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Chaos theory of obesity

Posted Feb 25 2009 6:33pm
I'm not exactly sure if this fits in the "no-duh" category but it seemed appropriate not to let it go without comment.  As it turns out, another one of "those" studies is out and has determined that having to put food on the table while struggling with unemployment and still meeting the on-going, non-stop, ever-demanding needs of young children contributes to household stress.

Well, who would have ever thought such a thing? I'm shocked! Personally, that type of lifestyle sounds like a day in the park. I can envision the conversation between spouses.

"Hi Honey, I was laid off from work! Won't that be grand? Now we have even more time to spend together. So I was thinking we take a day and do something fun. What would you like to do?"

"Well, let's see. How 'bout if we try to pay our bills with too little money, stretch our food budget beyond the breaking point, almost declare bankruptcy due to medical bills, fight to stay in the house, and try and keep all the children quiet and content? That would be relaxing, wouldn't it?"

"Can't wait! Life's just one big vacation, isn't it?"

Might be just me, but it doesn't seem like someone needed to pony up hard-earned dollars to figure out poverty and low-income aggravate stress. (Maybe they could have given those dollars to some of those stressed out unemployed people?)

However, what prompted today's comment was that the study also finds that these same pressures increase the possibility that a mother will be obese. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 32 percent of all Americans are obese, 41 percent of mothers in this study were obese. Thirty-eight percent of mothers in low-instability households were obese, while nearly 48 percent in high-instability households were obese. (Household instability was determined by taking into account parental stress, such as whether moms felt alone or trapped by their responsibilities; financial instability, and ability to keep food on the table.)

Please don't misunderstand; I am not making light of the ghastly situation of staying up nights terrified about how to keep a roof over one's head. There but for the grace of God could go any of us. My amazement lies in the fact that they needed a study to point out that when someone is stressed, she will eat! I mean, common sense says that when you're overwhelmed and overloaded, your natural reaction is to try and change it. If you have to take care of your kids and you're short on cash, options are pretty limited, aren't they? So, you visit the kitchen. It might not make things better big picture, but at least for a few moments, you get a little pleasure. A simple comparison: sitting paralyzed, panicked and trapped wondering what to do, or eating a bag of chips? I might be poor but I'm not stupid.

We all do it. It's one way to trying to get through the day. I'm not making excuses; but for most of us, we are fortunate to have more resources than those folks in the study. We can get out and take a walk, being thankful for the opportunity.
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