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American eating habits


dougery
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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.

My knees and back don't say I'm large. I'm actually pretty small. I'm only 5'3" and 30-35 lbs OVERWEIGHT. I don't need to buy an extra seat when I fly. Still, I'm OVERWEIGHT, not large. My knees tell me, my back tells me, my bp and cholesterol tell me.

I don't think many of us are talking about anger/loathing/hatred when we say (or think) that someone's overweight. When I do see someone who is so overweight that their bodies waddle instead of walk, or hear of people who are hoisted out of windows to take them to the hospital to save their lives, I feel pain. I can't imagine how uncomfortable and painful it must be - in every way - to carry about an extra 100-200-300 lbs!

I don't think it denigrates those who are so overweight to call it that. Our bodies aren't engineered to carry so much weight without repercussions, and I believe it would be irresponsible for people in the medical field or responsible for social policy to ignore it. I think we have a duty to each other. And we have a duty not to be unkind or morally judgmental while we carry it out.

I believe you are reacting to the unfortunately frequent negative moral judgment that sometimes washes over people who have a weight problem. At one time people were reluctant to call cancer and other diseases by their name because of social and moral attitudes towards those. Today this is particularly true of disabilities that can be perceived as lifestyle issues, even though they might not be. As long as we muddle this kind of attitude in with the health ramification of any physical disease or disability we will not be able to deal with it in a sensible and effective way. I think if we were able to resist moralizing about this issue it might be easier for those who need to confront it.

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

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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.

But "convenient" food doesn't have to be bad for you. My husband has at best a nodding acquaintance with things like stoves. And I've been too busy to cook a lot lately. So we go to the supermarket - and buy a whole lot of fruits - and cottage cheese. He cuts up the fruit - and arranges it (very artistically) on plates with some cottage cheese (and usually a muffin - you can afford the calories in one muffin if the rest of your dinner is fruit). I guarantee that if you eat like this every night during the summer fruit season - you will probably lose weight.

As for the government telling people what to do/not do (mentioned in other messages) because their personal bad habits (whether it's eating too much - smoking - not wearing seatbelts or motocycle helmets - etc.) cost all of us more (in terms of things like insurance premiums) - that is indeed a slippery slope. And one worth thinking about. Should the government do anything - and - if so - what? One of the areas I think about a lot these days is genetic diseases. Certain genetic diseases could disappear (or almost disappear) in a generation or so if some people with certain genes weren't allowed to breed with other people with similar genes. So where do we draw the line in terms of having government rules about what we can/can't do? Robyn

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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.

Then there's the power of taxation, which has surely had some impact on smoking rates.

Why don't we tax Big Macs as if they were cigarettes & dedicate the revenue to treating obesity-related conditions? Maybe there'll be a little left over for the helmetless bikers.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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One of the areas I think about a lot these days is genetic diseases.  Certain genetic diseases could disappear (or almost disappear) in a generation or so if some people with certain genes weren't allowed to breed with other people with similar genes.  So where do we draw the line in terms of having government rules about what we can/can't do?  Robyn

The slightly less "Gattaca" version of this argument is in the direction of nationalized healthcare.

Edited by Behemoth (log)
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Yet, in spite of it all we live longer than ever. I know all of the arguments and discussions as to why this is so but it remains a fact that we can expect to live considerably longer than our forebearers despite obesity and chronic disease - heaven knows if we were all to become suddenly healthy, we might live too long. :shock:

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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Yet, in spite of it all we live longer than ever. I know all of the arguments and discussions as to why this is so but it remains a fact that we can expect to live considerably longer than our forebearers despite obesity and chronic disease - heaven knows if we were all to become suddenly healthy, we might live too long.  :shock:

I suspect it's more the quality of life that people are talking about than the actual "living" part.

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I agree that food choices are the responsibility of individual people and not the government -- to a point.

The flavor industry works very hard in making sure food will not only taste good, but that once we have it we will want more. This is not by developing good recipes -- this is by creating chemical additives to put in the food. Most of these additives are synthetic and nothing we would ever eat if we did not eat such processed foods.

When the tobacco industry was found to be putting additives into cigarettes to make them more addictive, there was outrage. If beer companies started putting additives into beer to make it so appealing that most people would drink too much, I think some people would be outraged. But the flavor industry is pretty much allowed to do what it wants to do under the premise that it's all about making profits, and it's up to the customer to make informed choices.

As for government control, I want to be able to choose the vehicle I want to drive, but within reason. A steamroller would get me from point A to point B, but I don't mind that I cannot drive a steamroller down I-95. And I appreciate that the government requires car manufacturers to meet basic safety standards so that I can buy a car without having to worry about it blowing up when I run into a curb. It always is a slippery slope when the government gets involved, but sometimes it is necessary to protect the wellbeing of the population.

[For those who read the McDiet thread, forgive me for repeating much of what I said on that thread over here. :smile: ]

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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When the tobacco industry was found to be putting additives into cigarettes to make them more addictive, there was outrage. If beer companies started putting additives into beer to make it so appealing that most people would drink too much, I think some people would be outraged. But the flavor industry is pretty much allowed to do what it wants to do under the premise that it's all about making profits, and it's up to the customer to make informed choices.

[For those who read the McDiet thread, forgive me for repeating much of what I said on that thread over here.  :smile: ]

But the beer companies do that already. There are a lot of those flavored malt liquor beverages. But your point is taken.

I have my own beliefs about the causes of the 'obesity epidemic,' based on my observations on how people eat. The two things I see as particularly bad news is the amount of soda consumption and the amount of fried potato consumption. If every meal is washed down with a coke and accompanied by french fries, we're talking about a lot of extra calories being consumed.

Part of the problem is the horrible quality of vegetables available in most areas of the United States. People aren't choosing to eat healthy because it simply isn't appealing to eat that way. If the vegetables and fish available to you are of low quality, you are going to get something processed.

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One of the areas I think about a lot these days is genetic diseases. Certain genetic diseases could disappear (or almost disappear) in a generation or so if some people with certain genes weren't allowed to breed with other people with similar genes.

A turn to the surreal Orwellian world :wink:

I agree it is a fine line... The crux of this fine line between government regulation and our freedoms is a messy "Fruit-Float" like concoction that will forever be argued, but that is what makes America great! At least we have the ability (to a degree$$) to bring these subjects to light and do something about them.

Regarding the convenience foods... The convenience foods I think we are refering to are the fast, meal in a box (cartoon character toy included), dripping with grease type of convenience foods. The convenience foods you enjoy with your family are the type of foods that would turn the U.S. into the healthiest country on the planet! Kudos to you!

BTW, just found this article on the "virtual cafeteria".

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9067341/

It's definitely a step in the right direction. Any way to empower parents with information on their children's dietary choices is a good thing. Getting the kids to choose the right foods is another story though...

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

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