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So in answer to my earlier post today about new obesity issues, earlier post today about new obesity issues, a friend wrote me off list and asked Is Obesity really a political issue? Isn't it an issue of personal choice.

We had a great discussion and this was my answer to her, which I thought would be good to post up here as well...

Is Obesity really a political issue??? I see it as political, because like most of our problems in the states these days, unchecked corp. interest is a large culprit. Subsidized big ag, grows 200% more corn and soy than we can use, so that gets pumped into processed food, animal feed, and high fructose corn syrup. Which keeps our food costs low, but our heath care costs high.

i see it as a political issue because we do not cover heath care or
promote prevention education and information, and then we do not cover
health care once people are sick, and this is largely related to diet
in the usa.

food stamps until recently were not reimbursed if accepted by local
farmers markets. that was a political issue

Big ag is also given all sorts of environmental leeway from the
government, make it easier to grow food even if pesticides are bad for
us, and we are polluting the environment. use GM even at the expense
of knowing the long range effects. did you know that they suspect that
gm corn is killing all the bees, which will have a huge impact on
pollinating crops?

we grow and create an average of 3500 calories of food per day per
person in the states. even children, and the corp. structure is set up
to encourage people to consume that- via advertising, school lunch
programs etc. etc. even though it is at least 1000 calories more than
a adult needs.

Food business actively participates in disinformation campaigns. And
there is no labeling or advertising over site.

we finally stopped cigarette companies from using cartoon characters
to advertise using cartoons but even though diabetes is on the rise in
kids we target a lot of our processed food marketing to Kids

the list goes on and on, and it will require legislation and people
powered political movements to get the word out.

Also the FARM bill is a huge part of this effort and that is certainly
political. It sets up a system of food production that favors big ag,
food processors, and trucking food all over the country and makes it
harder to stay in business if you are a local small farmer.

anyway. all of life has some political connection, but this certainly
seems like a huge political issue to me. You said it is an economic,
poverty and health issue, but since all of those should be political
issues, then food would be as well.

just my thoughts on it. I think by saying it is not a political issue
we give our legislators a pass on concerning themselves with laws and
systems that would make our food nutritious, affordable, and
sustainable.

Just like our fuel consumption is Not sustainable, our current food
production processes cannot be sustained into the future. we are
killing our land, water supply, using fuel and killing ourselves.

last estimates were that 33% of green house gas emissions in the usa
are related to agriculture, food processes and food transportation.
1/3!

I think of it less as reaching out to people to say be involved in
this Politics issue- and more recognizing that if we don't get our
government to change some key pieces of legislation there is no end in
site.

even if people ate smarter, getting access to good food, and getting
big ag to do the right thing would require a change in laws. Remember
they are also growing and shipping gm, and big ag food, and processed
food all over the world, esp. to deveioping countries.

thanks for asking. as you can see I have too much to spout off on with
all of this...

Would like to hear your thoughts....

Originally posted to the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:03 AM PDT.

Poll

Is Obesity a Political issue

66%42 votes
20%13 votes
9%6 votes
3%2 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  The answer (not my opinion) is: (6+ / 0-)

    Liberals want it to be political, conservatives do not.

    What makes me say this? Health Care.  

    From a Liberal perspective - Health Care is a right of the people. 3 people need a heart transplant, only 1 heart.. the choice should NOT be made by who has the most money.

    From a Conservative perspective - Health Care is a Good to be purchased.  The price of the Heart is based upon Supply and Demand.

    ... Back to Obesity

    From a Liberal point of view - if the Health Care system was distributed evenly, then it makes complete sense that obesity should be a priority because it increases health care costs.

    From a Conservative point of view - Because individuals purchase their own health care, they decide what shape to keep their bodies in and let the insurance/health care providers determine what it will cost you to recieve their services.

    So ... I didn't answer your pole, because this is the answer - not a generic "yes it is important, no it isn't"  But with the country split down the middle - that means we probably end up with the worst of both extremes.  Costs are through the roof and benefits are through the floor.

    Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

    by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:11:28 AM PDT

    •  Ok, you can say it's my opinion if you want. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the littlest gator

      Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

      by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:11:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Markets (7+ / 0-)

      Liberals also see it as political because we believe that government has a role in protecting us from out-of-control markets.

      The obesity epidemic is a consequence of corporations (developers as well as food manufacturers and restaurants) ignoring the demands of public health and the common good.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Frederick Douglass

      by dcdanny on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:37:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

        But Conservatives can easily contend that the reason Health Care is an out-of-control market is because of the huge influxes of Government programs and that if the "false demand" wasn't created by these Government programs then the supply of Health Care would balance with the Demand and an equilibrium would be found.

        The result would be a lot of unhappy people who are told that thier child/parent no longer has Health Care provided by the Government. So we all know that Republicans will not let he government programs die - just suffer and when the population cries enough, offer a subsidy to the pharm and insurance corps to fill the gap.

        It's all political games and until there really is Socialized medicine in one form or another there will be this continuous struggle between making the citizens not angry and making the Pharm/Insurance corps happy.

        Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

        by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:25:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  long past time (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tobendaro, Silent Lurker

          to stop worrying about what the the conservatives will say. even if we try our best to give them no ammunition they will just lie. and beat us with what ever made up stick they come up with.

          Like liberals are going to ban the bible.

          so we might as well stop worrying and do what we think is right.

          Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

          by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:35:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well, if we had veto proof majorities (0+ / 0-)

            with nearly all of them in safe seats - then yes, we could brush aside an administrations attempts: but with the ammount of money which is put into the process from the various sectors, and the vast number of people which are affected - it is far beyond what a small group of activists have any right to accomplish. This is something that affects the entire country in very life changing ways.

            I'm all for it - have been for years and have discussed it with many intelligent people who are very opposed to the idea of socialized medicine.  The best argument that I find which atleast gets them to listen is that we are already paying for it. When an uninsured person gets desperately sick - they go to the Emergency Room, where they will not be turned away.  And that costs a lot more than if they had just gone to a physician.. and likely even less if they had gone prior to it becoming serious.

            But alas, the idea of masive increases in the budget due to socialized medicine is a very large hurdle.  Many do not like the concept of waiting 6 months to see a doctor either.

            But in the End - maybe 100 years from now - Liberals will .. "win" this battle.. it's just a matter of time.

            Conservatives might not even realize it - but they have already given in to Socialized Medicine.. now it's just a matter of time before it happens.  Once they passed the Perscription Medicine bill - that set the precedent of them agreeing that the federal government has a role in health care.

            Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

            by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:47:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  One small add on (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      el dorado gal, tobendaro, langerdang

      This is basically what I wanted to say.  The other political issue is farm and food policy.  If obesity became a big issue, money would have to be reallocated awyay from corn to healthier food.

      Ortiz/Ramírez '08

      by theran on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:37:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well.. (0+ / 0-)

        unless the ethynol lobby successfully kept US dollars into the corn and soybean industries... Heck the Ethynol lobby may very well be arguing in favor of a healthier nation as a means of discounting the negative impact the possible use of Ethynol would have on the food supply.

        Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

        by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01:50:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very, very political (8+ / 0-)

    Saying obesity is a personal choice is like saying that  Americans chose to be misinformed about Iraq in the winter of 2003. Yes, it was possible to learn that the administration was exaggerating/lying -- just as it is possible to eat right and be fit. But powerful interests aligned to put the right choice out of reach for most people.

    Sprawling development patterns (ie no parks and sidewalks), income inequality (many if not most Americans simply can't afford healthy food today), under-regulated markets (transfats) and broken public policies (programs like WIC encourage unhealthy eating, public schools serve sugary goo & peddle cheetos)-- all these contribute to our national fatness.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Frederick Douglass

    by dcdanny on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:29:33 AM PDT

    •  disinformation (5+ / 0-)

      they don't just make it hard to get the info, they lie.

