Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Have you seen "What's Eating You?" on the E! network? Tonight's the season finale, with repeats into the weekend...
Incredibly tragic, alarming and in-your-face... E's "What's Eating You?" is hard to watch (I mean REALLY hard to watch. You've never been next to the toilet of a bulimic, and you wish you weren't.), but insightful.
You'll find 9 times outta 10, if there's an eating disorder--whether one resulting in obesity, purging or starved anorexia--the object of fixation, obsession, compulsion is almost always junk food, not real nourishment.
And see how the dangerously underfed Adrienne is handled by her concerned coworkers? If she were obese, there'd be cries of "discrimination..." in today's twisted pro-fat-acceptance world.
Watch "What's Eating You?", and more than any gross-out factor, your heart breaks for these people.
And again and again I say it, but we must define FOOD as that which nourishes. All these other substances are nothing more than "ingestible entertainment..." and frequently take people down a very dark path.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
"Good Job! Here's your obesity prize," says George J. Mitchell Elementary School of Waterville, Maine
Ever worry that all your efforts to keep your child safe and healthy are being undermined by your public school..? In 2010, with every child obesity and diabetes alarm being sounded from the Surgeon General to the First Lady, public schools are still basically obesogenic cultures--just like all of America. Why? Because that's the norm.
Take George J. Mitchell Elementary School of Waterville, ME. Recently during P.E. (which don't we all agree no schoolchild is getting enough P.E..?), third-graders were awarded seven M&M cookies each for "doing a good job..." according to one of the students. Again, during Physical Education class.
Everything is wrong with this scenario: First, Psychologists and Dietitians have said for decades that food should NEVER be used as prize or punishment. Second, the food was brought into the school outside any health and safety regulations or standards. Third, and most importantly, nobody bothered to ask the parents' permission.
WRITE THIS DOWN, George J. Mitchell Elementary School. It's never okay to feed someone else's children in the absence of their parents--or their parents' advance approval. It's one thing to send in a "serving for one," for your own child, but "servings for 25" involves everybody's kids. And seven, 7, cookies??
With the dual health crises of obesity and diabetes, does it make sense for kids to be confronted with junk food solicitations during the school day..? And what about during P.E. of all times..?
Maybe you're thinking Maine has no obesity or type 2 diabetes health crisis. You'd be wrong: Maine's obesity rate has doubled in the past ten years.
We don't want to leave George J. Mitchell Elementary School with only criticism for its junk food gaffe, but instead, here are some wonderful tools to help your school create a School Wellness Policy. (Full Disclosure: NAAO proudly serves on the CSPI NANA committee that created these Wellness Policy Tools.)
And here's an "Extra Credit" challenge for you, Principal Allan Martin, Assistant Principal Barbara Jordan, and Waterville Superintendent Eric Haley: Use these tools as just the foundation, while you actually raise the bar much higher at George J. Mitchell. Don't your students deserve an environment that's safe and healthy for ALL students..?
We sincerely look forward to hearing great things coming from George J. Mitchell Elementary School. And when you have a rocking-great Wellness Policy enacted and enforced, I'll be the first to brag about you..! I promise.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Once again emotions and defensiveness are beating out rational thinking when it comes to obesity... And Sharon Osbourne's reaction via Twitter is just plain wrong...
Marie Claire's Maura Kelly posted a blog lamenting the on-screen love affair of morbidly obese Mike & Molly. If they were both anorexic, and Ms. Kelly posted she'd be "grossed out" by their sit-com romance, nobody would care. (Just like nobody seems to care the show is a non-stop barrage of cliched fat jokes.) But in an era when the largest American population is obese, followed by overweight, we're now not just normalizing obesity, but glamorizing it.
(And poor Richard Conniff over at Men's Health. His new article "I Hate Fat People" hasn't gotten any attention...)
