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.

Comments

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.

Lorraine
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.

Reese

Popular posts from this blog

Back to Basics: Dry Summers, Figs, and a Chunk of Cheese

What do we know about simplicity? Figs from our tree. Figs. The taste of summer, the taste of home; my immigrant home. Our backyard tree is heavy with fruit. In the mornings I go out to pick what is ripe; figs for breakfast, a treat straight from the tree; flesh and seeds, refreshing and sweet, grainy resistance and softness at the same time. Figs, the color of their skin, purple with blotches of green or white stripes where they have cracked. The reds and browns inside bring up memories: a summer spent in Normandy, France, with my parents, my brother, and my maternal grandmother. Life was about food in its basic, original form, about mussels and figs and cheese; it was about the ocean and its tides, gigantic but predictable, and about history. We visited Bayeux to see  the tapestry which tells the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings;  we spent a day or a half at  Arromanches,  saw a documentary on D-Day and the landing of the allied forces on the b

Another Word for Fast Food? Trzesniewski (Pile On 1)

The other day I passed by a new Subway sandwich place which had opened a few blocks from our house. As I was reflecting its green and yellow sign images of foot long chunks of white bread came to mind, mayo smeared on one half, mustard on the other; ham, provolone, pickles, jalapenos, onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes in between and a bag of chips for sides... People in America like to pile on. I also thought of my favorite fast food place in Vienna, which goes by the unspeakable name of Trzesniewski. The original Trzesniewski opened in the first district more than one hundred years ago. Its oldest location is tucked into a narrow street off of Graben. Other outlets are scattered around town. Trzesniewski sells open face sandwiches, slivers of rye bread (white or wheat? no, you do not get to choose!), topped with spreads made from either egg or tomatoes or cucumber, pickle, salmon, herring...  The more elaborate creations come with two or three spreads, applied next to each other

Passionate Nerd, Dull Date: Encounter With a Stamp Collector

"Their album - it's an excuse." Stamps from Austria Last week I received a packet from Austria. It came with two old fashioned looking petit point stamps. I do not collect stamps and would not recognize a Blue Mauritius if you sent me one but the stamps from Austria caught my interest. As my fingers were running over the stitching I couldn't help but wonder: does anyone still do petit point? Are young people here in L.A. or even back in Europe still acquiring the craft? I learned to stitch, sew, and knit in elementary school in Austria but handiwork was not my forte. On the contrary. Crafts used to be the one subject I loathed - though I believe that my mother still keeps the red and blue pot holder I crocheted in second grade. (It was supposed to be a square but ended up an irregular trapeze.) The other thing I was wondering about when the packet arrived is whether young people still collect stamps. When I was in high school I knew a guy my age with a collec