First, the answer: While many other causes are at work, there is a spiritual issue at stake. Bottom line: when God’s Word is not preached and proclaimed, people “throw off” self-control. Self-control, is after all, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). It is no wonder that we are like a city whose walls are broken down (Prov 25:28) where eating is concerned.
An excerpt from my doctoral thesis:
There are consequences when the Word is not known. Indeed, Proverbs 29:18 submits:
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law (Proverbs 29:18, ESV).
The word translated “prophetic vision” refers to special revelation or God’s Word. The word translated “cast off restraint” carries the idea of there being a total loss of social order. It is the same word used in Exodus 32:25 to describe the Israelite’s frenzy during the Golden Calf disaster. The NIV translation reads:
Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies (Exodus 32:25, NIV).
If a people do not hear God’s Word, then we can expect society to break down and even local churches to cast off restraint. “Social harmony and restraint cannot be achieved without the exhortations of the prophets and the teaching of the law.”
The Question posed by an article in the New Yorker:
. . . the next decade, Americans kept right on gaining. Men are now on average seventeen pounds heavier than they were in the late seventies, and for women that figure is even higher: nineteen pounds. The proportion of overweight children, age six to eleven, has more than doubled, while the proportion of overweight adolescents, age twelve to nineteen, has more than tripled. (According to the standards of the United States military, forty per cent of young women and twenty-five per cent of young men weigh too much to enlist.) As the average person became heavier, the very heavy became heavier still; more than twelve million Americans now have a body-mass index greater than forty, which, for someone who is five feet nine, entails weighing more than two hundred and seventy pounds. Hospitals have had to buy special wheelchairs and operating tables to accommodate the obese, and revolving doors have had to be widened—the typical door went from about ten feet to about twelve feet across. An Indiana company called Goliath Casket has begun offering triple-wide coffins with reinforced hinges that can hold up to eleven hundred pounds. It has been estimated that Americans’ extra bulk costs the airlines a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of jet fuel annually.
Such a broad social development seems to require an explanation on the same scale. Something big must have changed in America to cause so many people to gain so much weight so quickly. But what, exactly, is unclear—a mystery batter-dipped in an enigma.
Click here to read the whole article.
HT: Challies for the New Yorker article.
 “חָזֹון”, see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Edward Robinson, Charles A. Briggs, and Wilhelm Gesenius, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament : With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic : Based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius as Translated by Edward Robinson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 302. Waltke concludes that this word refers here to, “the sage’s inspired revelation of wisdom.” Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 446.
“פָּרַע,” has the idea of “let go, let alone.” Brown, Driver, Robinson, Briggs, and Gesenius, 828. There is some confusion about the meaning of this verse because of the King James Version translation, “perish.” See Robert L. Alden, Proverbs: A Commentary on an Ancient Book of Timeless Advice (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 202.
 This Proverb has been used a great deal in recent years as a biblical defense for local churches writing vision statements. Writing a vision statement is a good idea. However, this verse doesn’t apply to that task. Alden summarizes, “Verse 18 has been misinterpreted for many years, probably because of the way it reads in the KJV; ‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’ ‘Vision’ here does not refer to one’s to need formulate goals and work toward them, nor does it mean eyesight or the ability to understand. ‘Vision’ instead is a synonym for what a prophet does. Thus its real meaning is God’s ‘guidance’ (TEV), ‘revelation’ (NIV), ‘authority’ (NEB), ‘prophecy’ (NAB).” Alden, 202. See also, Kaiser, 10-11. Kaiser applies this passage directly to a call for expository preaching. Delitzsch summarizes, “People are only truly happy when they earnestly and willingly subordinate themselves to the word of God which they possess and have the opportunity of hearing,” quoted in Waltke, 447.
 Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The New American Commentary, vol. 14 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993), 232.