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American eating habits


dougery
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The latest info on the expanding waistline of American's was posted nationally yesterday:

http://komo4.com/stories/38708.htm

I don't intend to start a flame war here but this issue is kind of a "chicken or the egg" topic. Yes there is a growing demand for high caloric foods and every individual should hold themselves accountable for their own health (everyone has the right to eat what they want to), but this open's up a whole can of worm like questions:

* I strongly believe that every individual has the right to eat what they want (that is culturally acceptable, no cannibalism in Seattle thank you very much! Please see the cannibalism thread for more information :wink: ) but when it has a detrimental impact on others (ever growing insurance rates due to obesity related illnesses) when does a person’s choices become the concern of the population?

* Similar to health related illnesses and the tobacco industry: Should the food service industry take some responsibility for the health of the population? In this litigious society we live in we have already seen some abhorrent cases in the food industry (recent article on a lawsuit against McDonalds for one person’s woes due to poor eating habits). This case was an obvious attempt to make a fast buck and I was really pissed off when I first read this, but it begged the question; “ Should we hold establishments accountable for their role in promoting eating habits?”

No one will dispute the fact that cigarettes kill, and that big tobacco should educate the population that cigarettes are not good for your health. The tobacco industry is slowly but surely slowing it's efforts to glamorize smoking. We do not want to tell people what they can or can’t do regarding cigarettes, but at least the tobacco industry is starting to realize that if they promote smoking without informing people of the health risks, they will be held accountable. Should the fast food industry and other food service establishments follow suit?

* Ala life VS art debate: Are individuals responsible for creating the demand for unhealthy foods and the food industry is just catering to that demand or is the food industry growing the demand through promotion/media?

The reason why I pose these questions is that this news report really hits home to me any my family. A loved one of ours is suffering from severe effects of diabetes due to obeisity. My wife works in the field of gastroenterology and encounters weight related illnesses all of the time, and shares these sad stories with me every day.

I write this only to stimulate thought and discussion, not to kick off a mean spirited war of words.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Why the geographic patterns? Experts don't have any one clear answer. Some suggest that urban sprawl plays a role. Others say it's easier to find a burger and fries than apples and asparagus in poor communities.

This always chaps my ass. I have a friend that works in a food bank and she said that they can't GIVE away the fresh veggies that are brough in. The people say that their kids won't eat 'em and that they wouldn't know what to do with them anyway... and you know that's the case in a lot of communities, not just poor ones. We're LAZY!! It's not easier to FIND a burger and fries, it's more CONVENIENT. Big difference.

Edited by lesfen (log)
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Unfortunately, this is another topic that is sensationized, and politicized to the detriment of consumers.

I did read the article and, at least, KOMO provided some perspective instead of just rewriting the press release. This is all too rare with the media these days. I commend them.

The group behind the news is a "special interest group" they certainly have a noble stated purpose and their board is comprised of impressively credentialed people.

However, I always try to apply a healthy dose of scepticism to these issues.

One point is a statement on their website: "Trust for America's health"--

"90 million Americans live with chronic disease..." I would really question that number. What's their definition of chronic disease?

The real crux of this issue is what to do?

I think most people would agree that obesity is a problem and most people would agree that too many people are obese.

But just how many and how bad a problem this is--is open to debate.

It seems there is a lot of money in misery.

Lawsuits,liability insurance, funding for special interest groups (on all sides of the issue), government grants, etc etc etc.

Suddenly, it is "not my fault..." is the mantra behind all this. "Someone must pay!", --"I couldn't help myself they got me addicted!"

It really is sad--because real people with real problems get lost in all this.

If we could just do a better job of identifying real problems and providing real effective help to people who need it!

Then there are basic issues like-should the government have a role in influencing personal behaviour?--if so--then how large a role? How much are we willing to spend?

Seems as though we look to government to step in when we can't police or regulate ourselves. We are willing to give up freedoms--choice.

anyway--I gotta go and wrestle with trhe dilemma of what to eat for lunch--see I got some ground beef and there's this mad cow thing and....well hey wait a minute! I will skip lunch--I am probably too fat anyway!

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Convenience! The key word is brought to light! (I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a slave to this word).

I'm with you on the fact that it's irritating as hell that we're too lazy to cook these days, but on the flip side (forgive me for playing a little bit of the devil's advocate) with it taking two incomes to take care of most families these days, and spare time becoming more and more scarce, it's becoming much easier to rely on conveniece foods rather than home cooked meals.

Edited by dougery (log)

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Then there are basic issues like-should the government have a role in influencing personal behaviour?--if so--then how large a role? How much are we willing to spend?

