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"We've built inactivity into our lifestyles. We've designed communities around cars,"
July 7, 2011 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Obesity Epidemic Grows: [CNN.com] "Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese according to a report release Thursday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"[PDF] adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year and rates soared to 30% or more in these 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Four years ago, only one state - Mississippi - had an adult obesity rate of more than 30%. No state showed a decrease in it obesity rate in Thursday's report."
posted by Fizz (231 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
*inserts obligatory local news b-roll of fat people on a public street with their faces cropped out.*

. . . And now for sports.
posted by isopraxis at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


"There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years"

Well there you have it. This is all the fault of people born in the '90s.

I knew there was something off about them!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can we do this without stridency and personal attacks on the obese this time?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Cheap, crappy food = a fat population (pdf)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can we do this without stridency and personal attacks

Fat chance.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [54 favorites]


After gastric bypass (8 yrs and a child ago) and following a low glycemic plan, I'm actually becoming satisfied with my weight but being one of those folks on the b-roll is an ongoing fear of mine.
posted by pearlybob at 3:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apparently that long commute to work is also to blame. [SLATE.com]
posted by Fizz at 3:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Hey, I've got this article coming out on the obesity epidemic. I need a photo of an obese person."

"Yeah, corporate says we can't actually put a picture of an obese person because it'll offend someone."

"Well, what am I supposed to do?"

"Hmm...how about we take a picture of a guy with a healthy weight, but put him in clothes that are too small?"

"That'll just look dumb."

"Maybe we can put a plate of fast food in front of him. Nothing says obesity like a Big Mac!"

"Can't do that, McDonald's is one of our advertisers."

"Ooh, I know! We can have him eating a plate of cheesy carbs!"

"Genius!"
posted by phunniemee at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


People will exercise when they want to exercise, and will eat what they want to eat. You can encourage, but scare tactics and negativity obviously hasn't worked.

America's fat. Other countries are following close behind. Countries with access to plentiful crap food and easy, fast transportation are going to get fatter, generally speaking. Seeing this kind of article is kind of like seeing a news report on the color of the sky. Every month.

"Yep! Still blue. No decrease in blue at this time."
posted by Malice at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Obesity report mentions community success stories pp.66-69 with no metric for weight loss, waist circumference, or even the slightly outdated BMI. How do they know they are success stories?
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2011


The awesome Kate Harding points out that this coincides with the definition of 'overweight' changing in 1998.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [34 favorites]


Apparently that long commute to work is also to blame.

You mean that artificially suppressed gas and oil prices combined with artificially inflated housing prices means that many people end up spending hours sitting in their car each day that they might otherwise spend doing something active? This is my surprised face.
posted by chimaera at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


but being one of those folks on the b-roll is an ongoing fear of mine.

It is funny you should say this, I was reading an interview with Tim Ferriss in Outside Magazine and he mentioned something similar:
Michael Roberts: But isn't the greatest hurdle just getting people motivated in the first place?
TF: I would actually say that motivation is not the question. The real question is: What are the incentives? Let's say I created a gym where you pay $400 the first of the month, and for every visit I refund $25. And before you sign up, we take unflattering photos of you in your underwear, and if you don't make a certain number of visits, we post those photos to a public website. I guarantee you that would be one fucking fit gym.
Shame is a powerful motivator.
posted by Fizz at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Huh, a correlation between poverty and poor health. Whodathunk.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Diet of increasingly processed/refined food combined with an ever more sedentary lifestyle results in people gaining more weight. In other news, fire is still hot and water is still wet. Film at eleven.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:08 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can encourage, but scare tactics and negativity obviously hasn't worked.

Then might I suggest turning 30, worked wonders for me. I lost 30 lbs and I'm now training for a marthon. Fear of dying, looking and feeling like shit for the past 10 years motivated the fuck out of me.
posted by Fizz at 4:08 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Huh, a correlation between poverty and poor health. Whodathunk.

The only odd part is that not that long ago poverty implied starvation. Now it means Papa Murphy's.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Those are also the states with the best BBQ.
posted by medeine at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


Curiously, the states that are "most religious" are pretty much the same ones.

Lots of church picnics, I'm guessing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:11 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


There was an interesting article in last week's Economist: Obesity may threaten life expectancy. Or maybe not.
posted by gaspode at 4:13 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seeing this kind of article is kind of like seeing a news report on the color of the sky. Every month. "Yep! Still blue. No decrease in blue at this time."

I realize America getting fat isn't really news. But the rate and severity I think is worth acknowledging. Just because you know there is a tidal wave coming your way, doesn't mean you should just sit there and ignore it.
posted by Fizz at 4:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just change the criteria of what constitutes obesity.

Obesity Epidemic averted.

You're welcome.
posted by bstreep at 4:16 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shame is a powerful motivator.

We've been shaming fat people for decades. How's that working out for us? Maybe we should try something different.
posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [49 favorites]


People will exercise when they want to exercise, and will eat what they want to eat. You can encourage, but scare tactics and negativity obviously hasn't worked.
posted by Malice at 6:02 PM on July 7


I agree that scare tactics and negativity aren't optimum responses, but your first sentence is, if not actually wrong, at least incomplete.

I want to go for long easy strolls, like I did when I lived in Halifax (which is a very walking-friendly city, and where I didn't bother to buy a car), but I can't afford to live within a reasonable walking distance of my workplace, and even if I could, there are very few sidewalks (except for in areas where there's shopping). Whole neighbourhoods here in Tennessee are built without sidewalks. Likewise, I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but I can't afford to spend half of my grocery budget on them, so I eat four or five servings a day instead of the ten I'd eat if money didn't factor into it - and the difference is made up of starchy calories because they're very, very cheap.

Infrastructure matters. We've chosen to make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices, and the poorer you are, the harder it is.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [58 favorites]


Poverty + subsidized corn = obesity.
posted by facetious at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


Just change the criteria of what constitutes obesity.

The administration talked about doing this at my high school. Not enough kids making honor roll? Lower the requirements for the honor roll!
posted by phunniemee at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2011


We've been shaming fat people for decades. How's that working out for us? Maybe we should try something different.

Imagine how fat America would be if we hadn't!
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Poverty + subsidized corn = obesity.
That math's a little off.

The equation is actually:

Poverty + subsidized corn - X = obesity

where X is typically eduction OR self control. Only one of those is a societal problem...

(Disclaimer: I went from 205 lbs to 150 lbs without avoiding processed foods, corn products, soda, or beer, so I tend to be kinda biased on this...)
posted by -1 at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When nobody can afford food and gasoline, we'll all lose weight fast enough. We should be thanking the Republicans for destroying the economy, THANKING them, I tell you!
posted by briank at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Curiously, the states that are "most religious" are pretty much the same ones.

Be right back... There's gotta be studies out there somewhere that correlate levels of religion to other demographics such as levels of education, poverty, and obesity.
posted by matty at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Countries with access to plentiful crap food and easy, fast transportation are going to get fatter, generally speaking.

Just an observation, but people in Japan seemed remarkably slim to this Canadian when I lived there.
posted by Hoopo at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Disclaimer: I went from 205 lbs to 150 lbs without avoiding processed foods, corn products, soda, or beer, so I tend to be kinda biased on this...)

Please tell me this involved exercise and not surgery.
posted by Fizz at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2011


The infrastructure ain't changing any time soon. It sucks but it's reality. If you want to lose the weight then do the work. It's hard. But that's what it is.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The infrastructure ain't changing any time soon.

Are you suggesting that we need some kind of infrastructural apocalypse?
posted by Fizz at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2011


The only thing shame motivates you to do is hate yourself. There wouldn't be a single fat person left in this country if shame was the cure.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:29 PM on July 7, 2011 [40 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're fat, and no one fucking loves you, and furthermore, no one will fucking love you, or much less, even fuck you. Given that, can you blame us for seeking comfort in a cheeseburger and a six pack? Yeah we're fat, we're tired of your shame and we give up, and we're staying fat. Fuck you.
posted by The otter lady at 4:35 PM on July 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Crap advice from TFA:

"Recommendations include making sure all food and drinks sold in schools meet the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans..."

