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Growing obesity problem

Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/25/us_getting_fatter/

Seems like the obesity problem within the US is getting worse. Seeing as this is one area (among several) in which the UK's society follows the US's society, this is somewhat worrying for some of us on the other side of the pond as well.

It seems as if its not really taken seriously. People laugh it off as a minor problem for a few "lazy fatties", but its actually quite a serious issue. According to the survey in the article above, 64.5% of people in the US are obese. Chances are that these people will cause a greater strain on the health services at some point, something which must surely have economic effects upon other people in the economy.

So why are people in the US, UK, and other supposedly advanced countries making themselves ill by having a bad diet/exercise balance? Part of it is probably down to changing work patterns. Often now it is common for both men and women within families to both be working, leaving less time for one of them to cook a proper meal. Instead they go for the easy option -unhealthy packaged food. This is frustrating because its not really that hard to make a healthy meal, its just that many people think it is.

Another factor is the growing convenience trend within western society. We are becoming more used to the idea that things should be done quickly and conveniently. More and more in life can now be done without much delay, and people who become used to this may prefer a quick microwave meal over something needing a degree of preparation.

Advertising is probably also a major contributor. The makers of packaged meals have a lot more money to advertise their products, and to convince people to eat them. This is especially true for kids - they are very much swayed by advertising to eat unhealthy crud. Unfortunately healthy eating habits often are heavily influenced by the early stages in a person's life, so if the food companies can get kids hooked on junk food early on in life then they have customers for life. Schools churning out burgers and chips every lunch time probably don't help much either: BBC article about school lunches around the world

All of this is a real shame, especially when you see so many obese kids. There's something quite sad about a kid who, because of their parent's bad dietary choices, are overweight and possibly have their health in danger because of it. I'm not sure what could be done about it though - its not easy (and maybe we don't have the right) to tell someone that they are putting their kids in danger by feeding them rubbish.
[ August 26, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]

There will be glitches in my transition from being a saloon bar sage to a world statesman. - Tony Banks
Gerald Davis
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 872
Us has high productivity. For a fast food joint that means more burgers, fries and sodas; someone has to eat and drink them. It is a natural bi-product of capitalism. America and UK are high goods consumers so it is natural that they would eat lots of food also. Junk food is testy and easy to produce.

One approach to handle this problem is to do nothing and let natural selection do its thing. Longer living and readally available food is a recent thing in evolutionary scale the human body cannot handle it yet. Most people find slim more attractive then fat and most slim people are healthier then fatter people. To help the unfit to much would go against mother natures survival of the fittest, it would perpetuate the unfit.

It is up to the individual to take measures to take care of his own health so he or she can look attractive and feel well. It is a shame though that most people on a diet are less clued up about weight loss then I am, when I am happy with my body.

One thing that could help us all is if we all knew what supermarkets put in their food. The supermarkets are bent on saving money whenever possible at whatever the cost.

I had one of those ready meals at work, I usually don't touch them but at the end of their sell-by date they virtually give them away at 19p to 29p. Well I don't know what they did to the poor chicken it was completely tasteless. It had too much source and even that tested wrong and it had a kind of starchy taste to it.
Paul Bourdeaux
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Joined: May 24, 2004
Posts: 783
I agree that the US has an obesity problem. However, the statistics on it are a little cloudy. A person's BMI is used to identify persons who may be medically obese. It is not the diagnosing factor. As the article said, most athletes are considered overweight or obese according to their BMI, but not medically classified as either. Also, our current standards of weight have been affected by culture, and what is considered overweight now was not only 40 or 50 years ago. Marilyn Monroe (who weight fluctuated greatly during her career) reached a weight of 150 - a weight that by today's standards would be considered overweight for her height (5 feet, 5� inches).

That being said, there are an awful lot of people walking around that don't exactly have Monroe's figure. I think the rising obesity in the US is just one of many health issues we are facing, and it is something we need to address.

I would continue, but I am getting hungry, and I think I will run to McDonalds.


“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” - Rich Cook
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
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Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
... Part of it is probably down to changing work patterns...
Another factor is the growing convenience trend within western society...
Advertising is probably also a major contributor...

