What do Obesity and Billionaires have in common?

I was just wondering, is there a link between the rising epidemic of obesity and the rising epidemic of billionaires?

OK let’s have a look, since 1980 the worldwide rate of obesity has nearly doubled (source: Harvard School of Public Health). Right, in 2014 there were 1,645 billionaires, up from 793 in 2009 (source: The Guardian) . Wow it’s an even bigger epidemic!

Of course I’m being facetious and if I wasn’t, the scientist’s amongst you would pull me up on causation and correlation!

It is interesting however to think about some of the similarities between the two conditions. Ignoring causation and ways of overcoming obesity, what’s a simple way of describing what’s going on? Well I guess at its simplest level to be obese we are accumulating more calories than we can use or in fact, than we need. Those calories are accumulated as excess fat and the more we add that we can’t use or don’t need, the more obese we become. What about billionaires? Well again, ignoring causation, I guess to be a billionaire in the truest sense you have to accumulate more money or wealth than you need or can spend! Simples — as Alexsandr the Meerkat, might say!

Look, I’m not trying to be a smart arse here and I know that obesity has myriad causes and there are many ways that the condition can arise. Also, I am sure that there are billionaires who have contributed greatly to humanity whilst generating their vast riches, so this is not about denigrating anyone. I am really interested however at what might be going on, what are the links, what are the causes, are they interrelated? I have no answers to this, just questions. I wonder:

1. What is happening at a deep psychological level that causes us to crave, need, desire, and consume more than we need, whether that be through food or wealth?

2. Is it the same socio-economic conditions created by globalised free trade that lead to consumer growth driven economies and subsequently, the inequality that creates billionaires?

3. Are these consumer growth driven economies — with industrialised food production leading to cheap, plentiful yet nutrient sparse food — a factor in obesity?

4. Are billionaires and the obese existing in a state of conscious unawareness? If we are truly conscious and aware of the foods that can be eaten, that fully satisfy our hunger, provide all the nourishment our bodies need and lead us to be lean and strong, will we make poor food choices?

5. If we are truly conscious and aware of the inequality in our world and the great hardships and suffering endured by many, will we want to hold on to vast personal riches?

6. Behavioural psychologists tell us that we often don’t make logical decisions; we make emotional decisions and these emotional decisions are held deep in our unconscious. So are we simply driven by deep, unconscious emotional motivations?

7. Am I rambling incoherently?

I’d be interested to hear what you think?

Deepak Chopra asks an interesting question in his recent book — “What are you hungry for?” That is a key question; people often eat for reasons other than hunger, what’s the motivation, what is being satisfied.

The same question is equally applied to the billionaire, what are you hungry for? What motivates you and compels you to want more?

For all of us there is great insight to be gained from an understanding of what it is that us motivates us. This is true in all areas of life, whether that be our health, fitness, finances, or indeed anything else that matters to us. Once we understand what drives us, we can then examine whether these drivers serve us. As importantly, we can examine whether our motivations serve those around us, our friends, our community, society at large. When our hunger is to serve others, to add value to those around us, we can travel lightly through this life, literally and metaphorically.

What’s the first step? Develop awareness — conscious and unconscious awareness of self and those around us. How do we develop our awareness? Through connecting with our body and /or mind. We can connect with our body through any of the movement disciplines; yoga, martial arts, gymnastics or dance, to a name a few. We can connect with our mind through deep relaxation, mindfulness or meditation. When we develop our awareness we are awake, in the truest sense. Through this awareness we notice, we notice ourselves and we notice others and we notice how we are all connected.

Take that first step to a life of awareness and tread lightly as you go.

Many roads lead to the pathless garden of truth……



This article was first published in the blog of Sean O’Leary. Sean O’Leary writes 0n Midlife Mastery; secrets of Health, Wealth and Wisdom. You can the blog at www.seanoleary.net/blog

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