Yea guidelines paid for by the grain farmers of America. Psst, those grains are making you fat.

"expanding the amount and intensity of physical activity in schools and in out-of-school programs, increasing physical activity by providing communities safe places to walk, bike and play"

Guess what? If you play more, you eat more, because physical activity burns calories. So following those dietary guidelines, you probably hunker down with a nice carby sandwich or soft drink to "refuel".

"introducing pricing incentives to help people buy healthier foods."

Aren't veggies pretty much already dirt cheap? I'm not breaking the bank in the produce aisle. Bring down the price of eggs, butter, and bacon, there's your health foods.

"and regulating how and where unhealthy foods are marketed to children."

Don't have kids myself, but honestly how hard is it NOT to buy something? My dad was a master at that.

Jesus we are boned. How is anyone supposed to lose weight with the crap advice they get from healthcare professionals?
posted by d1rge at 4:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"where X is typically eduction OR self control. Only one of those is a societal problem..."

you're comparing one person (you) to a whole group of people. that doesn't work. self-control is indeed a societal problem, one that's directly linked to income.
posted by facetious at 4:39 PM on July 7, 2011


According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"[PDF] adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year and rates soared to 30% or more in these 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.


The top 10 recipients of federal money are New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Virginia.

posted by Brian B. at 4:39 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can anyone find any studies that actually try to rank the contributors to obesity in the US? I tried my hand at Google Scholar — I can find studies that show clear, strong links to vehicle miles traveled, shit food, level of urbanization, etc. but it would be interesting to be able to say what the top cause[s] are without talking out of my ass.
posted by floam at 4:42 PM on July 7, 2011


This has to be the only time in history in which the poor, because they are poor, predominately eat high calorie, high fat foods. In the Great Depression, the poor went hungry and starved. When they did eat, it may not have been healthy but I imagine not much of it was processed food. Nowadays the cheapest food is processed food, which packs on the pounds like nothing else.

And the irony goes even further: people who live in rural areas often have far less choice when it comes to fresh, non-processed foods, like simple fruits and vegetables. The fresh stuff is shipped to the cities and suburbs and exurbs, where most people live. So even more questions come into play: the automotive infrastructure of the U.S. for one.

There are a lot of factors into the obesity problem, from systemic to personal choice. But the consumption of processed food--especially sodas! (that subject alone deserves its own FPP)--to me is front and center as the biggest.
posted by zardoz at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


But no d1rge, see we need the convenient but silly boogeyman of "Education, maazzzzzn" so that people can plead ignorance while eating Dorito casserole.

I truly feel bad for children raised without proper eating education, but come on.
If youre an adult and you dont know that maybe FunYuns were a poor choice, then I suspect you have bigger problems than your waistline.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2011


When you work the hours Americans work, you tend to watch TV for fun instead of running.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:48 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aren't veggies pretty much already dirt cheap?

No. I was looking over my grocery bill for the last week, and I spent more on produce than I did on meat, by a significant margin.
posted by KathrynT at 4:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [30 favorites]


I thought dorito casserole was a great, tasty sounding joke :(
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2011


Apparently that long commute to work is also to blame.

Don't buy it, since there are 15 million extra unemployed (versus 2007). You'd think they would spend their downtime doing hot yoga and making vegan smoothies.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


d1rge: ""introducing pricing incentives to help people buy healthier foods."

Aren't veggies pretty much already dirt cheap? I'm not breaking the bank in the produce aisle. Bring down the price of eggs, butter, and bacon, there's your health foods.
"

It must be nice.

I used to make a fair amount of money. I am now rather impoverished. It's a common enough story, these days. However, it's really opened my eyes to how much money plays a role in this. I miss being able to buy fresh produce the most. Not good meat, not expensive cheese, not good wine with every meal. I miss those, bot not nearly as much as fresh produce. When I visit my parents these days, my mom apologizes for "just a salad with dinner, tonight." Ha. It's what I've been waiting for all week.

Vegetables and fruit are not cheap. If I want to make a decent meal out of fresh vegetables or fruit, it costs me as much as a week of meals using my staples of rice, dried beans, and canned goods. And, cliched as it is, ramen.

I look forward to any future increase in my fortune, because I can now appreciate so much better the luxuries I took for granted. Not the expensive meals out, not the prime cuts of meat on the grill out back, but the fresh fruit and veg.

(And yes, I've gained weight since I lost my job. Even though my diet isn't the straw-man of fast food and processed meals. That stuff is expensive!)
posted by gilrain at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2011 [34 favorites]


When you work the hours Americans work, you tend to watch TV for fun instead of running.

I'm calling utter bullshit on this. I work with my father at family run hotel. We both work 60+ hours a week. For 10 years I did nothing but sit on my ass and talk about how I didn't have the time or money to get healthy. I run on average 5 hours a week and my dad does a half hour to one hour of yoga a day. There is ALWAYS time to work on your body and health. If people stopped facebooking for a half hour a day, they'd be a lot healthier.
posted by Fizz at 4:51 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


zardoz - I really do wonder what a difference just sodas and coffee drinks make. Yes, fruit juice is also high in calories, but at least there are some vitamins in there.

And I swear to god, straws are fatter than they were when I was a kid. I have no proof of this, of course, but I swear it's true. You drink faster/more with those fat straws.
posted by maryr at 4:52 PM on July 7, 2011


America's fat. ... Seeing this kind of article is kind of like seeing a news report on the color of the sky. Every month.

America's FAT!
We LIKE it like THAT!
The sky is BLUE!
Whassa MA-tta with YOU!
We hear it every MONTH!
But nothing rhymes with MONTH!

Yo, I'm outta here. Peace.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 PM on July 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


Curiously, the states that are "most religious" are pretty much the same ones. Lots of church picnics, I'm guessing.

<clippy>Hi! I see you're having some trouble with correlation and causation!</clippy>
posted by The Tensor at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Boredom also leads to increased consumption (anecdotally for myself and many others I've spoken to). One more way that unemployment contributes to poor health.
posted by maryr at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


No. I was looking over my grocery bill for the last week, and I spent more on produce than I did on meat, by a significant margin.

I can second this. I spend more money on the fruits and vegetables I buy than any other food types (relative to amounts, and no I'm not basing this on scientific measure just general personal observation).

It would be cheaper to feed my kids and myself flaming hot cheetos, frozen pizza, cookies and any sugar cereal than buying fresh fruit and vegetables.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aren't veggies pretty much already dirt cheap?

No. I was looking over my grocery bill for the last week, and I spent more on produce than I did on meat, by a significant margin.


Same here--easiest way to blow the food budget around where I live is to buy fresh veggies and fruit. Rainer cherries are 8--9 bucks a pound for god's sake. Bell peppers are 5 bucks a pound.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]



I'm calling utter bullshit on this. I work with my father at family run hotel. We both work 60+ hours a week.


When I say people "tend" to do something I'm not saying everyone does. :)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


TBQH, I tend to buy canned/frozen produce more than fresh produce, so I'm probably out of the loop on prices. My grocery store bill expensive items are usually cheese, meat, milk, eggs, bacon with probably 20% or less money spent in the produce aisle.
posted by d1rge at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't veggies pretty much already dirt cheap?

Not around here. A bundle of spinach cooks down to very little and it's $2; tomatoes are a once-a-week treat and berries or grapes once a month. I ate mustard greens until I couldn't face them anymore because they're $1.50 a bunch. If you're trying to minimize carbs and you don't eat animal products, well, you eat a lot of peanut butter and tofu, and you're always wishing you could afford more vegetable variety than carrots, onions, one bunch of spinach and enough fruit for one piece every day.

Honestly, "I exercise a lot so everyone else can too" is anecdata and not argument.

I do find that I eat less and want less when I eat with others - not so much from shame but because I eat more slowly and because shared meals tend to be more diverse.
posted by Frowner at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Whenever I go to Whole Foods, I eye the cherries enviously and think of this cartoon's measure of success.
posted by maryr at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


And you know what produce is cheap? Potatoes.
posted by maryr at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Vegetables and fruit are not cheap. If I want to make a decent meal out of fresh vegetables or fruit, it costs me as much as a week of meals using my staples of rice, dried beans, and canned goods.

