How do people get so fat?

Inspired by this thread. I mean, you are gaining weight, say, but at some point don’t people realize that enough is enough? Maybe some don’t care about their appearance, or even their health, but you see these people who can barely walk! I am specifically referring to those folks you see scooting around in the powerchairs, or using the electric shopping carts in the supermarket.

I can see someone saying “I don’t care if I am unattractive and have to wash myself with a rag on a stick” or “yeah I’ll have a heart attack someday but I don’t worry about that eventuality” but how the hell can you keep on eating to the point where you can’t even walk around a damn store?

I was up to about 220 (I am 5’ 10") and at the age of 49 I realized I had to turn it around like NOW or it would be too late for me, so I bought a nice road bike and cut back on the beer and Big Macs and started cooking my own stuff. I was feeling tired all the time, my BP was scary, and I could just see where it was all going to end up. I like riding, and now when I go to Mickey D’s, the food tastes far too salty. I feel loads better and have dropped 25 pounds already. It wasn’t really even that hard.

So how do people end up like this? Life has so many pleasures, does eating have to be the be all and end all for some people?

Just to elaborate, what was that lady in the linked picture thinking the day she went and got the powerchair? “To hell with walking, as long as I can keep on overeating”? I mean, how do you even make that choice? It is insanity.

I think you’re making a lot of unwarranted assumptions. A lady at my church has a power chair and is very overweight (though not quite as much as in the picture)… but she had polio when she was young and she’d be unable to walk unassisted at any weight. The weight gain is largely a result of an inability to do any real exercise.

Even if it is just an issue of overeating, I think you’re oversimplifying. I mean what’s wrong with all those damn heroine addicts? Why don’t they just stop shooting up? And those people with depression? What a bunch of whiners! They should just cheer up and deal with it, right?

Attitudes about things like addiction and depression have come a long way in the last 100 years, but we haven’t quite applied the same thinking to people who are overweight.

i can’t cite it, but according to a doctor’s advertisement I got recently, there are medicines that help with overeating. These medicines modify someone’s brain chemistry.

If this is correct, it seems that being overweight may be on the same level as mental disorders like depression. And it makes using them as an acceptable target even more intolerant and insensitive.

As for myself, I’m a larger framed person, anyways, and obesity runs in my family back quite a few generations. So I’ve got the genetics, and then I’ve also been on quite a few medicines since I was dead for 45 minutes as a 15 month old, and some of them made me gain weight. I also have jaw problems, that keep me from chewing well. I was raised in the south, in a place where eating lots of food is just something you are supposed to do. I’m very uncoordinated physically, so most exercise is hard for me. And, finally, until recently, I never felt full.

I’m sure many overweight people have similar stories. I don’t see why anyone should feel the right to judge people when they don’t know all the facts.

Yes, well polio is pretty darn rare in this country anymore. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that a person has no control over outside of (often debilitating) medications, and I have just as little sympathy for some dolt that wakes up one day and says “Hey! It would be a good idea to start injecting myself with an addictive drug, just for kicks!”

But you and I know that most of these powerchair fatties don’t have frigging polio or any other debilitating condition, outside of cantaketheforkoutofmouthitis. As I said, I can see someone not worrying about appearance, heck, I don’t care much how I look, or even the morbidity associated with obesity, after all, that heart attack is probably years away, but at some point they made the DECISION to STOP WALKING in favor of FOOD. That is what I can’t get my mind around.

This is interesting. I was not aware of this.

And certainly genetics plays a part

And here is where you completely lose me. You were not “dead” for 45 minutes. You would still be dead. Something medical may have happened, but you most assuredly were not dead. At this point, you sound like just another rationalizing fat person.

This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that you must overeat.

Ahh, the bubba excuse. Bzzzt. Not a good reason.

Too uncoordinated to WALK a couple of miles a day? You don’t have to be Walter Payton to get some excercise.

Eating the right kinds of food can give you fullness without a huge calorie intake. Calling bs here too.

Yes, most of them do. One of my girlfriends is on the heavy side. She blames genetics. One night, she got out of bed and didn’t come back for quite some time. The next day, I noticed that an entire 12 piece box of that godawful Banquet frozen fried chicken that had been in the freezer had been consumed. There must have been a few thousand calories in there. But even she is in relatively good shape compared to a lot of these folks. She takes long walks, and has normal BP, so at least she is doing something to ameliorate her eating habits and preserver her mobility.

