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Old 11-17-2008, 09:54 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic east coast
5,123 posts, read 9,428,480 times
Reputation: 9441


There is no one entity to "blame," but rather a number of factors that are present that contribute to our obesity epidemic. I think our growing obesity is caused by:

1. Personal responsibility
2. Food additives such as high fructose corn syrup added to many common foods, as well as saturated fats
3. Large advertising/marketing budgets of the fast food, soft drink and snack food industries
4. Accessibility, i.e. Coke/Pepsi/snack foods in schools
5. Less exercise, more sedentary lifestyle
6. Not enough practical nutritional education at early-school age by schools and parents
7. Our "hurry-up" lifestyle leading to "drive-by" eating rather than "slow food" of sitting down for a meal
8. Related to above--fewer stay-at-home parents (both working or single parent households) leads to more packaged and fast foods on the dinner table
9. Super-sizing portions--we're eating a calorie overload

In my opinion, there's no one entity to "blame," but a complex inter-connection of many factors coming together that is growing our nation's obesity. That's why the problem is not an easy one to address.

As a side note, Burlington Vermont has just been named the healthiest city in the U.S.--they exercise a lot (biking, hiking, skiing, walking, jogging), have community gardens, are more highly educated than many cities of the same size (40% have at least a Bachelor's degree), many eateries offer vegetarian fare, and healthy food choices fare available for lower-income people through a food co-operative.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:14 AM
Location: NYC area
3,486 posts, read 4,942,773 times
Reputation: 3848
Some reasons:

1. Culture of feel-goodism. "It's okay to eat pork rinds with peanut butter dip all day long, if that's what you want, and it's okay to be 300 lbs overweight -- you are beautiful the way you are and you deserve for someone special to love you." Sound familiar? We have a culture that has a growing aversion to and suspicion of anything that requires effort. It does not just affect people's weight -- it affects everything from school performance to professional success. The prevailing idea today is that discipline is for snobs and neurotics, and you deserve accolades galore just for being you. The prevailing idea is that you should have a relentlessly positive image of yourself, no matter how delusional it is. There is no downright condemnation of self-improvement -- but then, if you are perfect the way you are, why do anything to improve?

2. Culture that discourages physical activity. I have mentioned this once in this section of the forum, only to have a bunch of suburbanites bite my head off. Look: love your suburban home and your Hummer all you want, but the fact remains is that most of us live in a way where there is little opportunity for physical activity (the kind that does not require scheduling or expense). You can't walk to the store, you can't walk to school, can't walk to work. You drive everywhere or take public transportation. Children's sporting activities are horrendously restricted and expensive. Yes, you can take canoing lessons, biking classes, tennis, gyms -- but all of that is expensive and requires free time; which is radically different from having healthy physical activity naturally incorporated into your day.

3. Food is just too darned cheap. Especially processed foods -- which is why obesity is a particular bane of the poor.

4. Americans work too much. I can't provide a link off the top of my head, but based on what I read, Americans log in more hours at work than members of any other society, or something very close to it. The ritualism that once surrounded eating -- setting the table, sitting down with one's family or friends, discussing the day -- is on the way out. We eat on the run, often alone, and from there, it's a pretty short distance to eating whenever we feel hungry. We should remember who invented the sandwich -- a compulsive gambler so crippled by his addiction, he could not force himself to leave the card table for the sake of a normal meal.

5. There are too many processed foods and ingredients. Processed food means too much fat and salt. Processed foods are great by virtue of their convenience -- the downside is that they are really fattening.

6. Environmental changes. Although Americans lead the world in obesity, it's important to realize that waist lines are growing worldwide, especially in industrialized countries. So don't gloat yet, my Western European friends: you aren't too far behind us. One of the latest theories on obesity is that rampant use of sanitizing agents and irresponsible prescription of antibiotics have altered people's digestive flora by killing off certain micro-organisms that used to help us regulate our sense of hunger and weight gain. Think about that next time you are wiping down the counter with Clorox. You really can have too much of a good thing, and sometimes, a little dirt is actually good for you.