Luckily, the cheaper veggies, like mustard greens, collard greens and kale are also some of the best for you. Since I've been unemployed, things like that have become a bigger part of my diet. Also, frozen veggies are usually high quality, although recently I've been more reluctant to use them because I'm not certain they're not from China.

Fruit is expensive, but I try to work in some everyday anyway, usually apples. Sometimes those cans of fruit cups come in handy.

But who am I to say? In the last year I've put on about 60 lbs. Part of this is my metabolism slowing down as I get older I think. But also, especially since being unemployed, I find myself having little motivation to get out bed everyday, nevermind go to the gym.
posted by dave78981 at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm yeah the more I think about it the more I would love to see cheap fresh produce.
posted by d1rge at 4:59 PM on July 7, 2011


Cheap fresh good produce. I really miss being able to afford the co-op. Even if I could swing it, half the vegetables at the store aren't worth buying. Next year I'm going to start gardening, if only so that for once I can have as much spinach as I want.
posted by Frowner at 5:01 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


But then again, those expensive cherries, blueberries, and apples aren't really helpful if you're trying to lose weight. When I think about the healthiest things I could eat and their prices it ain't so bad. Spinach, green beans, various other leafy greens like mustard greens and kale, aren't too bad in terms of price (around here anyway).
posted by d1rge at 5:03 PM on July 7, 2011


I'd love to debate this on the internet all evening, but if I don't leave soon I won't get back from my bike ride till after dark, and my bike doesn't have lights.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm yeah the more I think about it the more I would love to see cheap fresh produce.


So would I, but I bet you a billion dollars it wouldnt do mch for the obesity rate.
Look how many people rallied behind Fox News and Palin's swipes at the First Lady when she merely suggested that maybe we could make our families act a bit less like the people aboard the spaceship in Wall•E.

People love their God, guns, guts. Its our right as Americans.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my local grocery store, collard greens are $2.50 a bunch conventional and $4 a bunch organic. (Green leafies are something I make a real effort to buy organic because there's just so much surface area in them, the pesticide load can be enormous.) And one bunch basically makes one portion of cooked greens.

Fortunately we signed on for a CSA that has U-pick chard, collards, mustards, and kale, and you can pick those for free every week. But the CSA was $650 for six months' worth of weekly pickups. . . not exactly a poor folks' option.
posted by KathrynT at 5:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree with the posters here who attribute obesity to subsidized low-quality food and a sedentary lifestyle. A more fanciful thought that I have been having is that spiritual/moral vacuity also has something to do with it. People overeat because it makes them feel good and they can't think of anything better to do, and it's more acceptable than doing drugs (including cigarettes).
posted by eeeeeez at 5:05 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


People overeat because it makes them feel good and they can't think of anything better to do, and it's more acceptable than doing drugs (including cigarettes).

If people only realized how addictive exercise is and how that feeling is comparable to sex. ;-) Not the same, but pretty fucking close.
posted by Fizz at 5:06 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I must be having some lousy sex.
posted by maryr at 5:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


Ever since I quit smoking, I've put on roughly 50 pounds. I ate 2 lobster rolls with extra mayo chased with a half-gallon of malt-liquor on the way home tonight. I feel fine. The obesity hand-wringers can go fuck themselves with a bacon cheeseburger.
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


That would make it worse.
posted by maryr at 5:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


One should note that "obesity" hardly even means anything anymore. I'm pretty healthy – I'm 6 feet tall and a little over 200 pounds, walk for at least half an hour a day, do tai chi every morning, and don't eat much meat or fried food – and technically I'm obese. So, y'know – obesity epidemic – really?
posted by koeselitz at 5:10 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


also, I've decided I like being tubby better. There's a lot of scarily skinny (and I mean skinnier than I was when I was 'skinny') dudes walking around NYC (usually wearing jeans so tight you can tell what religion they are), and combining a beer gut with a grumpy expression and a black t-shirt makes the m get out of your way quicker.
posted by jonmc at 5:12 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think it's just food packed with soy and HFCS--people don't work at jobs involving as much physical labor. Even retail isn't as hard as it was when I worked in department stores in high school in the 70s. Being a waiter is physical work, working at a fast food joint is sort of standing around. Administrative assistant jobs and support staff jobs require sitting in front of a keyboard far more than they used to. When I was a young reporter, I was out pounding the sidewalks--today, reporting is done by email and phone.

When women started entering the workplace en mass, home cooking was one of the first things to go away. TV dinners were old-fashioned, but boil-in-a-bag and primitive versions of frozen entrees became popular. And people stopped smoking, stopped playing team softball or whatever on weekends, and our food intake didn't drop as our activity levels did. And the government food pyramid exhorting carbs didn't help.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:12 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I tend to think the definition of obesity has something to do with this.

But also, who is actually cooking regular meals with veg every night? The average mom-and we all know that even in these enlightened times most of the time it's mom-is worn out by her full day at work and /or shuffling the kids off to soccer practice or whatever and the drive thru beckons. Between that and the fact more soda is drunk, more juice is drunk, the pace of life is faster and we are more stressed-and the fact that stressed people tend to eat-and add to that the insane amount of junk food advertising we are exposed to?

I think so much of it is by the time a child is an adult the die is cast and then so many times it's just so hard to lose the weight. I know that it is much easier to stay thin than it is to lose weight and keep it off. All my weight is back on, thanks to the fact I now work and don't have time to live at the gym like I used to. It's depressing.

The least we can do is encourage each other to breathe and move, and eat the best we can. But we need to let go the judgementalism.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:16 PM on July 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


From "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity", by Charles Courtemanche and Art Carden, Journal of Urban Economics 69 (2011) 165–181
Researchers have linked the rise in obesity to technological progress reducing the opportunity cost of food consumption and increasing the opportunity cost of physical activity. We examine this hypothesis in the context of Walmart Supercenters, whose advancements in retail logistics have translated to sub- stantial reductions in the prices of food and other consumer goods. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System matched with Walmart Supercenter entry dates and locations, we examine the effects of Supercenters on body mass index (BMI) and obesity. We account for the endogeneity of Walmart Supercenter locations with an instrumental variables approach that exploits the unique geo- graphical pattern of Supercenter expansion around Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. An additional Supercenter per 100,000 residents increases average BMI by 0.24 units and the obesity rate by 2.3% points. These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart Supercenters explains 10.5% of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s, but the resulting increase in medical expenditures offsets only a small portion of consumers’ savings from shopping at Supercenters.
posted by wilful at 5:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


(ooops sorry I now realise that link may be paywalled, but hey, there's the abstract for you)
posted by wilful at 5:20 PM on July 7, 2011


Shame is a powerful motivator.

All shame motivated me to do, with regards to losing weight, was to abuse my body in an effort to get rid of all the nasty fat everyone told me I was swimming in. (This is when I was a pre-teen girl, then a teenage girl, then in my twenties.) I made myself vomit until I burst blood vessels in my eyes and eroded some of the enamel on the backs of my teeth. I starved myself until I grew that fine white fur that anorexics get (but since I wasn't rail thin, just experiencing hair loss and breath that would knock a buzzard off a gut wagon thanks to being in a constant state of ketosis). I worked out so hard I developed repetitive stress injuries.

Never got markedly thinner. Still a fucking fatass, by the lights of many other Metafilter users who aren't shy at all about unleashing their judgement all over other people.

The funny thing is, when I look back at photos of myself just before people began publicly mocking me for being such a fat little piece of shit worthy of their contempt for not being built just like them... there was nothing wrong with me. I was ten when the fat hatred began. There's a picture of me at Christmas that year that I keep tacked up near my desk at home -- I was fucking rail-thin already, except in the breast and hip areas, where I'd already started developing at age 8.

Oh yeah, shame also motivated me to attempt suicide multiple times, to accept romantic partners who treated me poorly, and to believe that I was truly worth nothing unless I could be thin. If I could just be thin, I thought, maybe my family would love me. Maybe I could love myself.