Morbid obesity is not an innate state. It cannot be compared to race or sexual orientation, so forget that argument. Morbid obesity is the result of habitual improper eating, or in rare instances, a result of uncommon medical conditions such as Prader-Willi or Cushing's Syndrome. And while there's evidence that environmental factors can exacerbate the problem, in almost all cases, obesity is a result of eating habits. Period.
The results of self-injury, self-destruction, bodily harm always will repulse--it's our natural instinct. To find romance between two morbidly obese characters unsettling makes sense, especially once you understand that morbid obesity results in a higher incidence of fertility complications, pregnancy complications, delivery complications, and ultimately, a greater rate of birth defects. Our human instinct for survival always will find morbid obesity repulsive, like any damage to the body.
And before you overreact to this post, please keep in mind that obesity is a "thing" a condition--it is not the person. Coming from a family history of obesity, I've never confused the two.
Sure Maura Kelly made a big mistake--she hit a nerve.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Wow, Did you catch CBS's new sitcom, "Mike & Molly"? If you're into non-stop fat jokes, you'll LOVE it... And if tired tubby cliches aren't a laughfest for ya, there's un-funny fart, balls, prostitute, bitches, stoner jokes, and a blow job reference no laugh track could save...
Police officers won't find it ironic that Mike, the male lead, is unfit to serve. Teachers won't find it endearing that Molly, the female lead, screams at her classroom of 4th-graders, "Shut Up..!" Think Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, without the humor.
And Mike & Molly (like Nikki Blonsky's fat camp dramedy "Huge") perpetuates the myth that all thin people eat with abandon (beef & cheese deluxe, fries and orange soda, along with devil's chocolate black-out cake) yet never seem to gain weight. And meanwhile, all non-weight-challenged Americans are inconsiderate, insensitive and mocking of their dangerously obese loved ones.
And there's the oft-quoted fat-lady's lament from Molly..."I'll never be a size 2..!" Uh, who expects the morbidly obese to become size 2s..? And, hey little boy, you're NOT wrong! "How could you be a cop and be so fat..??" All officers unable to meet their fitness requirements should be asked that reasonable question.
Executive Producer Chuck Lorre is a super-talent. Two & a Half Men, Dharma & Greg, Big Bang Theory, etc.--This guy knows how to make us laugh despite ourselves. Even his vanity cards have a cult following... (Hey Chuck! It's "Fat Bottom Girls" by Queen, not "Big".) But no such luck with the low brow and lame Mike & Molly.
There is a big winner though..! (Other than Melissa McCarthy's adorable dimples...) Overeaters Anonymous should expect a major surge in meeting-goers. Truly, OA may be a great resource if improper eating and excess weight are issues for you...
Monday, August 16, 2010
Here I am on FOX Business today with Charles Payne talking about synthetics in food... And are they "natural?"
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream--the Vermont, frozen treat, cowmobile, institution founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in 1977--has been a Unilever company for a decade now. And as part of the soap and food conglomerate, can Ben & Jerry's legitimately claim "all-natural" on their packaging when in fact, 90% of the ice cream flavors include fake food?
Chemically engineered synthetic ingredients including corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and alkalized cocoa appearing in 48 out of 53 Ben & Jerry's offerings are NOT natural says the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and CSPI is pushing for Ben & Jerry's to change their packaging, removing the misleading and arguably false "all-natural" claim...
If it's fake, it's not really food. Period. Obviously this is not just a problem with Ben & Jerry's... And all of the above calls into question the fact that the USDA/FDA has no legal definition for "all-natural." That has to change. One hint: How 'bout the definition of "natural" for starters..? "existing in or formed by nature..."
Want your food from the farmer or the chemical engineer?? Either way, industry must be 100% transparent about what's in our food and the associated risks.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Look, you go into adulthood at a healthy weight and then you maintain that healthy weight. Period.
This little Wedding Gown Challenge isn't about the gown or marriage even. Feel free to find your own symbol or item that fits throughout adulthood. For me, it's been my Wedding Gown year after year.
