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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

This article in The New York Times does an injustice to all practical thinkers when it comes to exercise and living  a healthy lifestyle.

Since forever we’ve known regular exercise, even a little, will deliver a multitude of benefits. So today, in the midst of the obesity epidemic – when the average Cinnabon is roughly the circumference of a toddler’s head – do we need scientific studies and exercise experts to further convince the bulk of people in the world (and believe me, “bulk” is the key word in this sentence) who are living a sedentary lifestyle that exercise is pointless?

Here’s a short excerpt from the article…

Exercise alone, in the absence of weight loss, has not been shown to reduce blood pressure. Nor does it make much difference in cholesterol levels. Weight loss can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but if you want to lose weight, you have to diet as well as exercise. Exercise alone has not been shown to bring sustained weight loss. Just ask Steven Blair, an exercise researcher at the University of South Carolina. He runs every day and even runs marathons. But, he adds, “I was short, fat and bald when I started running, and I’m still short, fat and bald. Weight control is difficult for me. I fight the losing battle.”

The difficulty, Dr. Blair says, is that it’s much easier to eat 1,000 calories than to burn off 1,000 calories with exercise. As he relates, “An old football coach used to say, ‘I have all my assistants running five miles a day, but they eat 10 miles a day.’”

exerciseMany of us fight the battle of the bulge during our lifetimes. I’ve never delivered on my promise to develop rock hard abs. Even in my best shape, God didn’t grant me Dennis Quaid-like genetics. I know, damn. But this shortcoming doesn’t mean I won’t do crunches four days a week, run or ride three days a week and lift weights twice a week. I fully believe that without exercise I would quickly balloon to 250, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol (mine is 162) and suffer from sleep apnea. So I exercise, eat a balanced diet and strive to keep my metabolism high. Yeah, I’m still soft in spots but imagine what I might look like if I did nothing?

Science that suggests people leave exercise out of the mix of options is not helpful science. The obesity epidemic is contributing to a diabetes crisis, which will in turn contribute to more people with heart disease and a handful of other chronic conditions – which will result in health care costs continuing to sky rocket.  We each must fight our bulge battles no matter what science tells us about the advantages (or disadvantages) of exercise. We each must model good health behaviors for our children if we wish for them to live long and active lives. We each must get out of the recliner and into our tennis shoes for a walk, a ride, a pilates regime, a run – even if only around the block.

What we DO know about exercise, that fewer children are actually doing it and more and more kids are obese in our world, seems to deliver the loudest message of all. A message we need to reshape. Literally.

I’ll meet you at 5.  Bring your workout gear.

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True or false: A recent National Institutes of Health study estimated the annual medical spending due to obesity (BMI >25) in the United States to be as much as $92.6 billion in 2002 dollars – or roughly 9.1 percent of total U.S. health care expenditures.

Scary isn’t it?

So what are we doing about obesity? Not everyone can afford to hire a full-time diet coach like the Los Angeles Police Department is providing to its officers who are on the rotund side of the obesity equation. You can read that story, as reported by the Associated Press, by clicking this link.

The solution is really quite simple. Increased activity and eating smaller amounts of processed foods will result in a fitter America. The problem facing kids and adults alike is finding time to eat in a healthy way and the ability to turn off the computer and the TV long enough for 30 minutes of some form of physical activity each day. That’s the start of it…the foundation.

We all make excuses. When our kids are chubby, we tell them they’ll grow out of it. When a diet fails we tell ourselves stress at work or at home is too much to handle right now. Blah blah blah.

The thing is, no one can make us be healthy or active. That’s up to each of us as individuals. I have first-hand experience in this department. Twenty years ago I was nearing 225 pounds and my waist was 38 inches around. Now, at 43 I’m 35 pounds lighter and enjoy regular physical activity. I’m not a freak with it, but I’ve made it part of my life.

If I can do it, any one can do it. Are you an American or an American’t? C’mon! Find a way to stuff your face with the RIGHT kind of foods and use the body to get from point A to point B a few times a week.

By the way, the answer to the true/false question above is TRUE! Wouldn’t it be nice to pocket a little of that $92 billion every year instead of giving it to doctors and nutritionists who are going to tell you to eat less and exercise more?

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Time to Fight Fat

Not long ago, a lawmaker in the great State of Mississippi, decided in all his wisdom that the best way to fight obesity in the state would be to give restaurants the ability to decline service to patrons who were, in fact, clearly obese. The story appeared in USA Today on Feb. 5.  Clearly, the Republican legislator who had this braniac idea knew it wouldn’t get far. But, my friends, it’s gotten far.

Far enough to prompt debate in newspapers all around the country, like the Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil. In the editorials and letters to the editor I’ve glanced at, a key point is raised again and again. Should we attack the nation’s fat problem head on or tip toe around obesity like a Minnesota driver who gets cut off on I-494 by someone with out-of-state plates (Minnesota “nice” tells us to just wave that driver on by…with a smile)?

Fat AssGiving restaurant owners/wait staff the ability to not serve a patron based on how far his or her ass hangs off the chair is clearly not the way to go. But c’mon people! What’s the answer here? And why are we dancing around one of the biggest (guffaw) epidemics of the century? The term “morbidly obese” means that someone with this condition could easily die from the problem. Their fat issue will lead to chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes and more – all at a huge cost to our already taxed health care system.  Do we, as intelligent, educated citizens stand by and watch this happen?

I would argue that if it’s OK for us to agree to ban smoking in commercial buildings, restaurants and other public places, ban drugs, and require bar owners to cut off patrons who are obviously drunk and intending to get even more so, then it’s not out of the question to find a way to restrict those who don’t have a “stop” button from eating themselves into further oblivion and even to death. Why is it NOT ok to at least have frank conversations with our neighbors about finding alternatives to that pound of butter and several gallons of Crisco they use to fry a turkey in their garage at Thanksgiving?

The nicey nice attitude toward obesity has to go on the shelf. It’s time to get angry and break out the anti-fat messaging that will ring clear in peoples’ heads once and for all. If not for them, then for their children. Let’s do it before our DNA alters itself and predisposes all of humanity to be obese.

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