Fuck that. Fuck shame. Fuck anyone who thinks shaming people is ever a good idea.
posted by palomar at 5:30 PM on July 7, 2011 [85 favorites]


I run on average 5 hours a week and my dad does a half hour to one hour of yoga a day. There is ALWAYS time to work on your body and health. If people stopped facebooking for a half hour a day, they'd be a lot healthier.

If people stopped wasting time passing judgment on other people, they'd be a lot healthier too. But I don't see that happening any time soon.
posted by blucevalo at 5:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Those are also the states with the best BBQ.

That's a goddamn lie.

posted by Rangeboy at 5:36 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Shaming was responsible for why I was hospitalized after passing out in gym class cause I was working out non-stop and not eating for weeks and weeks.
posted by The Whelk at 5:39 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


bluecevalo - My intent is not to say that shame is the cure, I'm just saying that it is a powerful motivator. My own shame at how I abused my body by sitting around and eating unhealthy fast food. I feel inspired by the changes I've made in my diet and health. I couldn't afford a gym membership, so I started to run using the Couch to 5K program which is completely free. You say I'm judging people. Yeah, I judged myself and found myself lacking. It took me 4 months to lose the weight I wanted to lose and it's because I looked in the mirror and didn't like what was looking back at me.
posted by Fizz at 5:40 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does this story make me look fat?
posted by Leezie at 5:42 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Regarding produce prices: There is one grocery store in my neighborhood, a Grocery Outlet. The fresh produce section there is tiny, and I have never managed to buy any fruits or vegetables from that store that didn't spoil within two days. I stopped there on the way home the other night to pick up some strawberries, as I was hankering madly for a crepe with fresh berries stuffed inside. They had strawberries for $3.50 a pound, and most of them were already so ripe they were almost black. The last time I bought strawberries that ripe they were moldy the next day.

During summer if I get off work early enough on Fridays I can hit the farmer's market that comes to the Grocery Outlet parking lot... where I can pay $7 for a half-pound bag of salad greens, or $5-$6 for a bunch of organic carrots. But the market only runs from May to September, and the spring was so cold here that there's not a whole lot of fresh produce to be had yet. I'm affluent enough to be able to afford to trek around town and find better food than what can be found in my own neighborhood, but what about the people who live here who aren't as lucky as me? What are they supposed to do for good, healthy foods?

Yeah, I judged myself and found myself lacking. It took me 4 months to lose the weight I wanted to lose and it's because I looked in the mirror and didn't like what was looking back at me.

That's nice. Just keep your judgement and shaming to yourself, because frankly I don't give a damn if you look at me and don't like what you see looking back. If you've got a problem with the way I look, you need to deal with it on your own. Ain't my problem, son.
posted by palomar at 5:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, we're overworked but underpaid, over-fed but malnourished, trapped in prisons of consumption, the rent is too damn high and we've essentially boiled debate and discussion down to chokeholds and chair-swinging, when we aren't fighting for scraps of parking spaces or job offers .

Okay, cool. Pass me those Sun Chips.
posted by sinnesloeschen at 5:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


wouldn't you rather have people food instead?
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway it's rare I get to totally self-link to my own comments but ...yeah

And now I'm getting out of this thread before I get too angry.
posted by The Whelk at 5:47 PM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Anyway it's rare I get to totally self-link to my own comments but ...yeah

Self-linking is wrong! You should be ashamed!
posted by jonmc at 5:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, my neighborhood has a fine collection of liquor stores and check advance storefronts, and you can even get whole milk for five bucks a gallon! We also have a large minority population (surprise!) who I am sure just needs to get to the gym on the other side of town (somehow magically without reliable transportation) more often!
posted by sinnesloeschen at 5:52 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year

Put another way, the study failed to find conclusive evidence for an increase in 34 states. And in the 16 instances where their results were significant, they were just barely so.

More than one significant result is equal to the margin of error; let's give the study the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the results exceeded the threshold by some fractional amount. But Missouri and Maine's results are smaller than the margin of error. The remainder of the results just barely make it; you wouldn't have to change the p value by much to make them disappear.

Which is not to say we're not fat! Just, y'know, statistics.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


When you work the hours Americans work, you tend to watch TV for fun instead of running.

Counterpoint: South Korea. Exercise is helpful, and Americans badly need more of it, not only for their physical but also for their mental health. But the American diet is a far bigger problem.
posted by smorange at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you work the hours Americans work, you tend to watch TV for fun instead of running.


Or drink.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


since there are 15 million extra unemployed (versus 2007). You'd think they would spend their downtime doing hot yoga

At $25 for a single class, I don't think I'll be going to Bikram anytime soon. I'm still trying to talk myself into dropping a $120 joining fee and $65 a month for the Y a couple blocks from here.

Because that is a lot of money.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:03 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


also, shaming only works if you give a fuck what anyone thinks. This is key.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


If people only realized how addictive exercise is and how that feeling is comparable to sex. ;-) Not the same, but pretty fucking close.

If only people who harped on how amazing exercise is realized that it's just like everything else (Coldplay, kale chips, 3D movies, etc. etc.): some people like it, some people think it totally sucks. And not just because they never gave it a chance.
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


When you work the hours Americans work, you tend to watch TV for fun instead of running.

Or drink.


Or exercise. Pick any two.

I stopped watching TV because I like beer more than I do TV and exercise is cheaper.

(I realize it's not for everyone but it's doable. I pull it off with a 50ish hrs/wk job and a toddler and spouse who also exercises regularly).
posted by dolface at 6:19 PM on July 7, 2011


Yeah, so the problem many people like me have with exercise is that it's incredibly hard to find a sustainable form of exercise that is:

1. Easily accessible -- having to make a cross-town trip by bus to get to the gym is not awesome, or conducive to regular gym-going
2. Actually enjoyable

An added bonus, at least for me, is that going to the gym triggers a lot of very painful feelings and memories and can often spur self-abuse. Growing up, exercise was always waved in my face as something I should be doing because when you combine exercise with dieting you end up skinny. (Supposedly. Still hasn't happened to me, ever.) Exercise wasn't something that was supposed to be fun, it was a way to punish yourself for being too fat.

When you only associate exercising with hating yourself and never being "good" enough to be loved or treated with respect, it's very very hard to make yourself go to the gym and get on the treadmill or the bike or whatever. When I get on the treadmill, there's a little voice in my head telling me I'm not running fast enough, I'm not working hard enough, I'm embarrassing myself, I'm never going to be as thin as the girl on the treadmill next to me. Even if I make a conscious effort to keep those kinds of thoughts out of my mind and just enjoy working out for the mental health benefits and the sheer joy of exertion, that niggling voice in the back of my mind always wins out and convinces me that whatever I'm doing, it's not good enough, and I should be ashamed of myself.

Just saying "exercise more, I can do it so you can too" is not helpful. What's helpful? Creating opportunities for people in your community to be active in a way that is sustainable. Offer to babysit the neighbor kids so the mom next door can get in a run. Take your kids out for bike rides, or organize neighborhood games of tag and kickball and other stuff to get kids used to the idea that exertion is fun, not a punishment for the way they look. Look around you, look past the end of your own nose, and help someone else do what you do, if it's so important to you that others follow in your footsteps. Don't just provide an example, provide a helping hand.
posted by palomar at 6:38 PM on July 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


zardoz - I really do wonder what a difference just sodas and coffee drinks make. Yes, fruit juice is also high in calories, but at least there are some vitamins in there.

I cut out sodas and high-calorie coffee drinks and lost 20 lbs. or so just doing that. Then I stopped eating processed foods and sugary stuff (including fruit juice) and lost another 15. I'm starting an aerobic routine this summer and I'm severely limiting my beer intake, and I'm hoping for another 20 lbs or so over the next few months.