In a way yes... The government shouldn't dictate personal behavior, but they should monitor and regulate how companies attempt to INFLUENCE personal behavior. I'm sure as hell glad they decided to eliminate "Joe Camel" and how the tobacco industry tries to influence the youth.

BTW, Lesfen, when I went to your tubby link I was hit with an add to of all places, MacDonalds :laugh:

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Hey Tubby

I'm gonna throw this into the mix as well...

Terry Bennett, the New Hampshire physician described in this article, was interviewed on at least one of the morning news show shows ("Today", I think). Immediately following the interview the station thanked one of their sponsors, Little Debbie Cakes, and then a commercial showed a family sitting down a breakfast of Honey Buns.

[edit for spelling]

Edited by therese (log)

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Then there are basic issues like-should the government have a role in influencing personal behaviour?--if so--then how large a role? How much are we willing to spend?

In a way yes... The government shouldn't dictate personal behavior, but they should monitor and regulate how companies attempt to INFLUENCE personal behavior. I'm sure as hell glad they decided to eliminate "Joe Camel" and how the tobacco industry tries to influence the youth.

BTW, Lesfen, when I went to your tubby link I was hit with an add to of all places, MacDonalds :laugh:

I can't say I really disagree-but "monitor" and "regulate" are loaded terms.

In the end if we could get the facts straight, we could monitor and regulate our own children (and ourselves).

that's a better way--I think.

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John, I agree, it all starts at home. We do need to take time to educate our children and be present to help guide their experiences but with the bombardment from the media and pressure from peers, I think it is a very steep uphill challenge for many parents to instill good eating habits.

This reminds me of grade school.. my mother made me a very nutritious lunch (something like lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickle, and luncheon meet sandwich with soup and dessert almost daily)... Half the time I would trade this away for the ever so popular "pizza" at our elemtary school. This pizza was "the in food" at the school. I think I did this because trading lunches was a cool thing to do and was a little taboo and I also enjoyed the Pizza. At home I was surrounded by good nutritional values which were constantly communicated to me, but what I learned through my school lunch program and interactions with my peers was totally different.

Again, I whole heartedly agree the first step is to educate your kids and talk to them but parents can only monitor and guide them so far, our kid's are wide open prey to Coke ,MacD's and peer pressure the rest of the day. Shouldn't it be an expectation that our kids's be shielded from corporate advertising at our public schools?

Edited by dougery (log)

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Hey Tubby

I'm gonna throw this into the mix as well...

From that excite.com news article:

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - As doctors warn more patients that they should lose weight, the advice has backfired on one doctor with a woman filing a complaint with the state saying he was hurtful, not helpful.
No porfessional should present news or opinion in an insulting manner, but some people just don't want to hear the bad news. Here a physician tells a patient she's overweight and she complains to the state board of medicine which sends the doctor a letter of concern asking him to aknowledge that he made a mistake. I wonder if this lets him off the hook should the patient develop some illness related to her weight. I mean, could her spouse sue because the doctor neglected his duty to treat her for the underlying condition? Many of us really won't take any responsibility for ourselves.

At least one of the doctor's patients came to his defense.

"I have been in this lady's shoes. I've been angry and left his practice. I mean, in-my-car-taking-off angry," Haney said. "But once you think about it, you're angry at yourself, not Doctor Bennett. He's the messenger. He's telling you what you already know."

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It seems there is a lot of money in misery.

Lawsuits,liability insurance, funding for special interest groups (on all sides of the issue), government grants, etc etc etc.

Suddenly, it is "not my fault..." is the mantra behind  all this. "Someone must pay!", --"I couldn't help myself they got me addicted!"

But there's much more money in corporate America. When the playing field is level, then your argument would make more sense. And who is causing the trouble? The health food advocate who just got a grant that will last six months or the corporation offering their "food", toys, and bright happy commercials along with their obesity, higher insurance rates and fat-bombs.

I think we've had this discussion in many forms here. In the end it's your politics that will rule.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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More from the article about Dr. Bennett:

Bennett rejected that office's proposal that he attend a medical education course and acknowledge that he made a mistake.

In the interview this AM he said that the medical education course was on patient communication, and that as part of taking the course he would have had to admit to being (possibly signing something) a "disruptive" physician.

