You've probably heard the words 'obesity crisis' in relation to the increasing number of overweight people in the UK. However, as much as obesity is recognised as a problem, an epidemic even, there is a growing tolerance towards those of a larger size. For example:
Despite the alarming stats, the debate rumbles on. Is obesity a personal choice, or a health risk on a par with smoking? Can you ever be overweight and healthy? Should we embrace our curves? Does society encourage unhealthy eating?
So many questions, and far too many to cover in the space of one blog post, however professional troll Katie Hopkins put her money where her mouth is earlier this year to prove a point; that we are fat because we eat too much and exercise too little. It's as simple as that. Or is it…?
Of course, the obesity epidemic can't be explained in such black and white terms. There are many other factors to consider. All of us in 9-5 desk jobs find it extremely difficult to keep on top of our health, whilst certain health conditions can make it nearly impossible to ever get to your ideal weight.
The other side of the coin is that obesity is the outcome of our current society. The popularity of fast food, convenience stores and cheap snacking at the desk is at an all-time high, although it's worth noting that actively eating better and exercising is on the rise too.
The experiment started with Katie consuming 4,000 calories per day before upping that to a whopping 6,500; that's the equivalent of 13 separate meals per day. To emphasis the laziness connected to obesity Katie also limited her exercise, in particular focusing on walking less than 1,000 steps a day.
The flaw in the experiment is that it is obviously an extreme. Many of us simply don't have the time to eat so much so frequently. Obesity is a slow burning condition that takes months, if not years, to get to develop. However, it did produce some interesting results that not even the scathing Katie Hopkins would expect.
The outcome was not only a weight gain of 43 pounds but psychological affects as well. She felt depressed, lethargic and weak. Most of what she was eating was giving her short bursts of energy before crashing. It was a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Katie concluded with the experiment turning into "an emotional journey".
Whilst this proves that weight gain happens easily - something we're all aware of - and can be due to lack of exercising and binging on fatty foods, it also suggests that when you are in a routine of overeating and not exercising, it can be very hard to get motivated. If you look in the mirror and don't like the reflection, it's far easier to eat more or sit and feel sorry for yourself rather than take the first step towards improvement.
The theory, when written down, is clear and simple. Don't overeat and do some exercise. However, without the right mind-set it is super difficult to get yourself out of those nasty habits.
One thing we can do is make exercise far more accessible for larger people. Certain companies specialise in great gym gear in bigger sizes, after all bigger frames should be their target market. Individuals shouldn't be fat-shamed into losing weight, but instead respected and encouraged. The advertisers are finally making space for plus-size bodies in their bustling fitness market, and the traditional negativity that aims to make obese people feel bad about themselves is slowly being replaced by more positive messages.
Whatever side of the fence you are on, for the majority of us the verdict is still out, but we can agree that while losing weight is extremely difficult, the right support can go a long way.