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November 10, 2005 | South Carolina Headlines


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Obesity May Be Winning, But We Can Turn It Around
Jimmy Moore
August 19, 2005

The following is a reprint from my new blog called "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb":

The Boston Globe presents this thought-provoking column today by Derrick Z. Jackson which attempts to explain "why obesity is winning" in the United States.

If you will ignore the obvious left-wing-skewed politics that Jackson interjects throughout this piece, there are a few good statistics and nuggets of information to chew on and digest on this controversial topic of obesity.

There appears to be a dichotomy in this country between the good intentions of fast food and junk food companies to present their products as healthy while at the same time marketing their obviously unhealthy selections so aggressively that people feel compelled to eat those instead. This is undoubtedly one of the most transparent examples of speaking out of both sides of your mouth and trying to have it both ways that I have ever seen in my life.

According to statistics quoted by Jackson in this article, the Centers for Disease Control reports there are 112,000 deaths attributed to obesity annually.

I've never understood that number. How can we know for sure who obesity actually kills? A 500-pound man who kicks the bucket of a heart attack will have his COD (cause of death) listed as "heart attack." But couldn't you argue that his obesity led to the heart attack that killed him? There are a number of other ailments that could also be linked to obesity which would make that 112,000 number look puny in comparison to the actual number of deaths linked to obesity. It could be well over a milion people per year and that is a conservative estimate!

Is that going to make people wake up to this real problem at last? Unfortunately, too many people have either shown a general disinterest in doing anything substantive about the obesity epidemic or want to discuss it at great length hoping it will just go away on its on. Talk talk talk talk talk, but no action. When are we going to take this beast by the horns and slay him once and for all?!

Obesity costs are at $75 billion as of 2003 and getting higher and higher at astronomical rates. The healthcare system in America is bogged down because way too many people are abdicating their responsibility to do something about their weight. That's a difficult statement for me to make since I used to weigh over 400 pounds myself. But it is reality and needs to be shared so that people will finally realize the burden they are putting on their loved ones and even their co-workers and friends by ignoring their own health. Obesity leads to declining health leads to doctor visits leads to higher health insurance premiums and reduced benefits leads to less discretionary dollars to spend on your family leads to...(you fill in the blank).

While several states are attempting to enact "anti-obesity" laws on soda and junk food, this isn't good enough to curb the tide of obesity. Who's to say the kid doesn't stop at the 7-11 store on the way to school and buy a Snickers and a Coke for a snack between classes? The instant availability of these kind of poor food products is part of the problem we have in the United States. These band-aid ideas to the problem of obesity will do nothing to help mend the gaping open wound that exists today and we will bleed out if nothing is done.

Jackson questions the ironic decision to restrict sugar sodas at public schools by the American Beverage Association this week since they spend well over $11 million on advertising to attract these same children they are purporting to care about in regards to their health. In other words, they are saying, "Kids, we know this stuff if bad for you so you can't have it in school while you are trying to learn, but by golly we'll bombard you with television commercials so you'll beg mom and dad to go get it for you to have at home!" What utter hypocrisy! And people really WONDER why the obesity problem is not getting better?

As for restaurants, BIG is in with the various popular food joints selling "meal-for-a-day" menu items that would make your doctor cringe if he knew you ate them. Here are just a few examples:

Hardee's - Monster Thickburger
Wendy's - Triple Cheeseburger
Burger King - Enormous Omelet
McDonald's - Deluxe Breakfast
Pizza Hut - Full House XL Pizza
Ruby Tuesday - Ultimate Colossal Burger

All of the above meals range from 730 to 2,240 calories. FOR ONE MEAL! While I don't pay attention to calories while I am livin' la vida low-carb, there is no way in the world I would ever put any of these items in my mouth. Most of them are so loaded with fat AND carbohydrates (a lethal combination) that they would clog up the arteries of a horse!

I am personally very disappointed in Ruby Tuesday since they have been just about the only major restaurant chain to cater to low-carb consumers with their low-carb menu choices and, of course, their 1 net carb slice of cheesecake. I guess it's all business for them and every other restaurant out there in 2005.

We are the land of the plenty in the United States and we are spoiled. While kids are dying of malnutrition before their fifth birthday in hunger-stricken countries around the world, as Jackson notes, that is about the same age that we notice little Johnny or Jane starting to get a belly. Instead of laughing at this very real problem we need to address it at immediately. Enough talk, how about some real answers for a change. Let's stop ignoring all the three decades of evidence that shows promoting a low-fat diet isn't working. It is time to try something else to see if it works and that should include a low-carb approach.

If I have to go to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to speak to Congress about how my life has radically changed because of the low-carb lifestyle and how they need to help educate the public about this way of eating with the same vigor they have given to low-fat diets, then I will do it proudly. We must deal with this growing and growing (both figuratively and literally) problem before we eat ourselves to death!

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