When I was back home in the US over XMAS, my niece, who just turned 8, asked my wife and I to play a “food” game in the car in order to pass the time…she didn’t have a name for the game, but she excitedly explained the rules to us like this: “Guys, whoever comes up with the grossest combination of food possible–WINS!

“OK”, I said…”how about a peanut butter sandwich with pickles, onions and chocolate, sprinkled with curry sauce”?

My first attempt at developing a gross food menu was good, but nothing like the beautifully disjointed concoctions my niece envisioned during the long car ride.  She had obviously had much more practice and was much more imaginative than her Uncle!

So when I noticed a new website called thisiswhyyourefat.com using a remarkably similar concept to the game I was playing with my niece over the holidays, I simply had to dig a bit deeper to find out more.

Launched about a week ago, thisiswhyyourefat.com quickly became a huge meme online–attracting over 1 Million visitors in just a few days.  The website asks “the crowd” to think up the nastiest, fattiest food combos imaginable & then submit them to the site.  Right now, the site consists of disgusting items like pizza topped with warm, brown gravy or juicy Sloppy Joe piled high on a soft, Krispy Kreme doughnut.

BUT WHY?

Aside from making everyone sick, what is the purpose of thisiswhyyourefat.com?  What do they want to achieve with the site?  Is this a slick anti-obesity drive by some interest group on the web?  And how do the site owners intend to keep interest up on the site?  Do they plan on adding more text or recipes any time soon?  Will they have nasty food contests, engaging millions of “foody consumers” online?  After a couple of Google searches, I failed to find details on the motives of the team behind the site…who will take the credit for starting all the buzz?

The tricky obesity topic:

With a provocative name like thisiswhyyouarefat, the site seems to playfully point out that excesses can lead to obesity.  I know I thought about going on a diet after looking at the site for a bit…& going on a diet would probably not be a bad thing for many around the world as well;  the WHO‘s latest projections globally for obesity notes the following facts and trends (as of 2005):

* approximately 1.6 billion adults (age 15+) are overweight
* at least 400 million adults are obese.

The WHO further projects that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.  Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, obesity is now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.  In the US, for example, obesity has now become one of the leading causes of preventable death.

Obesity is getting worse around the world, but at the same time, it is pretty hard to talk about.  Most people don’t like to discuss the topic when they are battling weight problems…and, in some cases, anti-obesity language and discussion can even be considered discriminatory.  The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is leading the cause for obesity acceptance.  Through lobbying, the Association is working to eliminate discrimination based on body size.  They are also providing overweight people with the tools for self-empowerment through advocacy, public education, and support.  The Stop Obesity Alliance, on the other hand, wants to reverse America’s rising trend in obesity and related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.  They focus on highlighting the growing obesity issue, and they provide links to tools like the CDC’s obesity “tracker”–an interactive state by state map of the US obesity challenge.  I had a look at the tracker and was surprised to see the the big weight increase from 1985 to 2006.  I did not find a global obesity tracker, but I’m sure we would see a similar trend across most countries if one existed.

One of the causes of obesity around the globe is the proliferation of fast food.  Despite the Global economic crisis forcing more people to eat at home, fast food companies are still doing quite well.  McDonalds even reported same store sales growth of 7.0% in Jan.  So, if we continue eating at McD’s, we probably won’t see obesity reduction any time soon…

It will be interesting to see how long thisiswhyyourefat.com stays up and how long the site will be able to  continue receiving user generated submissions.  Obviously the site needs new pictures and content to keep going.  Will the group behind the site make themselves known and announce a larger purpose at some point?  Lets see…in the mean time, go have a look at the site & let me know what you think.

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