excuses for the fattning of america  

61 posts
5/24/2006 1:31 pm

Last Read:
11/25/2006 6:39 pm

excuses for the fattning of america

Symposium deals with obesity causes, solutions
By Colleen Newvine / News and Information Services
About one-third of Americans are considered obese, and if the trend isn’t reversed quickly, related health concerns could cripple the health care system, an expert said at an obesity symposium last week.

William H. Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gave the keynote address at the School of Public Health symposium on obesity mar.20. His talk served as a call to arms for public health professionals to address the myriad root causes of obesity.

Dietz said doctors are treating more obesity-related problems–including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease–but what they really need to do is help patients lose the extra pounds that put them at risk in the first place.

“This is beyond the capacity of our disease care system,” he said.

Dietz demonstrated the intensity of the problem by displaying a map of the United States with obesity rates in 1991, then showing the progression through 2000. In 1991, three states–including Michigan–reported the worst overweight percentages, with 15‒19 percent of the population considered overweight by body mass index evaluation. By 2000, only Colorado hadn’t hit the 15‒19 percent range, and nearly half of the states tipped the scales with 20 percent or more of residents considered obese.

There are many causes, Dietz said, including shifts in American eating habits, and both decreased physical activity and increased inactivity, which Dietz said are similar but separate factors affecting people’s waistlines.

People eat more fast food, with some 40 percent of family food budgets going toward fast food, he said. In addition, fewer families eat meals together, which affects what and how people eat. Consumption of soft drinks soared from 27 gallons a year on average in 1972 to 44 gallons in 1992.

Decreased physical activity is in part a consequence of new community structure, Dietz said. Old-style neighborhoods had schools and shopping centers at the heart of the community, often within walking distance. Many of today’s subdivisions don’t have sidewalks and are isolated from the destinations that would cause people to walk.

As a result, according to a recent CDC study, just 19 percent of households with children 5‒18 years old reported their children walked to school at least once a week and 6 percent said their children biked to school once a week.

Dietz recommended a number of possible approaches to arrest the obesity problem, including:

* Allying with fast food chains to help develop healthier choices. The fast food industry knows how to deliver tasty, appealing and cheap meals, and public health professionals don’t, so teaming up to figure out how to give price- and time-conscious consumers choices with less fat, fewer calories and more fiber makes sense, he said.

* Working with the government and groups such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society to encourage them to see obesity treatment and prevention as a vital way of attacking cancer, cardiovascular disease and other health concerns.

* Boosting breastfeeding. Studies show breastfeeding leads to a reduction in obesity in children, though Dietz said it’s unclear what the relationship is.

* Examining community planning and zoning. Attractive sidewalks that go to destinations can make walking more appealing, and locating schools within walking distance instead of the periphery of a community makes it more practical for kids to walk to school, he said.

* Integrating physical activity into daily routine. For example, Dietz suggested posting signs encouraging office workers to use stairs instead of elevators, and making the stairs more aesthetically pleasing.

* Increasing the number of students enrolled in regular physical education classes, particularly in high school, where the vast majority of students do not participate in a gym class.

* Decreasing television viewing, especially in children and adolescents. Dietz showed studies demonstrating that children today watch more TV than in years past, as well as a study showing that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to be obese.

* Communicating with the public about obesity instead of just issuing dictates

Causes of Obesity

Problem 1: Diagnosing Causes For Sudden Rise in Obesity Levels
Any explanation of the root causes of the current obesity epidemic must account for its sudden appearance. Six million American adults are now morbidly obese (BMI 40+), almost twice as high as 1980 severe obesity rates, while another 9.6 million have a BMI of 35-40. The percentage of overweight children 6-11 has nearly doubled since the early 1980's. (Source: US Census 2000; NHANES III data estimates). Thus genetic causes are unlikely to be significant. Because while a predisposition to obesity can be inherited, the fact that obesity has increased so much in the last few decades appears to discount genetics as a major main cause. Also, the fact that each succeeding generation is heavier than the last indicates that changes in our environment are playing the key role.

Problem 2: Separating Genetic Causes From Environmental Causes
Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Yet families also share common dietary, physical exercise, attitude and lifestyle habits that may also contribute to obesity. Separating these from purely genetic factors is not an easy statistical or diagnostic task.

Environmental Causes of Obesity
In view of the sudden rise in weight levels - which is a worldwide trend as reflected in the new word "globesity" - environmental factors must be the prime cause of modern obesity.

Overconsumption - A Possible Root Cause
Eating too many calories for our enery needs must be a major candidate for the main cause of the modern obesity epidemic. According to Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, US agribusiness now produces 3,800 calories of food a day for every American, 500 calories more than 30 years ago – but at much lower per-calorie costs. Increases in consumption of calorie-dense foods, as evidenced by the growth of fast-food chains and higher soft drink consumption, also point to a higher energy-intake.

Eating Too Many High-Fat or Refined Sugary Foods
The type of food eaten may also play an important role in the rise of obesity. Researchers continue to discover more metabolic and digestive disorders resulting from overconsumption of trans-fats and refined white flour carbohydrates, combined with low fiber intake. These eating patterns are known to interfere with food and energy metabolism in the body, and cause excessive fat storage. Associated health disorders include insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes as well as obesity. Incidence of these "modern" diseases is increasing worldwide.

