAMK SparkPoints: (31,293)
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6/17/13 10:27 P

I agree Bouttime24 I made bad choices even knowing where it could lead me.Now I have made a choice to become healthier. When I was 136 I felt all heady & could wear my silk lined pencil skirts perfectly. Then I started the unhealthy eating. I was the one that had grilled salmon & asparagus at 6 in the morning for breakfast,then I for some reason started eating at fast food places in the morning & unhealthy in the evening. Now I am trying to get back to the healthy life style.

FITWITHIN Posts: 26,140
6/17/13 10:17 P

I have been struggling with obesity as far a I can remember. No, I don't like it. I've tried many avenues to not have this problem, but I still do even now. I once was over 300 pounds and I'm trying to get under 200 to this day . One of my co-workers was saying how he tells his 3 year old daughter not to eat something, because it going to make you "Fat". Then he said her reply is, "Fat". At her age she doesn't know, but at the rate he is going she will end up with an eating disorder either way.

ALISALEA Posts: 161
6/17/13 9:58 P

I can only speak for myself, but my excess weight is from eating too much and not exercising.

LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
6/17/13 9:45 P

By the dictionary definition, obesity is a disease. That part is true and doesn't have anything to do with how the person became obese.
Can a person make choices that lead them to have a disease? The answer is yes.
Can a person have a disease due to genetic or environmental factors? The answer is also yes.

I think the billboard is faulty. I think they are trying to urge people not to judge others harshly based on stereotypes about obese people but it isn't exactly true that choices never play a part in having a disease.

BOUTTIME24 SparkPoints: (14,838)
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6/17/13 9:31 P

I didn't consider genetics. Thanks for bringing that up.

6/17/13 9:27 P

I think that Obesity cannot be summarily categorized. There millions of people who suffer from obesity because of inactivity and diet. There are those with medical and genetic predispositions that contribute to their obesity, even as they fight against it.

BOUTTIME24 SparkPoints: (14,838)
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6/17/13 8:47 P

This is a sensitive subject for some. I'm not bringing it up to hurt anybody or put anybody down. I have my own opinion but completely respect others' opinions. If you choose to comment Please be polite and respectful of myself and others.

I had seen a billboard that said "Obesity is not a choice, it is a disease."

What do you think? I personally think obesity can be a choice. Besides those with medical conditions, I believe we can make choices to better ourselves.

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