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Issue 49: Being Fat Is No Laughing Matter

One misconception around those being overweight is the idea that being overweight is sometimes equated with being funny. Take, for instance, some seriously funny yet grossly overweight comedians—Chris Farley, John Candy, John Belushi, Ralphie May, and Cedric the Entertainer, just to name a few.

In the midst of the laughter they brought (or bring) us, it’s easy to assume that they were or are happy people—content with life and who they are. After all, they are really funny and make so many people laugh. The reality is, however, if these men are like many overweight individuals, they would gladly change who they are for something else.

In one obesity study, researchers conducted a poll posing a hypothetical question to severely obese persons. The obese persons were asked that, if they had a choice, would they choose being at their present weight or would they prefer having a different physical challenge or illness? The findings were astounding.

Every obese person in the study said that he/she would rather be blind or have one leg amputated than be at his or her present weight.  Wow…what a response. What the respondents may not have realized, however, is that obesity itself sets the stage for numerous other illnesses and does not only affect a person’s self-image, although that is affected as well.

And that is no laughing matter.

Being overweight or obese takes its toll health-wise, financially, emotionally and psychologically and is a condition most wish they could change. The fact is that health and psychological implications of obesity can include: 

  • elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels (which can result in heart problems)
  • glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (which can result in diabetes—and amputations associated with the diabetic condition--and fatty liver disease)
  • sleep apnea and overall breathing difficulties (which can result in neuro-cognitive problems)
  • joint stress and pain (which can result in arthritis)
  • psychological disorders such as depression
  • increased surgical risk
  • cancer—as well as a host of other ailments associated with overweight or obesity. 

Additionally, every person polled in the study would rather be a poor thin person than be a morbidly obese millionaire. To them, having money didn’t matter. Being thin did.

That’s an interesting response, since the financial costs of being overweight and/or obese run into the billions. In fact, in 1999, medical care costs relating to obesity alone were estimated at $70 billion. In 2002, the American Obesity Association listed costs at $100 billion.  

Consumers spend another $30-$40 billion in out-of-pocket money just trying to keep the weight off in the first place. Recent reports have estimated the total cost of overweight and obesity at $117 billion—and that does not include the cost of obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension, gall bladder disease, and associated cancers. The good news, however, is that people can improve their health (and perhaps their outlook) by losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds.

The bottom line is that there is nothing funny about being overweight; it exacts life-draining costs in health and for the pocketbook.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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