We’ve had countless reader comments about the debate:  is obesity a disability or simply a lack of personal control.  The debate has, somewhat understandably, seemed to morph into a discussion about the role of nutrition, hormones and  metabolism in obesity, and the proper ways to control it.

In the interest of public health (although a far cry from our dedication to employment discrimination), and without professing any particular expertise in the subject, we now post a series of reader tips in how to remain svelte and healthy.

Monica Stevens, owner of an intercultural services corporation in the Detroit area:

“Obesity is a serious issue, and it should be addressed as a social problem. When you think that almost 25% of children and adolescents in the US are obese and that many of them develop type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, liver and renal disease, and reproductive dysfunction, we cannot help but wonder how this can be prevented, and recognizing and enabling obesity is not the answer.

In most cases, people become obese simply because of what and how much they eat.   Having said that, however, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity published a very interesting article on Nutrition & Metabolism (I attach an excerpt):

‘Obesity is one of the most daunting health challenges of this century. The obesity epidemic is a major health concern because obesity significantly increases the risk for a variety of chronic metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and heart disease [1,2].  Epidemiologic studies show a higher incidence of obesity among men whose mothers experienced food deprivation in pregnancy during the Dutch famine in the Second World War [3].  Data have shown that nutritional and hormonal status in early life permanently changes the structure and function of body tissues and systems. In addition, overfeeding after birth may increase the risk of obesity and metabolic disorders …’”

9283527_sLelia Konyn, an executive VP in Human Resources in Hong Kong, discusses the various contributing factors to obesity:

“Obesity at the alarming rates we increasingly see – is predominantly (though not uniquely) a developed economies phenomenon and a relatively recent one in human history.

There are many contributing factors, including but not limited to: sedentary lifestyles;  abundance and ease of consumption of processed, packaged foods;  overwhelming media obsession with food and diets;  increasing food-related phobias and fads;  significant business interests and heavy advertisement by food and beverage companies promoting such products, spurring demand; blurring cultural norms;  blurring lines of responsibility for one’s own physical health (as this exchange demonstrates) – are you responsible for your own health?

And if you are obese is it your employer’s responsibility?   The food companies’ responsibility?   The government’s?   The medical system? The changing climate?   Unemployment?   Affluence?…”

Tim Keeley, a professor of international management in Japan, targets processed foods:

“Eating too much of processed foods is one of the main causes of obesity.  Our taste buds have been trained to crave foods which are sweet, salty, spicy, and probably unhealthy. With cancer and heart disease all around us, researchers are now studying the dangers of processed foods.

Although the threats of processed foods are numerous, knowing the 10 top dangers of processed foods may be enough to rethink your next meal or snack.

1. CANCER – Some cancers are known to be caused by carcinogenic properties which are included in processing foods.

2. OBESITY – Processed foods are most often high in fat, sugar and salt. If counting food calories, these are the perfect ingredients to cause excessive weight gain.

3. HIGH CARB CONTENT – Most processed foods include an overabundance of carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein.

4. HEART DISEASE – The transfat in many processed foods will spike the cholesterol level and lower the HDL.

5. HYPERTENSION – Blood pressure is elevated by the high salt and fat content in foods.

6. DIABETES – The high sugar products and fast acting carbohydrates will raise the glucose to unhealthy levels.

7. FOOD ADDITIVES AND UNKNOWN EFFECTS – For color, consistency, taste, shelf life and more, processed foods include additives while the effects are unknown.

8. UNKNOWN FILLERS – Several foods like hot dogs and processed meats are filled with unknown parts.

9. LACK OF NUTRIENTS – If processed foods are the main part of the diet, the body will be lacking the nutrients needed to fight disease.

10. ARTIFICIAL VITAMINS – Synthetic vitamins, which lose their potency during processing, are added to some processed foods like bread.”

Anyone else have any relevant health tips?