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→
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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%.
“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 America‘s 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.
Rodent health has never been a major concern of mine, but it seems to worry scientists a lot. For example, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published a study in the journal Obesity that examines what happens to rats who are fed a snack-filled diet similar to that consumed by millions of Americans.
The study makes an important point about modeling human metabolic syndrome in lab rats, but it suggests even more.
The snack or “cafeteria” diet consisted of “high-salt, high-fat, low-fiber, energy dense foods such as cookies, chips, and processed meats.” The hypothesis was that rats who ate the cafeteria diet would better model human metabolic syndrome than rats who ate a lard-based high-fat diet.
Indeed, the study revealed that “rats fed human nutrient-poor foods [the cafeteria diet] develop severe metabolic syndrome which is more robust than the effect of traditional HFD [high-fat diet] exposure.” The rats on the cafeteria diet rapidly gained weight, and developed a “prediabetic condition with elevated glucose, insulin, and nonesterified fatty acids.” Continue reading Snack-filled diet dangerous for rats — and us→