I'd never use my marriage or my children or this obesogenic American junk food culture as an excuse to forfeit my health. I eat within my means, exercise daily, and exercise enough that I even have room for plenty of tasty indulgences..! Each of us has to figure out our own rhythm, nourishment needs of our body and exact food choices, but we also must take responsibility for our weight and our health.
And please don't email me about exceptions. If you have Prader-Willi or Pica or are on Prednisone, I'm not talking about you... And certainly not if you're suffering from Cushing's Syndrome either. And for those struggling below the poverty line, there are special circumstances at play and special programs necessary.
I'm talking to the 85+% of us who have what it takes to eat right and exercise daily.
Happy Wedding Gown Challenge..! I took fun professional photos in my gown, but my favorite is this snapshot just afterward in the elevator with my precious daughter...
Great article from Abby Ellin of the New York Times re: post-nuptial weight gain...
Great study reinforcing the fact that maintaining healthy weight (no more than 9lb weight gain for women after age 18) gives you much better odds of healthy aging...
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Have you seen "Hot in Cleveland"? Cute show. Great cast. Deserves a better script. Wendie Malick is "Just Shoot Me" era hi-larious. Jane Leeves has great legs. Betty White rocks those track suits. And Valerie Bertinelli reclaims her post as America's Sweetheart.
But the not so sweet elephant in the room is that Bertinelli's putting weight back on. Of course it could possibly be an optical illusion on-camera with such slim women as Malick and Leeves... And sure, who expected Bertinelli to stay bikini-slim as she was on countless magazine covers promoting her bestsellers and exercise DVDs, as well as Jenny Craig, of course.
But the inches are creeping back on while the wardrobe guru works double-time...layering here, masking there...
Everyone loves Valerie Bertinelli. (Just ask poor n'er do well Mackenzie Phillips.) Bertinelli's transgressions never seemed to tarnish her reputation, and perhaps were lesser than her headline-generating 80s, "One Day at a Time" co-star.
But we've seen this Valerie Bertinelli weight-loss weight-gain yo-yo for decades. It's depressing. Anyone old enough to recall the flurry of interviews for one of her countless tv mini-series "I Was a Mail Order Bride"? Bertinelli recounted all her weight-loss tips and strategies to maintain a healthy weight. There she was in a revealing swimsuit and slimmer than ever. But those were the days well before her self-proclaimed obsession with jalepeno poppers.
And maybe that was too thin for her anyway. Just like maybe the latest bikini body was too hard to maintain. And that's really okay. Clearly, she's a healthy 50-yr-old. She just knocked out a marathon..! And we all would agree she looks "hot," and not just in Cleveland. But, Valerie, we're begging you to stop now. Plateau where you are, and you're good. We can't take another round of paparazzi body bashing photos of you on the beach, just to have you sell us more diet plans later a la Kirstie Alley.
And one thing that is unforgivable and no one dares mention: Bertinelli herself admits to using her son, Wolfgang, as an accessory to her junk food binges, particularly at the notorious In-N-Out Burger. Indoctrinating the teen bass guitarist of rock band Van Halen to America's junk food lifestyle, has done him no favors and likely has set him up for a lifetime of weight struggles, just like his famous mother.
Monday, July 12, 2010
SF Mayor Gavin Newsom doesn't want government buildings stocked with candy drinks. Great idea! And great idea to have a "Soda Free Summer." But Megyn Kelly on FOX News doesn't agree with me... Watch now...
Monday, June 28, 2010
Congratulations to ABCFamily for promoting positive body image. Tonight's world premiere, "Huge," stars dangerously gaunt Nikki Blonsky of "Hairspray" fame. The show takes place in a teen camp for habitual under-eaters and self-starvers, including a moderately underweight character played by David Hasselhoff's daugther, Hayley. But it's the 21 year-old Blonsky who plays our heroine and defies the camp's will for her to become a healthy weight. The alarmingly emaciated character says it best, "Why should I change..?"
