Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time Pressure and Obesity

Time pressure is probably contributing significantly to obesity. Long-term trends show time pressure and obesity both climbing year after year, and though that doesn’t prove anything, it does suggest that time pressure and obesity could go together.

Anecdotally, obesity and time pressure are connected. “Just grab anything” and “There’s no time to exercise” are more common than “Did you notice we forgot to eat supper?” Weight loss coaches stress the importance of following a system and making the right decisions about food — just the kind of thinking that disappears under time pressure. The key to success in an exercise program is not what exercises you do, but just putting in the time. Part of the success of the food journal process is having people discover how much they eat while they’re busy and not fully paying attention. All these factors and others suggest that there are people who don’t always have time to maintain a healthy weight. A serious scientific look at weight gain, The Seven Deadly Sins of Obesity: How the Modern World Is Making Us Fat (2007), lists time pressure as one of seven social and economic factors that create the obesity trend.

If that’s the case, though, the continuing time pressure trend may make it hard to turn around the obesity trend. Is there a way around this connection, so that we can lose weight even when we’re frightfully busy — or will we have to get a handle on time pressure before we can turn the tide on obesity?