Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tell Me Your Answers for Obesity...
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.)
Posted by MeMe Roth at 11:34 PM
Labels: Alwyn T. Cohall, child obesity, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ellyn Satter, Harriet Brown, Kelly D. Brownell, MeMe Roth, MeMe Roth Obesity Expert
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Let's see where to begin and who to blame! There are no pointing fingers here... Everyone has choices in life, its up to the individual to make the right choices. As to fight Obesity...May I suggest taxing on Junk Food, by taxing Junk Food people would think twice in purchasing it. Cut portion sizes in fast food restaurants. Come on people, do you really have to super size? Does your body need that? Make a law where the less sick days you take from work, you will benefit on your income tax this will enable people to be active and take less sick days from their employer...which benefits your performance and money saved from your employer.
I hope you can come to Montreal, Quebec one day MeMe, Keep up the excellent work!!!!
This is the first time I've seen that "gen H" idea. Very clever and very practical as well.
I partly agree with Dr. Brownell on this issue. The environment plays such a large role. The first step to really making an impact is restructuring food environments. Is this answer 100% whole food based? No. While to most this would be the ideal, its not realistic economically or preferentially. Real food needs to be interjected into food environments in ways that are at first unnoticeable but also profitable. Big Food is interested in making money, unfortunately especially in the past 30 years that has been at the expense of the population's health.
We need to call out bad behavior. Thyroid problems don't account for many fat people. The vast majority of fat people ate their way there.
If we go back to shaming bad behavior rather than glorifying curves that are really rolls, maybe people will do the right thing.
Make OK to say you will not date a fat person. Make OK to say you don't want to employ a fat person. Make it OK that you don't want to be friends with a fat person. If it were a drug addict, everyone would support your avoidance. I don't think fat people are "addicted" to food, so their carless eating is even more irresponsible than a drug addict's behavior.
You are so right! It's up to consumers to change the things they are eating. People have to first know a few basic things to look for on a package, and if it's there on the ingredient list, they should put the item down. If we keep buying these nutritionless products, big business will continue to thrive and Americans will continue to get fatter. It's about awarness of a few basic ingredients that have been scientifically proven recently to cause you to put on the extra pounds.
Well, we can't forget that being obese is about more than what you are eating. It is about what you are eating, as well as what you are NOT eating... what you are doing, AND what you are NOT doing. Proper sleep, exercise, AND nutrition, as well as a desire for a healthy ad productive future. Fact is, I know that with my responsibilities at home and in my professional life, I simply couldn't accomplish as much in a day if I weren't giving my body the proper fuel. Fact is, I don't even want to supersize anything, and many unhealthy things are simply unappealing because of how they make me feel. Feeling good is its own reward. How do we change it? Little by little. Things like not changing your diet ONE bit, but having a glass of room temperature water before every meal or snack. Turning thelights and TV off at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning. Other routines start to follow. Pay attention to what your body actually wants in the morning after even just simple stretching exercises. When everything starts to synch up, there is no "weight loss diet" necessary. Replace the cooked thing with the raw thing (carrots, apples, etc.) Notice the difference in how you feel! Yes, it will take a long time, but a body can adjust, if the changes are made in baby steps.
There are so many pieces to this problem that a solution seems overwhelming. I agree that starting with our youth is the easiest way to nip the problem in the bud - HOWEVER, I don't believe we should give up on the adults. I have 2 reasons for this. First - even a slight change in adult behavior (adding fresh veg daily)can lower the rates of so many diseases - just think of that in terms of medical treatments that we don't have to pay for! Secondly, how do you expect the Generation H to eat well when the people who are feeding them aren't eating well or acting well themselves? Nutrition, just like everything else, begins at home. We can blame schools, we can blame companies, but when it comes down to it - PARENTS MAKE KIDS FAT. The parent has the control, not the child. Thus, change the parents' behavior = change the child's behavior.
In my humble opinion, the biggest problem that we face as a country is that we, as parents, allow corporations to control our emotions. Commercials humor us, entertain us, make us smile, make us cry. We plug in, and they take advantage. The majority of food commercials that are aired on tv are for things that have NO BUSINESS inside our bodies. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a fresh bunch of locally grown spinach advertised in the middle of a football game? It doesn't happen!
Here is some evidence. I recently visited my mother and her idea of a "healthy lunch" was DIET soda, BAKED chips, and a LOW-CAL frozen pizza. Now granted, it could have been worse, but just thinking of the amount of chemicals she had consumed was enough to make me ill. Amazingly in mainstream America, we are made to think that these are all "HEALTHY" choices! Due to the overwhelming "healthfood" craze and advertising gimmics, my mother never would have thought to pack filtered water, a fresh apple, and a mixed-greens salad with olive oil and vinegar.
So where do we begin? How about raising money to fund an advertising campain for local farming co-ops and markets? A national eat fresh and local campaign? If we are going to let TV tell us what to do, let's make sure that we are hearing the right thing.
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