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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

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I have a friend, MK.  He doesn’t know it, but I often call him my reality check.  I call him this because very often, when I write something without fully thinking it through (which is most of the time), he is there to intelligently present either an opposing view or even better put, a wider, more global view.  I’ve thought of him over the past several weeks as I’ve watched several friends write posts on Facebook that have essentially said, “if you eat processed food, you will die!”  While I fully encourage the concept of healthful eating, and I also believe that eating solely processed, packaged foods is not good for your long term health, I have trouble with statements like these.  They fit right in with the “worried about the cost of organic eating?  how about the cost of getting cancer? Now THAT’s expensive!”  I can’t tell you how many friends have posted that one.  The issue I take with statements like these is two-fold:

1.  Making an absolute statement like, “eating that Oreo will give you cancer, make you obese, turn you into an addict and give you diabetes” is very much like handing out “You’re Fat” notes on Halloween to kids you perceive as fat.  It’s not bullying per se, but it is still meant to make the Oreo eater feel guilt and embarrassment.  It’s not nearly as brutal nor as clumsy, but it still paints with broad brush strokes that reveal only a surface understanding of the more detailed biological mechanisms.  It is just as incomplete and can be damaging to those who blindly follow.  Let’s be clear, eating an Oreo is not going to give you cancer or diabetes or make you obese.  In fact, eating a whole package of Oreo Cookies will do none of those things either.  What “eating Oreos will make you obese, give you diabetes, turn you into an addict and kill you with cancer” lacks is the second half of a statement, something along the lines of “if that is all you eat” or “if you eat a whole package every day for months and years on end.”  There is nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying four or five Oreo cookies smashed at the bottom of a glass of whole milk…just don’t make a regular habit of it.  The phrase sugar addiction will often come into play in these discussions – the argument being that sugar is more addictive than cocaine or morphine.  Sugar addiction IS real, but again, the second half of the complete thought is almost always left off…for someThere have been studies that show sugar addiction is real in rats, and to be honest, even though there may not be specific scientific studies that show the same in humans, the unscientific (albeit occasionally misleading) eyeball test tells us a different story.  That being said, not everyone is predisposed to sugar addiction or even the side effects of sugar intake – that is something that many “experts” will either forget to mention or don’t know or even worse, willfully omit.

2.  Organic and fresh food is more expensive.  It just is, there is no way around that.  But to try to appeal to people through the “well imagine how much cancer is gonna cost you when you get it eating all that cheap, packaged inorganic crap” doesn’t take into consideration the fact that A. not all people actually have access to organic food (heck, some people in this country don’t even have easy access to fresh veggies and fruits – see Detroit) and B. some people simply can’t afford to buy all organic all the time.  For some people it becomes a choice of eating and going to bed with a full belly or eating a lot less and going to bed hungry.  I can’t claim to know what the numbers are but I’m pretty sure that constant hunger doesn’t do the brain or the prospects of longevity any favors.  What’s the cost of an underdeveloped intellect due to near starving conditions?  What’s the cost of growing up with a weak body because you couldn’t get enough calories into it due to an insistence on buying only organic?

Now don’t get me wrong.  If you CAN eat fresh veggies and fruits, and you CAN afford to buy organic, you probably should – the less chemicals and fewer packaged foods we put into our bodies the better.  But you have to balance that with a little common sense.  Our bodies are incredible biological machines.  Our cells turnover every 7 to 10 years.  Our bodies do a fantastic, albeit not perfect, job of cleaning out the waste.  Some Oreo Cookies and Milk here or some McDonald’s there or a few Snickers bars at Halloween or feeding your kids some prepared chicken nuggets now and again are not going to kill you or them, make either of you fat or cause cancer.  Occasional treats, if truly treated as treats you have occasionally, can actually be good for you mentally, and we all know that our mental health is just as, if not more, important as our physical health.

You do what you can with the budget and resources you have available.

Ultimately I believe it comes down to moderation.  If you eat a healthful diet in general, don’t let the internet health “gurus” and “experts” out there make you feel bad about hitting Burger King on a road trip or jamming a few candy bars after a big race.  Again, just don’t make it a regular habit.   I’ll admit right now, I swiped a mini Kit Kat, a mini Baby Ruth and a mini Almond Joy from my daughter’s Halloween bag to have as a snack while I wrote this blog post.  They were tasty but honestly, they will probably be the last candy of any kind I eat before Thanksgiving.  It’s not because I have some incredible will power.   I’m not fighting some urge to have chocolate.  I simply don’t crave it, and having it every now and again never changes that.

As my father has always told me, “everything in moderation” remembering of course that moderation will not work for some.

