When asked by Barbara Walters why he’s so overweight, Christie answered, “If I could figure that out, I’d fix it.” Althouse comments:
Then he says it doesn’t mean he’s not capable of serving as President. But, come on, when you’re President, all the world’s problems are yours, and you’d better be good at figuring out what’s wrong. These problems are much more complicated than why he’s fat! He not just a bit chubby. He’s very fat. Whatever the subtleties of why people get fat, a good percentage of what he’s carting around has got to be from just plain gorging himself. How can he sit there with a straight, sincere face and say “If I could figure out why, I’d fix it”? At least we have video showing us how he looks when he’s lying.
Christie may be big, and there’s no doubt he’s fat, but the jury’s out on whether or not he’s a liar, and my guess is that he’s not (at least, not on this point). “Whatever the subtleties of why people get fat,” a good percentage is not necessarily or invariably “from just plain gorging” themselves—unless you define “gorging” as anything over the amount they need to sustain a supposedly normal weight, which in the case of many (not all, but many) fat people can be a surprisingly low amount of food.
Yes indeed, in a very narrow (pun intended) sense, fat people do take in more than they burn. But why? And how much is that? I know quite a few fat people who eat no more and are not less active than the thin people I know. I’ve lived with thin roommates who cannot put on weight no matter how much they eat, which is already quite a bit. I’ve lived with heavy roommates who eat 1200 calories a day and can barely lose weight.
Of course, there are fat people who eat a lot more than average. They’re the people you see featured on TV programs where you can watch them having twenty hamburgers at a sitting. I have no idea whether Christie is one of them, but I tend to doubt it, especially with his schedule. Short of that type of true gorging situation, the “subtleties of why people get fat,” as Althouse puts it, are not only subtle but also poorly understood (although we’re learning more all the time), complex, and powerful factors for most people in their own personal fat-thin equation.
I’ve already written about my own efforts in this direction. I’ll recap by saying I’m not fat. But, like so many women, I’d like to lose ten or fifteen pounds to look my best. But to lose that weight it takes cutting back to ridiculously low levels of food intake (and in case you’re going to suggest I go on a lo-carb or paleo or other diet of that type—I have, many times, and they don’t work for me, and I find them singularly unpleasant as well, and I’ve written about it before). I’ve also noticed that if I eat a lot I’m only about seven pounds or so heavier than if I eat very little. My range seems to be very narrow, because my body seems to defend a certain weight quite tenaciously. And that was even true when I was young. When I was a dancer, I had to keep my intake to around 1000 calories a day, day after day, despite intense exercise, to achieve anywhere near the requisite thinness.
Like many other medical conditions, obesity is the result of an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Polymorphisms in various genes controlling appetite and metabolism predispose to obesity under certain dietary conditions. The percentage of obesity that can be attributed to genetics varies widely, depending on the population examined, from 6% to 85%. As of 2006, more than 41 sites on the human genome have been linked to the development of obesity when a favorable environment is present….Numerous studies of laboratory rodents provide strong evidence that genetics plays an important role in obesity.
And then there’s this:
As well as this:
When the body needs food, rising levels of the hormone ghrelin, produced in the upper stomach and pancreas, signal the brain and trigger a desire to eat. At the end of a meal, specialized endocrine cells in the wall of the small intestine release other hormones (like cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1, and oxyntomodulin) that signal satiation. In obese individuals these signaling networks malfunctioned, Laferrère [an endocrinologist specializing in obestiy] knew, leaving them perpetually hungry.
“Perpetually hungry.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
And those are just a few random articles written for popular consumption. I could go on and on and on, and include the scientific literature as well. But I think the point is clear, which is that the “why” of obesity is not clear, for many if not most people suffering from it.