7. Too many conveniences made possible by technology. Between cars, elevators, air conditioners and power tools, is it any wonder people's behinds are growing like blobs? I am not knocking technology, of course -- after all, it's given us space-age stair masters, too.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:23 AM
Location: Rockport Texas from El Paso
2,601 posts, read 7,314,250 times
Reputation: 1569
People complain about illegal immigration and the war ( and they should that war costs a fortune) but less is said about obesity and smoking both costing us hundreds of millions each year. Instead we see spin BBW - that's like a nice Nazi - there are very few. Fat is fat - and the Beach Boys used to sing about California and American girls being the prettiest. Sorry not any more and anyone who has gone to Costa Rica, Venezuela, Philippines or anywhere cept Germany which is almost as fat, knows we don't stack up. Even worse is when some huge woman blocks you from the buffet line even though she's still chewing from her last three plates. No double standard here fat males are also gross. I love to eat but have to work out an hr a day. 5'10 174 ( ok 175 after lunch today lol) Texas is the worst of the worst - fattest state. Thinner women here have it really easy finding guys. I still believe in a FAT tax- tax people by what they consume -not how hard they work.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:50 AM
Location: Montrose, CA
3,031 posts, read 7,871,079 times
Reputation: 1925
Originally Posted by dreamofmonterey View Post

Arent we at the point, where people should be educated enough about nutrition? Or do some people honestly think that Coca Cola, high fructose corn syrup, additives, poisons and fatty dairy foods are all just fine?.....

Its really sad, I dont understand parents, especially, who feed this trash to their kids.
Children who are fat without an underlying medical reason -- it's the fault of their parents. Adults who are fat without an underlying medical reason, it's their own fault for not putting down the fork, getting off their butt, and exercising.
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:07 PM
Status: "In an Involuntary Time Warp" (set 29 days ago)
7,873 posts, read 10,169,826 times
Reputation: 11453
Western culture--Drive fast, shop fast, prepare foods fast and eat fast. There's a quiet, maybe even contemplative element missing to most people's lives. If we quiet ourselves down, at least sometimes, we can enjoy the simple things in life, including good, nutritious food. I think it boils down to what people value--most people's lives are busy, but preparing good food doesn't have to take alot of time. Broiling some food and making some fresh vegetables versus eating a prepared/frozen/fast food.
I was lucky in that way growing up--everyone ate "homeade" food and desserts. We ate "junk" once in a while, but I never grew up with soda in my house or chips or snacky foods (ding dongs, twinkies, etc.). I never had a taste for that stuff either. A treat for me is a homeade cooky or piece of cake, homeade, but it's occasional and in small amounts.
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:49 PM
Location: Yootó
1,307 posts, read 3,194,121 times
Reputation: 791
I personally blame Lay's Potato Chips. No one can eat just one.
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Old 11-17-2008, 05:35 PM
Location: Michigan
528 posts, read 1,307,107 times
Reputation: 179
Originally Posted by dreamofmonterey View Post
I just watched a show on E! channel (lol- to take a break), and really cannot believe how many shows are on obese people, just tracking their daily lives.

IMO obesity in America is epidemic, I see 12 year old kids where I currently live, that weigh like 300 lbs., eat at Hardee's, and you should see the contents of the food carts at Kroger ...

Arent we at the point, where people should be educated enough about nutrition? Or do some people honestly think that Coca Cola, high fructose corn syrup, additives, poisons and fatty dairy foods are all just fine?.....

