It's almost impossible to be in my line of work — commenting on how we eat, with the goal of increasing respect for, and interest in, healthy nutrition — and not admire what Dr. Robert Lustig is accomplishing. His appearance on "60 Minutes" a couple of weeks ago was the the latest wild success he has achieved in bringing attention to primary causes of in the world's obesity pandemic.
His main topic, showcased in his 2-million-views-and-counting YouTube attraction, "Sugar, The Bitter Truth" as well as on "60 Minutes" and elsewhere, is the toxicity of processed sugar at the levels Americans eat it. But as he shows in the first of a 7-part series "The Skinny on Obesity," he's not only focused on the The Sweet Lady. In the 15-minute-opener, he points to metabolic syndrome, whose outgrowths include cancer, type 2 diabetes, and a number of other very serious ailments.
He says that 20 percent of obese people don't have the syndrome, and 40 percent of non-obese people do, showing that obesity, while often overlapping with metabolic syndrome, isn't the central problem.
I have to say, my thinking on that needs some reconstructing. I don't argue with his conclusion — nor would Ragen Chastain, I'm sure.
Obesity isn't a disease, and it isn't proof of unhealth. But as Lustig says, they do travel together. As a recovering obese person never far from returning there, I would add that the vast majority of the time, obesity degrades the experience of life.
For athletes like Chastain, maybe it's only the failure of society to accommodate (arena and airplane seats, smaller clothing selection, etc.). For the rest of us, add in the greater likelihood of joint pain, fatigue, and other low-grade physical effects that fall short of disease and early death.
There are mental and emotional costs, too, arising not only from the physical experiences and societal scorn (which is, of course, another failure to accommodate).
I may check back with you on future installments of Lustig's series, but regardless, I wanted to spread the word. As if Lustig needs my help to draw attention.