Tag Archives: obesity

Of mice brains aflame and other travesties

serve_itA note to the editors of ScienceDaily — this is what a high fat human diet looks like. Or it might look like a plate of scrambled eggs with bacon, or a green salad with cheese, avocado, and black olives. What a high-fat human diet does not look like is that pile of buns, pizza, french-fried potatoes, and onion rings that you used to illustrate your story about a recent mouse study. The collection of carbs shown in your photo would choke a moose, never mind a poor little mouse.

Image source: NIH.gov
Image source: NIH.gov

Oddly, although your story focuses on a mouse study, no mice are mentioned in the headline nor in the summary nor in the first four paragraphs. No mouse is present in the only photo. Until the fifth paragraph, half-way through the article, you seem to be writing about human beings, not mice, not rodents of any kind. As a college writing teacher, I recommend that you introduce your true subject sooner than that. Otherwise, readers might get the wrong impression. They might think the story is about humans and human biology. I’m sure you can see that, can’t you? You don’t want to mislead your readers, do you?

Of course you don’t. That would be propaganda, not science reporting. Continue reading Of mice brains aflame and other travesties

Fat governors, fat taxes, and me

I’ve had trouble deciding on the topic for this blog post. This is a sure sign that someone is taking his blogging too seriously. When I started out, any post with the words “low carb” in it was good enough.

Good enough for me, anyway, if not my readers. But in the early days, I didn’t have any readers. (The way this post is going, that could come to pass again.)

Enough stalling. Let’s get down to picking a topic. What has been the big food, diet, weight or nutrition news of the last few days?

One possibility is Chris Christie’s weight. Christie is the obese, Republican governor of New Jersey.  Some people wanted him to run for president. Others suggested he was too fat to run, or too fat to win, or too fat to serve if he somehow managed to run and win. A couple idiots even suggested that being fat meant he was lazy and undisciplined. Right. They just give away high elected office in New Jersey.   Continue reading Fat governors, fat taxes, and me

Study findings undercut soda taxes as a way of curbing obesity

At the risk of being mistaken for a tool of soft-drink industry, or worse yet, a Libertarian, I am jumping once again into the debate over government action to curb our consumption of sugary beverages.  (Well, someone’s consumption; I don’t touch the stuff anymore.  I don’t believe anyone should.)

I stated my position a month ago, in response to calls by New York City officials for a ban on the use of food stamps to purchase soda-pop.  Another East Coast official, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, has been pressing for a soda-pop tax to discourage consumption and thus combat obesity.

My position is that government should butt out.  I’m not a big fan of taking symbolic action in response to a real crisis.

A new socio-economic study has increased my conviction that taxing or even banning soda-pop would do nothing to improve America’s collective weight problem.  Indeed, it would be a dangerous distraction and waste of time. Continue reading Study findings undercut soda taxes as a way of curbing obesity

McGovern defeats Nixon!

As we gear up to elect a U.S. president next year, I’m thinking about the first presidential contest in which I took part.

I had a small part. I voted.

It was 1972, George McGovern  vs. Richard Nixon. The fate — and as it turned out, the weight — of the nation hung in the balance.

Nixon won in an epic landslide. He was the incumbent, and viewed as a pragmatic centrist, if oily. McGovern was viewed as a left-wing pacifist weenie — seldom a winning image in American national politics.

Never mind that McGovern was the one with the World War II combat record and decorations. Image is everything.

On election night, I was on the road and had my car radio tuned to WJR Detroit,”the Great Voice of the Great Lakes.”  About 6:30 p.m., there was a news flash:  “The polls have just closed in Granite Notch, New Hampshire, and CBS Radio News is projecting that Richard Milhous Nixon has been re-elected President of the United States.”

They don’t call ‘em like that anymore. Not that early, anyway. Continue reading McGovern defeats Nixon!

Governor wants Michiganders to shape up, will track fat kids

Michigan viewed from space
Image source: michigan.gov

I live in Michigan, a beautiful state with a weak economy and a whole lot of fat people. Our governor, Rick Snyder, sees a connection between our economic and waste-line problems. He may have a point.

Technically, I’m one of the fat Michiganders. My current body-mass index (BMI) puts me in the “overweight” category.  I’ve improved from obese, and am still losing, but for the moment I’m overweight, at least according to my BMI. (See my latest progress report.)

About two-thirds of Michigan’s adult population is either overweight or obese. As for our children, one in eight is obese. Overall, the Great Lakes State is the eighth fattest in the nation.

That’s if you see BMI as a valid indicator of fat vs. lean. There are problems with it. A well-muscled athlete with very little body fat can be classified as overweight according to BMI. Continue reading Governor wants Michiganders to shape up, will track fat kids

Obesogenic: a new word for an old idea

Tuna-avocado salad: what environment did this come from?