Reduced Energy Expenditure - A Possible Root Cause
People who eat more calories need to burn more calories, otherwise their calorie surplus is stored as fat. For example, if we eat 100 more food calories a day than we burn, we gain about 1 pound in a month. That’s about 10 pounds in a year. Over two decades this energy surplus causes a weight gain of 200 pounds!

Assessing the contribution of lack of exercise to obesity is hampered by lack of research. According to existing surveys, only 20 percent of the population are frequent exercisers. In addition, only a small minority of children (1 in 5) regularly participate in after-school sports or extra-curricular physical activity. Since 1990, among adults there has been a per capita decline of 15 percent in frequent exercise activity (100+ days per year in any one activity). Among teenagers and adolescents aged 12-17, the plunge is 41 percent.

However, data on correlation between BMI and exercise frequency is almost non-existent, so we are unable to say exactly what effect lack of exercise has on obesity. What we do know is that severe clinical obesity leads to serious mobility problems caused by respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders. Thus the fitness capacity of obese individuals, especially those suffering from morbid obesity, is typically diminished.

Family Influence - A Major Contributory Cause to Obesity
Parental behavioral patterns concerning shopping, cooking, eating and exercise, have an important influence on a child's energy balance and ultimately their weight. Thus family diet and lifestyle are important contributory causes to modern child obesity, especially at a time of rising affluence. Since obese children and adolescents frequently grow up to become obese adults, it's clear that family influence also extends to adult obesity.

Genetic Causes of Modern Obesity
Genes affect a number of weight-related processes in the body, such as metabolic rate, blood glucose metabolism, fat-storage, hormones, to name but a few. Also, some studies of adopted children indicate that adopted children tend to develop weight problems similar to their biological, rather than adoptive, parents. In addition, infants born to overweight mothers have been found to be less active and to gain more weight by the age of three months when compared with infants of normal weight mothers, suggesting a possible inborn drive to conserve energy. Research has also shown that normal-weight children of obese parents may have a lower metabolic rate than normal-weight children of non-obese parents, which can lead to weight problems in adulthood. All of this suggests that a predisposition to obesity can be inherited.

However, the fact that obesity has increased so much in the last few decades appears to discount genetics as the main cause. According to Stephen O'Rahilly, professor of clinical biochemistry and medicine at Cambridge University, the influence of genetics on modern levels of obesity is insignificant:

"Nothing genetic explains the rise in obesity. We can't change our genes over 30 years."

saddletrampsk 54F

5/24/2006 2:02 pm

good post

rm_muffin162 56M
763 posts
5/24/2006 2:11 pm

There is no excuses,you just eat 2 much.gluttons living in a me me soceity.

I want more,and want to pay less...

ExplicitWoman 46F
10 posts
5/24/2006 2:41 pm

I know that I don't agree with Muffin162, especially with the background I have in anthropology, archaeology, and primarily physical anthropology. To say obesity is caused by people eating too much is a generic catch-all that in reality only catches a few.

Humans as a species are built for famine and feast. The body will do its best to store energy and put it into reserve as it can get it, treating it something like gold. Sadly, in this current state of society in the United States, our jobs traditionally have us in a sedintary position, something that until the 20th century only the wealthy suffer from.

Now to address the "want more and want to pay less," considering the current state of the economy, yes, people want more food for their dollar. Which only stands to reason when one is trying to feed an entire family on a budget. Because of subsidies, processed foods are cheap in comparison to the produce section of the local grocery store. A dollar will get more calories with sugar and starch heavy items compared to the leafy greens.

Long story short, it's good to find reasons behind obesity, but it's also good to be pro-active. A half an hour of exercise such as walking does the body good, even if it's done in 15 minute increments. A little bit can go a long way.

106 posts
5/24/2006 4:43 pm


I am gladdened to hear that you could take control like that. It makes me happy, pleased and proud. Keep up the good work, and all the more power to you!


rm_muffin162 56M
763 posts
5/24/2006 6:41 pm

Processed foods are not cheaper,than buying and cookin fresh food,its just you are to lazy to make them,you want to put your food in the microwave sit down and watch a espisode of lost,while your meals cook themselves,you eat meals full of startch ,salt,sugar and additives,no wonder most of you are overweight,some grossly so,its just pure lazy....

FunFlirty4u 46F

5/24/2006 7:11 pm

Why are you so obsessed with obesity?

106 posts
5/24/2006 11:31 pm

Dear fun I am sad that you think that I am obsessed with obesity as I most certainly am not at least not on a personal level I however see an incredible strain on our society because of the enormous numbers of needlessly fat or at least overweight people we seem to have around these days,as the problem is not just theirs but all of us as well, as it put a strain on our medical system and for what? a full 90 % of overweight people are that way simply because they choose to be,and it is very sad that we all pay for their indulgences, and lack of understanding of the consequences. Overweight people die early buy and Large ,(no pun intended)and go throw life with a low sense of self esteem and that is sad when so many could be helped with a good hard physical workout as prescribed by the military not to many overweight people there , I know as I am ex military and those are lessons that stay with one for the rest of their lives so again I am sorry if I offended you it was nothing personal

106 posts
5/25/2006 9:16 am

for the support

106 posts
5/25/2006 9:19 am

agree 98% thanks for the support

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