Many nations around the world have adopted a Western-style diet rich in animal products, processed foods, and added sugar. Nations like Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Sweden have seen rates of obesity rise above those in the West.
Although the reasons for the obesity epidemic are widely debated, one factor that doesn’t get enough attention is competition among individuals and groups to consume as much food as possible.
People are more likely to be obese when there is intense competition for food in their environment. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that those who experienced intense food competition were nearly four times more likely to be obese than those who did not.
Competition for diet in a country like the U.S. might not be as acute as it is in Europe or Australia because there isn’t a lot of diversity in what people can eat. There are plenty of unhealthy options available in fast food chains and at cafeterias in government buildings. Traveling outside the country for an extended period of time also gives individuals the opportunity to indulge in their favorite foods.
If you’re visiting another country and looking for something different to eat, it might be difficult to find. Trying something new might require some research and asking for directions, but it’s ultimately something that you want to experience.
The Need For Self-control
Most people who are obese try to lose weight by following fad diets or eating recommended by doctors. While these might work for a time, overconsumption leads to the same harmful effects as an addiction to alcohol or drugs. The body eventually tires of this constant dieting and craves real foods and nourishes itself with activities such as hiking, running, or dancing. This is why people who try to lose weight this way often end up gaining it back.
Addicted to food is a common phenomenon that many people try to hide. Those who are obese are more likely to feel disconnected from the people around them because of their inability to control their eating. Social withdrawal is a known symptom of addiction. It results from craving the drug more and more as time goes by, even when you’re not taking it. Your mood would probably improve if you were more open about your struggle with food. The more we reveal about our own struggles, the less we have to hide.
Why Singapore Is An Outstanding Example
Singapore is one of the world’s most competitive cities. It regularly ranks high on the U.N. Human Development Index, and there’s a reason for this. The city-state’s strategy for success involves a focus on education and putting an emphasis on meritocracy. This focus on achievement allows individuals to become successful without necessarily needing to rely on brute strength. Due to these pillars of stability and support, there’s little room for handouts or benefits for failing to succeed.
Singapore actively encourages competition in both an educational and vocational sense. At the same time, it discourages corruption and materialism. The government sets a high benchmark for itself in terms of what it expects from its people, and they’re not afraid to enforce these standards effectively. One would assume that this emphasis on excellence would translate to better food choices, but that’s not always the case. Eating disorders and obesity are considered ‘personal hygiene issues’ and not something that most people in Singapore would associate with sporting glory. The cultural norm is to be slender, not tall and muscular. In today’s society, it is still very much ‘okay’ to be anorexic, but talking about one’s weight is still considered slightly taboo.
The Role Of Social Media
Social media has changed the way we look at competition. It has allowed for people to form teams and compare their progress against one another. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have given users the ability to share their daily lives with the world. The ability to be constantly monitored and judged based on one’s performance in real-time has created a culture of ‘always-on-competition’. On these platforms, individuals can quickly become disconnected from the real world, spending all of their time focusing on their ‘games’.
Whether it’s keeping up with the Joneses or just wanting to be the best at what you do, this culture of competition can spill over into other aspects of our lives. It influences the way we play sports, how we behave at work, and the friendships we form. The more we are aware of this, the better we can combat its harmful effects. We should look to examples like Singapore, which has managed to find a balance between encouraging individual effort and competition and has created a society that is both healthy and wealthy because of it.