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Friday, August 21, 2009

Corn Refiners Association Thinks We're Stupid

You've seen the new ads, right? That high fructose corn syrup isn't any worse for you than sugar...

Exactly, HFCS is similar to sugar health-wise: bad for you.

Before you righteously go purchase the "better stuff" Snapple, Mexican-made Coca-Cola, "throwback Pepsi," or any of the other HFCS-free concoctions, remember to check the label for grams of sugar.
(Divide the number of grams of sugar by 4 to get your teaspoon count. 12 grams = 3 teaspoons of sugar. And don't be tricked by serving size verses the entire bottle.)

Sugar, like HFCS, is a pro-inflammatory substance that damages your arteries and raises your "bad" cholesterol, not to mention the risk of type 2 diabetes, excess calories and the added sugars hidden in every product to prompt cravings and over-eating.

Preying on social insecurity, the Corn Refiners' new ads want you to be embarrassed for even questioning HFCS. It's genius on the side of the food/beverage/corn refiners industries...

So yeah, maybe HFCS isn't much worse than table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc. (Although some studies are surfacing that the heart, among other things, might be negatively affected by HFCS. So keep posted.)

The Corn Refiners Association thinks by saying HFCS = Sugar, you'll say. "Hooray, load me up..!" They think you're stupid.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ending Weight Stigma Begins with Fat America

Would there be weight stigma if the majority of those overweight and obese became so as a result of rare medical conditions?

My answer: NO

If I were one of the rare few Americans who is overweight or obese due to Prader-Willi, Pica, Cushing's Syndrome or a reaction to certain medications, I would be furious--furious with fat people.

Tell me. How many people do you know with Prader-Willi, Pica or Cushing's? Me neither. How about friends having a serious reaction to medication resulting in excessive weight gain? Again, no one I know. (I'm guessing a few of you might know people in this category.)

So for every 100 overweight or obese Americans you see, if you assume their weight is due to improper eating, you'll be wrong fewer than 5 times (probably fewer than that).

An accuracy rate higher than 90% is still an A, right? You're not biased, you're statistically sound.

And why the stigma? Because self-destructive behavior goes against human nature and the will to survive. It's hard to convince the rest of us that self-induced disfigurement, disease and disability is a good thing. It's even harder to convince us when you ask us to pick up the $147 Billion tab..!

But if obesity were the anomaly it would be if it occurred mainly as a result of rare medical conditions, there would be no weight stigma. Groups fighting for fat acceptance, claiming "weight discrimination," are off-base. Instead they should be promoting genuinely healthful eating, holding people accountable for their lifestyle choices, and championing awareness campaigns for those truly suffering, by no fault of their own, from Prader-Willi, Pica, Cushing's Syndrome and pharmaceutical reactions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PETA to Fat America: Save the Whales..!

Think PETA's mean..? Maybe.

But you know what's really mean? Doing nothing while people eat themselves into obesity, diabetes and cancer. The results of obesity are far crueler than any billboard. Think birth defects due to obesity. Now that's cruel.

Sure this PETA billboard will shock, offend, hurt a few feelings. But most importantly, it'll save lives.

People can't help but talk about it, and word will continue to spread that a plant-based diet is far healthier than meat-based. Be a "mostly vegetarian," vegetarian or vegan who avoids fried or starchy veggies and your body will thank you, planet earth will thank you and whatever health-care program the U.S. ends up with will thank you.

Please make sure you're taking a B-12 supplement! And remember, it's "vegetarian" not bag-of-chips-and-a-diet-coke-atarian.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ms. Fatty is Funny on MeMe Roth

The mysterious Ms. Fatty is funny and straightforward when it comes to fat... Check her out...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Angry Town Hall Meetings- Health-Care Reform- Obesity Bailout

"But I'm a Vegetarian..!"

I hear loads of overweight and obese people say they eat "healthfully" or "exercise" or are "vegetarians..."

But what your mouth says doesn't much matter when your body tells a different story. And your body is a major confessor.