      I recently saw, in a dc subway, a poster campaign saying the health threat of obesity has been exaggerated... It quoted some bogus think tank study.

      they have the money to tell people whatever they want to sell their product.

      And this in a subway system paid for by taxes.

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:09:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's a big political element to it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, the littlest gator

      School boards which take money from Coca Cola and Pepsi to push junk on kids or allow fast food restaurants to operate on school premises are political.

      A farm bill that subsidizes corn (and corn syrup) which makes the very cheapest foods the most unhealthy is absolutely political.

      When I go into some poor neighborhoods in D.C. all I see are convenience stores selling chips and sugary snacks. The restaurants in those areas are almost all take-aways that serve huge portions of fried food(not without its charms-but you get the point). They are very underserved when it comes to grocery stores and almost no fresh produce is available. The lack of public spaces for exercise just adds to the dilemna.

      How exactly are these parents supposed to fight all these forces and raise healthy families?

      I don't mean to suggest it's some huge conspiracy but the structure of our government can have an impact on health issues like obesity, especially on the poor who have fewer choices healthwise.

      •  thank you for the link (0+ / 0-)

        read the whole report that dclawyer06 recommends but for a quick view of how bad things are and how fast we got there. Here is a link to just the maps mentioned

        Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

        by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 08:02:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oops (0+ / 0-)

          i was trying to thank and link from a different comment. my bad.

          but your neighborhood and school board points are truly important!

          Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

          by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 08:07:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Obesity (6+ / 0-)

    is a huge subject and is directly linked to the society we live in. I'll just cut one angle here, A working pair trying to survive with two kids. Both working with one or more jobs no time to prepare real meals....take aways, deep frozen and the best a can of whatever can offer.
    Vicious circle.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:33:17 AM PDT

  •  corn syrup (4+ / 0-)

    I think the use of corn in ethanol will take the price high enough that perhaps manufacturers won't be using as much corn syrup in junk food.
    The Guardian has a pretty good wrap up on the food/fuel controversy today. (Their take is that it will be a disaster for impoverished countries.) When the price of Fritos gets high enough, maybe people will think twice about indulging.

    •  yuck (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, tobendaro

      another way to use the over abundance of corn we grow at huge expense to the environment. The guy who wrote the omnivore's dilema had a great hidden kitchens podcast about this... it takes 150 gallons of oil to grow one acre of corn- so growing corn for fuel is not the answer...

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:13:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Carrot and stick (3+ / 0-)

    Obesity is having a major effect on rising health care costs (diabetes, coronary disease).  People that are obese due to lifestyle choices should be paying higher health insurance deductibles and copays.  There should also be incentives and health management programs available to them to assist in dropping lbs.  They owe it to themselves, their families, and the public at large to get control of their eating habits.  This goes for smokers and alcoholics as well.  

    •  I support (and use) national health care (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the littlest gator

      I live overseas and am an enthusiastic supporter of national health care but I have a conservative side and this is one area where I would tend to agree with you.

      I would find it acceptable to, say, charge people x% over their recommended weight an additional amount of money per month to cover their nat'l health care.

      I suppose it's an area where compromise could be reached with conservatives.  How it would play out in the real world is another issue and whether or not such a system would be cost effective could also be debated, but in theory, I'm not against it.

      It might encourage people to eat healthier; maybe have a banana instead of a bag of cheetos.

      American overseas? Register to vote at www.VoteFromAbroad.org

      by YoyogiBear on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:06:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives by forcing all American families (5+ / 0-)

    to include two wage earners where one once sufficed created a huge reliance on fast food. No one has the time or energy left to cook healthy wholesome foods anymore. From Reagan on, the tax structure and wage devaluation ensured domestic activities were no longer viable.

    "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

    by java4every1 on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:46:45 AM PDT

    •  It's no accident (3+ / 0-)

      that when Americans worked less, they weighed less.