The bottom line for me is that those who write, tweet, or blog about health and fitness issues need to be careful with the size of the brushes with which they paint.  If there is one thing having an autistic daughter has taught me it is that we are all on a spectrum, and what may work for some may have the exact opposite effect on others.  Blanket statements rarely hold up under scrutiny because we are not carbon copies of each other.

We are all different.

***The one caveat I will put here is this – if you know that you have an addictive personality, or have problems with self-control, then it is probably good to avoid the cookies or the fast food altogether or at the very least keep them out of your home so you are not regularly tempted by them.  You have to know yourself – working with your strengths, protecting yourself from your weaknesses. 

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Dear Cheryl,

I’m supposed to be hitting the books right now.  I’m in the review stage of my studying, making sure I know what I need to know for the upcoming CSCS exam.  I cannot wait to get certified.  It’s been the big reason why I have taken a break from this blog…from writing, really.

But then I saw this today:

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Now, as many of my readers are well aware, I am a health nut – I encourage regular exercise and a diet that is well balanced, high on the fruits & veggies, low on the refined sugar and chemicals, but this I found to be completely offensive on so many levels.  Let’s forget about the fact that you should have proofread your note before printing off copies, there are so many things wrong with what you are doing:

1. You have no idea whether or not there are any underlying issues with a child who is overweight.  There could be medical issues, medication issues among others.  The child could be going through puberty, which, though a completely natural process, can wreak havoc on the body while it is happening.

2. The fact that you are giving some kids candy, but denying treats to the “fat one” is, well, mind boggling.

3. Even if a child is obese simply due to eating Doritos and Twinkies every day, singling out a child from his or her group of friends is completely inappropriate.  Which brings me to…

4.  You are, no matter how good your intentions are, a bully, plain and simple.  Through your actions you are essentially pointing your finger at every overweight child and saying, “Hey YOU!  Fat kid!  Yeah, that’s right, I called you fat, you Fatty McFatster!”  You try to dress it up with “my hope is that you will step up as a parent and…blah, blah, blah,” but scratch under the surface and you are doing nothing other than making a child feel bad about who he or she is.

For you to selectively decide which kids meet your concept of fit (and therefore deserving of candy) as opposed to those that are fat (therefore undeserving of candy) is both sanctimonious and mean.

But let’s talk about the Village concept, shall we Cheryl?  My town has recently lost two troubled souls to suicide.  What do you think is going to happen to the kids that get singled out?  Who thereafter get teased by their friends incessantly?  I’m gonna tell you something – kids who are overweight, KNOW that they are overweight.  They don’t need you to draw public scrutiny of their shape to be made aware of that.  Your actions could potentially result in a precious child taking his or her own life because you decided to bully and tease – that’s one of the possible results of bullying you self-righteous bitch.

You want to help make your village better and healthier?  How about you just turn off your porch light on Halloween and not hand out ANY candy?  How about you hand out healthful snacks that every kid will throw away to everyone?  How about you help start an after school program that encourages movement and healthful eating?  How about you volunteer at a teen crisis center?  or a homeless shelter?  or a town beautification program?

Better yet, how about you just get the fuck out of our collective Village?

We don’t need bullies.  We don’t need mean people.  We don’t need you.

Don’t be surprised to wake up on November 1st  with a lifetime supply of toilet paper in your yard…that, and maybe a year’s worth of eggs.

Good luck with your notes.

Sincerely,

Luau

 

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“…over the next two decades, 13 states could have [obesity] rates above 60 percent and 39 states could have rates above 50 percent. Mississippi is on pace to have the highest obesity rate at 66.7 percent…”
-September 18, 2012|By Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune reporter

I posted the article this quote is from yesterday on my Facebook page. I said something along the lines that I found these numbers to be incredible, as in unbelievable, as in it simply isn’t possible. Yet there they were. We are on track to having a quarter of our States with a large majority of their population obese, not just overweight mind you, obese; and nearly 80% of our States with a majority of their population obese. Two-thirds of the population of Mississippi on their way to a twilight riddled with preventable disease.  The most frightening part? Colorado would come in as the most fit State in the Nation…with a 45% obesity rate. FORTY-FIVE PERCENT!!!

Despite what appears to be heightened awareness, the vast majority continue to live in denial…

This is insane!

In response to this flabbergasting news, I hear a lot of people talk about government mandates – having the government take over what we eat or drink a la Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to rid New York City of over-sized sugary drinks. Part of me wants to jump on that bandwagon. If people aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves, well then someone has to take care of them, right?

Wrong.

Although the government should take on some role, maybe from an educational position, or, a bit more radically, making healthy choices available in areas of low access, no amount of government intervention will correct the problem until we, the people, decide we want to make a change.