Many people who claim to be **vegetarians, when a better description is "Carbotarian," "Macaroni-n-Cheeseatarian," or "Bag-of-Chips-and-a-Diet Coke-atarian." I worked with with a bright young woman in D.C. years ago. She called herself a vegetarian, but I never saw her eat a vegetable that was green. She was big on corn, pasta and mashed potatoes.

And yep, her body told on her. She was kinda squishy and pasty and frequently under-the-weather.

We're seeing a whole bunch of hoppin' mad Americans shouting down Congressmen and Congresswomen at local Town Hall meetings. Maybe they have a lot to be angry about when it comes to the health-care reform plans on the table: Obama's, the House's or the Senate's.

But I'm sure you've noticed what I've noticed. Most the screamers are also visibly overweight or obese--just like the rest of America. And no, it's unlikely they're suffering from rare medical conditions that promote obesity such as Prader-Willi, Pica or Cushing's Syndrome. 9 times out of 10 it's extra weight as a result of improper eating (eating the wrong foods, too much of the right foods, or a combo of both), and inadequate exercise.

We know the expected fate of most of these folks: chronic disease--very expensive, decades' long, chronic disease.

You'll be paying for it. You already are. It's the unspoken "Obesity Bailout." No matter what becomes of today's raging health-care reform debates, you're already paying higher premiums due to a nation with self-inflicted illness. Employers already pay $45 Billion a year due to employee obesity in lost productivity, extra time off an a higher incidence of workers compensation claims. And as you know, the annual U.S. price tag for obesity is $147 Billion--with a big chunk to cover obesity costs through Medicare and Medicaid.

So as our fellow countrymen shout out at elected government officials during Town Hall Meetings, we are indeed seeing Democracy in Action. We're also witnessing far more than what's being said. Freeze your frame, and take a look at what all these overweight and obese American bodies are telling us.

**(I'm a "mostly-vegetarian," eating chicken about once a week.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today is My Grandmother's 85th Birthday

The debate rages as to how many annual U.S. deaths can be blamed on obesity: 40,000? 400,000? Absent a definitive digit, obesity acceptance groups counter that maybe being obese isn’t the threat headlines proclaim. Either way, using mortality figures to gauge obesity impact isn’t the answer. Medical advances can keep the obese living decade upon decade, whether they suffer from diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems, cancer or all of the above.

Consider my grandmother. At five-foot-nothin’ she tips the scale at 300 pounds. For decades, she has lived in a self-decreed obesity exile, where she won’t socialize beyond family, hides when the cameras come out and refuses invitations other than to sedentary gatherings where she can hold court from her easy chair—or in recent years—her bed.

You’d really like her. She’s a sassy and skilled conversationalist with a great sense of humor, a heaping dollop of southern hospitality and a dash of gossip. Her looks harken back to a 40’s movie studio starlet: heart-shaped face, smoky eyes and full lips. Grandmom was always voluptuous—when voluptuous meant curvy and curvy meant hourglass, not fat. Since the 60’s, becoming twice widowed and after numerous failed diet attempts, she donned a muumuu, surrounded herself with walls of commissioned artwork of luxuriating beauties, and added another 150 pounds to her petite frame. As the weight increased, so did the limits on her activities. It’s the norm now, but back in the early 80’s my grandmother was the first person I ever knew who had a handicap parking pass for obesity.

She’s survived breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic issues of every kind, broken bones from falls—the list goes on and on. At 82 years of age, Muriel “Merle” Hamilton Coomler Hamn Williams is certainly alive and off the obesity mortality chart.

Her way of living wouldn’t rate as living for many of us. Her colossal adiposity suffocates. She’s in endless and indeterminate pain. Frequently hooked up to oxygen, the pressure from fat poundage on her chest leaves her breathless. Surgery is out of the question. Instead she’s now hooked on OxyContin, amid a sea of other pills, inhalants and medical gadgets. My once lucid grandmother is uncertain as to who is or isn’t in her family—and if she does guess that you’re “in,” you’re likely mixed up with an aunt or uncle of a different generation. My grandmother is certifiably alive, but dead to me. Don’t worry for her feelings; she’s forgotten she has a granddaughter.

