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The biggest health crisis facing the modern world is obesity. According to the World Health Organisation, obesity rates have tripled since 1975. As of 2016, 650 million adults, 340 million children aged between five and nineteen, and 41 million children under five were obese.
And it’s affecting Australia, too. Between 1995 and 2014/15, the number of obese Australians rose from 18.7% to 27.9%. The Sydney Morning Herald even reported that nearly a third of all adult Australians can now be considered obese. According to the Heart Foundation, approximately 42.7% of adult men and 28.8% of adult women are overweight. More alarmingly, 28.4% of men and 27.4% of women are considered obese.
We are poisoning ourselves and we don’t even know it. Among the health problems caused by obesity are diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gall bladder disease, a multitude of cancers, fatty liver, and arthritis.
We are poisoning ourselves in two distinct ways. Firstly, we are eating far too many carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and pasta cause blood sugar levels to rise. This creates an excess of sugar that causes the body to crave more carbohydrates. The result is that the body stores fat.
Whether or not bread is good or bad for us is up for debate. Lynid Polivnick, the so-called “nude nutritionist”, has defended bread stating that “it’s much healthier than people make it out to be. It’s often demonised as being a cause of weight gain but in truth, bread does not actually make us gain weight.” And she’s probably right. There is nothing wrong with bread provided that it is eaten in moderation. The problem is that many of us don’t eat bread in moderation.
Many health experts do not share Lynid Polivnick’s view. The website Healthy Simple Life claims that bread is mostly devoid of any real nutrients. Bread tends to be ‘fortified’ with vitamins and minerals because its original nutrients have been stripped from it and added back later. These nutritional elements are unlikely to be absorbed by our bodies.
Secondly, we are consuming far too much sugar. This is a relatively new problem. Our ancestors had little access to refined sugars. If they were lucky, they were able to enjoy a tiny amount of fruit during vanishingly small periods of the year. Otherwise, they were relegated to a diet rich in vegetables with a small smattering of meat.
By contrast, people in modern, wealthy society have access to seemingly endless amounts of sugar. Added sugar accounts for seventeen-percent of the average American adult’s diet. Sugar is now present in everything from cereal to chocolate bars.
Over-consumption of sugar is a leading cause of obesity and its related illnesses. It has been found to increase the risk of certain types of cancer – namely, oesophageal, pleural, small intestine, and endometrial. And it has been linked to the doubled prevalence of diabetes over the past three decades.
Over-consumption of sugar has also been found to correlate positively with an increased risk of heart disease. A study involving thirty thousand people found that those whose diets were comprised of seventeen to twenty-one percent added sugar had a thirty-eight percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those whose diets were comprised of only eight percent sugar.
The modern western man is living in the most prosperous times in history. There is less abject poverty and less starvation today than at any other period in history. The downside of this has been an increased proclivity for greed, sloth, and, as a consequence, ever-expanding waistbands. The answer to the obesity crisis is to improve our lifestyles.
Men are the expendable gender. Throughout history, societies have had less interest in protecting the lives of their young men than the lives of their young women.
This is not an idle theory, but a reality bared out by statistics. Men represent 99.99% of American combat deaths. Men make up 92.2% of workplace deaths in the United States, and 97% in the United Kingdom. Much of this disparity boils down to the different roles men and women have occupied over time. Across virtually all societies, even those where men and women are given free choice over their careers, jobs are divided along gender lines. Jobs which involve caring for children are typically performed by women. Jobs which involve a high risk of death or injury are typically performed by men.
The ‘women and children first’ mentality may seem outdated, but it serves an important function. Protecting the lives of young women serves to protect society from the existential threat of dwindling rates.
Men have relatively little to invest in the process of reproduction. Since they are not inconvenienced by pregnancy, they have the potential to impregnate dozens of women every year. (Even their sex gamete, sperm, is cheap: a single ejaculation contains hundred-million sperm cells and men’s bodies continue to produce sperm until they die). Women, by contrast, can only give birth every nine months. Women also lose fertility as they get older. A woman in her early twenties has an eighty-six percent chance of conceiving, in her early to mid-thirties she has a fifty to sixty percent chance, and in her forties, she has only a thirty-six percent chance. And, unlike men, women are not blessed with an infinite number of sex gametes, either. Out of three hundred thousand ova, a woman will typically only ovulate three to four hundred before reaching menopause.
It is absolutely integral for a society to keep their birth-rates at replacement levels, and the best way to do this is by protecting the lives of fertile women. Since women have to invest so much in reproduction, every society has a vested interest in their personal safety. The same cannot be said for men, whose investment in reproduction takes only a few minutes. This is why young men are sent to war, why young men are more likely to die at work, and, yes, why men are more expendable than women.