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Obesity a killer?

By jkaras ·
'We're just too darn fat'
Obesity rivals tobacco as top preventable killer in U.S.

By Tamara Lytle | Sentinel Bureau Chief
Posted March 10, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Americans are eating themselves into early graves, according to a federal study released Tuesday that found obesity kills more people than drugs, alcohol, guns, AIDS, pollution and car accidents combined.

Health officials said two-thirds of Americans were overweight, and obesity could soon pass tobacco as the nation's No. 1 preventable killer.

About 400,000 people died from poor diet and lack of exercise in 2000 -- a 33 percent increase in a decade, according to the study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We're just too darn fat, ladies and gentlemen," said Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary. He put himself and his entire department on a diet to set an example.

Thompson, who has lost 15 pounds and has 10 more to go to reach his goal of 185, said Americans "need to understand that overweight and obesity are literally killing us."

Overweight is defined as having a body-mass index of 25. A person is considered obese when that number hits 30 or more -- which is about 30 extra pounds for a woman of average height and 35 to 40 pounds for a man. Body-mass index, or BMI, measures the relationship between a person's weight and height.

Fat is costing the country $117 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to health officials. Corpulence increases the chances of developing hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Thompson unveiled an ad campaign aimed at fighting the obesity epidemic with humor.

In one ad, a shopping cart gets stuck on a double chin, which was dropped near a supermarket produce display. Another has a mall shopper turning in a pair of love handles found near the stairs. "Lots of people lost them taking the stairs instead of the escalator," a clerk says.

The secretary also said the National Institutes of Health will step up research into obesity.

"We are dealing with a public-health emergency," NIH head Elias Zerhouni said.

But U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said "the good news is it's all preventable."

Reining in lawsuits

The fat blame game also is playing out in the courts, Congress and the Florida Legislature.

Consumers will not be able to sue and blame the food and restaurant industries for their obesity under a bill approved Tuesday by a state Senate committee. The measure has been approved by the Florida House.

And today, the U.S. House is expected to pass a similar bill by Rep. Ric Keller, R-Orlando.

Keller, a yo-yo dieter who loves a Wendy's triple cheeseburger and Biggie fries, said it's his choice to ignore the warnings of nutritionists when he downs his high-calorie lunch.

"I would defy you to name any fast food I do not absolutely love. [But] it's my choice," said the rotund Keller. "There should be common sense in a food court, not blaming people in a legal court."

Attorneys who successfully sued the tobacco industry for pushing a deadly addictive substance have now set their sights on fast food and other junk-food purveyors. Pushing their message, a new movie will document the weight gain of a man who ate McDonald's food three times a day for a month.

Some restaurants have responded by making more nutrition information available and offering healthful alternatives. McDonald's recently announced it will no longer offer Super Size drinks and fries.

A Super Size Coke and fries, for instance, adds up to 1,020 calories -- about half a day's worth -- without an entr?e. Ruby Tuesday announced Tuesday that it will now list fat and calories on the menu to help diners make more-healthful choices.

Shannon McAleavey, a spokeswoman for Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, said it's not fair to blame restaurants for the obesity epidemic.

"As long as we are offering the gamut from healthy to indulgent, we are doing our part in giving consumers choices," said McAleavey, whose company owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster, among other restaurants. "Obesity is a much more complicated thing than eating in restaurants."

But a barrage of advertisements and promotions such as toys for children make it hard for parents to counter the allure of fast food, said Phyllis Magrab, head of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Human Development. Children are twice as likely to be fat as they were in 1980, according to HHS, which said 9 million children are overweight or obese.

Magrab said public pressure has led to some of the more-healthful menu options in restaurants.

Industry under fire

But John Banzhaf, a public-interest law professor at George Washington University, said the real change is from lawsuits.

Banzhaf, who led the charge of tobacco lawsuits, said that even though no restaurants have been successfully sued for causing obesity, healthful changes are being made.

"Very clearly, the lawsuits are working," he said.

Keller predicted his bill will pass overwhelmingly today. An identical Senate bill has not yet come up for a vote.

"Litigation isn't going to make a single person skinnier," said Keller, an Orlando lawyer before he was elected to Congress in 2000. "It's only going to make trial lawyers' wallets fatter."