Grandmom is cared for around-the-clock by Carolyn, a pseudo-nurse, who’s mostly my grandmother’s gofer and sole companion. The family is immensely glad for Carolyn’s existence and crosses fingers she’ll never leave, die or be run off. She is sent out daily to purchase a bounty of pies, shakes and cakes. Sometimes she fibs that Piggly Wiggly is out of cakes. But that doesn’t fool my drugged-out grandmom. She manages to collect herself enough to make a quick call to the bakery department. “Thaay haaayuv caaakes nowah, Darlin’.”

You also help in my grandmother’s care. Medicaid, or was it Medicare, came in as an answer to Carolyn’s pleas to force my grandmother to bathe. She had refused to leave her bed for any of life’s little emergencies. Too much effort.

If she were anorexic, suicidal, even one of today’s “cutters,” the family likely would commit her or at least convene one of those terribly awkward interventions. But that’s just not done when the danger is obesity. Discussing a Southern Belle’s ample weight is simply out of the question. She’d rather die.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More to Love...or More to Fear..?

She's a self-proclaimed "size 18" who thinks plus-sized should be called normal because it's America's new statistical norm. Plus, she thinks leading lady love interests on TV should be overweight to prove mainstreaming and acceptance of overweight/obese. Here's her article specifically about these new plus-sized reality shows.

More to Love or more to fear..? I'm going with fear. Meet pro-fat pundit Joy Tipping by clicking here. (Blink and you'll miss my appearance...)

And for fun check out the difference between obligatory compliments vs. the real deal... Is that a Victoria Secret catalogue in your pocket, Harry Smith? Or are you just glad to see the underwear models up close and personal..? Either way, authentic desire is a dead give-away... Harry throws compliments of "beautiful" to plus-sized poster child, Emme, in the link above. But just watch him here with the models... Healthy hetero-libido doesn't lie.

Should a love connection be made on the FOX show "More to Love", keep this in mind. These contestants are 200-300+ pounds and only in their twenties. Ahead the expectation should be orthopedic problems, snoring and sleep apnea, gall bladder disease, kidney stones, and more seriously, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, as well as fertility and pregnancy complications including a greater likelihood for a child with birth defects. This is the "reality" of obese love in America 2009.

Obesity and the Exercise Myth

In his excellent August 17, 2009 TIME cover story "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin," John Cloud's real case isn't about exercise as the culprit, but exercise-induced eating--either from hunger or reward seeking. If we're going to address the obesity public health crisis, the first thing we'll have to acknowledge is that Americans are more than a bundle of unmitigated impulses. Just as frustration does not equal quitting, anger does not equal hitting, and arousal does not equal intercourse, between the urge to eat and the act of eating must come intervening rational thinking--a judgement call. (Devices like the scale, snug clothes or a mirror serve as decent proxies.) As someone who relies on the health benefits of daily exercise and comes from a family history of obesity, the defining difference between most overweight Americans and me isn't a fast metabolism, it's recognizing the difference between wanting of food versus partaking.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wedding Gown Challenge- Of Course It Fits..!

Love makes us fat...

Marriage makes us fat...

Our friends make us fat...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've read all the reports. Truth is, we make ourselves fat. Of course, industry couldn't be more helpful. What with their adding sugar to everything so food plays tricks on us: Cravings anyone? Feeling hungry when maybe you're not really hungry? Digging that dopamine high?

It's damn hard to not get fat these days. We're hardwired to eat all food available and to store fat. Otherwise our DNA wouldn't have survived eons of scarcity. But today's survival skill is surviving abundance. With processed foods--I mean ingestible entertainment--formulated, packaged and marketed to bypass all reason, it takes all the logic you can muster to override your neuro-chemical responses driving you to Dunkin' Donuts at 3am...