When asked whether he's changed his approach he said that since this incident he's prefaced his advice (because he's obviously still giving out this very sound advice) by pointing out that what he's about to say may give offense, but that his intention is not to offend but to help (lots of paraphrasing there).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I would love to see advertisements for McDonald's, Burger King, et al. in which every single person in the ad was obese. They don't have to change anything else. They can all still sing and dance and smile and talk about how much they love the stuff. But every one of the people in the ads should be obese. I wonder what that would do to sales? :shock:

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I would love to see advertisements for McDonald's, Burger King, et al. in which every single person in the ad was obese. They don't have to change anything else. They can all still sing and dance and smile and talk about how much they love the stuff. But every one of the people in the ads should be obese. I wonder what that would do to sales?  :shock:

This actually inspired an idea for the beer/drink commercials you see on television. First scene showing the actual commercial showing all of the "beautiful" people drinking/laughing/floating through the air (Baileys Irish Cream), then hard cut to the second scene... "what is actually happening" a bunch of red eyed drunken folks with slurred speach and dishelved clothing are showed acting like idiots and one about to get in a car in a house accross the street from playground.

Show it like it really is!

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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I think we've had this discussion in many forms here. In the end it's your politics that will rule.

Unfortunately, yes.

This whole debate reminds me of the fight over mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. Crying "nanny state," bikers have managed to get them repealed in a good number of jurisdictions. Fairly predictably, according to a recent study, motorcycle accident fatality rates have since jumped over 80 percent. Fair enough, say the "libertarians," so what? It's a matter of personal choice and, possibly, an example of Darwinism (or Intelligent Design, if you prefer) at work. Ah, but wait, say the "nanny staters," guess what's more than doubled as well? The cost of hospital treatments for motorcycle injuries, much of which isn't borne by those free-spirited individualists with the wind in their hair, but by us schnooks doing 45 down the highway in Priuses full of the squealing next generation. Why should we underwrite your Easy Rider fantasies?

Who's right? I don't know. What's the moral of the story? I don't know. Maybe the government should buy fat people motorbikes. Will that do?

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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Convenience!  The key word is brought to light! (I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a slave to this word).

I'm with you on the fact that it's irritating as hell that we're too lazy to cook these days, but on the flip side (forgive me for playing a little bit of the devil's advocate) with it taking two incomes to take care of most families these days, and spare time becoming more and more scarce, it's becoming much easier to rely on conveniece foods rather than home cooked meals.

i'm one of the parents you refer to, in a two-job, double-stress,

two young kids, family.

i'm the quartermaster general, i.e. do most of the shopping and cooking.

i am very aware of food choices and the need to get kids habituated early

to healthy eating and to give them the psychological connection to good

food so that's what they'll crave when older, once they've gotten past the

adolescent rebellion (at least that's what i hope).

i home-cook BASED ON convenience foods:

e.g. i used canned beans and frozen veggies A LOT.

what convenience foods are others buying or talking about?

we love shopping the farmer's market in the summer,

but on a strict budget, and for reasons of time, process minimally.

and the convenience foods i am talking about (canned beans

and frozen veggies) fit in with my budget, taste, time,

AND health goals.....

So, I don't see the issue as "being too busy to cook so I use

convenience foods" but more as "i am too busy to do a lot of prep

so i buy healthy convenience food and cook from that".

my kids genuinely love and eat a wide range of veggies,

whether it's poriyal made from frozen green beans, or

frozen spinach in the saag-chole (using canned chickpeas) or

the cherry tomato salad straight from the farmer's market

or whatever is in the stir fry tonight......

we do our share of junk food BTW, frozen waffles or cereal for breakfast,

chips, ice cream, etc......

i'm rambling, but i'm also curious.....

milagai

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I would love to see advertisements for McDonald's, Burger King, et al. in which every single person in the ad was obese. They don't have to change anything else. They can all still sing and dance and smile and talk about how much they love the stuff. But every one of the people in the ads should be obese. I wonder what that would do to sales?  :shock:

No kidding.

You know, I can think of a lot of people that I don't want to hear tell me I'm fat... my husband, my mother, my father, my sister, my skinny sister-in-law, my skinny friends, etc. I'm pretty sure that my doctor is the one person that I wouldn't balk at. ALL of my doctors (PCP, OB, and Dentist) used to bitch at me for smoking, but I didn't walk out of the office like "that guy's an a--hole... he doesn't know what he's talking about." I walked out thinking "God, I really need to stop smoking or I'm going to die/my teeth are going to turn yellow and fall out."

I'd be curious to know exactly what he said to her... it would be a whole different ball of wax if he said something not only insulting, but unprofessional to boot. Like if he would have actually said, "hey tubby, lose some weight."

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Hey Milagi,

Convenience foods I was refering to was "fast" convenience foods you can drive up to, say "supersize it" and be off with dinner in 2 minutes. I take this route on occasion but I'm sorry to say that there are a lot of people out there that do this multiple times on a daily basis.

The convenience foods you're refering to (canned/frozen foods) I consider a home cooked, sit-down meal with the family that sounds nutritionally and socially balanced, not convenience foods.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Wow! This is definitely a serious topic.