I don't miss sweet/processed stuff at all, and the thought of Carl's Jr. makes me gag now, but the beer...
posted by Huck500 at 6:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh shit. Guess we're going to need healthcare after all.
posted by Lisitasan at 6:51 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If people only realized how addictive exercise is and how that feeling is comparable to sex

What? Not in my experience. Are you doing cock pushups or something?
posted by Hoopo at 6:53 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I used to be judgmental about people's weight in general terms (it was different for people I knew, because I had context there). Specifically, I was judgmental about overweight Americans, thinking that if only they exercised, ate better, controlled themselves, didn't drive everywhere, and so on, they'd all lose weight. And then I went to grad school in Los Angeles, where I used to take the bus all the time, busses packed with domestic workers and manual workers, many of whom were more likely to be overweight than the skinny people who populated the campus. And I realized that there was no way that these people were the lazy, self-indulgent and over-eating caricatures I'd constructed in my mind - and, yes, I am ashamed it took me this to get a clue. And they were working harder for less than any other group in society. Telling people to bike to work (how do you do that when you're carrying mops and buckets anyway?) or eat more leafy veg or to join gyms seems to miss the problem entirely.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


I sincerely believe that home ec, with an emphasis on cooking from scratch and with real vegetables, legumes and meat on a budget would make a real impact. I'm amazed how many adult friends and family members subsist on overpriced and intensively calorific prepared foods. Simply because they feel helpless to cook. Maybe I'm naive but, couldn't education make an impact here?
posted by Lisitasan at 6:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


bluecevalo - My intent is not to say that shame is the cure, I'm just saying that it is a powerful motivator.

But how does that translate into a public health strategy? Because that's what we're talking about - figuring out a good strategy that will work for hundreds of thousands or millions of people.
posted by rtha at 6:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you doing cock pushups or something?


Ummmm, are you not?

(156, 157, 158 ugggh, 159....)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, so the problem many people like me have with exercise is that it's incredibly hard to find a sustainable form of exercise that is:

1. Easily accessible -- having to make a cross-town trip by bus to get to the gym is not awesome, or conducive to regular gym-going
2. Actually enjoyable


Yeah, I had exactly this problem, but the solution that's working for me right now is the ping pong game on Sports Champions that comes bundled with PS3 Move. I can play that every day because it's hard as hell at the highest setting, but I lose by actually making mistakes, no rubber-band AI. (I actually lose making the same mistakes I make in real ping pong, which is cool).

I play for 1/2 to 1 hour per day and make steady progress, and then cool down by playing the frisbee golf game or bocce.

I'm not sure whether I can keep the interest up for the long-term, but it's definitely more fun than, say, a stationary bike.
posted by Huck500 at 6:59 PM on July 7, 2011


Whenever I read threads like this I get this vague feeling of wrongness, that somehow the logic of the world is upside down and no one realises it.

We should eat so we have the energy to perform physically strenuous activities. Not exercise so we can indulge ourselves and eat more.

Cheap, calorie rich foods (french fries, soft drinks) should have been a good thing: cheap, compact, fast to eat sources of energy. We should have responded by eating smaller portions of them to save time and money, and instead our serving sizes have been increasing.
posted by xdvesper at 7:04 PM on July 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fizz: You say I'm judging people. Yeah, I judged myself and found myself lacking. It took me 4 months to lose the weight I wanted to lose and it's because I looked in the mirror and didn't like what was looking back at me.

Judge yourself all you want. Judging other people -- which is what I said -- is another story. I find myself lacking as well. I walk almost every day, sometimes a mile, sometimes more, sometimes less. I'd like to do more than that. I find it hard to motivate myself to exercise for any number of life and health-related reasons that there's no point in going into here.

Knowing that there are people who look at me and think, "Damn, that guy needs to lose some weight" doesn't inspire me to get more exercise. Maybe guilt and worrying about what other people think of me should be more motivating. For me, they're not, at least not where exercise is concerned.

And no, I can't say that I've never judged anyone in my life, so maybe I'm a hypocrite.
posted by blucevalo at 7:13 PM on July 7, 2011


This isn't a matter of willpower or lifestyle. Something else is going on to alter behavior. I simply don't buy the notion that we're more sedentary and eat worse than we did 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. People were couch potatoes in the '80s, and commuted just as much as they do today - perhaps a bit less, as urban areas have been growing more than non-urban areas.

Healthclub industry exploded in the '90s, and shows no signs of slowing down, same deal with adventure sports like biking, kayaking, windsurfing and skiing. No-one I worked with in the '90s ran road races, now a full quarter of the office does, and a few do ultra-marathoning. We have cooking channels, and gameshows involved with cooking what looks to me like healthy dishes in reasonable portions. We're reminded at every turn to eat healthy foods, and are praised for it.

Yet, obesity is still on the rise.

I think we need to start looking at behavior-altering factors - chemical, or microbial. It's suspected that toxoplasmosis increases risk-taking and impulsivity in human beings. Something else is probably making us overeat.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


God, I hate fat people! I hate what it says about their personality.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2011


Last weekend I got rid of my car.

Today, I discovered that it's actually faster for me to bike to the grocery store, because I don't have to dick around looking for parking.

There's a zipcar right over there (*points*) that I can use the few times a month when I really do need a car. It's expensive, but so are insurance and fuel.

I can bike to work. My apartment is small, bordering on comically tiny. It's a sacrifice that I make without questioning. I've got a 15-minute commute that's free, and makes me healthier each time I do it.

FTW.
posted by schmod at 7:32 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, I've got bad news from the bike-to-work-everyday front: Exercise and weight loss are not correlated.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:37 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who cares? I'm going to die anyway. Might as well enjoy myself while I'm here. Its not like the reaper cares if I'm thin.
I used to be thin. Moved out of home, went on meds. Got fat. Kinda sucks, but eh. Nothing to do about it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:37 PM on July 7, 2011


Someone suggested education in proper nutrition. In the US, we also have a culture that disdains any such education. Anyone who has ever tried to convince fourth graders to eat healthy foods comes out of the experience knowing the power of marketing and the weakness of schools when it comes to that kind of thing. We've persuaded children that eating huge piles of worthless crap is a right worth fighting & dying for. And that walking (and playing) is dangerous. Not to mention that my sixth graders would rather hunch over a laptop half the time than go outside.
posted by Peach at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Countries with access to plentiful crap food and easy, fast transportation are going to get fatter, generally speaking.--Malice

Just an observation, but people in Japan seemed remarkably slim to this Canadian when I lived there. --Hoopo

Public transportation often doesn't take you exactly to your destination, so there's usually a lot of walking involved. I got a lecture once from some guy in Japan who asked me why Americans will get in the car to go a few blocks.


The Economist article mentioned above touches on my pet peeve--the 50 year Harvard nurse study (still ongoing) has consistently shown that how much exercise you get has much better correlation to your health and longevity than how much you way (as long as you aren't severely obese).

So exercise, and don't worry so much about your weight. Seriously.

And palomar, I've always heard that there are two types of people who exercise, those who like going to the gym, or jog, or something similar, and those who get exercise as a side benefit to doing something fun, often sport with friends (or by themselves--racquet ball, skate board, even golf). I'm the former, so I can't motivate you by telling you what I do, but you sound like more of the latter. (It may not be helpful but I thought I'd give it a shot).
posted by eye of newt at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


way/weigh
posted by eye of newt at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2011


I wrote a really long rant, but those are never useful so this instead:

Obviously, there's something larger (heh. no pun intended) happening here. But the judgement and disgust need to go. Some folks have a talent for athletic stuff. Good on you. Many of us don't, and the demands life has put on us make it very difficult to be all active all the time.

I really, really wish people wouldn't make assumptions about others. Weight is complicated, often with multiple factors, like genetics, economic status, disease. I exercise regularly and eat better (no refined carbs, not that many! fried bad! greens & other brightly colored veggies good! almost no red meat! and small portions!) than many I know, and yet I'm still fat. So I'm a "good fatty", but you can't know if I'm one of those evil fast-food eatin', lazy bastids to blame for the fall of western civilization that pop culture loves to hate on just by looking, huh? Health at every size is real--I've had plenty of slender friends not be able to keep up with me, hiking or walking through the city.

