Obesity a pandemic?

New Zealand Parliament – 7. Public Health Bill?Powers of Director-General of Health

Yesterday in the house I watched Cunliffe wank on about the worst pandemic facing New Zealand with more than 180,000 New Zealanders affected. I was perplexed, not the least because of the definition of pandemic.

A pandemic (from Greek ??? pan all + ????? demos people) is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through human populations across a large region (for example a continent), or even worldwide.

I’m wondering just how, exactly, you catch obesity? I checked to see if it was on the list of notifiable diseases for New Zealand.
. It wasn’t there, surely it should be? If it is a pandemic surely we should have some sort of notification if someone contract the now apprently highly infectious disease known as obesity.

I checked to see what the worldwide list of notifiable infectious diseases was to see if perhaps New Zealand was out of step with the rest of the world. It wasn’t there either. Perhaps it isn’t a disease after all? So I checked the list of all diseases. It was there, but not really as a disease rather it is a condition.

Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissue of humans and other mammals, exceeds healthy limits. It is commonly defined as a body mass index (weight divided by height squared) of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Phew that sounds a whole lot better than a highly infectious disease raging through the countryside unabated.

Still if the Minister of Health is talking pandemic here we surely should be looking at some sort of vaccination so I checked out how to combat this pandemic causing disease.

The main treatment for obesity is to reduce body fat by eating fewer calories and exercising more. Diet and exercise programs produce an average weight loss of approximately 8% of total body mass (excluding program drop-outs). Not all dieters are satisfied with these results, but a loss of as little as 5% of body mass can create large health benefits.

Oh!, so let me get this straight. Despite the Health Minister talking in ominous tones about obesity being on the cusp of wiping out New Zealanders through a raging pandemic that we will struggle to halt I have found that instead it is not a highly infectious disease, rather it is a condition. That the condition is largely self inflicted by which the person horribly afflicted by obesity has consumed more calories than they are expending and that the simple cure for this evil disease that is occupying so much of the governments time is exercise and less consumption of food.

In other words, get off your fat, lazy, good for nothing arse and exercise. I wish our politicians would practice what they preach then we wouldn’t have to look at behemoths like Nanaia and Parekura waddling their way into the house.