Skip to main content

Eat Less! Government Finds Tool Against Obesity Epidemic

Washington thought long (and hard?) about how to best tackle the obesity problem in this country. This week it published new dietary guidelines for Americans: eat less, avoid oversized portions, drink water instead of sugary drinks. According to the two agencies which came up with the new plan - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - the new recommendations provide "authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases". The suggestions are "based on the most sound scientific information". Which information? Scientific? Avoid oversized portions. Isn't that a no-brainer?

The governmental departments of Health and of Agriculture have been in the dietary recommendation business since 1980 and have published new suggestions for healthy eating habits every five years since then. All the while we have grown bigger and bigger. Two thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. One in three children are obese. Their risk for diseases such as diabetes is high; they must expect to live shorter lives than their parents; their nutrition related health issues will eventually cost us an arm and a leg, either through tax dollars or through insurance premiums.

It is time to change our eating habits, definitely. But maybe we need more than that: a new approach to how we think about food and, most of all, whom we let think for us. 30 years of dietary advice by scientists and public servants have obviously gotten us nowhere. What if we took the science out of what's on our plates and put a good dash of common sense into it? What if we stopped paying the government to tell us what and how we must eat and started listening to our bodies instead? That, after all, is what Europeans do. They are slimmer than we are.


Lorraine Seal said…
Hi Christina

I was out and about Salzburg this morning, thinking as I so often do about the fitness and handsomeness of the people I see it. True, not everyone is absolutely slender, and one does occasionally see very overweight people, but generally people are trim and fit looking, at all ages. I rarely see an obese child, yet we saw them all the time in Ireland and in America.

My husband suggests that in part, the answer lies in history. For instance, during the 19th century and early 20th century, food was very scarce in Ireland, throughout the famine and in the poverty of the early part of this century. Perhaps the genes that allowed individuals to store fat were selected as a result.

And here in Austria, there is so much activity in the culture. Guys he works with climb Untersberg in the mornings, ski down and then go into work. Everyday, and particularly on Sundays, we see people of every age walking, Nordic trekking, biking, skating and running along the river. People keep moving.

I don't know what the answer it -- I carry more weight than I should myself. But it is a shame to see so much obesity in young people. It will become for them a life-long burden.

Reese said…
Hi Christina,

Interesting discussion you’ve brought up.

We watched Food Incorporated last year and the documentary really opened our eyes to the foods that we consume everyday. It is appalling to learn that many dietary issues in the US are tracked back to the source of the food supply, with large corporations as the main culprit. They have so much control in our daily consumption habits and lifestyle than we ever imagined.

Even in Asia, we’re seeing more & more obese children than before since parents are cooking less at home. People are opting for processed foods rather than natural foods. And we’re speaking of affluent and educated people that are adopting such lifestyles. We also stop walking anywhere now as everyone owns a car. Children stop running around because they prefer to stay indoors with their video games. Conveniences come to be the drivers of our modern lifestyle.

This can only be changed if the individual wants to change. And true, we will have to embrace some common sense and consciousness to take care of our bodies.


Popular posts from this blog

Visions of Editors: How Good Stories Go to Waste

Recently I stumbled upon Visions of Mary, a war story by Joseph Richardson. The book begins in a present day emergency room in Tennessee: A physician, a good guy who takes his work seriously, fights to establish the identity of a man who was found wandering about in a snow storm. The M.D.'s questions bring up memories of World War II in the disoriented patient. Thanks to the lost man's recollections we eventually learn that he is Colonel John Stone, an American war hero. The colonel tells the physician how he enlisted and became a pilot, how he married his sweetheart, Mary, and how he almost died when the Japanese shot down his plane, the "China Doll," in the last months of the war. After the attack, Stone and his men found themselves on a raft in the middle of a shark infested nowhere called the Pacific. Without food, water and radio connection their death seemed imminent. The men's fight for survival is where the book turns exciting: plunged into this crisis,

Lyman, Whitford, Reality Check: A Career in the West Wing?

On a chilly Sunday night in February two young girls in jeans and light blouses were standing in front of the artists' entrance of one of two local art theaters in Pasadena, California. The pathway beyond the barrier, an iron gate, was barely lit. It stayed empty for a long time while the girls, shifting weight from one foot to the other, chatted and giggled. After a while a figure emerged from the shadows. The girls fell silent but it was the wrong actor. When the right man, Bradley Whitford, finally appeared he was wearing a bicycle helmet pushed way up on his forehead. Whitford is best known for playing Josh Lyman in the TV series  The West Wing   but on that night he had performed in the Pasadena Playhouse's production of Yasmina Reza’s   Art.  The girls stopped the actor, told him about their social studies class and how the teacher would have them watch The West Wing.  Whitford smiled, asked, "Which school is it?" and autographed the two print-outs the girls

Solid Rock, Human Transience (The Huntington 2)

Organic blend: Chinese garden at the Huntington The Chinese garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (L.A. county) is a magical place. It blends the man-made and the natural, architecture with trees, straight lines and curves, all in an organic way. Last week, as I was wandering the cobbled paths of the garden I decided to take a closer look at some of the rocks. I got to my knees, admired the shades of white and grey, the undertones of purple, green, and red; I let my hand glide over the limestone's spurs, cracks, and sharp edges, felt the coolness of the rock against my skin, its enduring solidity against my human transience - and decided to look up some facts. Spurs and cracks: 50 Chinese stone workers flew in to carve the stone Transplants in L.A.: 850 tons of rock The limestone rocks in the Huntington's Chinese garden are transplants. They were imported from Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta in China. Acc