Someone forgot the factor that food tastes soooooo good!


A good workman is known by his tools.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

According to the BMI scale I just tried, I'd have to weigh less than 160 pounds not to be overweight. Which means these calculations are about the same as actuarial tables I saw as a teenager.

The least I ever weighed as an adult was 170, when I was running track in college and moonlighting as a firefighter. I think it's fair to guess at best I could have dropped 5 pounds if I focussed on throwing up and getting the flu a lot.

Dividing height and weight is a ridiculous calculation. Bodies aren't all cut out of one mold.


Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
- Robert Bresson
Gerald Davis
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 872
My BMI 29, I don�t come anywhere being overweight let alone obese, but my BMI say I am overweight and one BMI point from being obese. I am not a muscle man neither, mind you I can leg press 260 kilos 11 sets.
Sania Marsh
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Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Some doctor sometime told me that some people have havier structure than others. Some may have havier bones, for example. Therefore people with same shape and height may weight drammatically different.


My BMI is 18.5 and I'm trying to keep myself not to roll below it. Yet I feel and look just fine and eat whatever I want, while all charts say I'm underwiehgt.

One cannot go just by charts. We are all different. Everyone has personal scale. I think as long as you feel fine, eat well, can run with kids and fit on one chair in public transportation - you are fine.
Svend Rost
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Joined: Oct 23, 2002
Posts: 904
Originally posted by Gerald Davis:
...., mind you I can leg press 260 kilos 11 sets.


Leg press! you train your legs? real men only train biceps and bench press

/Svend Rost
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Marc Peabody:
Someone forgot the factor that food tastes soooooo good!


The surprising thing is the number of people who eat bad tasting unhealthy food instead of tasty healthy food. I really can't understand why so many people like McDonalds. Take the burgers - semi-stale buns of poor quality bread, plasticy sauces, rubber cheese and manky burgers which seems about as far from real meat as its possible to get without breaking trade description laws. Then there's the chips which seem to be made more from colourings, flavourings and flour then potatoes and a coke which is chemically tasting and 90% sugar. Its just not nice.

OK, there are times when people often get a strong burger urge... but why McDonalds? Within five minutes walk of my flat is a McDonalds and a small Turkish burger place. For less money then the mass produced McDonalds burger-by-numbers, in the Turkish place I can get something which is made of real meat, cooked properly (i.e. not kept in a steamer or microwaved), is twice the size, comes with real chips and has a much nicer flavour. The strange thing is that despite their far superior quality at a low price, McDonalds is always much busier. I guess it shows the power of branding.

Anyway, back to the main thing - a lot of the unhealthy stuff people eat seems to me to be not as nice as healthier versions. How can anyone prefer the kind of fake salty mash potato which comes in a microwavable meal for one, in comparison with the real home-made version? Or microwave chips instead of home-made? Or any kind of pre-packaged curry? And so on... home-made can be so much better, even if you're a hopeless cook like me.
Patrick van Zandbeek
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Joined: Aug 17, 2005
Posts: 37
Someone say Mc Donalds?

Go and rent the movie "Supersize me". Then reconsider.


u is a letter, not a word.
Ashok Mash
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Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
Originally posted by Gerald Davis:
My BMI 29, I don�t come anywhere being overweight let alone obese, but my BMI say I am overweight and one BMI point from being obese. I am not a muscle man neither, mind you I can leg press 260 kilos 11 sets.


Similar situation here: I am 5'11" (180 cm) and 85 Kilos (187 lbs) and according to BMI calculations, I am overweight (26.1)! I wonder if anyone knows what the BMI scale/ recommendations are based on. I wonder if it�s based on a very old statistics.


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Paul Bourdeaux
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Joined: May 24, 2004
Posts: 783
I really can't understand why so many people like McDonalds.

It really is a question of taste. You don't like McDonalds, so you don't go there. I do enjoy some (but not all) of their food, so I do eat there when the urge hits!

I did notice a difference between the food at a McDonalds in Europe and one in the US. I prefer the later, but that may be because it is what I am used to.