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tune in to the latest episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit" Showtime series... Episode 2 is "Fast Food" and features "Mindless Eating" author and Cornell professor Brian Wansink, NYU Associate Professor of Public Policy Rogan Kersh, and me.
We had a total blast shooting this episode... but you won't see those parts. Oh well... their "Cheerleaders" episode last week was really good.
And apparently I'm not Penn Jillette's type. He'd prefer to make-out with a burger... My loss??
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Yeah, it's Eat Your Vegetables Day... We get it, right? We're supposed to be eating a mostly-Vegetarian diet... So if you happen to eat meat (your best source of B12), think of it more as a garnish...
Stuart Varney & Co., let's talk about Hooters... Obesity discrimination in Michigan... and Hey Men! Happy Father's Day. Now check your "health dipstick" this weekend and make sure you're hitting that 135-degree angle. Good artery health means great bedroom performance..!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Felt this fatigue? I know I have. America's Obesogenic culture is counting on all of us to give in to it...
I love Dan and Chip Heath's book "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard..." Any book that uses Van Halen's notorious brown M&M clause as higher metaphor for better business strategy is alright with me... (David Lee Roth, I'll luv ya till the day I die...)
One of the many insights in Switch, and there are many gems, is the concept of willpower that fatigues. Ever committed to healthful eating then spent the day on the Jersey Shore with a boardwalk overflowing in Kohr Bros. frozen custard, funnel cakes, cotton candy, taffy, fried OREOS and gi-normous pizza slices..? Sure that stuff is crap, so you don't indulge. But for those of us raised in the Pop-Tart generation, that crap looks mighty tempting... And saying "no thanks" aloud or just in your mind over and over again all day long can get exhausting.
Smarter folks than I have studied this exhaustible self-control... Check it out from Dan Heath in June 2nd's Fast Company. And BTW, it's still no damn excuse... It's just motivation to plan our days more strategically.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
"Drop Dead Diva" Brooke Elliott under contract to stay fat..? Weird Hollywood twist... But dangerous waist circumference for Jane Bingham, er, Brooke Elliott...
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
I find it hard to even look at this photo of the chocolate cake... I want to eat the whole damn thing, and I don't mean one slice. No, I want to grab the rest of the cake box and empty it out, and maybe hunt down the baker for another...
How 'bout you? No effect? One nibble will go a long way? Or maybe you wanna scarf it down?
Scientific American and Eric Stice at the Oregon Research Institute are calling it the "Goldilocks Principle of Obesity."
For me, eating sweets just triggers the urge to eat more sweets. Why is that true for most of us? There are 2 things going on: 1- a cascade of pleasure chemicals is released when I eat sweets, so now craving-inducing dopamine reminds me of that constantly. Eat it! Eat it! Eat it! It was sooo delicious last time..! And 2- a charge of sugar leads to a rush of insulin, then a plummet in sugar. So my now out-of-whack-blood-sugar-body tries to convince me I'm hungry even when I'm really not. Smarter, more disciplined people than I are giving up sugar altogether. (Way to go, Ellen DeGeneres..!) So far, I'm just trying not to go overboard. I make sure to eat right and exercise daily, and basically eat within my means. But if I had to be 100% honest, I'd be better off just ditching the treats.
Connie Bennett's SugarShock! book is a great resource for giving up sugar...
Food Makers know all about our behavioral and neuro-chemical dependencies upon junk food. They installed them after all... We're onto you about the "Bliss Point," Kellogg's, Coke and Kraft..! And who owned Kraft up to just a few years ago..?
Monday, June 07, 2010
Hooters Girls Are Too Fat? Obesity Discrimination? What Does Michigan's Special Protection for the Obese Mean for American Business?
Bad news, America, the obese are starting to win special protections. Nevermind most obesity is the result of habitual improper eating...
Hooters girls say they were fired (in an at-will state) for being too fat! Michigan, with its special protections for the obese, says it's against the law, but will that actually hold up in court??