Its really sad, I dont understand parents, especially, who feed this trash to their kids.
There are several problems I see where I do not blame families (parents) but our government:

  • Our healthy groceries cost far more than our junk groceries - go to other countries and this is reversed
  • We are a lazy country - we don't walk anywhere and our infrastructure is not set up fro us to walk such as it is in other countries
  • We have terrible standards for our food - our meat is permitted to be filled with junk, just to start
  • Food can be looked at as a drug that affects your system; the more junk you eat, the less you crave healthy food - for a family that's even middle-income, it is terribly expensive to feed a completely healthy meal
I do not blame the parents (totally). While some parents are just simply lazy, most are not and most do not want to have obese children or be obese themselves. Our government needs to mandate higher quality for our foods, and get rid of the junk that makes our bodies become addicted much as our bodies become addicted to cigarettes. How we handle our food in this country is shameful.

My husband and I are on a decent income. We could not afford to buy organic meats, cheeses, produce, etc., so we have to pick and choose what we buy that's healthy, fresh, organic. That is really what it would take to get rid of obesity in this country. It's a vicious cycle and it's so easy to point the finger at the parents but I think that's a terrible thing to do. There are CHEMICALS in our food, chemicals that we do not even know how they react when in our system. The more chemicals, the cheaper the food.

I have a very good friend from Poland. She and a group of her friends are graduate students at a university in GA. She commented on several things here - the fact that there is nowhere to walk (drive-up ATM's, and in many shopping centers, you have to move your car to go from one store to another or get ticketed, keeping people from walking). She also commented on how expensive the healthy food is here (and said it's opposite in Poland), and she also said she and all of her Polish friends have gained weight since being in the U.S.

Now tell me it's the parents' fault....it's not in most cases.
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Old 11-17-2008, 05:57 PM
Location: Southwest Desert
4,166 posts, read 5,181,354 times
Reputation: 3514
Good topic, thanks!!

I think that the economy is a big factor. These days, both parents have to work just to pay to "make ends meet." This doesn't leave much time for cooking "wholesome meals" (from "scratch.") In the olden days, more Moms stayed home....and they had time to cook well-rounded meals each night.

Also, I think that kids tend to eat more when they are bored, or "shut-down." By "shut-down" I mean that they are not really in touch with their feelings.

I notice this about myself even today....I tend to "stuff my face" a lot more when I haven't "owned" or "processed" my feelings. And when I catch myself "doing this," I stop and force myself to deal with my feelings, even if it seems hard....In the end, I always feel better....But, how many kids have parents who teach them to do this? A lot of parents "stuff their feelings" thru food, alcohol and other "addictions" too.

I don't think it helps to "shame kids" for being overweight, or lecture them about eating less food, or more health-conscious food, etc.

This kind of "talk" usually goes in one ear and out the other....And, kids will "rebel" even more when they are away from home...just to "get even" with parents who hand them non-stop lectures. Have you noticed this?

It's a complicated problem and it involves many "emotional factors." Some kids gain "layers of protection and walls" by holding on to their weight. And, other kids go to the opposite extreme and nearly starve themselves to death in an effort to be thin. I know because I was anorexic for over 9 years in my late teens and early 20's. Thank goodness I didn't die.

I was anorexic before the "disease" was even discovered. And, I had to find my own "cure" by myself. This is when I started studying "weight issues" on my own....to see what motivated me to be heavy as a child, and super-thin as a teen. And, I could see that a lot of it was all about "control." I didn't have a strong "self" at the time...and "eating a lot" or "eating practically nothing" gave me a sense of "power" and "control" over my life. Thanks, Claire
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:04 PM
Location: Southwest Desert
4,166 posts, read 5,181,354 times
Reputation: 3514
P/S: I would like to see "blame" and "judgments" taken out of any discussion about weight issues. None of this helps. Emotionalism just makes things worse....I think it's best to problem-solve in a neutral, non-blaming, non-scapegoating kind of way. This is how I feel anyway. How about you? Thanks, Claire
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:05 PM
Location: San Diego
2,518 posts, read 1,847,661 times
Reputation: 1298
If you're fat and you do not have some kind of glandular or genetic problem that causes it, it is nobody's fault but yours. Exercise, proper diet and self control are pretty simple cures to obesity, so being obese is generally a result of laziness or lack of care.
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