As far as the movie Supersize me... what a disappointment. If you eat nothing but fast food for a month, of course you will become unhealthy. Especially when you force yourself to eat so much that you vomit (which he did).

Anyway, blaming obesity on the restaurants is shortsighted. Instead, let's increase the activity level in our lives a little... or address the psychological issues that contribute to people gaining weight, like low self esteem...
Gerald Davis
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 872
Originally posted by Dave Lenton:

I really can't understand why so many people like McDonalds. Take the burgers - semi-stale buns of poor quality bread, plasticy sauces, rubber cheese and manky burgers which seems about as far from real meat as its possible to get without breaking trade description laws.


McDonald the perfect evolution of fast, cheap and tasty food, nobody can do it quite like McDonald. Food that are high in fat and sugar are usually the most tastiest which come down to the fact that fat and sugar contains the most energy. As I said before, readally available food is a recent thing and before then it was more important for a hunter gatherer to find foods that was high in energy in order to survive and not starve to death. And back then humans did not live long so the potential of dying of a relatively old age problem of getting a hart attack was virtually non existent .
Sania Marsh
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Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Back in my home country, we made kebabs with ship fat. See the picture below, all white is pure ship fat. Yumm.. Similar way, my mom used ship fat in half of the dishes she made
Usually amerikans get disgusted by this

Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Ashok Mash:

I wonder if anyone knows what the BMI scale/ recommendations are based on. I wonder if it�s based on a very old statistics.

The tables I got hold of in the mid-1970's were actuarial data tables from an insurance company, who had done their last research on these factors shortly before the Korean War, i.e., pre-1950. For the US that's a population a few years past a full-blown war-time economy, and about to step into another one.
It's another 10 years before Lyndon Johnson declared a "guns n' butter" approach to overseas conflicts.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Sania Marsh:
Back in my home country, we made kebabs with ship fat. See the picture below, all white is pure ship fat. Yumm.. Similar way, my mom used ship fat in half of the dishes she made
Usually amerikans get disgusted by this

Sheep fat, I think you mean. Ship fat would be disgusting to anyone.
Sania Marsh
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Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

Sheep fat, I think you mean. Ship fat would be disgusting to anyone.


No, I meant Ship, like, Titanic for example.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Paul Bourdeaux:
I did notice a difference between the food at a McDonalds in Europe and one in the US. I prefer the later, but that may be because it is what I am used to.

I wonder what the difference is like now. Recently there's a been many high profile reports about how unhealthy the food from some fast-food restaurants is, so many of them are starting to offer "healthy" food as well as burgers. Unfortunately they haven't quite yet got out of their habit of making things as unhealthy as possible, so we have things like the McDonalds salad which contains as much fat, sugar and salt as their burgers.

As far as the movie Supersize me... what a disappointment. If you eat nothing but fast food for a month, of course you will become unhealthy. Especially when you force yourself to eat so much that you vomit (which he did).

Well, yeah, it wasn't really a surprise when he got ill - I don't think McDonalds have ever claimed that their food is enough for a healthy diet. I found the interviews he did more shocking then his diet. The fact that he came across several people who considered it normal to eat most, or all, of their food from burger places is quite concerning.

Anyway, blaming obesity on the restaurants is shortsighted. Instead, let's increase the activity level in our lives a little... or address the psychological issues that contribute to people gaining weight, like low self esteem...

This is true - its not like the restaurants force people to go and buy more stuff (although one of the interesting parts of Supersize Me was where they listed the semi-addictive ingredients in the average burger meal). I suspect that much of the problem is down to people thinking that healthy food is too much effort to cook, and people becoming so used to using cars that they don't get enough exercise.