I am not making a moral judgment on these people, I am sure most are fine people with good character and may well lead interesting and satisfying lives. I just can’t understand the thought process of saying “To heck with even trying, I am getting a powerchair”. And when I see one of these people using the electric cart in the supermarket, I snoop in their baskets. Yes I do! These people almost invariably are loading up on cookies, candy, chips, fatty lunchmeat, wonder bread, soda, and the ever popular Banquet Fried Chicken, so I don’t want to hear about glandular problems.

The real shame is that most of these people are getting fat eating CRAP FOOD. Food that I wouldn’t touch. Christ, if you are going to gorge yourself, at least buy some food that tastes good! It’s never Pepperidge Farm, it’s always Chips Ahoy. Never Lindt, always Hershey’s. It’s as if they are intentionally debasing their bodies with the most garbage food they can obtain.

No offense, Stan, but by your own account you too made that decision and did’t unmake it until you were nearly fifty, had hit 220 lbs, which is a lot to carry on a 5’ 10" frame, and had developed “scary” hypertension. All credit to you for starting the turnaround, but you should have a pretty good idea how people develop and sustain unhealthy lifestyles.

I think the issue is that they get hungry and once they’re eating it’s just “yum” and a little bit more “isn’t going to hurt”. If they want to lose weight, they’d have to sit feeling starved.

Overeating is a one-way stick and carrot deal. The immediate, for them, outweighs the long-term.

Yes, but I was a looong way from needing a damn powerchair. I guess that is the real issue with me. I turned it around way before not being able to walk. And the thing is, once you go the powerchair route, you are really screwed, because you will be getting even LESS exercise. It is really a point of no return, that I can’t fathom someone crossing. And as much as I love food, I was more of a beer drinker. The weight crept up on me over the years. I don’t regret a bit of it. I love my beer even today, but instead of drinking every day, I do it two or three times a month. And it takes fewer to get me drunk, although the hangovers are much worse for someone who is no longer habituated, so there is a price. :slight_smile:

And believe me, I’ve been there. On occasion I have polished off a whole thing of Haagen Das in one sitting, ordered the triple cheeseburger, etc. But not on a regular basis! I still do that sort of thing occasionally. When I go to Hometown Buffet, I really get my money’s worth. :smiley: But the next day, I’ll limit myself to a sandwich and a glass of milk.

The other thing I have found is that overeating is a vicious cycle. The more you put away at a sitting, the more you need to achieve satiety at the next meal. Eating less is as much of a habit as eating more. I don’t know if it is the old stretched out stomach theory or what, but in general the less you eat, the less you want.

I agree with this.

The *physical *reason why an obese person is obese is because they eat too much. This is true regardless of any disease they might have (or claim to have, which is usually the case).

On the surface, the solution is simple: eat less. Easting less works 100% of the time.

But it’s not that simple, because what we’re really dealing with is a mental problem. And becoming obese is a physical *result *of this mental problem. The challenge is to fix the mental problem that makes a person want to overeat. This is very difficult to do.

It doesn’t help that modern food is so darn tasty. My ancestors (Irish) ate potatoes and boiled cabbage with a bit of meat now and then. Nowadays, the supermarket has temptations on every inch of every aisle. Food companies have whole divisions to research new snacks to tempt us. It is a tough thing to fight against. :smiley:

But I don’t think anything could be made tempting enough to make me give up my ability to walk.

In America (and where the US goes, the rest of the western world isn’t far behind), one of the main reasons is portion size, IMHO.

I’ve been to the US a couple of times and have been staggered by the sheer size of everything. Order a sandwich for lunch and you get a foot of bread loaded down with meat, cheese, mayo and god knows what, plus fries on the side - more food than I would probably eat for lunch and dinner most days. My first night in New York, I ordered a caesar salad as a starter and it came piled so high on the plate I could rest my chin on top.

I hate the feeling of having an over-full stomach, and I spent most of my time in the US feeling like I’d swallowed a watermelon, simply because I felt obliged to at least attempt to clear more than half of my plate. By the time I felt full, often it would look like I’d barely touched the food, so I’d plough on and overeat. And I’m normal size - 5’10", 160lb.