      •  Interesting. Never thought of it that way. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YoyogiBear
        •  Work/Weight (0+ / 0-)

          The idea that "when we worked less we weighed less" is an interesting notion but I'm not certain that I'm following you.

          When was "when"?  How much did people work? How much did they Weigh?  was there a steady relationship?  

          Even if you can't give me numbers - could you maybe tease with some more general information for me to toy around with?

          Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

          by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:38:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay. (0+ / 0-)

            How about when union membership hit an all time high in 1955?

            •  Fair enough (0+ / 0-)

              now to continue to get more information about this - did people work less hours per week prior to that?  What was the average work week in hours? How much did people weigh at thatpoint relative to 10 years prior?

              1955 - right between the time period that women worked because of the war effort, and when women began to seriously attend school and get jobs outside of the "traditional (read: 50 years of Tradition) jobs".. how does that fit into the work week and weight relative to the decade prior and decade following.

              I don't want to discount that there is a relationship - but I'd need more information about the theory before I wanted to run any regressions.

              Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

              by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01:45:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, but there is real evidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, the littlest gator

      that it wsn't Conservatives who made the American Families convert to a 2 wage earner model.  It really was the oportunities which were presented by the notion that women could work outside of the home.

      Leave it to Beaver ended well before Reagan came to office.

      You are right that the wage devaluation has TRAPPED families into the current model - but the model was not created by conservatives, it was created by liberals.

      Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

      by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:11:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For a good reason (0+ / 0-)

        Anyway, having a job doesn't preclude eating good food.  Good food being expensive and unavailable is the problem...

        Ortiz/Ramírez '08

        by theran on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:39:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not a big (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran

          believer in the cost ratio of healthy and unhealthy food, and wouldn't trust any survey which tried to make a comparison of such - because eating healthy isn't about havin an avacado + Tomato salad each day. (which is one of my preffered meals), it is about draining the grease from the hamburger before using it.  It is about cooking your meats by boiling them and not frying them.  It is about eating citrus instead of gum.  Mangos - 50 cents each right now - that's cheap for food, isn't it?  Mango has got to be healthy, it's so damn good.

          Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

          by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:55:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with you (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            theran, dclawyer06

            Buying fresh food and preparing it takes time and it doesn't have the immediate salty, greasy taste that the fast fooders are used too.  Therefore it is not satisfying them. I have had guests pour salt on my dish because they are so used to food with high salt content and they can't taste unless it is salty. The other factor is people don't even know how to cook because it has become a lost art.  I think part of the fascination with cooking shows is because cooking is an oddity.  
                I have informally looked at my aquaintance's familiarity and use of cooking fresh foods and find it sorely lacking.  Some proudly say they cook but what they think is cooking is pulling out frozen foods and heating them or using 5 "phoney" foods to make a large, gooey dish full of fat and chemicals.

            "Do you want to tumble? Let's tumble." Stephen Colbert

            by tobendaro on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:31:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sorta (0+ / 0-)

            You are assigning a zero cost to the time and effort involved in getting the cheap healthy food.  Depending on where you are, this may or may not be reasonable.

            That said, I agree with everything else you say.

            Ortiz/Ramírez '08

            by theran on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 07:14:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cooking (0+ / 0-)

              Healthy does not take long.  Especially if you are just trying to be "healthier than buying a big mac".

              Life happens at the margin, cut down fat, sodium, cholesteral by even a little bit can have a huge impact on your life.

              True, if you find yourself accustomed to going to nice sit-down restraunts and eating a steak every day: then preparing home cooked meals might take time, but in this case you are likely more concerned with money than the healthiness.

              I cook. My meals are all very simple and take about 5 minutes worth of effort.