Not that long ago it was fairly normal for a family to not have a car, but now many families have more than one and will be quite happy to use the car even for short journeys. One sad example is the number of kids who get driven to school instead of walking a short journey of a mile or two.
[ August 31, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
I see not so smart eating habbits as a bad habbit difficult to correct, like smoking. Child experience might also play an important role. Maybe if you eat lot of vegetables, salad and fruits you stay with it all your life. Maybe more and more people are getting into fast food influencing their kids (just theory).
My problem is that I like choclat a lot. And its not good having an automat for that stuff 50 meters from my office. :roll:
And today is so much fast food. Don't know. But I think around 1920 only fast food in central europe were apples, peaches, kohlrabi and carrot (all with very few kalories)
So now people are constantly eating stuff which makes fat. Being a bit hungry around afternoon is an elementary human feeling, which isn't bad and doesn't make you less productive. But as I said: Its difficult with this choco automat 50 meters from office.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
I see not so smart eating habbits as a bad habbit difficult to correct, like smoking. Child experience might also play an important role. Maybe if you eat lot of vegetables, salad and fruits you stay with it all your life. Maybe more and more people are getting into fast food influencing their kids (just theory).

Absolutely, its all about forming good habits at an early age. That's why its such a shame that so many school meals are bad. One example is in the UK where the (previous) government decided to privatise the production of school meals. Now instead of getting a reasonable meal, schools hire the company who can provide them for the least amount of money. The result is that the food is of a very poor quality.
But as I said: Its difficult with this choco automat 50 meters from office.


I have a similar problem where I work on the South Bank in London. This particular area is full of pubs and sandwich shops, making it very hard to stick to my healthy homemade lunch and resist the lure of beer and sarnies. The worst bit is walking past a Greek restaurant in the morning and smelling the food they are busy preparing for the day....
Bridget Kennedy
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Joined: Nov 30, 2004
Posts: 84
I recommend this book as another fascinating treatment on this topic.

Fast Food Nation

The author draws some very interesting connections between seemingly disparate evolutions in American society - especially increases in the amount of vehicular traffic and fast food.
Gerald Davis
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 872
In most of the pubs and bars I go to if you ask for some potato chips, they used give a regular packet, they never seem to put enough chips in it. Now they give you double size packet called big eat so they can charge double the price.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Gerald Davis:
In most of the pubs and bars I go to if you ask for some potato chips, they used give a regular packet, they never seem to put enough chips in it. Now they give you double size packet called big eat so they can charge double the price.


Its a bit like when they fill crisp and nut bags with air to make them look fuller. Still, its not the biggest pub rip-off. I've seen pubs charging a quid for lemonade they're just poured from a Tesco Value bottle.
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Children are getting obese because of behavior, not eating. When I was a kid, most kids ran around all over the place outside all day. Now they watch video and play computer games. In fact, I'd be afraid for my kids if they were running around the neighborhood where I couldn't see them.

Also, when I was a kid most girls were enrolled in jazz, tap or ballet classes (or more than one), and most boys played in Little League sports. Nowadays, few working parents have the time or money to take their kids to activities.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
Children are getting obese because of behavior, not eating. When I was a kid, most kids ran around all over the place outside all day. Now they watch video and play computer games. In fact, I'd be afraid for my kids if they were running around the neighborhood where I couldn't see them.

Also, when I was a kid most girls were enrolled in jazz, tap or ballet classes (or more than one), and most boys played in Little League sports. Nowadays, few working parents have the time or money to take their kids to activities.


I wonder if this is an area where schools could play a role in improving the situation. If they could provide a safe place for kids to play, such as allowing their playgrounds/gyms/etc to be used (under supervision) outside of school hours, then parents could feel happier sending their kids there. Unfortunately it'll cost (public and/or private) money though.

I guess this is just a side effect of our (western) changing culture. Like you say, its now common for parents to have less time to spend with the kids, and less money to do stuff with them. Despite that, I think parents need to take a degree of responsibility in ensuring that their kids don't spend too long in front of electronic entertainment. This must be hard though - if a parent is busy doing something like cooking, it must be hard to justify to a five year old kid that they should play a game in the garden instead of playing on the play-station.

I'd be afraid for my kids if they were running around the neighborhood where I couldn't see them.

I must highlight this bit again. Its probably the saddest change in western culture over the last generation or so that its not considered safe now for kids to play out of sight from their parents. This really shows a massive, sad, problem in society.
 
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