Breaking Down Walls

November 9, 2009 marked the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Born in Berlin, for years I we lived a few 100 metres from it, my kids played in its shadow, we biked along its perimeter, when visitors came, we took them to the outlook point to stare at life in the communist bloc.

The night the wall came down, we left our sleeping kids at home (no, we were definitely not “helicopter” parents) and rushed to see for ourselves the happy, weeping, incredulous faces of “Easterners” as they crossed over to step on “Western” soil for the first time in their lives.

For a description of what my daughter recalls of that day and what she writes about the city she loves, visit her blog Dr. Eyecandy, where she normally writes about peoples’ obsession with body weight, body image, and fashion-dictated body ideas – a must read for anyone working with weight-concerned clients (whether or not the excess weight is real or imagined).

I can only encourage all my readers to subscribe to her blog for a completely different take on obesity, its causes and consequences. (To follow Dr Eyecandy on FaceBook click here).

I believe that Dr. Eyecandy’s work is an important attempt at breaking down the walls between the “obesity” and “eating disorder” communities – two groups that should be talking to each other far more than they do.

Befittingly, given the Anniversary, I happen to be in Leipzig (former East Germany), renowned for being the location where the famous Monday demonstrations started, which led to the peaceful revolution of 1989 and ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

In Leipzig, I am meeting with colleagues at Leipzig University’s bariatric centre, one of the largest academic obesity centres in Germany, where I am being hosted by my friend and colleague Matthias Blüher – well known for his work on insulin resistance and adipose tissue biology. The Leipzig group is also a major player in the German Obesity Competence Network.

Since the fall of the wall, obesity has become particularly rampant in the former “East” – interestingly affecting kids and young adults, who were not even born when the wall was still around.

An interesting sociological experiment and conundrum if I ever saw one.

Leipzig, Germany