Tag Archives: childhood obesity

Obesity-The New American Way?

If you had an infection, you would take an antibiotic, wouldn’t you? If you had asthma, you would use an inhaler, wouldn’t you? If you had a headache, you would take an analgesic, wouldn’t you? And if you had a bad cut, you would get stitches, right? These things all mitigate an adverse health condition.

So why are so many Americans unwilling to mitigate their obesity?

Maybe it’s because unlike an illness or an injury, the repercussions are less immediate and therefore more easily ignored. That does not mean that the repercussions are any less real or dangerous.

We all know that high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and diabetes are killers. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for quite a while, but inevitably they will prevail. Even so, two thirds of the adults in this country and about half the children are overweight or obese.

The solution could not be simpler: eat sensibly and exercise regularly. But that’s not presently the American way. Let’s change that!

Teach Your Children Well

I had an odd experience at the supermarket yesterday.  I stopped in after work to pick up a few things.  I stepped into the express line with a hand carried basket, in which I had some fresh beet greens and kale, a package of turkey breast cutlets, some tempeh, a mango and a carton of almond milk.  In front of me was a woman and her two boys.

The woman was obese and her children were heading that way.  The counter was piled with a couple bags of chips, three large bottles of soda, crackers, white bread, peanut butter, and a jar of grape jelly.  There was a clear causal link between their weight and all the junk food on the counter.

The odd experience was that the younger of the two boys, perhaps four or five years old, was looking at the vegetables and so forth in my basket as if they were souvenirs from Mars.  It was painfully obvious from the expression on his face that he just didn’t get it.  Where was the good food?  It sure couldn’t be all that green stuff!  And where’s the soda?  What’s that weird man going to drink?

The evidence led me to conclude that he had not been exposed to healthy eating to any great degree.  It’s up to parents to make sure that their kids have the tools they need for long and healthy lives.  Knowledge is the cornerstone, and in my opinion, this woman missed mark.   I feel sorry for those boys.

Slow Food vs. Fast Food

A co-worker brought up the subject of “slow food” at lunch today.  At first I was a little confused, until she clarified that she was talking about the opposite of “fast food”.  Specifically, she was talking about the greens and other vegetables in her home garden.  It made sense to me-tomatoes and squash will grow as fast as they will and no faster.  It makes no difference to them if we are impatient.

I remember even in my lifetime that fast food was once the exception, rather than the rule.  When I was a kid, a trip to McDonald’s for a hamburger and a small packet of French fries was a rare treat.  It was not a daily (or multiple times per day) substitute for cooking good wholesome food.  Even the serving sizes have increased, while America’s waistlines have also increased.  Is this a coincidence?  (Clearly, this is a not-so-rhetorical question.)

I have made an effort the past couple of years to increase my consumption of slow food.  I eat a lot more raw and lightly cooked vegetables, and fruits, organic when I can.  I have drastically reduced my consumption of highly processed food like white rice, white bread, and pasta (other than whole grain).  I go out of my way to minimize the additives, preservatives, and chemistry set experiments in my food.  So yeah, I can understand and appreciate the “slow food” lifestyle.  Can you?

My Bottom Line

Today is Day 10 of Insanity: The Asylum for me.  It is titled “Relief”, and I can’t wait to see if it really is.  Don’t get me wrong, I am having a great time with this program, and I’ve lost 3 pounds of the 10 I put back on when I was laid up.

That said, I must point out that this is one tough program!  I have joked with my accountability group that the warm-ups are tougher than some workouts I’ve done.  No fooling!  I made extensive use of the “pause” button the first few days!

A couple people have asked me why, if it’s so hard, am I doing The Asylum?  I could tell them about how cool it is rising to a challenge, or that I had plateau-ed from doing another program for a year, or that I wanted to work my muscles in new ways.  These are all true, but they are not the underlying reason I choose to do such a tough program.  Would you like to know what that reason is?  I’ll tell you.

I do not want to be fat and sick ever again!  That’s my bottom line-what’s yours?

There Are No Good Excuses

You know, I get so tired of hearing people assigning blame and avoiding responsibility for the obesity epidemic that’s crushing this country.  I’ve heard people say that it’s the fault of the fast food industry pushing junk food on us.  I’ve read that it’s the fault of the big agriculture companies, promoting high fructose corn syrup.  I’ve even seen people defending obesity by claiming that it’s genetic and therefore unavoidable.  Give me a break!

“It’s the fault of the fast food industry.”  This is complete and utter nonsense!  Nobody is forced to consume the high fat, high salt, low nutrient crap that passes for food at most fast food joints!  Further, you can’t blame any company for selling what the public clearly wants.  Some say that fast food is cheaper than eating good, wholesome food.  They are wrong!  If one shops wisely and factors in all the medications that won’t be needed to treat obesity related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, good food costs the same as or less than junk food.

“It’s big agro pushing HFCS on us.”  Well, here’s a radical idea: put down the soda pop, and any other processed food (another subject for a different day) that contains excess sugar including pasta sauces, low fat yogurt, and commercially made breads.  If you start to read the labels before you buy, you will be surprised at just how pervasive this stuff is.  It is true that it’s the go to ingredient for many food producers because it’s comparatively cheap.  But-and this is important-it’s not the fault of anyone except the person eating this stuff that it ends up in their mouth!

“It’s genetic.”  While it is true that genetics may predispose someone to obesity, it does not guarantee that obesity is inevitable.  Being predisposed to something simply means that unless steps are taken, a certain result will occur.  (For example, I’m of Norwegian heritage so I’m predisposed to sunburns unless I use sun block.)  Factors like lack of exercise and poor nutrition play a bigger role than genetics in obesity rates.  People who blame obesity on genetics might as well say they are fluffy or “big boned”-which is patently false as our skeletal structure has nothing to do with adipose (fat tissue) accumulation.  This is nothing more or less than plain old excuse-making so that personal responsibility can be avoided.

And that is the real issue that gets under my skin: people who won’t accept responsibility for their own actions!  If someone is overweight or obese and asks for my help, I’m there for them.  I’ve been fat and unhealthy and I know both what that was like and how to do something about it.  I now eat sensibly and exercise six days a week for at least an hour, usually with P90X or another Beachbody product.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.  Conversely, if someone makes excuses to me, and they won’t put down the damn fried chicken, Twinkies, and Coca Cola, I have zero sympathy for them.

A man using a tape measure on his fat belly.

Who is at fault for obesity in America?