And what does this mean for American businesses? Do you have the right to market your business as you see fit, especially if your employees are your company's greatest marketing, eh hem, asset? Nobody's going to Hooters for the wings...
Saturday, June 05, 2010
R.I.P. Obesity... You're torturing Americans, especially our most precious newborns. Pro-Fat Acceptance is Over. Healthy at Every Size (HAES) is Over. I say so. Darwin says so.
Obese Pregnancy = $200,000.00
Normal Pregnancy = $13,000.00
And how do you calculate the human suffering..?
Paul Campos and Linda Bacon, pay up..!
Come on, every doughnut costs you 300 calories...or more! That's a 3-Mile Run for every glob of fried dough... We all know that it's not really National Doughnut Day--It's National Man Boob Day.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The names of those lined up yesterday for KFC's new "Double Down" fried chicken monstrosity were collected as to quickly expel them from America's new healthcare plan, or at least disqualify them from the "no pre-existing conditions" clause...
Lifestyle choice, anyone..??
More about KFC, food policy, salt reductions and good ol' accountability with GRITtv's Laura Flanders and Jennifer Iannolo...
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Clowns are creepy... Clowns that pressure kids to eat more junk food are downright pervy... Yes, we mean you, Ronald McDonald.
You've had your 50 year run and you've won..! When you, Ronald McDonald (Willard Scott), started your clown act, we had a child obesity rate of 4%. Now a third of America's children are overweight or obese. A third are expected to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Half of our children of color are expected to develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes. Half..! Congratulations, Ronald McDonald, Shrek, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger, Trix, L.C. Leprechaun, Count Chocula, Dig'em, Cap'n Crunch, Snap Crackle Pop, Colonel, King and you too, Wendy.
If Sesame Street and Disney characters can distance themselves from junk food, YOU can too..!
Parents, don't let adult junk food marketers, masked as cutesy kiddie cartoons, attempt to isolate, communicate with, and establish a direct relationship with your child...
Monday, April 05, 2010
Dr. Phil, "The Ultimate Fat Debate" Tues April 6 and Wed April 7. Ready for a hot mess..? Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's daughter Kelly joins all of us on the panel including Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels and of course, those pro-fat bullies... Man they're mean... or just really angry... or both. 3pm Eastern TOMORROW and Part 2 on Wednesday...
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I saw you tonight..!
You were young and tight, had shiny hair, white teeth (naturally), and you were SO MUCH FUN..!
We were out way past curfew, and not once did anyone mention "snacking." Instead it was boys boys boys or girls girls girls or whatever. We were all more interested in hooking up rather than scoring a 4th Meal...
What a blast we had! You were full of energy, so light in your shoes, so agile...so sexy.
Listen to me right now. Jump into that damn Hot Tub Time Machine and get back to where you once belonged. Get back, Jojo! Whether the soundtrack of your fitter and more fun self is the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, the Stones, James Taylor, the Eagles, Bad Company, AC/DC, Bob Seger, Journey, Duran Duran, Siouxie and the Banshees, Adam Ant, the Cure, Bon Jovi, Ratt, Poison, Madonna, the Black Crowes, Nirvana, REM, Lenny Kravitz, Hootie and the Blowfish...or whatever... Put it on and rock out..!
Get yourself back into the mindset of when you had everything in front of you and the weight of the world was a concept in your mind not a reality on your ass... Come on! Come on! You know you can do better... You know you are better... Be your better self! Maybe your sillier self... your slinkier self... And have a blast doing it...
I'm turnin' on Van Halen II right effing now... Have you seen her? So fine and pretty...
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The New York Times asks how to solve the obesity crisis... Harriet Brown, Kelly D. Brownell, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Alwyn T. Cohall and Ellyn Satter answer...
And here's my answer...
We must accept that most of those already obese will remain so. Not that they can't lose the excess weight, but that they won't. It's hard enough in today's culture to prevent excess weight, and far harder to lose it once gained... (Although, for everyone of you trying, go go go!)