              Here are a few of my favorite recipies:

              Lasagna, I make my own Spinach Lasagna merely by using 2 jars of my favorite Sauce, 24ish oz of Ricotta cheese, Chopped Spinach (absolutely make sure to drain the water first if you are going to use frozen), 16 oz of Mozz cheese.. 2 eggs.  Mix eggs, spinach, ricotta into a bowl - then layer the sause, noodles, cheese.. I usually add one layer of mushrooms or bell peppers to add variety.. then top with Moz. The entire prep time takes less than 10 minutes and it can sit in the oven for 40 minutes doing its thing... very simple and almost no dishes to wash.

              Tomato and Avacado pockets: trust me, this is yummy.
              Dice a tomato and an avacado, mix, add a splash of your favorite vinegrette dressing and some crumbled feta cheese.  Toast up some Pita bread and fill the Pita halves with the mix..  very yummy indeed and takes all of 3 minutes before you have food in your mouth.

              A salad which I call a medeterranian salad, though in reality I just sorta made it up myself: Shred purple cabbage, add Diced tomatoes and Avacadoes, splash generously with lime juice.. takes almost no time to make.

              and for snacks - ok this one has a higher cost than chips - get Pita and carrot sticks, and try out some spicey hummus to dip them into.  There are lots of different types of hummus - but I preffer the spicey varieties..  give it a try, you might be surprised at how good it is..

              Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

              by Yoshi En Son on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01:21:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Fifty cents apiece? (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know where the hell you live, so bear with me.

            It's a dollar a piece on sale where I live.

            And the only supermarket I can walk to(no car natch), prides itself on overcharging for produce.  

            Eating healthy is about watching your calories, mainly, and getting vitamins smartly (total cereal, anyone??).

            Even for antioxidants, vegetables lose out.

      •  It certainly was not created by liberals. It was (0+ / 0-)

        a nonfactor until Reagan, Michael Milken, leveraged buyouts, union busting, zero antitrust, HMOs, pension raiding, hedgefunds etc., etc., etc. Before Liberals (like FDR)we had a very prescient look at the conservative model in the depression. Americans were barely eating at all.

        "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

        by java4every1 on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:07:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  this and the farm bill (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran, dclawyer06

      the farm bill used to promote and help family farms that were better stewards of the land and grew better food that was easier to get.

      in the nixon era the bill changed dramatically, largely written by big commodieties and corn and soy traders cargill etc. so no surprise that public policy has turned against good food and against the family farm

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:17:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think it is political (3+ / 0-)

    because people are forced to work longer hours in sedentary occupations, no substantial breaking for exercise.
    The suppression of mass transit and encouragements to eat fast food and sodas are also involved.  

  •  Everyone has good points but I'm not sure we can (3+ / 0-)

    ignore the impact that our culture plays in this either.  I mean, Americans seem to want to get their money's worth.  As a result, they'll get a 64oz big gulp instead of a 32oz one.

    They'll supersize their meals for an additional $.50, etc.

    I'll grant you that the corporations do a good job (too good probably) of marketing their junk, but Americans also need to stop buying so damn much of it.

    American overseas? Register to vote at www.VoteFromAbroad.org

    by YoyogiBear on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:09:44 AM PDT

  •  it simply seems to me that we don't need to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the littlest gator

    eatdrinkthink the way big corporations suggest we do. And if really thorough businessmen have it covered, then we should follow the money to see if any of this is "politically" correct or not.

    "Well, we're a little disturbed by the situation in the Middle East, but other than that..." Cyril, Breaking Away (1979)

    by peaceloveandkucinich on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:12:06 AM PDT

    •  cargill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran

      wants people to buy huge sodas filled with HFCS... and they have spent a lot of money to figure out how to teach people to do just that.

      including things as simple as convincing school boards that it is a good idea to have vending machines in schools... I mean what kind of message are we sending.

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:19:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  obesity (3+ / 0-)

    I would call this a class issue. The other comments about working parents not having the time to prepare healthy meals are certainly correct but there is more to this. Go into the supermarket and compare prices of healthy vs. not so healthy products. Soda much cheaper than fruit juice, fruit canned in sugar syrup cheaper than fresh fruit, white bread cheaper than multigrain, ect. Many families have very difficult choices to make in the market every week.

