Sometimes you read something that's especially enlightening and really makes you think. Not the usual TOJ stuff involving reps, muscle fibers, and VO2 max, but something exceptional and notable. That's the way I felt about this article by Kevin Patterson, a Canadian and doctor of internal medicine.
Dr. Patterson was in Afghanistan at at Canadian hospital to care for casualties of the war, both his countrymen and Afghans. Something startling caught his eye. He noticed a stark contrast between the CT scans of Canadians and Afghans. The organs of Canadian soldiers were packed in fat, while there was no fat to be found in the Afghans. (I remembered looking at the dissected cross section of an obese person at Body World. It is shocking to see the dark organs as if packed in yellow putty.)
Dr. Patterson is certain that the abdominal body fat is connected to the rise in diabetes. He suspects urbanization and affluence, with their accompanying poor (processed) diets and lack of exercise, are what is making so many of us sick.
He also happens to be a sailor. In the article, he recounts some of his sea journeys to primitive areas of the world. In those places still less civilized, the people are leaner and more active. Where civilization is creeping in, he noticed people spend more time sitting on their butts, in front of computers or riding around in motorized vehicles.
While not a back to nature romantic, he speculates that many ccivilized folks, bored with their professions and desperate from sitting around so much, take up hobbies like sailing and bow hunting or doing home improvements. Every generation sees itself as a decadent, diminished version of its predecessors. What is different is the extent to which we actually are.
Absent from his thoughtful speculation is exercise, but it could be added to his list. Many of us exercise maniacs are probably seeking adventure, challenge, and even danger. But just as often we are just feeling the exhilaration of of being alive. And, yes, burn the fat out of our civilized bellies.