Kelly Brownell at Yale's Rudd Center says it takes "motivation" and a "willingness" to control these impulses and make healthful lifestyle choices instead. I agree. When it's "no thanks" as tiramisu is offered... or the face of every runner along the path...I'm pretty sure I'm witnessing pure determination.

Were you at a healthy weight when you hit your twenties? Are you still at about the same weight? You should be. (Weight lifters and the like get a free pass on this.) Whether it's your acid wash jeans, Bugle Boys, or whatever you wore the first night you got drunk (legally), those clothes should still fit--your body if not your current sense of style.

America is a collective 5 Billion pounds overweight, the average adult is 23 pounds overweight, and most couples put on 25 to 30 pounds after the first few years of marriage.

If you have the determination, motivation and willingness, those numbers don't have to describe you. As for me, I'm celebrating the 5th Annual Wedding Gown Challenge today. More than 12 years and 2 children later, the gown still fits, Ba-bee..!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Plus Size Panty Liners..? What the What??

Going down the escalator last night at the Duane Reade here in NYC, something caught my eye. It wasn't the purple stack of feminine products passing by as we neared the ground floor--it was the LABEL on the box of panty liners. It read "for sizes 14+..."

What the what??

We grew up on mini or maxi, but what is this newfangled, plus size panty liners? And eww.

We now have a growth market in plus-sized clothes (for kids too, who sadly aren't being fed properly), plus-sized surgical tools, plus-sized gurneys, plus-sized wheelchairs, and tragically, plus-sized coffins too. We have plus-sized seats on ferries and at sporting arenas, and have all but outgrown the "18-inch rule" for estimating a per seat size at any venue.

And last night I discover we have plus-sized panty liners, made especially to fit the size 14+ crowd, brought to us by Always, a Procter & Gamble brand. A poster jubilantly commented, "awesome product for plus size women!"

If we need 'em, we need 'em. But how have we let ourselves get to the point where we need any of the above? Our average woman is 5' 4" and 163 pounds. She's an overweight, but statistically "normal" size 14 and apparently in need of plus size panty liners.

That's 20 pounds of excess fat. That's 70,000 excess calories. If this same woman cut 200 calories per day for the next year, she'd be back within a healthy weight range. Cut one soda, or one syrupy-whipped-cream-topped coffee, or one candy bar, or that bagel, or two Girl Scout Cookies from your day and BAM! you're back to normal-sized panty liners. Worth it??

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Obesity- an Elective Disability?

We're a compassionate people and want to help those in need, especially those with disabilities. But what about a nation becoming disabled by choice? No one wants the effects of disability, but when the disability is a consequence of lifestyle choices, should the government pay in Medicare and Medicaid? Should insurance policies payout to cover the expenses, raising the cost to all covered? And how should elective obesity be addressed in today's health-care reform debates? According to the CDC, today's annual price tag for obesity is $147 Billion. The cost to employers for employee obesity is $40 Billion annually according to the Conference Board.

When it comes to obesity, we know more than 9 times out of 10, it is a result of lifestyle choices. We also know that a third of cancer is obesity-related, more than 90% of diabetes, and then of course there's heart disease, stroke, dementia, gallbladder disease, gout, kidney stones, infertility--the list goes on.

Yesterday a youngish, maybe 40?, couple was leaving the Cracker Barrel at Pennsylvania exit 29 on Highway 78. They were both obese and having trouble walking--he with a leg brace--she with a cane. They managed to get themselves into their truck, and then backed out of their handicap parking space.

Maybe their disability was not caused by obesity, only exacerbated by it..?

With the majority of Americans overweight or obese, imagine the levels of elective disability we'll need to accommodate in the not so distant future...

Tara Parker Pope of The New York Times Well blog relays a harrowing story of trying to escape the Wall Street Journal offices during the 9/11 attacks. She and all those behind her were stranded on the 9th floor in the stairwell, stuck behind an obese woman in need of many good Samaritans to help her. Thankfully, they did make it out of the building.