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Obesity More Than Just An Issue
Thursday, 19 November 2009 19:07
Thursday, November 18, 2009 – A few months ago I offered a comment about the obesity problem (I used the word epidemic, which it is) in this country – and the world. My response centered on a recent article that said we’ve been programmed genetically to over-eat. As our species grew, we needed as much food as we could get out hands on to survive – literally.

I added that the excess fat so many of us are carrying around has come on slowly, since 50 years ago we were as a group significantly slimmer – but then the pace picked up smartly. In my previous offering, I noted from professional experience that this fairly quick move was due in part to laziness, technology, television, and ‘supersized’ advertising efforts. But we found (when attacking the problem nationally for the United Soybean Board) that there was also a serious connection loss between parent, child and teacher, and large, well-intentioned but misinformed groups with tons of money who didn’t get it.

And from this comes the suggestion that for the first time in memory the generation now being born might have a shorter life span than those who brought them into the world. This is just downright unacceptable.

I’m bringing this up again for a couple of reasons: The first concerns an article we just finished editing that will show up on this newspaper site in a few days – that recent research done at Cal-Berkeley indicates that almost a third of what Americans eat comes from ‘empty’ calories such as sweets and desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages, with another 5% coming from salty snacks and fruit-flavored drinks.

Everybody knew the news wasn’t good, but these findings were a shock to the researchers, to me, and should bring a similar response from our readers.

We’re looking at calories that don’t provide any vitamins and minerals – meaning people can still be fat but undernourished with regard to important nutrients. The researchers report that “We shouldn't be telling people to eat less, we should be telling people to eat differently." Amen to that.

The second happening that prompted this most recent comment was one of those ‘hurrah’ moments: Judy Baker, a former state representative who represented a district that included a section of our home town has been appointed regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Judy Baker ran for and lost a close race for the a seat in Congress representing Missouri’s 9th Congressional District, and we’re very pleased to see this news. She will take her extensive healthcare portfolio with her as she oversees health issues in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa – all of which hold their share of overweight children and adults.

The obesity epidemic has not been given the attention it deserves. True, as a society we have many problems to solve, but personal health must be put on the top tier – and the tools used to educate, reverse and prevent and/or reduce the incidence of obesity must be the right ones.

Spreading the word (as in this commentary) and having people like Judy Baker on board are two of the correct utensils.


 
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