    •  well partially true (0+ / 0-)

      but actually if we learned to eat more locally and more seasonally the prices are not as bad as folks have lead us to believe. But access is certainly a problem.

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:51:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I find it (0+ / 0-)

      far cheaper to eat fresh than not.  A roast might be $10.00 but I can get three meals out of it at least.  People don't have time to prepare nor will they become organized enough to do it.  They also have no idea how to do it.  One friend throws out her turkey bones every year even though she loves homemade turkey soup.  It is too daunting a task for her to make it.  

      "Do you want to tumble? Let's tumble." Stephen Colbert

      by tobendaro on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:35:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you elect me President (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the littlest gator

    everyone has to go on a diet and start an exercise regimen.  Unless you get a note from your doctor.

    Snark.

    The proper questions are:  Is this a question that needs National attention and draconian solutions?  care to run for office on it?

    •  disagree (0+ / 0-)

      it does not have to be draconian at all, starting with small changes can make a BIG difference, on a personal and on a nationwide level.

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:19:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  start in DC (0+ / 0-)

      within 3 miles from the Capitol, all vehicular traffic, with the exception of self-propelled vehicles and conveyances for the infirm and decrepit, shall be forbidden.  Next, state Capitols.

      Eventually, there will be a sparse grid with vehicular traffic allowed, and in suburbs these roads will be lined with  multi-level garages.  The only way to commute would be to trudge 2-3 miles to your personal car, or to take public transit (the exception for infirm, decrepit and those who are sufficiently slim).

  •  obesity results when people refuse to starve. (0+ / 0-)

    ON the one hand, you have assoholes like Dr Hamish Meldrum, head of the British Medical Association, who say that fat people, ALL fat people, are a bunch of  greedy bastards, who deserve nothing but scorn.

    A few fatties are, but most are spending most of their wealth, whether they have it or not, on diets and the like. Glandular conditions are indeed real.

    the only way to solve the problem is to make everyone very poor, or mandate starvation diets for all.

    Make victims of anerexia heroes and role models, not victims, that'll work too.

    Obesity is a result of people not starving to death, always was. in 1888, the average life span for a middle class male was 40. Think about THAT whydon't'ya.

  •  no "corporate plot", but reforms and laws needed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, lesliet

    It is not just an American problem, and it is not just big corporations that are "guilty".  I see two things: as technology progresses, the ratio of the cost of high-calories foods, and individual transportation, to income decreases.  Hence the unhealthy lifestyles are increasingly affordable, and thus affecting the poor.

    However, all income groups become fatter in my observation.  At least, the middle class and middle class children are affected a lot.

    1.  Oblige all food providers, including "mom and pop" restaurants and fast foods, to provide nutritional information for their meals.  I think some science and engineering is needed to create affordable "food testers" for, say, small pizza joints, Chinese restaurants etc.  And they can use scales too.
    1.  Regulate the size of "regular portions" and "supersize discounts"?  Outlaw -- or tax -- "all you can eat" (except for, well, carrots, to use "stick and carrot" method)?
    1.  Restructure the way agriculture is subsidized to steer it away (to a degree, of course) from bulk commodities like corn and fat meat to vegetables and fruits.
    1.  Make active lifestyle easier.  Sidewalks or wide shoulders anyone?  Public transit?  Bike paths?  More access to state forests and more trails?  Gym vouchers for the poor?  Here some ideas can be shared with energy saving.  (And bulk commodity agriculture is an energy hog as well.)
    •  Not enough vegetable and fruit growing capacity (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran

      I read somewhere (don't have the reference, sorry) that if everyone in the US tried to start eating healthy tomorrow they would not be able to obtain the necessary fruits and vegetables because we don't have the capacity to grow them in the U.S. This speaks to your point 3. We need to start encouraging growers to switch to producing more fruits and vegetables, which will not be an easy process.

