One of the great debates in public health these days is what to do, if anything, about obesity and overeating. Is it a public health issue? Is there anything we can do about it? Will it resolve itself?
It's one of the great debates I have with myself. How much control do I really have over my thoughts and actions? What are the limits of my self-control? I remember that man in Utah who cut off his arm to escape a rock that had fallen onto him. I also remember the great survival story of Joe Simpson on the middle of a mountain in Peru.
The bad news is that willpower and self-control are finite. If you're uncomfortable enough, you will move. If you put your hand on a hot stove, you will move. If you leave your car in the sun, you will turn on your a/c. If you put a bowl of chocolates in front of you all day at work, you will eat them. If you do a challenging task and then sit next a bowl of candy, you will eat the candy (they've done studies on this, BTW).
Last year I went to a Korean spa. There was a hot tub, a really hot tub, and a cold tub. I stayed in the really hot tub for about 30 seconds and the cold tub for 15 seconds. There is a limit!
The good news is that we can conquer biology enough to avoid the most destructive behaviors like drug addiction, food addiction, smoking, porn, alcohol. If the pain and consequences of consuming these substances exceeds the short-term benefit, it can be done.
That's the good news. We're not rats with electrodes stuck to our heads. We have the ability to weigh present gain with future loss. That's our prefrontal cortex doing its job.
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