If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of being asked for and then giving advice for healthy change, it’s that until a person is ready and willing to change, it ain’t gonna happen.  Too many people want instant change; transformation in a bottle; abs and buns of steel in a pill.  It takes work – not just at the gym, but in the choices of the fuel we choose, and if we ain’t ready and willing, change ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are shortening our lives, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you we’re increasing our cost of health care, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are killing our sex drive, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to stand at our child’s graduation, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to dance at our daughter’s or son’s wedding, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might get diabetes or cancer or suffer from heart disease, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that due to our obesity we could lose a foot or a leg, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I could tell you that we are setting OUR children up to follow in our footsteps…

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…does that at least stop you for a moment? Does that make you think, maybe, just maybe, this report doesn’t have to be true? That we don’t have to condemn our children to a life of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and amputations? Is that what we want to leave our children? Is that what we want to be our legacy?

I know I don’t.

The habits our children pick up from birth to 18 come primarily from us, and once those habits are programmed into their brains, they are very, very difficult to break. Does that mean there’s no hope for a 30 year old woman with a lifetime of bad habits?

Heavens no!

But it is way more difficult for her than if she had been brought up with good habits all her life.

Change is hard, but it’s easier for our kids – and once those good habits are learned, the foundation of healthful living is set.

Do you know where it starts?

It starts with us. Yes, the government can help set some standards; they can do what they have to do to make healthier choices available to us; they can help educate the population about healthful eating; but in the end, it comes down to you and me.

Yes…us.

Just like every vote counts in an election, what WE choose to do over the next 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 12 months, 6 months, 4 weeks, 7 days, 24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds, can make a difference.

Nothing sets a better example for our children than our own behavior.

Nothing, NOTHING, convinces a company to change their ways better than our wallet.

Are you ready and willing?

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What would you say if I told you there was a preventable pandemic that was the cause of 1 in 10 deaths around the world.  That’s right, 1 in 10.  10% of all deaths – WORLDWIDE.  That number puts it on par with smoking and obesity.  It causes coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers.  It’s something that lurks in your den, your office, permeating your life.

It is everywhere, but unlike smoking which has been shown to be as, if not more, addictive than heroin, this killer can be easily dispensed.  In fact, if we were able to reduce its presence by just “even 10% to 20% worldwide…it could save between a half-million and 1.3 million lives each year. This could also raise global life expectancy by almost a year.” -Matt Sloan, CNN.

1 in 10.

That’s a lot of death.

So what is this killer that is everywhere?  According to a series of studies released in British medical journal The Lancet, that killer is inactivity (read the studies here —>HERE<—).  That’s right.  Sitting around on our asses, staring at the boobtube, picking our noses and mindlessly doing nothing is killing us slowly in awful ways – heart disease, diabetes, cancer.

So what can we do to reduce, if not eliminate the effects of inactivity?  The answer is simple really – move.  That’s right, MOVE your body.  I am partial to running, but it really doesn’t matter what you choose to do to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing – run, jog, walk, swim, bike, make love, jump rope, play tag, wrestle, climb a tree, gymnastics, get chased by the police (but don’t get caught), CROSSfit, jumping jacks, dance, play Wii or XBox Kinect, anything…anything for at least 30 minutes a day.

And then invite a friend.

I have gone on and on about the obesity epidemic that this country faces (2/3 of Americans are overweight, 1/3 are clinically obese) and how simply getting healthy could help resolve our health insurance cost issues, but this inactivity pandemic is just that, it is worldwide.  Do your part to help ease the financial burden of preventable diseases – get up, move and drag someone with you.

You’ll thank me afterward.

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This video is old, but I saw it just the other day for the first time.  It made me think of my ongoing struggle to get back into the swing of things.

This video is relatively new.  It was posted by a doctor who is advocating exercise in a very simple, easy to understand way.  The statistics quoted should be enough to get you up and moving.

[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

I hope that you will take the time to watch both videos.

As we get into the thick of the Holidays and the spirit of giving, I can’t help but wonder how many of you aren’t thinking of/giving to yourselves, forgetting that, as much as you want to be able to take care of those around you, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be good to anyone.

As daunting as it may sound, taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you have to train for a marathon, like Roger, the gentleman in the first video.  As the second video points out, just 20+ minutes a day of walking can reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure by nearly 30%.

30%!!!

What I like about the first video is not that the guy ran a marathon (though that is awesome!) – no.  The thing I was most moved by was that he latched onto a reason to get himself moving.  Sometimes, doing it for ourselves is not enough motivation.  We seem to disregard the concept of self-care, or at best put it low on the priority list.  Sometimes what it takes is a cause, a reason.  Roger found that cause in his niece and because of that, he was able to find the courage, the strength, the reason to keep going; and he is now a transformed man.

