Not a curse, but still weighty issue

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Not a curse, but still weighty issue


In both Western and Eastern mythology, there appears a beast who has an unnaturally large appetite.

In Greek mythology, you can find Erysichthon, who was cursed with hunger. Erysichthon cut down a tree in the sacred garden of the goddess Demeter and killed Demeter’s beloved nymph. The enraged goddess cursed him with insatiable hunger so that he could never be full, no matter what he ate. He quickly ate everything he could find and even sold his beloved daughter as a slave in exchange for food. Finally, he realized that he could never satisfy his endless appetite, so he ate his own body starting with his limbs. He could free himself from the terrible curse only after he killed himself.

Erysichthon’s counterpart in the East is an animal called “Pyeohyeo” that appears in Chinese mythology. Although it has a human face and human fingernails, it is a monster that has the body of a lamb and the teeth of a tiger. According to one legend, the animal lived in Mount Gu-o and ate humans by bewitching them. Pyeohyeo was so greedy, though, that it could never satisfy its unending appetite, and ended up tearing apart its own body to eat.

The pain from irresistible appetite is not limited to mythologies. It is a reality for the patients who suffer from Prader-Willi syndrome, which recalls the hunger Erysichthon was stricken with. It is a very rare disease caused by a genetic disorder or malfunction in a certain part of the brain. The patient suffers from insatiable appetite. Naturally, it causes obesity, cardiac disease, high blood pressure and other complications. As dietary control, which is essential to human life, is not easy for them, patients suffer from many complications.

While being overweight is not a curse or a disease, it is obviously a source of agony for many people. In the 2001 film, “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Bridget agonizes over whether to wear a sexy panty or underwear that covers up her big paunch before she goes out for a date. Moviegoers might find her underwear dilemma charming, but being too overweight can be a big problem that can hurt one’s health and pocketbook.

It is reported that Air France will impose an “obesity premium” for overweight passengers starting on April 1. In the United States, a similar controversy arose when ambulance companies began charging higher rates - up to two times the regular fare - for overweight patients in October of last year.

If things continue like this, it is only a matter of time before other obesity premiums start cropping up. Many people included losing weight in their New Year’s resolutions this year. To those people who are losing steam or are ready to give up on losing weight, renew your resolution, before it gets too late.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Kim Nam-joong
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