If you live with that sort of food day in day out, I guess your stomach expands and you start eating more.

Well, I have been diabetic since 1980, and controlled it extremely well until 1990 and then I gained 150 lbs in 3 years. The Navy in it’s infinite capacity to totally fuck up medically had determined that there was nothing wrong with me and decided I waa just sitting on my ass popping bonbons. Of course they refused to actually test using tests that would actually manage to diagnose me.

I have been on an 1800 cal diet for 29 years. I rarely cheat [typically 3 dinners per year, thanksgiving, the family gang birthday and 4th of July]

Oddly enough, my hair had been thinning, I had dry scaley patches on my skin, my nails shred and delaminate, and in the middle of July I can be sitting on the sofa and be wrapped in a comforter. But I guess the Navy figured that because I had one endocrinal system fucked up, I obviously couldnt have another gland go frisky.

Now it is a matter of degenerative joint issues preventing me from walking that sort of put a kink into any form of getting into shape, and obviously I would have to stop eating entirely to lose weight. My nutritionist had a cow when I asked if bariatric surgery would be an option, I really can’t eat any less than I am now as people with health issues really dont do well on uber restrictive diets without actually being admitted to a hospital and tricare in its infinite wisdom wont pay for that fot me. I guess I need to weigh 800 lbs for that.

It’s true that restaurant portion sizes in the US are large, and have gotten larger than they used to be. I remember when McDonalds’ Quarter Pounder was considered a big burger—a whole quarter pound of beef! The reason for this is that food ingredients are relatively cheap compared to the other expenses of running a restaurant.

But in my experience, most restaurants nowadays are quite ready to offer you a “to go” box for your leftovers, so you certainly don’t have to eat everything at one sitting.

It’s also true that people eat out more than they used to. In decades past, eating home-cooked meals was more the norm, and eating out was, for many people, a special occasion, so restaurant portion sizes weren’t so much of an issue.

But there are plenty of other plausible factors why people tend to be fatter nowadays: the prevalence of soft drinks, snack foods, and high fructose corn syrup; the amount of time we spend in our cars; the vast number of sedentary entertainments available to us; desk jobs that involve little physical exercise…

The more fat cells you have the more it expands fat cell production. Think of it as a hole in a dike. It progresses exponentially.

I will begin by noting The Onion’s perspective on obesity.

My dad is fond of claiming that the Jews proved this during WW2. Thousands of refugees in Darfur and elsewhere continue to prove every day that you can lose weight if you eat less. The thermodynamics of it are inescapable.

This (portion control) is the big secret behind weight loss programs like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers that have you buy their prepackaged foods. The commercials tempt you by telling you that you get to eat delicious foods like brownies and cheeseburgers; what they don’t tell you is that the portions they sell you are about 1/2 of what you’re used to seeing in restaurants.

Indeed. Go to McDonald’s and order a “small” meal. The drink cup you receive is what used to be called large - 20 years ago. The “small” french fry serving they had back then doesn’t seem to exist anymore. When I was a kid, the “large” french fry order was something you shared with another person; now I see people ordering the gargantuan size (whatever they’re calling it these days) for themselves, along with a quart of soda.

Size Does Matter…

This is true enough. I was watching some TLC special on morbid obesity awhile back, and one of the men on the show said, “Think about it, if a drug addict had to take just one hit of what they’re addicted to every day, how successful would they be at quitting? That’s the problem with food addiction…people have to eat.” I had never thought about it that way before, but it’s true. Food releases the same pleasure endorphins in the brain that addictive drugs and alcohol do.

What the OP really means, of course, is “How dare people not conform to my personal aesthetic preferences?”

I have PCOS. Before I was finally treated for it, I did not lose weight unless I ate less than a thousand calories per day. You are honestly saying that since it took me eating that little to lose weight, that was all I should have eaten? When I kept getting sick, had stringy dry hair, and flaky skin?

Stan, has it ever occurred to you that the vast majority of people in wheelchairs became physically disabled at some point? They may have been in reasonable or even great shape until that. Then mental issues associated with being disabled and the inability to exercise easily brought on the obesity?

Just because you see a fat guy in a power chair doesn’t mean he ate his way into it!