Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sugar And Salt

Yesterday, when arriving at the blood clinic for my regular extraction, I saw one of them, one of those people, the "human food planets" as my son Ricky is wont to call them. There was a woman, all of 400 pounds or more, or 175 kg for those of us who are not multilingual. She was massive, humongous, immense, colossal, and just plain morbidly obese. I'm not talking about your regular, run-of-the-mill hefty; your ordinary, everyday human fat plant. This woman was outstanding in her size.

As she moved, you could see her wheeze and grunt with the massive effort required to shuffle her way along. As she moved, you could see the effort it took her to maintain her balance, as her voluminous top end fought with her equally massive bottom end for control over her centre of gravity. It was a moving tragedy in action; I felt sorry for her, sad that she had ended up this way.

It may have been a self-inflicted wound. There may be some medical condition. Who knows? What I do know, from going into the medical system on a regular basis, is that self-inflicted illness through obesity is clogging the arteries of our health care system. Every time someone stuffs that extra french fry into their maw, every time someone takes that extra sip from their HFCS drenched Slushie, every time someone gnaws away at that extra bit of cupcake, we all pay the price.

Our obesity epidemic is borne of wealth and the industrialization of food. Those who manufacture that which we consume orally have long learned that extra sweet and extra salt mean extra sales. They are not concerned for the well-being of any individual consumer; they know there will always be more. People reproduce, these days at an alarming rate. There will not be a shortage of markets for manufactured foods delivering manufactured illness.

As I watched her waddle and wheeze, I wondered what it was, how it happened. Then I caught a glance at myself in the mirrored window of the storefront and realized I wasn't exactly tiny myself. Yet I know from experience that if I stop eating, I lose weight. It's that simple. I can even refine it more than that. Now that I am immobilized, in a wheelchair, I don't get much exercise. So even with ALS, I can gain weight by eating manufactured, indigestible, sugar and salt laden foods.

For some time the ALS clinic has encouraged me to eat, to gain weight. There is a strong, very strong, correlation between being slightly or moderately, but not morbidly, obese and living longer with ALS. Nobody knows what it is; it just is one of the things they know. Nonetheless, would that I could walk once again, to be free and fit, to be strong and virile. I know this for sure. Even at her massive size and with all its attendant illness, I would trade her places. She, at least from the outside, has a problem that can be solved simply by a change in habits. Alas, mine cannot.


  1. I was diagnosed with Diabetes in April and weighed 158#. Because of the diagnosis I had to pretty much restrict carbohydrates, starches, gluten and sugar to control my glucose. I thought I had managed my weight well.

    When learning more about diabetes and obesity I found out most English speaking countries have higher incidents of obesity than other countries. I'm American and know we have larger people followed by Canada. Typically our countries have a steadier supply of food than other countries. Anything and everythinh is grown or raised here. Our countries have more fast and convenience foods plus larger portion sizes. Obesity is a problem.

  2. Another interesting thing is most countries who don't have as much obesity use pure not processed sugar or sweeteners.