I sat around a table and there were eight other middle aged men around the same table. We sat in chairs that were unfussy and had no arms and I noticed that all the middle aged men slouched back in the chairs and as they slouched back (it was summer and they had removed their jackets) their ties sprawled over their rather fat bellies. I looked down at my own rather fat belly over which my tie sprawled. We were nine middle aged fat men.
Fat looks different on different people; if you are tall you can hide your fat more easily with well-cut clothing. If you are small you will always look dumpy. I remember a photograph of my father sat around a table with middle aged men; only one of them had a belly and could be described as fat. Today we are mainly fat in the Western developed world.
So being fat we take up a little more space on this world and we use a lot more food unnecessarily. It is not just the food we waste by not eating it – regular clear outs of larders which results in throwing away food past its sell-by date accounts for about a quarter of the food that we “consume” in the western developed world. We also waste food by eating it. Our round fat bellies are the result of eating more food than we need.
I am told the average man needs to consume food that constitutes about 2000 calories every day. I am not a dietician but I am prepared to accept that 2000 calories a day is a reasonable amount to consume if we are average men. If we are not average men and work in physically demanding jobs, we may need to consume 2500 calories. However, we mostly consume 2500 calories every day without needing to use the energy that the calories bring so our bodies, trained by millennia of experience, stores the surplus calories as fat in our tissue and in our belly.
The developed world has an obesity problem; there are many obese people when a generation ago there were far fewer. Although in some cases obesity is as a result of a medical condition in many cases it is down to simple over eating, as was the round belly middle aged men who sat at the conference table. They were eating for comfort, for enjoyment, as a distraction from the cares of their worlds and eating beyond their own requirement for food, distorting their bodies and affecting their health.
If we in the western developed world consume on average more than we need to consume then are we not abusing our environment? We are cutting down rain forests to feed cattle which we will over eat, ploughing to the very edges of our fields to grow bread which we will eat beyond our needs and fill our bodes with comforting fat and sugar which will not meet any natural requirement of our bodies. Whatever we do not discharge into the sewers (and over eating over fills the sewers) we discharge around ourselves with ribbons of fat and puddles of fat which never dry up.
No one takes responsibility. The large food corporations carry on regardless with their insatiable desire to fill our bellies beyond capacity until our bellies expand and our bodies store the surplus that they serve and sell and which they have conditioned us to consume. We cannot just blame them, for it is us to put their food in our mouths.
We are changing our environment for the worse in order to fill our bellies with food that we do not need. We are getting a moment of pleasure in exchange for beggaring the place where we live and distorting our bodies and health, the only place on which we know that we can live. And generations hence will suffer for our pleasure.
I remember that meeting with those round bellied middle aged men. I remember that well at the end of the meeting as energy flagged I sent out for donuts which we heartily ate.