Last Monday night, some of the biggest names in the CrossFit community made a brief appearance on NBC's The Biggest Loser. The show's contestants, all severely overweight or obese and many with comorbid conditions, arrived to a scene, which can only be described as a dress rehearsal for the CrossFit Games (you can watch the episode on Hulu for free). Perhaps most evident, and disconcertingly so, was the stark differences between the two groups: the fittest on Earth juxtaposed with the unhealthiest. Indeed, the wellness spectrum our coaches often lecture us on could not have been more adequately personified.
It is unfortunate, and unacceptable, that most of American society falls somewhere on the right side of that spectrum: away from fitness and towards sickness. Thirty-six states have an obesity rate over 25 percent. No states have less than 20 percent. Nearly 20 percent of youth aged 12 to 18 are obese, according to the Food and Drug Administration. As our consumption of fast food continues to rise -- $106 billion in 2000 -- and our intake of sugary drinks increases -- on average Americans drink 40 gallons of soda per year -- such imprudent dietary choices are harming the prospective economic wellbeing of this nation. According to recent government figures, annual health-related obesity costs are projected to hit $344 billion by 2018.
It is often noted that the biggest killer of Americans is heart disease. However, a significant portion of heart ailments can be attributed to poor diet and lifestyle choices. Certainly poor choice -- the myopic pursuit of instant gratification over the much more difficult to achieve but far more fulfilling delayed gratification -- is largely responsible for our obesity epidemic. We all live on the wellness spectrum, some of us just have greater opportunities and support to make healthier decisions and, thus, find ourselves moving more toward fitness and away from sickness. This is why addressing the obesity crisis will require more than simple, bandaid-type solutions like prohibiting vending machines from schools or increasing sales taxes on junk food. It will require many to completely change their lifestyles, which isn't easy. This is precisely what The Biggest Loser conveys. If being fit was easy we would all walk around with our shirts off like Rich Froning. As was admirably exemplified by Khalipa, Voigt, Clever, Chan, Hogan and the rest, as CrossFitters, we have an obligation not to treat the unhealthy as pariahs, but to embrace them, support them and welcome them into our community. To show them fitness is both an individual endeavor and a collective effort towards accomplishing something better.