If you are struggling, and self-motivation isn’t enough, do it for a cause, a reason – your daughter, your son, your mother, your dad, your sibling, your spouse, a friend or do as my friend David does in this —>post<—  about charity.

I have never bought into the concept that we are destined to remain the shape we have lived with or are currently in – I was a lollipop until after college (big head, toothpick body).  You can change your body, mind and soul.  They go hand in hand in hand.

Find a reason.  Find a cause.

After they thank you for your efforts, you’ll inevitable thank yourself.

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard Univerity suggested that morbidly obese children be removed from their parents custody because allowing these children to reach the sizes that they had was tantamount to child abuse.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.  Removal of a child from his or her own home because he or she is obese.

I have to admit, I initially had mixed feelings on this subject.

The undeniable truth is that this country has a weight problem.  When 2/3 of the population is overweight and 1/3 is obese, there is no arguing that.  I know there are “sticks-in-the-mud” out there that insist that nobody can tell them what to do or what to eat, but I can’t help but use an Palin-ism (God help me!) and think out loud, “how’s that working out for ya?”

We are squarely on the path toward a population that will suffer from higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, strokes and other weight related diseases all because we have this attitude of “You Can’t Tell Me What To Do!!!”  And you know what?  I hear that.  No one likes to be talked down to.  It’s not fun.

But reality is reality.  As simplistic and as dumb as that sounds, I think a lot of America misses that.  Want proof? Just go to your local Cineplex this weekend and watch the parade of those in denial walk by.  Stylistic preferences aside, you have to wonder, what kind of warped mirror are they looking at, if they are looking at a mirror at all, when they get dressed to go out.

But in all seriousness, have we reached the point where we have to take these children out of their homes and away from their parents?  and just what will happen to these kids when they are taken out of their homes?  where will they go?  will foster parents or the State do a better job of feeding these kids?  will they get them motivated to be physically active?

On top of that, what about situations where the weight gain isn’t necessarily food and activity related?  1 in 88 American boys has been diagnosed with autism.  Many of those boys will take a variety of drugs to manage anxiety, perseverative behaviors and other symptoms that often come with autism.  Some of these drugs, like risperidone, cause very noticeable weight gain.  Parents of autistic children must go through the heart-wrenching decision of whether the benefits of such drugs (the far out idea of actually being able to connect with your child) outweighs the side effects.  Would the good doctor take these kids away from their homes as well?

A much better and more global solution would be to educate families on what they are actually putting into themselves and into their children.  But that knowledge of what is quality nutrition and what is not only goes so far.  We as a society have to figure out how to overcome the food deserts that are embarrassingly popping up in this country.  How is it that the most powerful nation in the world can’t sustain a big chain grocery store in the proud city of Detroit?  How can parents expect to feed their children nutritious meals if they are forced to shop at the local bodega or 7-Eleven.  Knowing what to eat is pointless if it isn’t available or affordable.

If you want to argue cost, saying that you don’t want your money (tax dollars) paying for educating how others eat and move or incentivising the revitalization of food deserts, consider this: there is a freight train of diabetics and those riddled with heart disease hurtling our way.  When it arrives, there will be a huge cost – who do you think will be paying for the drugs these people need to take?  You will.  Who do you think will pay for the days that these people just can’t get to work?  You will.  Who do you think will pay when these people go on long-term disability when they are no longer able to work?  You will.  One way or another, whether it is through increased health insurance premiums or being asked to work longer and harder at your job, you will pay.  After that, when their hearts and bodies give out under the years of overworking, there will be the cost of losing these people to early deaths.

Is all of that still worth eating whatever you want, whenever you want?

But back to Dr. Ludwig.  To be fair, he was talking about those children who are on the extreme side of obesity – say a 16 year old kid weighing in at 555 lbs.  It is unimaginable to me that I would ever let either one of my daughters reach any where near that weight, BUT I also have relatively easy access to nutritious foods, incredible doctors and space to run and play.  Would I judge a parent in my community if they let their child reach those numbers?  Yeah, probably.  Would I take that child away from his or her home?  I don’t know.  If the parents were good friends, I would hope I would have the courage to advise them to seek help.

But what about communities where nutrition and play space may not be so readily available?  some that are not so far from where I live?  I think that is part of the problem with Dr. Ludwig’s suggestion – it doesn’t take into account the vast societal differences one can encounter simply moving from one neighborhood to another.

What’s the answer then?  I don’t know.  If I did, I’d be running for mayor and implementing a plan.  In the meantime, I can only encourage people to remain active (and to lead by example for the sake of their children) and be aware of what they put in their mouths.

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