So what do we do? 2 Things:
1- We do all that we can to encourage daily exercise and wholesome food consumption for all people of all sizes. Why? To reduce the steep financial cost and human suffering cost of chronic illness.
2- We direct all our resources to the Pre-Pregnancy to Age 5 bracket--before their body compositions, eating habits and exercise patterns are set. Now is the time to foster Generation H for Healthy... We'll age ourselves out of this obesity crisis, beginning with Gen H.
The above will take immediate cultural changes and policy changes--and a deep questioning of the very memes that ushered in this era of obesity--to create an environment that promotes health rather than instant gratification, food solicitations directed at vulnerable children, and the only benchmark being 90-day updates to Wall Street of increased sales at reduced costs.
The challenge isn't just nutrition or exercise--it's behavioral psychology and neuroscience. And at that game, my friends, industry has us beat. They have every corner of our parietal lobes lit up, they know just how to trigger intense dopamine-driven cravings, and they know the exact "bliss point" to release the pleasure cascade of opioids should we give in to temptation. Industry's plan is to formulate, package and market "ingestible entertainment" that bypasses all reason... Don't believe me? Strip down and look in the mirror.
And yet, I do believe 100% in personal responsibility. Just as we're held accountable for our anger and sexual impulses, so too must we learn accountability for our eating impulses. Instead of indoctrinating our children into a mode of eating as entertainment (40% of "food" served to children is of low or no nutritional value according to a recent D of Ag study. We're not even trying, People...), we must emphasize the unadulterated pleasure of nourishment. And if children aren't deprived of their minimal hour of daily exercise, they can enjoy the occasional treat with little consequence to their weight or health...
For eons, humans had to survive scarcity. Now we'll find out just who can survive abundance. My bet is on the kids whose parents aren't hooking them on soft drinks...
(Now tell me your answers for reversing today's alarming obesity trends... Please add your comments.)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Pro-Fat-Acceptance Movement goes too far... They say Fat Kids = Healthy Kids... Watch exactly what this Pro-Fat Leader says today on MSNBC...
Tune in to Fox Business Network and Stuart Varney's Show at 10:15ish A.M... Wednesday, February 10, 2010. I'll join the always-angry-at-me Stuart Varney to chat up Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Child Obesity Campaign...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In today's budget press conference, New York Governor David Paterson once again pushed for a "soda tax;" aka, Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax. Instead of going for the 18% tax like his last failed effort, this time Paterson is following the lead of experts pushing at the national level for a soda tax including UNC's Barry Popkin, Yale's Kelly Brownell, Harvard's David Ludwig and the CSPI's Michael Jacobson. The model calls for a penny-per-ounce tax on the ubiquitous, non-essential liquid candy.
On a national level, $15 billion annually is expected to be raised by the penny-per-ounce tax. Here in New York, we anticipate about $1 Billion annually in extra funds raised from taxing sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-like drinks, etc.
Beverage lobbyists are crying foul that the tax is regressive and disproportionately targets poorer, lesser educated communities of color. News Flash: Obesity/diabetes/soda marketers disproportionately target poorer, lesser educated communities of color. This soda tax will help those communities by curbing soda consumption, reducing obesity-related illnesses and setting aside funds to cover some publicly funded healthcare expenses associated with obesity/diabetes/soda consumption. Of the $7.6 billion (more than almost any other state) spent annually on adult obesity-related health issues in New York, an astounding 80% is covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Quick Translation: That's me and my fellow New Yorkers footing the bill..! And that's ALL OF US at the national level... Hello, Obesity Bailout.
But Paterson backed down before. Why? Pepsi threatened to pull its headquarters out of New York and head West to New Jersey or East to Connecticut. Will Pepsi bully Paterson into submission again?
Or will the desperate dollar needs of New York state prevail?
I much prefer a Soda Tax over paying more into this massive Obesity Bailout.