What are the main factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic, and how can we halt the tide of weight gain before it disastrously alters the average life span of the human species? Renowned pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, the author of the viral lecture Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has spent most of his professional career in search of these answers, and the documentary The Skinny on Obesity provides an eye-opening overview of his considerable efforts in this field of study.
For Dr. Lustig and his colleagues, obesity is our modern plague. "The reason we're in this epidemic can be summed up in one statement," Dr. Lustig contends. "That statement is a calorie is a calorie." In his view, mass-scale weight gain transcends this overly simplistic equation. Instead, obesity is more deeply rooted in the cultural and environmental factors that have worked to redefine our existence in recent decades. Our industrialized diet is designed to provide fast and cheap food on the go, and consists of unfamiliar ingredients and chemicals manufactured in highly profitable food laboratories. These products thrive in the global marketplace because they serve a culture that prides convenience over healthy nourishment, and sedentary lifestyles over physical activity.
Beyond all other considerations, however, the one factor that proves most detrimental to our health is sugar. The presence of these sugars is particularly insidious in foods that advertise low calorie content, since they are often used to supplement a deficiency of taste. Therefore, the high volumes of sugar in the vast majority of processed foods unarguably prove that a calorie is definitely not just a calorie. "Sugar is 50 times more potent than total calories in explaining diabetes rates worldwide," Dr. Lustig explains. It is also the main culprit in the development of metabolic syndrome, and the resulting cases of Type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease, hypertension, dementia, and cancer which accompany it.
The Skinny on Obesity offers a wholly convincing argument on the dangers of sugars, and sheds light on the means by which we can combat its prominent threat to our well-being. In the larger sense, the obesity epidemic has resulted from a destructive shift in our culture, and solutions may only be met by redefining our relationship to the foods we eat.