But Jeff Cronin of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutrition group, said the food and restaurant industries don't need special protection. "The inside of a courtroom is one of the last remaining things to keep corporations on their best behavior."

Brendan Flanagan, lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, said his industry is braced for years of suits.

"They're trying to dictate to consumers what they feel are appropriate eating habits," he said. "It's clear consumers don't want trial lawyers telling them what they should or shouldn't eat."

Keller's bill bars lawsuits charging companies with causing obesity. But it allows other lawsuits, such as those on untruthful nutrition listings or faulty products.

Cronin said the restaurant and food industries are wielding clout from their political campaign donations.

Keller has received $170,000 from the restaurant and food-and-beverage industries during his three congressional campaigns. He received the fifth-largest amount in Congress from the restaurant business for the 2004 election, including $11,750 from Darden.

But Keller said trial lawyers -- who stand to lose from the bill -- are much more powerful in Washington than restaurants. "I could raise a ton more money by opposing this bill."

This was on the front page of our local paper. It gave statistics of 64% of American population 129.6 mil. either overweight or obese, 9 mil. children obese, $1 in $5 will be spent in ages over 50-69 for obese related medical expenses, 400,000 deaths from poor diet and physical inactivity claimed the CDC to name a few. When will the frivolous lawsuits end and people take responsibility for their actions? When will the rediculous talks of obesity be quelled? In my opinion most people take really good care of themselves. I see this in older aged people that have better bodies than most people in their thirties, and teenagers having model bodies. Granted there are some overweight people and massivly overweight people and those who dont really care but isnt this more of wanting a perfectly beautiful society and not about health issues. Basically guilt to be better that proliferates our society causing people to be ashamed and go to extremes to be liked like stomach stapling, and taking wonder pills? I am not what I used to be now in my thirties but I keep active going to the gym on a semi frequent basis because I want to remain healthy and inactivity is the real killer not what I eat per se. They also give other statistics of deaths in 90 and 2000.
19% 90s 18.1% 2000
poor diet inactivity
14% 90s 16.6% 2000
Alcohol consumption
5% 90s 3.5% 2000
microbial agents
4% 90s 3.1% 2000
toxic agents
3% 90s 2.3% 2000
car accidents
1% 90s 1.8% 2000
gun related
2% 90s 1.2% 2000
sexual behavior
1% 90s .08% 2000
drug use
less than 1% 90s .07% 2000
all according to the Journal of Amer. Medical Association.

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by jkaras In reply to Obesity a killer?

To me I think alot of these statistics are skewed. Do I see fat people or people with guts? Yes, do I see more people like this or more beautiful people everytime I go out to a store or night on the town, but its few and far between. I rarely see an obese child but constantly I see reports that children are really obese that this is a serious matter and I just dont see it often enough to warrant a war on fat. Most adults waistline has been increasing due to more and more desk jobs. I know that ever since I joined the cubicle community I grew my gut that I cant get rid of like when I was twenty. Most people that have these jobs dont get the opprotunity to exert themselves like someone in retail constantly moving and picking things up. I work out really for 1 reason, asthetic beauty not health, I know when its my time to go its my time to go and nothing can change that. I do acknowledge that doing things harmful to my heath makes me more ceptable to things going bad like smoking, drinking, yadda yadda. I feel that we are pressuring society to hate themselves and gain a its not my fault attitude at an early stage that generates major money for support of these hangups. Years before I've always seen grownups with a belly or midly plump as their bodies slowdown as natural, why not now?

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Actually I quite like the fact that we are all supposed

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to

To look like we did at 20 when we are 40 +. Sorry but every person who talks about being overweight works on a height/sex chart and forgets age.

Apparently this is not important even though the human body does change over the years.


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It changes ...

by voldar In reply to Actually I quite like the ...

yes .. the problem I don't think is really in this aging change, natural curse though, but I think that the facts should be consider globaly, pointing to the real causes and not to the "finit product" (facts). How about the air polution, how about the "eat this!!" campains, and so on ... and you'll have the answer.

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PS ....

by voldar In reply to It changes ...

I am not a "green", and I don't believe in "jogging" = health.
I rather like to go out in the mountains to fill up my lungs with fresh air than to inhail the same gas-oil air in the city doing jogging(luckely - Montreal is a really "green city" (lot of green on the streets -> trees, parcs), much more than a lot of others I have visited).

