Each of these doctors comes from a country where being overweight is not unusual. After all, their own mama-mias and babushkas become portly through pasta or pirogue poisoning. Likewise, overweight male shopkeepers, government officials, and opera singers abound in their native lands.
Yet as one Italian orthopedist put it, a young woman between 18 and 35 should be at her prettiest; how else will she find someone to marry? While I realize this is a particularly Italian perspective on life, I understand what he’s talking about.
As orthopedic surgeons we are perhaps more aware than most people about the dangers of obesity. We understand that vast numbers of knee and back surgeries could be avoided if people maintain near-ideal body weight. Injuries that normally aren’t associated with an overweight condition are nevertheless made worse by obesity. Consider, for example, falling and breaking your wrist. Ordinarily a straightforward accident, an extra 100 pounds of body weight added it to the fall’s momentum often shatters the bone beyond recognition.
As a young man Franklin ate sparsely to have money left over to spend on books. He was also an active sports person. In fact, while in London at age 20, Ben Franklin gave swimming lessons to the sons of a nobleman. For this and because he wrote an important piece on the value of swimming for exercise, Franklin’s enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida, the only Founding Father in any such sports museum. (I’ll have more to say about Franklin’s views on the value of exercise in future blogs.)
After surveying the scene in several American cities, Ben Franklin would have this to say about the American people: “I saw few die of hunger; of eating — 100,000.”