No. 713



Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a book out titled, “Stop Digging Your Grave with a Knife and a Fork.” Now that’s pretty sage advice for any person who wants to be around for a while. In our society today we see a lot of old people and we also see a lot of fat people, but seldom do we see an old, fat person. That’s because fat people don’t get old, except in the rarest of cases. Like most things, obesity is a matter of degrees, and old age is also relative, especially in today’s times when centenarians (one who is 100 years old) are the fastest-growing age group.
The subject of health care is always on the front burner, as the American people spend billions of dollars each year. T to the miracle of modern-day medicine, we are living longer and, for the most part, enjoying it more. Due to the fact we process most of the fiber out of our food and have a sedentary lifestyle, we have become a nation of obese people -- no brag, just fact. We can tolerate obesity when we are younger, but old age brings problems that are either managed or fatal. You know that I am not a doctor and what I am going to say may surprise you, because I want to focus on the attitudes many of us have about fat people.
Again, everything is relative, and for the sake of discussion I would like to establish a set of criteria for your consideration. Let’s say a man is around 6 feet, 2 inches and a woman is around 5 feet, 6 inches, which is about normal for the average person you see on the street. I have broken obesity down into three categories for men, and you can mentally adjust it for women, No. 1 – Mildly Obese (200 to 250 pounds) No. 2 – Obese (250 to 350 pounds) and No. 3 -- Off The Charts (350 to 500 lbs).
When I got to thinking about this topic I went to the Internet and did some research and found this information that may be of value. It comes from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
When it comes to body fat, today’s older adults face a double whammy. Up until age 80, older adults not only gain fat as they age, but because of the obesity epidemic they actually begin their older years fatter. The result is an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and disability, according to Dr. Jingzhong Ding at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. Now research certainly helps us to gain and keep perspective, but it really comes down to each individual person.
Here is something that I consider even more valid when it comes to thinking about our future as we get older. It was a comment posted on the Internet by David Preiser, “I spent some time working in a nursing home in my youth and there were no big guys. The few men who were clearly overweight were certainly not obese, yet without exception they had either suffered a stroke, developed diabetes, got earlier dementia, experienced congestive heart failure earlier or were otherwise much more severely impaired than were the thin men.” To me that is the best test of all. We will get a better picture of our future when we visit a nursing home.
My attitude has changed tremendously over the years regarding those people who are off the charts. We should never ridicule or treat others with scorn just because they are fat, but should remember that what we see on the outside is not the person. It’s the real person inside that really matters, and because of many factors many cannot help their obesity. Just be kind to these people because they are carrying much more than just the fat.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)