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by voldar In reply to PS ....

And I really enjoy from time to time a MacDo ... or KFC .. and what?!!? :)))

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Well a few years ago

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to It changes ...

I had a young Doctor {female} examine while I was in a hospital. Now I have a heredity back injury and she wanted to examine me and was at first horrified that I took my shirt off as she claimed the we where in a "Mixed" environment "BIG THRILL" in my books as it was only a shirt and anyone who would get worked up over something as simple as this needed severe treatment in the first place anyway so I just asked her how she proposed to examine me if I was fully dressed? she claimed that she could lift my shirt while I was lying face down on an examination bed "miles too painful for me."

But what really impressed me was her attitude that I was fat I'm 10.5 stone 6 foot tall and was then in my mid 40's and constantly being told I was under weight but to her because I didn't fit into her "Ideal" body shape I was fat. When I replied it was just age and did she honestly expect that her breasts would look the same when she was 45 as they did now in her early 20's she took offense but then again she never did understand that as we grow older the body changes no matter how much we would like it differently and I'm not the type to resort to surgery to stop what is natural.

I just get sick and tired of constantly being told I'm either over weight or as is the point now that I'm under weight and then wanting to perform invasive tests on me. Seems that no matter how you are the quacks are only too willing to spend you're money in an attempt to justify their need to be there.


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MacDonalds is NOT discontinuing Super Size Fries OR drinks.

by Oz_Media In reply to Obesity a killer?

They will offer the exact same 7oz size as always, but instead of it being CALLED Super size they will now be called Large. Originally this was supposed to be a reduction from the 7oz Supersize to a smaller 6oz Large size (yeah, big help)but recent radio interviews and reports from McDonalds have said they will remain the same size yet be renamed to reduce the perception of added value for money.

Either way you slice it, having kids blame MacDonalds for making them fat is just another copout from parents to have the governments held responsible for thier own mistakes.

Every kid want MacDonalds, even the marketing behnd the MacDonalds colors was stragegically targeted at the 4-7 years old, even INFANTS choose the red and yellow as thier favorite primary colors.

MacDonalds has become North America's babysitter. The kids cry in the back seat and people warn them, NO MacDonalds if you aren't well behaved! or If you are REALLY good today, we will go to MacDonalds, I'm sure you've ALL heard or seen this if not been gui;ty of it yourself.

WE train kids to love MacDonalds, and MacDonalds just makes themself appeal to children.

Parents use the MacDonalds playground as a way to get antsy kids out of thier face for a while, they use the food (especially the fries) as a reward for good behaviour. Good thing we don't use fast food to train the pets in our lives, our dogs would be biting off our hands in protest.

WE make people obese, not teh fast food restaurants, they are simply meeting a demand, just as any legitimate and upstanding business does.

If parents would accept more responmsibility and stop expecting the government to address these issues, it is possible that our governments may actually get something done for a change instead of chasing ridiculous lawsuits in circles.

It's not MacDonalds responsibility to watch your weight, they keep yuor kids quiet, they reward you children and keep them entertained with thier playgrounds and mascots. They contribute enormous amounts of money to childrens charities, MacDonald House etc. Sure they make those disgusting simulated meat cookies that some call hamburgers but we can't sue them if we fuel the fire.

If people are fat, they need to get out and be more active, park the freakin car already and walk your lazy *** across the street. Make you kids walk to baseball, or walk with them if it is unsafe. Don't drive the kids everywhere! I walked or rode the bus, there were still maniacs on the street but we were just aware of how to deal with strangers and not be the all naive and accepting idiots they prey upon.

Get outside and take the damn kids with you!!

Don't let you kids play Ninbimbo all day and turn into vidiots by the tme they are 11.

We let our kids get fat, we let our kids get lazy, we drive our kids everywhere as if they are crippled, why not educate the kids, teach them to get off thier lazy asses and get a move on?

You may want to start by setting an example yourself though.

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Firstly well forget the statistics

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Obesity a killer?

And look at the facts. Weight was never an issue until the Government started telling us all what we should be and should not be eating and they got the Medical community to go along for the ride.

Sure there where a few fat people way back then but they where not the "Normal" they where at the extreme end of the spectrum and most where in the middle with what then was an acceptable weight.

