Jenny was a nice-looking girl in her school days and after she went to work. She wasn’t exactly skinny; in fact, she was quite generously rounded. Jenny knew from experience that it wasn’t difficult for her to put on weight. But jenny as a “Miss,” consciously or unconsciously, refused to let pounds accumulate. Once or twice they did, quite modestly, and she set to work on them with determination. She did not allow herself to develop even a hint of obesity.
Then she won Joseph Contented. It was a good match. All the relatives approved, Joe was happy and pleased, and vistas of a nice life opened before them. Jenny had a beautiful wedding, and everyone wished the young couple luck.
A cold, calculating scientist would probably tell us that jenny had now, in a measure, satisfied a biological urge. Perhaps jenny wouldn’t understand what that meant, but she would admit, perhaps, under cross-examination, that after she married Joe, she was not so careful about the invading pounds. It had always been an effort for her to stay slim. Now she had her man, now she had a home, now all of a sudden, it did not seem so important to deny herself the tidbits she liked to eat, or to attack savagely every extra pound that accumulated. Yes, jenny gave up.
She relaxed her vigilance. The insidious ounces of fat accumulated, slowly and subtly, a little bit here and a little bit there, only an extra two-pieces-of-buttered-toast’s worth a day (only one ounce a day, two pounds per month). The first anniversary of her marriage spelled twenty-four pounds plus. The next celebration found her with an even larger surplus. Jenny was a nibbler and a muncher, always or almost always chewing something!
Jenny grew really heavy with the years-the moonfaced type. She developed rather serious digestive troubles. “Gall bladder,” said Joe’s family doctor. “Jenny has a bad thyroid gland, too. She should take thyroid tablets. . . .”
Jenny was easy-going. Too much trouble to go to doctors. Expensive, too. Then one night just two weeks before Christmas, jenny had a gallstone attack. Very bad. Hospital . . . operation. She didn’t come back.
The doctor was not surprised, for he knew that gall stones occur three times as frequently in women as they do in men. Overweight women are especially susceptible to gall bladder troubles.
Women 25 to 44 per cent over-weight had a mortality from gall bladder disease four and one-third times that of the average for the whole experience, and over ten times that of under-weight women.*
Then there was Mrs. Noah Illusions. She had the same tendency toward fat that jenny Contented possessed.
*”Build of Women and Its Relation to Their Mortality-A Preliminary Report,” Louis I. Dublin and Herbert H. Marks, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Proceedings of Association o f Life Insurance Medical Directors of America, 1938.
However, Mrs. Noah loved her husband enough to curb her appetite and watch her diet.
But Noah turned out to be a bad husband who shattered all his wife’s dreams. He neglected her, chased around with other women. He failed utterly to respond to her earnest efforts at homemaking.
For a time bewildered, Mrs. Noah didn’t quite comprehend. She tried desperately to win his companionship and strengthen marital ties. She failed. Finally she gave up; she couldn’t win.
Mrs. Noah was not the type to repay Noah in kind. She could not be unfaithful as he was. She couldn’t take to drink. It was impassible for her to express frustration in any immoral way (by ordinary standards). So she sank gradually into gluttony, indulging her appetite for foods -rich foods, fattening foods. Eating gave her an escape. She took solace in reading-and nibbled candy with every chapter. She just loved butter.
Mrs. Noah brooded and breaded. Ten years later, she grew very sick. High blood pressure and bad arteries, said the doctor.
The internes at the hospital where she went for observation nudged each other and eitclaimed over her fat. What a build, said they, and with true professional interest classed her as a pituitary type.
The doctor discussed her case at staff meeting. A terrific blood pressure, with fat undoubtedly a contributing factor. He added:
High blood pressure is found more frequently in women because there are more fat women. The extra weight causes a premature breakdown of the circulatory system.
Interesting, too, is the case of Mrs. Materna Tee, five feet two. Before her baby came, she was on the slim side, with lovely curves. However, when she was carrying her baby, she began to put on weight. Her doctor insisted upon her eating plenty of nourishing food. He was an ardent advocate of the time-worn adage, “The pregnant woman must eat for two.”