And like the whelk said? Fuck shame. If that were enough, I guarantee there'd be no fat people. And whelk, if you've figured that out, please teach me the trick? I've been trying for years, but I don't have knack just yet. I'm practicing, and trying the fake-it-til-you-make-it trick, but it's not taking.
posted by smirkette at 7:56 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


In other news, the draft of the federal transportation bill that just came out of the House of Representatives would eliminate the guarantee of bike and pedestrian funding.
posted by salvia at 8:09 PM on July 7, 2011


Public transportation often doesn't take you exactly to your destination, so there's usually a lot of walking involved. I got a lecture once from some guy in Japan who asked me why Americans will get in the car to go a few blocks.

It's a good question, actually, and one that people driving a few blocks should maybe ask themselves.

Well, I've got bad news from the bike-to-work-everyday front: Exercise and weight loss are not correlated.

Am I nuts or is that not really what the article says? They say exercise makes you hungrier which can counteract any weight loss. It also says people in the study were losing inches off their waists while not necessarily losing weight, which makes sense if they're gaining muscle while losing fat.

The point to take from that is that you need exercise, a good diet, and reasonable portions. Good God, I know Canada has an obesity problem too but the difference in portion size in restaurants once you cross the American border is staggering. I ordered an "appetizer" at the Cheesecake Factory once that I needed a doggy bag for.
posted by Hoopo at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


"F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"

Fortunately our advertisers and junk food makers have an export plan to save the day.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 PM on July 7, 2011


As an way to illustrate how losing weight can work really differently for different people: In January, my partner and I decided (well, she decided, and I said, okay, I'll try that too) to change our eating habits with an eye towards losing weight. We're both in our 40s; she's a pescatarian, and I'm an omnivore. We decided to do our own made-up low-carb thing.

Prior to this, we cooked a lot at home (trust me: you can still gain weight while cooking organic food at home). Takeout meals tended more towards burritos or pupusas from the local taqueria than Mickey D's or the like. When we started the low-carb thing, most eating out stopped for a while altogether.

Anyway. She's been going to the gym and doing other exercise much more regularly and faithfully than I have. I'm lazy; I also hurt my back (unrelated to exercise) early on and never pushed myself to get back into the swing of it (see: lazy). But my weight loss happened much more rapidly than hers, and I didn't really stall out before I hit my goal weight (I've lost 30 pounds). If exercise is so very vital for everyone in order to lose weight, then how is this possible?

My genes are different. My metabolism is different. Maybe it's because I have darker hair. Maybe if I'd exercised more and more regularly, I would've lost more weight even faster - not that that would have been good, since I was trundling along at a perfectly decent twoish pounds per week, and more than that is not advised.

Everyone's bodies are different. Some people, like smirkette, might look overweight but be in much better shape than I am, even though I look skinny(er) now - in fact, there's probably no "might" about that. Some people are overweight and unhealthy, or skinny and unhealthy. Exercise will do wonders for some people, and lack of it not make any difference for others. Why are we so often insisting that one size must fit all when it so clearly can't?
posted by rtha at 8:31 PM on July 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


This winter I read an interesting article about an Oxford U. study that found a link between economic insecurity and obesity rates in first-world countries:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12135537
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:33 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Appearances are a huge issue in modern developed economies. Essential things like love are tied into appearances - including weight (never mind access to money, and the things that money can buy).

Wish I had more time for this post, and maybe will post something related, soon, but there is very good work being done in the cognitive neurosciences on weight, diets, etc.

Body image, obesity, etc, etc, are very, very complex entities that need more study, and good application of that study via public policy and education. We are at the beginning of solving some of these problems, but have a long way to go.

In the meantime, we need to be kinder to others and ourselves relative to the strictures that we adopt re: judgment of others re: appearance. Nobody is perfect in this regard, but we are all perfect in our individuality; we need to honor the latter, more. (without going overboard into hyper-obsessive preoccupation of self)

In many ways, our food culture has become the disease; we are part of food culture in that our choices make it up.

Again, however, I feel compelled to caution all to err on the side of kindness to oneself as one begins any journey of self-change re: food habits; it's not easy, and takes courage. Expect failure - personally, and individually. Use the failure to learn.
posted by Vibrissae at 8:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"She's been going to the gym and doing other exercise much more regularly and faithfully than I have. I'm lazy; I also hurt my back (unrelated to exercise) early on and never pushed myself to get back into the swing of it (see: lazy). But my weight loss happened much more rapidly than hers, and I didn't really stall out before I hit my goal weight (I've lost 30 pounds). If exercise is so very vital for everyone in order to lose weight, then how is this possible?"

Muscle mass weights more than fat mass. It's possible that her exercise created more muscle mass, thus showing up (because her muscle weights more than fat) as a lesser weight loss than yours - i.e. one can lose weight without exercise, but one may gain weight back through muscle mass gains.
posted by Vibrissae at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we were just talk about this, and that's certainly a factor. But it's also undeniable that her process has been slower and more stall-prone than mine, despite our otherwise very similar habits.
posted by rtha at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2011


*pities Americans & their awful lack of fresh produce*

Midwinter down under, here's what's in season & relatively cheap & plentiful:

Fruit: avocados, custard apples, fuji apples, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, nashi pears, packham pears, navel oranges, pineapple, pink lady apples, pomegranates, quinces, red delicious apples, rhubarb.

Vegetables: beetroot, broccoli, broccolini, brown onions, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chinese greens, dutch carrots, english spinach, fennel, gai lan (chinese broccoli), garlic, ginger, jerusalem artichokes, kumara or sweet potatoes, leeks, olives, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, silverbeet, spinach, witlof.

posted by UbuRoivas at 8:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah. I am right now halfway through eating a juicy pomelo almost as large as my own head.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:04 PM on July 7, 2011


To be fair "pink lady apples" is just a child's way of describing breasts and "the dutch carrot" is a sex move illegal pretty much everywhere but Australia.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:06 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Please tell me this involved exercise and not surgery.
Yep. Exercise was definitely a part of it. Equally important, and the bit that a lot of people miss, is that I just ate less.
posted by -1 at 9:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ubu, all of those things were available at my supermarket when I went a few minutes ago. Except beetroot and witlof, but those are not real things. By "Americans" do you mean "East Coast Americans?" Because, yeah, they don't have produce; but anybody remotely close to California has a hell of a lot of fresh produce almost all year long.
posted by koeselitz at 9:31 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, I've been told enough times that I'm grudgingly coming to accept that people in the US can't afford fresh fruit or vegetables, eg due to "black zones" where supermarkets simply don't exist, or don't stock anything other than rubbish.

Those were only what's specifically in season, mind you. There's more available, but you shouldn't buy out of season produce.

Now, I've gotta get through my last 2 packham pears before leaving work for the week. They, along with imperial mandarins, were my stash of 10 pieces of fruit for morning & afternoon coffee this week. $3/kg right now, which translates to about $3.20 US. How similar are Californian prices?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:39 PM on July 7, 2011


Some of us don't eat fruits or vegetables because we never have, and its too late to start now.
And Ubu, I think rates of obesity in Aus are as much as they are in America.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:43 PM on July 7, 2011


citation please?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:45 PM on July 7, 2011


Ah, I've been told enough times that I'm grudgingly coming to accept that people in the US can't afford fresh fruit or vegetables, eg due to "black zones" where supermarkets simply don't exist, or don't stock anything other than rubbish.

This is true. Right here in San Francisco, which is not a very large city, geographically speaking, there are neighborhoods very close to mine - just the other side of the hill, for instance - where there's no grocery store. There used to be a busline that ran directly from there to the Potrero center, where there's a pretty decent Safeway. But that line was eliminated. In terms of public transit, it's kind of isolated. We're lucky where we are in part because the Mission is a heavily Latino neighborhood, and there are lots of small(ish) markets that cater to a primarily Latino clientele, and there's tons of fresh produce, all set out in front looking gorgeous.

Some of us don't eat fruits or vegetables because we never have, and its too late to start now.