Over the last 30 odd years we have been constantly bombarded with what is good for us and what to eat to be healthy but over that same period of time the weight of the general population has been increasing till it has got to the stage it has today. If you where to follow this through then the ultra rich who had servants do everything for them and led a life of decedents as far as food goes should have been vastly overweight which most of them where not.

I think that the problem started when we allowed ourselves to be governed by others in what was good for us and I've always stuck to the old rule everything in moderation and you can not go wrong. Forget what you are being told and do what you want to in moderation as far as eating goes as the recommended diet has changed drastically over the years from the "So Called" experts. What we where originally where told was bad for us and never to eat is now considered as good and what was supposed to be good is now bad.

Isn't it funny now that we are in an affluent faze of the Western Worlds development that we have far more eating disorders than we ever had previously, these range from both ends of the spectrum from not eating at all to binge eating. Seems that the "Middle Ground" has disappeared and we only have one of the two alternatives left to us.


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Just another example of **** sapiens outrunning its ability to evolve

by DC_GUY In reply to Obesity a killer?

Since the dawn of civilization around 8,000BCE, man has become a significant factor in the changing of his own environment. We kept improving our ability to change our environment until we unwittingly reached a state where our environment is changing more quickly than we can adapt to it.

A simple, obvious, yet generally overlooked example, if you need one, is the fact that we are hard-wired to be at ease in communities of a few hundred. Everyone knows everyone else at least in passing, most people are at least distant blood relatives. A clan, in other words. The social units of our Mesolithic and early Neolithic ancestors. Violence and cheating were rare and usually mild. To this day we have trouble feeling kinship with people we didn't grow up with, people who look different from us, people who have different ideas about how a clan should be run and different legends about how the clans got to be here. Much less, kinship with people on the other side of the planet who don't even speak our language and are little more than abstractions to us.

We're just as Neolithic in our hard-wired eating habits. For all but the last few eyeblinks of human history, food was scarce. Any clan who got hold of some extra food simply ate it and put on a layer of fat, to be used up during the next famine. Even in medieval times, fat people were looked up to as fortunate, prosperous, successful people: people who had escaped famine and were well prepared in case one occurred. No one was EVER criticized for being fat. It was a gift.

(Yes, the Bible called gluttony a sin. But that was in the days when one man's feast was at the expense of another's hunger. Gluttony was cheating. It had nothing to do with the entire clan having to adapt to a constant food surplus.)

Today we are told that eating more than the day's minimum nutritional requirements is unhealthy, irresponsible, downright shameful.

At the same time that much of humanity is experiencing a food surplus that it's not physically or psychologically equipped to handle, it is also experiencing a sedentary lifestyle which our bodies, cardiovascular systems -- and even our spirits -- are not prepared for for. And on top of that a huge amount of leisure time, which may be natural for a feline -- a predator with a high-protein diet who simply naps when he's full, but not for an ape -- a grazer with the instinct to spend most waking hours eating.

See the book "Man's Presumptuous Brain" to discover more about the Neanderthal inside us.

For a quick confirmation, compare our closest companions, our dogs. They domesticated themselves around 10,000BCE and have been undergoing selective breeding since then, at the rate of about 80 generations per century: 10,000 generations of being bred to the life we've made for them. Yet when humans encounter hard times and let their dogs fend for themselves, they form packs that behave almost exactly like packs of wolves. Just a tiny bit more gregarious, perhaps twice the size of a wolf pack. That's the total extent of their adaptation to civilization.

But we've been getting only six or seven generations to a century, and in this enlightened era only four or five. **** sapiens has undergone only a few hundred generations during that same time period, and with very little "selective breeding."

Is it any wonder that it's difficult for us to adapt to a world and a lifestyle that our Neolithic ancestors would not even recognize?

Expecting people to "just say no" -- to carbohydrates or anything else -- is expecting them to buck millions of years of evolution, to deny their basic nature. That's a tall order. A "supersized" order, even.

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Girl Scout Cookies

by Salamander In reply to Obesity a killer?

As someone who just hoovered up an entire tube of Girl Scout cookies this morning for breakfast (mmmm - Thin Mints), I know that I'm gonna have to hit the pavement and run a couple of miles tonight. Wouldn't dream of holding the Girl Scouts liable for that 2,520-calorie bit of bliss.

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