Blog Directory - Blogged foodliterate: The Good News About Obesity

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Good News About Obesity

The 2003 US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Richard Carmona said "The good news is that obesity as we understand it today is completely preventable through healthy eating - nutritious food in appropriate amounts - and physical activity." Most people do not like the idea of personal responsibility. It is so much easier to blame fast food, processed food, genetics, carbs, lack of time, etc for our growing waistlines. I include myself occasionally in this mindset; time is preciously short and there are a number of thing I need to, or would rather, do than exercise. And while I'm not obese, I could stand to lose a few pounds to benefit my health and I should exercise regularly to be healthier in general.

Current US obesity rates have been all over the news for the last couple of years, but with apparent little impact. And it is not just the US that is getting fatter, other industrialized countries are right there with us. In fact the WHO states that 400 million adults are obese worldwide. So why is our country's waistline an issue at all? Well, obesity is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, osteoarthritis and some cancers. The medical costs to treat these ailments and the lost productivity of the sufferers has been estimated by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) at $117 billion.

Given that so many people do not make wise food choices, don't practice healthy eating, do not watch portion sizes and do not exercise, we have the perfect combination for an obesity epidemic. My industry takes a lot of heat for causing this dilema (although I respectfully disagree), so many companies are working on ingredients and products to help consumers with weight managment. We can't necessarily change a consumers buying decision (McD does sell salads not just Big Macs), so we are trying to make what you buy healthier. Portion controlled packaging, sugar alternatives, whole grains, healthier fats and oils, and nutraceuticals are just some of the measures the industry is taking to help fight obesity. For the next few posts, I'll be looking at some of these individually to help you better understand the whys & hows of these and to make you a smarter consumer, and hopefully healthier eater.

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