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The Root Cause of Obesity

Since obesity is the great public-health hazard facing the United States, everyone is talking about it.  It's a fun issue to think deeply about, because there are numerous causes of obesity.  Growing up, I was chubby while my two brothers were rail thin.  We were poor, so food was basically rationed.  There was no overeating, and yet I was somehow fat.  Thus, I'd be the last to deny a genetic component to being overweight.  

Still, I was the "fat kid" growing up, and there were only one or two of us.  Today 1/3 of kids are fat kids - and they aren't just a little chubby.  Instead, they are obese enough to develop Type II diabetes - which used to only hit adults, and thus was formerly called Adult Onset Diabetes. (!)

Clearly there is something beyond "hormones" or "genetics" involved.  Well, what?  

The cause, in a word, is television.

It isn't only that people are sitting around in front of televisions, mindlessly eating Doritos.  It isn't only that watching television causes a cognitive decline of 20%.  Where as sleeping increases brain activity, watching television decreases it.  When watching television, you are both literally and figuratively out of your mind.

It's not simply what you're doing while watching television.  It's what you're not doing.

If people stopped watching television, they'd get more sleep.  Lack of sleep leads to an increase in waking cortisol, which causes deep physiological cravings for fats and sugars.  You know how when you only get a couple of hours of sleep, your eyes feel dry and irritated, and your stomach sometimes feels acidic?  Cortisol causes that, and to decrease cortisol, you need fast-acting carbohydrates.  

The solution, of course, is to sleep more.  If possible, I'd get 9 or 10 hours each night.  Why not?  People say that's lazy.  I do not watch television, however.  My good friend Norm needs only 5 hours a night while watching no television - which just makes me envious.  Yet most lack such natural physiological energy, and thus one must ask: How is sleeping 6 hours while watching 2-4 hours of SportsCenter or American Idol anything but pathetic -  and self-destructive?  I am healing my body and mind each night rather than poisoning it with propaganda.  Being a passive receptacle for corporate brain washing is far lazier than "sleeping in."  Turn off the television and go dream.

 If people stopped watching television, they'd find the time to shop and prepare their own foods.  Eating pre-packaged food is terrible for you. You all know it.  

Yet imagine how bizarre it'd be if people spent two hours in the kitchen each night.  People would think you're crazy.  Why?  Why is spending time thinking about your food, actively looking at the colors of beans and lettuce and sprouts less worthy of your time than the cool glow of a 50" plasma?  

If people stopped watching television, they would get bored. Nature abhors a vacuum, and boredom.  Adults rarely remain bored, and thus bored people walk more, move more, screw more.  There are articles about the dying sex life of the average American. "Honey, I'm bored."  "Let's have sex."  Is TV better than sex?

Now people will say, "I watch TV because I'm too tired after working to do much else."  That's fair.  Life is struggle.  Which is why I mentioned sleep first.  "I can't sleep."  Sit around in a room devoid of television, and you will fall asleep.  It will be unpleasant at first - but certainly less unpleasant than being obese.

Now, the irony here is that people who are in shape - the kind of people with bodies - stumbled upon the no TV rule.  If you're in shape, you don't have time for television.   My good friend Jay wakes up, has breakfast with his children, works 10-12 hours, and goes to the gym after coming home.  After that, it's family time.  Who has time for television?

You simply cannot have a nice body while being a working stiff and mouth-breathing television drooler.  The hours aren't there.

Thus, if the hours in your life aren't there for cooking, sleeping, and working out, look no farther than the 50" god in the middle of your home.  Then throw a rock at it - or at least unplug it.