Contradictory messages are flying at us left and right: we're starving, we have a hunger epidemic, we're obese, diets don't work, but lose weight, but we're starving. Plus, we've got doctors afraid to tell patients they're fat, and fat people getting fatter (yes, I used the socially unpopular word).

I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole. Why are we all so wrapped around the axle on this topic? Why do we continue to complicate it? What are we so scared of?

I wanted to throw my laptop across the room after reading a Twitter feed from a reputable health care site. Someone asked why diets don't work and no less than nine experts (a few well known) chimed in with coddling support of the notion - none of them said "Yes, they do!" A couple danced up to the line, but none were direct with a simple answer.

It's like everyone is afraid to just say, "Stop it."

We need a single, consistent message, like "stop smoking." It is unequivocal. We didn't kinda sorta meander up to the topic. The success of that simple message is evident in our cultural changes. Lucy and Ricky smoked like chimneys. Now you can't run for president if you light up. Smoking was the norm; now smokers are a social pariah.

If the "stop smoking" messaging had been as wishy-washy as the obesity messaging is now, everyone would still be puffing away. Can you imagine the craziness of doctors afraid to bring it up? Think about the insanity of experts telling smokers, "Stop smoking doesn't work - it's better to learn to listen to your body - get in touch with your inner feelings about the cravings - discover what childhood trauma caused you to smoke."

No, we said, "Stop smoking." Period. The logistics of how to accomplish it were left as secondary and tertiary issues.

Then why, oh why, can we all not simply say, "Stop overeating?" Save the discussions of fiber, hydration, protein, emotions, meal timing, fat content, and all the ways we can navigate Twinkie cravings for the trenches. Save the diet semantics for later.

I remember an anti-smoking, public service announcement in the '70s designed to cause parental guilt.

A kid watched his father smoking and he reaches for the pack of cigarettes, too. We'd be up in arms if that same ad were turned into a morbidly obese parent modeling behaviors for kids.

Why is one behavior considered "personal responsibility" and the other is not?

Why is it OK to wag our finger at one, but not the other? Drug use and smoking have clear messages: Don't do it.

Obesity? Not so much.

Right now, we need to be at war with obesity, and no war has been won without laser-focused communication. Try this: Stop Overeating!

It's time we all demanded a simple message.

• NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels has a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her Ahwatukee-based company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals and groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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