A commentary by Jane E. Brody in yesterday’s New York Times has a promising title: Attacking the Obesity Epidemic by First Figuring Out Its Cause.

You have to admit, there’s logic in that approach. There’s logic, too, in Brody’s central claim that we live in an environment that encourages, or at least enables, frequent eating and discourages, or at least enables the avoidance of,  exercise.

But is that environment “obesogenic” as Brody and some of her sources claim? Does the modern world make us fat by providing too many cheap calories and demanding too little expenditure of those calories? Continue reading Obesogenic: a new word for an old idea

Study: lifetime “dose” of obesity linked to diabetes risk

My old alma mater is famous for a football stadium that seats (or at least wedges in) about 113,000 people, give or take a couple thousand.

If the current obesity trend continues, it will get progressively harder to squeeze all those spectator butts into Michigan Stadium without the liberal use of butter. This lends special urgency to the research into the causes, consequences and cures for obesity, some of it being conducted across town in Ann Arbor at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

A recently published study by the University of Michigan Health System of over 8,000 subjects followed from 1981 to 2006 focuses on one of the likely health consequences of obesity: type-2 diabetes. The press release announcing the study (see below) begins by noting that while obesity is a known risk factor for diabetes, what isn’t known is “whether the ‘dose’ of obesity—how much excess weight a person has, and for how long—affects the risk of diabetes.”

Probably most of us won’t be surprised to learn that dose matters.  In other words, the researchers found that a person’s odds of developing diabetes increase the longer and the more over-weight he or she is. Continue reading Study: lifetime “dose” of obesity linked to diabetes risk

Helping the President raise awareness about childhood obesity

Happy National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month!

That’s right, September 2011 has been so proclaimed by President Obama. The President notes that a third of American children are obese or over-weight and urges “all Americans to take action by learning about and engaging in activities that promote healthy eating and greater physical activity by all our Nation’s children.”

I can’t find a place on the proclamation to leave a comment, so I’ll do it here.

Mr. President, I’m with you on the healthy eating, but I’m not so sure about the greater physical activity. Yes, I think kids should run, jump and play outside, but I don’t see physical activity as doing much to prevent or eliminate childhood obesity. It’s true that physical activity will take kids’ minds off of snacking — for a while.  But sooner or later, the kids are going to sit down and eat. Then what?

Then the fat kids will still be fat, and the skinny kids will still be skinny. That’s how it was for me.  As an adolescent, I was fat but reasonably active. Then, in high school, I lost the fat, even though I was less active than I had been in my heavy years.   Continue reading Helping the President raise awareness about childhood obesity

Let them eat beans! Why soda pop bans are a bad idea

Should the USDA allow states or cities to bar the use of food stamps to purchase soda pop and other sugary drinks? Or perhaps go a step further and enact such a ban itself?

What the heck, why not just enshrine the ban in federal law?

The New York Daily News in a recent editorial slams the feds for blocking an attempt by New York City to try the soda pop ban for two years to see what if any impact it would have on obesity rates in poor communities. The newspaper cites a four-part series on the obesity pandemic in the respected British medical journal The Lancet, which calls for just this type of government action.

The editorial also cites the usual grim statistics on obesity in the United States. Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30%, and no state has an obesity rate lower than 20%.

I don’t drink pop anymore. I would advise everyone to stop drinking it, along with fruit juices and caloric sports drinks.  I think liquid calories are one factor in obesity and related medical conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, for many people. Continue reading Let them eat beans! Why soda pop bans are a bad idea

Healthy weight loss is a patriotic duty

“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995.” — Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of Trust for America’s Health, in 7 July 2011 press release.

Yes, America, you are getting fatter, and sicker, too.  So says F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens Americas Future 2011, the latest in a series of annual reports on American weight-gain and fitness by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).  In the past year, obesity rates increased in 16 states and didn’t decline in any state.

The ten states with the highest obesity rates are

1. Mississippi (34.4% now/ 19.4% in 1995)

2. Alabama (32.3%/ 15.7%)

3. West Virginia (32.2%/ 17.7% )

4. Tennessee (31.9%/ 16.4%)

5. Louisiana (31.6%/ 17%)

6. Kentucky (31.5%/ 16.6%)

7. Oklahoma (31.4%/ 12.9%)

8. South Carolina (30.9%/ 16.6%)

9. Arkansas (30.6%/ 17%)

10. Michigan (30.5%/ 17.2%)

Colorado has the lowest current obesity rate, 19.8% — up from 10.7% in 1995. Continue reading Healthy weight loss is a patriotic duty