Saturday, December 20, 2003

Do You Know That Obesity Is An Epidemic?
Recent studies have shown that one in five Americans are obese. Those numbers will probably swell in the coming years given American kids seemingly insatiable palette for French fries, pizza, hot dogs and other fattening fast food.

One of the tragic ironies in all this is that, while one in five Americans are obese, millions of children are going hungry every day in the wealthiest nation the world has ever known.

Not to mention so many more millions of children worldwide going hungry. The weirdest part of it all is that one could probably make a case that many of our seemingly overnourished are in many ways malnourished in terms of getting the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Eating a bunch of junk isn't good nutrition.

One of the major problems for low-income children is hunger and, paradoxically, families who experience periodic hunger--when small paychecks or food stamps run out--have high rates of obesity. They fill up on high-fat, high-calorie (but lower-nutrient) food when they can. Nutritionists call the phenomenon food insecurity. Ironically, says nutritionist Fern Gale Estrow, "malnourishment and obesity may go hand in hand."

Go figure. The poor kids are fat? And there's more to the obesity story than meets the eye.

Eating less and exercising more isn't the solution to avoiding obesity, according to an ABC News special that airs Monday night. That's because government subsidies and food industry practices are designed to place the "least healthy" foods on grocery shelves, reducing the ability of Americans to avoid getting fat, the program alleges.


"Physical activity and eating prudently are both essential to weight control," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. "The reason we're getting fat is on both sides of the energy balance equation: We're eating too much and doing too little. That is the answer."

Looking at the world, and growing scarcity of food and water, we don't need to start exercising a lot more in order to maintain our level of consumption, we need to eat less. What would Jesus do? Say? He would share. And probably recommend we make do with less.

More about the design of and placement of products in grocery stores another day...