What? Too late why? Are you 100 with no teeth or something?
posted by rtha at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


One in two people in Australia are overweight

but again, it doesn't matter. the body is just armor for the mind
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:49 PM on July 7, 2011



Some of us don't eat fruits or vegetables because we never have, and its too late to start now.

What? Too late why? Are you 100 with no teeth or something?


Nah, it's just too late to acquire a taste for them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:50 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



Nah, it's just too late to acquire a taste for them.


All due respect, but that's a lot of bullshit right there. I hated salad up until four or five years ago. Same with raw tomatoes, and brussels sprouts. Now I love them all. As for fruits, I grew up eating all kinds of fruit so that's never been an issue for me, except for rhubarb. I'd never tried rhubarb until last summer, even though I'd been around strawberry rhubarb pie tons of times. It just sounded gross when I was a kid. But last year a friend made a kickass strawberry rhubarb pie and there was filling left over and I could not get enough of it. So delicious!

It's not hard at all to retrain your palate to like different things. You just have to keep trying certain foods in different ways, or at different times, until you like them. Some foods you may never like, like I'm never going to be able to eat raw onion because no matter how often I try it it tastes like an armpit. But some fruits and veg might surprise you by suddenly being delicious.
posted by palomar at 9:59 PM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


One in two people in Australia are overweight

Now, compare that with what's in the FPP. This is the introductory blurb that you'll find if you scroll right up & read what's at the top of the page:

Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:06 PM on July 7, 2011


citation please?

It was more than half back in 04-05.

The OECD says Australia has the fastest growing rate of obesity in the world.

In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 67.4% of Australian adults are overweight. A 2005 WHO study found that just over 20% of Australian adults are obese, which is expected to rise to roughly 29% in 2010 if current trends continue.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:09 PM on July 7, 2011


Actually, for LiB, it may well be too late. He hates and fears nature, and apparently cannot stand the thought of being outside an area covered in concrete and steel. Fruit is evidence of dirt and trees and stuff like that, and therefore anathema.

I also have it on good authority that for some people, past a certain age, any change at all is impossible. If you've attained the state you wish to attain, why change? It's easier to say you can't. Sounds defeatist to some of us, I suppose, but if it works (for various values of "works,"), well, whatever.
posted by rtha at 10:09 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Missed the preview, but I'm pretty sure 67.4% is the same as 'two thirds'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:11 PM on July 7, 2011


Hm, disturbing. I never knew there were so many people west of Strathfield.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:13 PM on July 7, 2011


It's not hard at all to retrain your palate to like different things.

I'll agree with that. I went mostly sugar-free after the last big post on the dangers of sucrose. I had already been cutting down in favor of sweet tea or club soda. After about a month or so, straight-up coke became rather disgusting to me. It's so thick. I also mostly switched over to salads in the same period. Small steps and some improvement. I don't own a scale because I have a bad history of getting obsessive to the point of self-harm, so I've mostly focused on holding the line.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:13 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I actually had strawberry rhubarb pie for the first time this week; even though I've always been a pie person, even as a kid having it on my birthday instead of cake, you see rhubarb at the market and it looks a little too much like red celery and you just can't imagine it going into a pie and ending up anything but gross -- but within a bite or two it became one of my favorite pies, just the perfect mix of sweet and sour.
I'll never understand people who think their tastes are set in stone by the time they're 20, if I thought I'd never learn to like a new food again I'd shoot myself. Or just be bummed.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hm, disturbing.

Very. I'm wealthy, educated and obese. Fucked if I know how poor and/or uneducated people are supposed to beat it if I can't. But I know we're all going to pay for it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:24 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Strawberry Rhubarb pie is the God of pies.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


But then again, those expensive cherries, blueberries, and apples aren't really helpful if you're trying to lose weight. {snip}
posted by d1rge at 5:03 PM on July 7 [+] [!]


The sort of fruit you are referencing has lots of fiber to fill you up, and vitamins and minerals such that your body is nourished and isn't screaming for more more more calories hoping to fill its nutritional requirements. Choosing nutrient-dense foods is all the more important on a restricted calorie diet, and ruling out such incredibly healthful choices as berries, cherries, and apples is not helpful to nutritional status (assuming that one actually cares about their health, rather than just the number on the scale).

These fruits also don't have many calories. Although cherries taste very sweet (to me, anyway), they are relatively low-cal. At 5 calories per average-sized raw sweet cherry, you'd have to eat 20 of them to even break 100 cals. Most 100 calorie snacks take far less time to eat than 20 cherries, so you get more time to enjoy the flavor for your calorie buck, and because you eat them more slowly than, say, a few bites of chocolate, you are also more likely to notice in time when you are satiated. You can also eat one or even two apples (depending on size and type) for that 100 cals.

If you prefer research studies to logical explanations, here, have these courtesy of a quick search of pubmed:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12620529
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579728
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083413
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16395633

I am guessing you are a low carb eater and thence springs your objection to fruit. I do think low-carbers have a point about the deleterious effects of grains and refined sugar on many people's weight-loss efforts, but eliminating fruit from the diet seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Humans have eaten fruit since forever, it's not a recent invention like processed products, and many fruits aren't even particularly high on the glycemic index. All of those you mentioned are 55 or less, which is considered low.
posted by parrot_person at 10:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


you see rhubarb at the market and it looks a little too much like red celery and you just can't imagine it going into a pie and ending up anything but gross

Rhubarb is generally really bitter and not very tasty on its own, but as a kid we had it in the garden and I used to dip it in water and then in a bowl of sugar. It was awesome. Apparently the leaves are poisonous though.
posted by Hoopo at 10:55 PM on July 7, 2011


as a datapoint wrt walmart supercenters, since the first one opened up in my area I've been able to afford a lot more fresh produce (our old walmart had none), cukes for 50 cents, $1 for a clamshell of strawberries, 2 clamshells of grape tomatoes for $3, baby carrots for a dollar, I could go on and on, and these prices are more than double at my grocery store, even when they're full price at walmart.

and I've lost 30 pounds since this new walmart opened it's doors. being poor but able to afford fresh produce rocks.
posted by addelburgh at 10:58 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread brought to you by Bebop-a-Reebop Rhubarb Pie.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


wait up villanelles, soon we'll be asking for recipes, and that's not the done thing, particularly if the mods are asleep.

The only thing I use rhubarb for is an apple and rhubarb crumble. Thougha fool can be nice.
posted by wilful at 11:06 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most current reliable data I could find for obesity in Australia is from the National Health Survey 2007-08:
  • 42.1% of adult males and 30.9% of adult females were classified as overweight (Body Mass Index between 25.0 and 30.0 kg/m2).
  • 25.6% of males and 24% of females were classified as obese (Body Mass Index > 30.0 kg/m2).
  • 24.9% of children aged 5 – 17 years are overweight or obese.

  • posted by wilful at 11:11 PM on July 7, 2011


    So if data is comparable between the US and Aus, then adult rates are very similar, however childrens rates are significantly less bad in Aus.

    Aw crap, I just measured my BMI. Turns out I'm overweight. 175cm, 81kg = 26.4.

    Five kilos to lose.
    posted by wilful at 11:14 PM on July 7, 2011


    It makes me wonder how much better life would be if we could stop seeing other peoples bodies as problems to be solved.
    posted by Space Kitty at 11:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


    anybody remotely close to California has a hell of a lot of hella fresh produce
    posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:16 PM on July 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


    If they're basing that on BMI then it hardly counts as reliable.

    As we all know, increased muscle mass raises BMI, so extremely fit people can show up as "overweight" by those measures.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 11:18 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


    My body is a problem, and if I don't solve it, it will kill me. The only question is whether it'll be the quick 'omg who has a heart attack at 37' or the 'slow, lingering, but still well before your time' variety.
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:19 PM on July 7, 2011


    Yep. Exercise was definitely a part of it. Equally important, and the bit that a lot of people miss, is that I just ate less.

    More important. It's extremely difficult to accomplish significant weight loss with just exercise.
    posted by Justinian at 11:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


    so extremely fit people can show up as "overweight" by those measures.

