OBESITY IS always fatiguing and always a great strain on the body. It is not due to greed but, as Dr. Mackarness so clearly explains in this book, to a little-understood difficulty in the economy of the body which makes it turn sugars and starches into fat instead of promptly using them to give energy, as do the people who remain normal in weight.
Realising that obesity has nothing to do with greed makes the lot of those who are too fat much happier, since not only do their friends cease to blame them for their condition, but also they themselves no longer feel guilty.
People insidiously grow too fat and so do not comprehend what a strain is an extra stone in weight. Yet to the heart or the lungs or the feet it makes no difference if the burden of an extra stone in weight is due to slowly acquired fat or to carrying something heavy like a shopping basket with a stone of potatoes in it. So it is odd that, while everyone expects to be tired if they carry a heavy basket for an hour, few expect obesity to cause chronic fatigue though they are chronically carrying or lifting a stone, or more, whenever they move, be it shopping or housework or going upstairs or just getting up out of a chair.
The injurious effects of this strain of always, everywhere carrying about too much weight are very harassing and can be serious. The most obvious is breathlessness. This has several reasons. The first is that while the heart is always made so strong that it can cope with the needs of the body for which it was designed, it is not made to cope with a much heavier body. In fact, an obese person is like a giant with the heart of a dwarf.
Breathlessness is also caused because each time fat persons lift up their chest as they breathe in, they have also to lift up an undue amount of fat. Since everyone breathes about seventeen times a minute, even when lying in bed, this perpetual lifting of extra weight with every breath is a continuous effort, which may not be noticed while sitting in a chair but is very evident when exercise demands deeper and more rapid breathing.
The tight clothing which the fat so often wear also causes a lack of breath because it prevents full expansion of the chest and also, by compressing the abdomen, prevents the descent of the diaphragm In passing, it is interesting to note how the fat try to reduce the obviousness of their condition by tight clothes when the right way of giving a spurious impression of being thin is to wear clothes which are too large.
The feet of fat people are often extremely painful because they are crushed by the weight they have to bear. Obviously, no treatment of the feet themselves by special shoes, however costly, can help to any extent. But once the obesity is gone, the feet recover and, indeed, it is one of the most pleasant rewards for the small trouble which becoming and staying slim involves.
Other joints like those of the knees, hips and those at the bottom of the spine in the small of the back also are strained by the excessive weight they are supporting, and, like the feet, will cease to ache once they cease to have to do more than they were constructed to do.
Sweating is one of the most socially distressing results of being too fat, due in part to the fact that fat people have to make a greater physical effort than thin people whenever they move, or even breathe, due in the main to the fat covering the body like very thick, tight woollen clothes, so that every movement is hindered and at the same time the body coated, as it were, in a thick layer of fat gets too warm and must sweat to get cool.
The cure of obesity and so of all these symptoms can be, of course, achieved by frank starvation but, as Dr. Mackarness explains, this is both an illogical and an injurious treatment while that based on eating as much of everything as one likes, except starches and sugars and foods rich in these, is both logical and actively good for one's health, quite apart from the effect on one's weight.
The sugars and starches of our diet form its least valuable part and indeed contribute nothing which cannot better be gained from fat and protein foods like meat and fish, eggs and cheese, supplemented by green vegetables and some fruit. Such a diet provides an abundance not only of energy, an ounce of fat containing twice the energy of an ounce of sugar or five ounces of potatoes, but also such a diet provides an abundance of vitamins, trace elements and essential animo-acids in fact, an abundance of all those subtle, yet essential, nutrients which are so often lacking in diets based largely on the fat-forming carbohydrates. So, to the benefit of losing weight, the obese, in following Dr. Mackarness's diet, will add the benefit of eating, probably for the first time in their lives, a wholly satisfactory diet.
This is benefit of a perfect diet will spread to the whole family since, it is to be hoped, the slight extra expense of feeding the whole family on "oven-buster" and turnip-tops, rather than sausages and potatoes, will be out weighed by the preference of the family for the former and the saving of trouble which follows from cooking the same meal for everyone.
In contrast to this way of regaining one's proper weight, consider the diets still commonly advocated by the ignorant, which are based on starvation. Such starvation diets are too unpleasant to be followed by most people; the body is forced to eat itself, not only useless fat, but essential protein thus being destroyed; such starvation causes hunger, fatigue, insomnia, nightmares, had temper; there tends to be a deficiency of various essential nutrients such as vitamin A; neither the dieter nor her family become educated to prefer a good diet to the faulty starch diet generally eaten; socially, a starvation diet is far more difficult to follow than an unrestricted fat and protein diet.
Lastly, two of the greatest advantages of the diet described in this book:
One cannot lose weight beyond the weight which is right for oneself.
One's meals have lasting power so that one neither needs, nor wants, snacks.