Materna was carefully instructed to take things easy and to eat good, rich, nourishing food. The advice was not unpleasant to follow. The fifth month of her pregnancy, she was eating three meals of plentiful proportions a day; cookies and cakes and odds and ends of food were an increasing indulgence between meals. She could put away a box of vanilla wafers and two glasses of milk before she retired for bed, and each month found her growing fatter and fatter until the ninth month showed a net gain of thirty pounds in weight.
No one in her circle of acquaintances was particularly surprised; in fact, they rather expected that Materna would grow fat. “Babies do that,” they said. “It’s ovaries!”
Mr. Tee was solicitous and kind and beamed approvingly at Materna’s progress. Finally the day arrived. Materna had a bad time of it. The ten and one-half pound baby came with difficulty, and complications followed. In after years, the eating habits she had acquired as an expectant mother never left her. When other babies came, her weight increased. “It’s my glands,” she would explain-over a banana split.
One day she was struck by a car and severely bruised. The hospital doctors found that she had Bright’s disease. While we know that obesity predisposes mightily toward kidney disease, it is a strange circumstance that pedestrian accident rates are also higher among overweights (especially women).
It is true that overweight is divided according to medical textbooks into two general types, one called exogenous, the other endogenous. These are $25 words. Exogenous fat is caused by eating more fattening food than the body requires; the endogenous type is supposed to be largely due to disturbances of one or another of the internal secretory glands.
Various authorities have estimated that the exogenous (eating incorrectly) types of fat comprise from 95 to 98 per cent of all cases of overweight-not much of an excuse for the conscience of that 260-pound Mrs. Ohno Nottme who blissfully enjoys a double chocolate ice cream soda with whipped cream.
Yes, the glandular theory of fat has lulled many a conscience to sleep. “It’s my glands, dearie. Everything I eat turns to fat.”
Oh, my, what a comfort that premise is. Many a good soul has resigned completely in the fight against fat because of that profundity, and waxed fatter and fatter with the years. But, sad to say, it is not quite the truth. Here is a definition from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary: endogenous obesity-“obesity due to a combination of overeating and metabolic (endocrine [glandular] ) abnormalities.” Note the word “combination.”
Here is what usually happens. Inefficient glands do not produce obesity. It’s the other way around-obesity pro duces inefficient glands. After a person has eaten, for too many years, too big a percentage of fattening foods, the glands which regulate the metabolism of this sort of food get out of kilter.
Loading the body with excesses of fattening foods may begin in babyhood. It may commence even before the baby is born, as the developing baby-to-be is conditioned by the mother’s blood. If this is overcharged with fattening foods, the baby’s fat and starch food metabolism makes a bad start.
Every class of food has its own specially designed reception in the body. Sugars, starches and fats, which are the fattening foods, each have a special metabolism. Fat metabolism includes team work by the liver, pancreas, intestines, lymph glands, and internal secretory glands such as the thyroid, pituitary, and ovaries.
Body mechanisms can stand much abuse. However, there are costs, and if involved organs, tissues, and other structures of the body are forced to accommodate themselves to an abnormal process, they must rearrange their functions or forms to meet its demands. That is why a toe dancer’s leg muscles may overdevelop, or why a workingman’s hands may grow large and horny.
And so, when a person punishes and overworks the fatregulating functions, these may become abnormal. The glands involved get out of order. As a result, the fat person in time may begin to develop a peculiar shape; excess fat may deposit in the body middle and form a paunch, or distribute itself here, there, and elsewhere in the body in certain patterns.
The doctor who greets the patient for the first time in his office often can take one look and say, “Well, you have a thyroid fat,” or “You have a pituitary fat.” If it isn’t readily apparent which particular type of fat the victim has developed, the doctor can conveniently and correctly say, “Well, all your glands are out of order. You have a pluri-glandular type of fat.”
Yes, in time most of us fatties develop some glandular type of fat. No doubt about that. But the internal secretory glands are not the culprits-they are victims. An unhappy choice of eating has hurt them.