IMO - Most of the health "problems" that plague the people of todays world is due to convenience foods ....(i.e. chemicals, sugar, etc.)

Look back on the health statistics of our forefathers....they didn't have as many health related issues as we do now and they most definitely didn't have the obesity problem. Why? Well....they ate food made from scratch, they ate in moderation and they burned more calories than they took in. AND as far as the suing issue is concerned....they also had accountability for their actions.

So....cut out pre-made food as much as possible, eat it in moderation, get exercise, and take responsibility for the choices you make.

Why can't people figure this out?

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Fat lady at doctor: If he didn't make a personal comment or try to publicly humiliate her for being fat, I wonder what the problem is? Maybe she should look at her own attitudes toward fat people.

Why does obesity offend and surprise people who are themselves obese? You don't just wake up one day 100 pounds too heavy. I think people can be beautiful and active when they're fat. But it's ultimately not healthy.

When my kids were very little, they were aghast at that man who lived in one room and "washed himself with a rag on a stick" (apologies to Bart Simpson). I just told them he's not lazy, stupid, or dirty -- but if he can't leave his room, someone is bringing him a case of Coca-cola and four dozen eggs for breakfast. Shame on them!

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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. . . .

Who's right? I don't know. What's the moral of the story? I don't know.  . . .

So why are you posting? Oh wait, all the guys who have the right answer to eveything and know exactly what I should do, never say anything worth listening to or thinking about. :laugh:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Why can't people figure this out?

Perhaps partly because we are bombarded daily with images, ads and reports stating otherwise. I have kids- you can tell them that commericals are fake and they will agree but they really don't get it. It's on TV so it's true. It's colorful and you get a free toy, so it's cool! And then it's in the schools, too? It's just not a fair war of information.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Sigh, ok, if I eat too much and exercise too little, I'll be fat. That's My Business. If I'm fat, my cholesterol, bp, arteries, etc. will be in the risk zone. How high a risk? Well, it depends upon how fat, how sedentary, how my genes support my unhealthy life style. But don't YOU dare tell me that, and the GOVERNMENT shouldn't oughter DARE to tell me I should watch what I eat or how much I should exercise. That's MY business, my responsibility, and, oh yeh, my insurance company (supported by escalating rates) or medicare or medicade when they pay the bill for my angio-whatevers. And what right does society/government have to impede advertisements for all the delicious treats out there whether or not they are healthful. I'm free to eat anything except other people; advertisers are free to advertise. It's America.

And what do schools think they're doing when they yank out the machines full of sodapop or force nutritious lunches on our children? These kids have the right to be fat and go against their parents' wishes when they trash mom's lunchbox and opt for a Mac and soda. How irresponsible of schools to not have income from vending machines which would lower my taxes even if it will increase them down stream when these kids grow up to be unhealthy and use medicare or medicaid. Let the future take care of itself, I say.

It's clearly all a matter of personal choice and personal responsibility. Get off my fat back. I only wish I could.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Wow! This is definitely a serious topic.

Look back on the health statistics of our forefathers....they didn't have as many health related issues as we do now and they most definitely didn't have the obesity problem. Why?

100 years ago, the #1 killer disease was tuberculosis. Heart disease and the like became the #1 killer in part because public health improved to the point where people weren't dying so much of tb, pneumonia, childbirth, farm accidents, and instead were living long enough to have heart attacks, cancer, and so on.

I wonder what effect the state would have on public eating habits if they just said, well, eat what you like, but we're not going to pay for the results.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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There is an assumption in the US that people don't do something about a problem because they aren't informed. Once they are informed, they fact that they now know will compel them to change whatever is necessary to solve it. This assumption is wrong.

In other words: telling someone they're fat is not likely to make them run out and change their entire lifestyle immediately. It's more likely to get them mad at you for giving them just one irritation in their already overcommited lives.

People don't change because others tell them to. They change because 1. they're ready to and 2. they have found something that they like better on some level to change to. What that level is depends on the person and situation. People don't go from a choice which is meeting their needs in some way to a choice that doesn't meet their needs - or if they do, it doesn't last long, as they discover needs that aren't getting met.

And it's not always easy to identify what those needs are.

All these articles assume there's a silver bullet out there - if we could only do X or stop eating Y, it would all go away. There isn't. There are a host of reasons people are getting wider on average, and many of these reasons have large organizations heavily vested in seeing that they DON'T change.

There's only one thing I know for sure: you don't make someone feel positive about changing by making them feel worse about themselves. Anger/loathing/hatred towards larger folks (I hate the word "overweight" because it implies a single standard, and like most things related to one's individual body, it's an individual number) is not likely to help the situation.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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