Over 95 per cent of our overweight friends got that way simply because they ate more calories than they expended in the process of staying alive, working, and playing. But some people are unwilling to accept so simple an explanation. They talk about mysterious causes of obesity.

This is a handy excuse. Our overweight friend shrugs his shoulders, sighs, and says, “Oh well, nothing I can do about it; thyroid, you know.”

Singled out by Fate and his thyroid to be fat, our man might just as well consume a 200-calorie chocolate bar, or so he thinks.

Fact of the matter is that there are very few true cases of hypothyroidism.

Here are some facts about thyroid. It is the most important gland in controlling the rate at which you burn food. In rare cases inadequate production of thyroid hormone prevents the individual from burning up food at a normal rate. But there’s nothing mysterious about it, for your physician can determine this condition by measuring your metabolism. If your metabolism is normal there is no chance that you are a thyroid sufferer. If you should suffer from hypothyroidism the administration of thyroid by mouth works wonders.

It does not work wonders unless you have a hypothyroid condition.

It can be dangerous.

There is plenty of proof that indiscriminate taking of thyroid pills to speed up metabolism disposes of your money instead of your fat. Hundreds of thousands of overweight Americans have consumed these pills without producing any change in their weight.

Remember, less than 1 per cent of the obesity cases are caused by disturbances of the thyroid. If you have any doubts, let your family physician be the judge of your condition.

The plain, unvarnished, and wonderful truth is that very few people are obese because of organic illness. This contrasts with the problems

of the underweight; a substantial proportion of the underweight can trace their troubles to specific ailments.

Emotional Causes Of Overweight

Although organic illness is responsible for very little obesity, we cannot ignore the fact that emotional problems, too, may cause overweight. There are compulsive eaters driven to overeating by the pattern of their lives. These people require the services of trained, reputable psychiatrists

Dr. S. C. Freed asked 500 obese patients the following question: “When you are nervous or worried, do you eat more or less?”

Seventy-four per cent replied that they ate more food or ate at more frequent intervals. Another 19 per cent said that they ate more when they were idle, bored, or tired.

Medical records offer plenty of proof that your emotions have an important effect on your weight. Many psychiatrists have had patients who ranged all the way from “skin-and-bones” underweight to extreme obesity during the course of treatment.

Overeating can stem from such emotions as frustration, anger, grief, anxiety, and guilt. People whose emotions are out of hand require more than new calorie relationships before they can reduce to their desirable weight. They require the services of skilled psychiatric specialists.

The problem of the relatively small number of compulsive eaters is very much like the problem of the alcoholic. For that reason, groups of obese people who get together and talk out their troubles can be as effective as Alcoholics Anonymous.

An experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service in Boston bears this out. Once a week, groups of obese Bostonians met with specialists to discuss their problems of overweight. Two years after the discussions had ended 40 per cent of the patients had maintained their weight losses.

As has been shown there is a very small number of people who are obese for organic reasons; more may suffer because of emotional reasons. Help can be found for both conditions.