      I very much support your points 1 and 4 also. For those who talk about "personal responsibility", the need for 1. should be obvious. How can you control your intake if restaurants won't tell you the composition of the food they're serving you.

      Not so sure about 2 - that seems like a bit too much government control. Although I have to admit that it bugs me when I go to a place like McDonalds and order a small hamburger and they tell me I can have two cheeseburgers for the same price, and when the healthy salad costs 5 times as much as that less healthy hamburger.

      I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

      by lesliet on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 07:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt... (0+ / 0-)

        that salad is more healthy.

        fewer calories, yes, but not more healthy.

        got stats?

        •  Hamburger vs salad (0+ / 0-)

          Well, I was referring specifically to the Asian salad with grilled chicken, eaten without any added dressing (since there's a glaze on the chicken which is adequate). From the McDonald's web site...

          Hamburger: 250 calories, 9g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, .5g trans fat, 520 g sodium, 31g carbohydrates, 2 gm fiber, 6 gm sugar, 12 g protein, % daily values: Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 10%, Iron 15%

          Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken: 300 calories, 10g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 890g sodium, 37g carbohydrates, 23g carb 5g fiber 12gm sugar 32 g protein, % daily values: Vitamin A 130, Vitamin C 90%, Calcium 15%, Iron 15%

          So they're roughly comparable in calories and fat. But the salad has less saturated and trans fats and more protein. There's bit more sodium and sugar in the salad - probably due to that glaze. But because the salad has pea pods, carrots, almonds, and mandarin oranges, there's actually some vitamins in there and more fiber. And at a greater volume, the salad is more filling and satisfies my hunger longer than a small hamburger alone.

          Some of the other McDonald's salads are worse, with things like bacon and cheese in them. And if you get the crispy chicken or slather them with dressing all bets are off. But I think the Asian salad with grilled chicken is a pretty healthy choice. It just costs 5 times as much as the hamburger.

          I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

          by lesliet on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 08:25:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is... (0+ / 0-)

            more than half the recommended sodium intake (using the non-industrialized british RDA).

            But honestly, for a salad, I'm surprised at how nutritionally sound that is.

            Volumetric isn't everything... protein and fat are a lot of what keeps people full.

            But one of the best diet foods is popcorn.

  •  Obesity rates soaring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the littlest gator

    People interested in this question might want to take a look at the recent report at healthyamericans.org (PDF). What particularly struck me was a pair of colored maps comparing the states' rates of obesity between 1991 and 2004-2006. In 1991, every state was under 15%, with only 4 exceptions. In 2004-2006, there was no state under 15%. The 2 best states in 2004-2006 fell in the same range as the 4 worst states in 1991!

    I think this epidemic is a little like global warming as an issue. The evidence is there, but the skeptics either refuse to see it, or disagree about the causes, or say that its not amenable to government intervention. In the meantime, people are (and will be) dying.

    Another odd thing that struck me looking at these maps is that there seems to be just a bit of a correlation between political attitudes in the states and the level of obesity. There are obviously some deviations, as for example, Colorado and the other western states, with their prevalence of outdoor activities, tend to be lower in obesity. But the worst states are in the South, and the liberal parts of NE are surprisingly good. Within NE, the bluer states to better than the redder states. Someone who is better at statistics than I am might want to take a look at this.

    I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

    by lesliet on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 07:37:06 AM PDT

  •  It's hard to lose weight when you're poor. (0+ / 0-)

    One of the leading causes of weight gain in women is thyroid problems. For those who don't know, the thyroid gland is basically your body's gas pedal. If it's not making enough hormone (or the target tissues aren't responding), everything slows down; your hair and skin dry out and become coarse and itchy, your gut slows down, and your overall metabolism of food slows. Intellectually you're sluggish; you see work that needs to be done, but you can't seem to stand up and go do it.

