Obesity: Are We Fighting the Wrong War?


Given that I will be writing my paper on Whole Foods and the food industry, I thought it would be interesting to listen to a talk about obesity. The TED talk that I found, which aired in April of 2013, was given by Peter Attia, entitled “Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

Attia, a fit surgeon and self-experimenter who worked out 3-4 hours a day and “followed the food pyramid to the letter” gained 40 pounds, became insulin resistant and was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome a couple years ago (3:00). This occurred after he blamed a type 2 diabetic patient, who had to get her foot removed, for having no reason to be overweight and not exercising/eating healthy (0:23). When he found out that he gained 40 pounds because he was insulin resistant, he changed his diet and worked out less. He ultimately lost the 40 pounds he had gained.th

After experiencing this, Attia became very passionate about finding a cure for obesity and understanding the causes. He even cries during the end of his speech (13:40) and apologizes for holding such contempt towards this woman whose foot he had to amputate.

Attia questions what we know about obesity and the causes. He asks: Do we have the cause and effect wrong on obesity and insulin resistance? Is it possible that insulin resistance causes obesity? (7:45) Given that obesity is such an overwhelming issue today, especially in America, we should consider this as a possibility. Maybe there is an underlying epidemic? Attia questions the preconceived notion that we have all come to accept, that obesity is simply caused by overeating/unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. Attia states that this might not be the case. Maybe obesity is the symptom of insulin resistance? Maybe obesity is a coping mechanism for an underlying problem? (5:00)

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3 comments on “Obesity: Are We Fighting the Wrong War?

  1. It seems Attia raised many thought provoking questions about obesity. I have always wondered if obesity is genetic. There are definitely a lot of factors affecting obesity other than food and exercise and Attia’s experience is a perfect example.

    • Genetics is surely a part of it. But it is not the only cause. Clearly it is also party the environment. I say clearly because if it were only genetic, then we would not have seen such a rapid increase in obesity in the last 30-40 years.

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