Can't it be both?

Sue Shekut, the owner of Working Well Massage in Chicago, riffs off a Men's Health article and gets to the question of what's causing the US obesity problem. 

The article is good: It isn't hysterical, or mean, and seeks out research and scholarship in search of answer. And, as I would expect, it concludes in the same neighborhood that I end up in: "Kind of sounds like cocaine addiction, doesn’t it? Well, chemically, to our brains there are a lot of similarities," she writes.

But it was the headline that grabbed my attention: Obesity in America: Epidemic or Addiction?

And I ask, can't it be both? So often in the obesity debate — and I don't attribute this to Shekut necessarily — we end up with competing, black-and-white proclamations about what causes it, when in fact, America has about 145 million adults who are obese or overweight.

Isn't it likely, among 145 million individual cases, that there might be more than one cause, and even more confusingly, that these causes might overlap in myriad different shades and proportions? 

Among the causes I can think of for obesity: Biochemistry. Heredity. Acculturation. Lassitude. Indifference. Emotional trauma. A lack of education. Income level. Chronic physical illness.

I constantly clang the bell for food addiction, and make no apologies for it. It is real. But I've neither said nor ever believed that food addiction is the only reason that Americans, and increasingly the world, have such a problem with overweight. My larger message is that we, collectively, have a large, serious, and growing problem, and only acknowledgement and concerted effort will address it.



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