    If you're poor and you gradually develop these symptoms, you don't run off to the doctor. Doctors are expensive, save it for when you're REALLY sick. Excercise...yeah, but if you're a woman, you may live in a neighborhood where you're not comfortable walking around the block for exercise. Especially not when you get home from a ten-hour job where you stood all day. By that point, all you want to do is flop down, shove something that tastes decent down your throat, and go to sleep til you have to do it again. If you're having to fight bone-numbing levels of fatigue just to do that daily, where's the energy to go inform yourself of what MIGHT be causing you to have dry skin, constipation, and this mental depression? Where's the energy to say, "Yeah, I'll try the antidepressant pills but I want a blood panel for thyroid, too." Being an effective advocate for your health takes education, energy, and time. These are all things that the world of the poor often doesn't have much of.

    The food sources within walking distance aren't helpful, either. Bad food is cheap, good food expensive, and if you don't have a vehicle, how do you get more than a small amount home?

    Right now it's also crushingly hot. I would have a hard time making myself walk the three miles to a grocery store to get decent ingredients when there's a convenience store a block away. It's just too hot for that.

    •  Three miles? (0+ / 0-)

      I deliberately use mileage to the grocery store to narrow where I live.

      I would not want to have to haul ~20lbs. home.

      If you're on your feet for ten hours a day, you're probably burning enough calories, imho -- the trick is finding volumetric (or atkins if you prefer) solutions that fit your budget (and that's hard).

      •  Yeah, three miles. (0+ / 0-)

        Our towns aren't set up for people who don't own cars anymore. There used to be a grocery store two blocks from where I'm living now. I remember seeing it as a child. It was a small family business, and so like so many it's gone now.

  •  I have to disagree (0+ / 0-)

    that obesity is political.

    I'm the one who said obesity results from personal choice.  That is not to say that one chooses to be obese, but the choices one makes can lead to obesity. When someone chooses to eat a bagel with cream cheese instead of a bowl of granola every morning, that is their choice. When someone decides to sit on the sofa and watch television for hours instead of taking a walk, that is a personal choice. When someone allows their children to sit for hours playing video games instead of making them go outside to play, that is a personal choice. When someone goes three times to the buffet and fills their plate full with food, that is a personal choice. The list goes on.

    Yes, obesity is an epidemic, and increases overall health costs. So does heart disease, and consumption of meat is a major reason for heart disease. Is that political too? Are we going to limit the amount of meat people can eat?

    Having said that, I agree that the modern lifestyle and diet makes it easier to become obese. Processed food is cheaper than real food, so those in poverty are more likely to suffer from poor diet, which leads to obesity as well as other social factors like lower grades in schools, lower-skilled jobs and more poverty. I agree that the amount of corn syrup in nearly everything we eat is dangerous on a number of levels. It's that "number of levels" that makes it difficult for me to see obesity as a political issue.

    The government's role should be focused on overall health. Regulation is needed, education is needed, better labeling is needed, more specific guidelines for labeling something low-fat or organic, truth in advertising, better education on a healthy diet is needed...I agree that there are plenty of places where the government needs to play a role in increasing the general overall health of Americans, and if they do that, obesity rates are likely to be lower.

    But it still comes down to the fact that there are too many factors affecting obesity- medical, cultural, economic, genetic, etc- but too many of those are personal decisions. Americans want to be thinner, but too many people want to have their cake and eat it too. They  just want to take the phen-phen pill or go on the miracle diet instead of making the difficult choices that require discipline and sacrifice. The government's role here is to make it easier for people to make good decisions about their health in general, but not focus on one health factor.

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)

      then explain, are americans stupider than other cultures who have a longer life span and lower % of obesity, or could it be something other than just personal choice?

      Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

      by the littlest gator on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:05:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I added the 'teaching' tag (0+ / 0-)

    and will include this diary in my weekly roundup "What have you got to learn?", there will be a link in my sig when it goes up in about an hour

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