    What, all five of them?
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:21 PM on July 7, 2011


    I meant nationally, not just in Canberra.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 11:24 PM on July 7, 2011


    As we all know, increased muscle mass raises BMI, so extremely fit people can show up as "overweight" by those measures.

    I'm sure that is exactly the statistical problem underlying increasing weight across the first world. Close down gyms now! no free weights!
    posted by wilful at 11:25 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


    Yeah, that's ridiculous. These numbers aren't going up constantly because huge numbers of people are turning into muscled-up gym rats.
    posted by Justinian at 11:54 PM on July 7, 2011


    Some of us don't eat fruits or vegetables because we never have, and its too late to start now.
    Nah, it's just too late to acquire a taste for them.

    This attitude is one of my pet peeves. I cannot go out with my family to any restaurant unless they serve standard Western foods like burgers or spaghetti, otherwise they'll sit and complain that there's "nothing to eat".

    For a long time I didn't like 'strange' foods (I grew up on a diet of boiled potatoes, roasts, and butter). I was 22 when I had pho for the first time, and I didn't like it. Pho is just broth, noodles, and thin slices of beef, and I didn't like it. Two years ago it was like a light switched on and I went from hating Indian food to absolutely loving it. I hated guacamole and now I eat an avocado a day, hated spinach and now I can't imagine my life without it. I have a list a mile long that reads like this - brussel sprouts, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, shrimp, tofu, mushrooms, beer, blue cheese, sour cream, hummus, onion, fresh coconut, etc.

    I'm 26. I hope by the time I'm 30 I will have learned to love fish, kimchi, and olives - all of which are so vile to me right now they trigger my gag reflex. So no, it's not too late to drop the conservative attitude towards exploring new foods.
    posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:04 AM on July 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


    This thread is totally alienating me, much like the CBC "Is Semitism a PROBLEM in CANADA" shit-stirring piece that was beamed into my brain during my dental cleaning today.

    As we all know, increased muscle mass raises BMI, so extremely fit people can show up as "overweight" by those measures.

    You know what, that is my motivation (sad as it sounds, yeah, but really - or at least, to get to that weight is a goal) for weight training; to get to a weight, while keeping my current body fat percentage, that makes me "overweight" by BMI standards.
    posted by porpoise at 12:05 AM on July 8, 2011


    /hamburger; yes, that's a true real-life goal. There's a looong way to go before I can reach this goal, though, but a day at a time regardless of whether my genetics/metabolism will let me, versus my "iron will," towards achieving this.
    posted by porpoise at 12:10 AM on July 8, 2011


    I'm 26. I hope by the time I'm 30 I will have learned to love fish, kimchi, and olives

    Oh man. I'm 33 and love all of these things more than anyone should, and I have to avoid 2 of them because of the salt.

    My advice about kimchi: if you learn to love it, learn to love it while those you love are not around. It gives you legendary bad farts.
    posted by Hoopo at 12:17 AM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


    When my friends and family give me the socially-obligatory "Wow, you lost 60lb! That's so amazing!" congratulations, they always ask what the trigger was. I usually come up with something about body image, wanting to get out more, dating, that sort of thing.

    I think if I told them the real reason (a series of recurring dreams where I was too unfit to escape zombies), they'd laugh. Or cry.
    posted by malusmoriendumest at 12:17 AM on July 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


    I love fish and olives. I can learn to eat any part of any animal, from the brain to the liver to the tentacle. It's non-animals I have trouble with.
    posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:18 AM on July 8, 2011


    Last weekend I got rid of my car...

    It's awesome that you're able to structure your life this way. I'm lucky in that way as well, but the ability to live without a car is, sadly, a luxury. I wish everyone could live sans auto, but right now in the US that's just not possible for a huge number of people. And not everyone who makes the switch to a no-car lifestyle ends up being thin, anyway.

    I haven't owned a car since the fall of 1999, so aside from tagging along with a car owner for errands or borrowing a car for specific needs, I've walked everywhere and/or taken mass transit for over a decade. I was rather heavy when I got rid of my car, and for the first five or six years, my weight fluctuated pretty drastically as I tried different things like Atkins or South Beach or crazy workout/diet plans from David Kirsch or I'd mirror the Biggest Loser people -- ostensibly healthy things like that. I'd lose some weight while I was working out like crazy and eating very little, but eventually the weight loss would plateau and then a pound or two would creep back on and I'd stop working as hard and all the weight would come back and it would usually bring a couple of extra pounds with it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Eventually I lost a bunch of weight due to emotional trauma, unintentionally dropping about 80 pounds in six months, and that weight has stayed off. That was about five years ago, and in the past five years my weight has barely fluctuated. Depending on time of month or stress level or whatever, my weight might be up or down a few pounds, but as far as I know most people experience this. No more crazy yo-yoing.

    What changed was that I stopped dieting and "discovered" intuitive eating, which was absolutely terrifying at the beginning. I'd spent a lifetime learning that having just a salad when I really wanted a French dip sandwich meant I was being "good", and if I actually had the sandwich that I wanted I was being "bad", and having a dessert was "cheating". Unlearning all of that, and coming to grips with the fact that food has no inherent moral value, was really weird, but in a good way. It turns out that when you remove the "bad" designation from foods, they're not as enchanting. The urge to binge myself sick on something forbidden before anyone can catch me at it is gone.

    I also stopped forcing myself into the gym for exercise. I did yoga several times a week with a friend for a couple of years, I did the couch to 5k program off and on for a couple of years, I joined a gym again with a friend who wanted to get in shape for hiking... the only problem is that I get bored with all that stuff after a while. Right now I'm not getting a regular workout in, but I'm also on my feet all day at work and I'm not really eating because I'm on medication that kills my appetite, so I'm actually losing weight right now and I'm not happy about it -- I'd rather be getting regular workouts and staying at the same weight, the endorphins are good for my mental health. (Seriously, I wore a pedometer at work all last week and averaged about 17,000 steps a day. Ladies and gentleman, remember to thank your admins for all their hard work next year during Admin Week.

    My point is, on paper I should be thin, if the "diet and exercise = thin" equation works. But I'm built like Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids. Have been for a long, long time, even while living the way thin people do for years. I can get smaller if I devote literally all my attention to it, go back to the punitive workouts and extremely strict diet, but I never stay that small for long enough to be worth so much effort. I think it's better to just accept myself at this size and do my best to make sure I eat well and move around enough to keep my joints and muscles healthy. It seems better than the alternative.
    posted by palomar at 12:24 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    Olives aren't animals, LiB
    posted by Hoopo at 12:26 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


    Thanks for the warning Hoopo. I know someone who makes her own kimchi from produce delivered straight from a farm. I'm going to start asking her soon if she'd be willing to share/trade small amounts.

    Oh man. I'm 33 and love all of these things more than anyone should, and I have to avoid 2 of them because of the salt.

    This attitude is the reason I ended up broadening my diet. When people describe how much they love a certain food that is so foul to me it makes me gag, it tells me that there's something there worth experiencing. I don't want to learn to like fish isn't because it's healthy, but rather because my friends' eyes light up in delight at the thought of sushi and treat eel and salmon rolls like candy.

    A pleasant side effect is that I end up eating much more healthily than I did when I was stuck with bland carbs, meats, and processed foods at my only food choices. I'll never eat ice cream if I can have an avocado milkshake instead, and one of these is several times more healthy and filling than the other.
    posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:49 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    Look, you guys, FOOD IS IMPORTANT. EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT.

    Food and exercise are just as important as where you live.

    Food and exercise are more important than the car you drive, the giant TV you own, the fancy phone you carry around, the vacations you go on, and all the other optional stuff in your life.

    If you think fresh fruit and vegetables are too expensive in the US (hint: they are not) your priorities are seriously messed up. Instead of dividing your spending between all of the above and more, budget for the good healthy food you need at the same priority level as your rent/mortgage and organise your life around having time to exercise. Even walking an hour a day is great for you, and not hard at all.
    posted by dickasso at 12:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


    I meant nationally, not just in Canberra.

    I know what you meant. I'd have thought you'd be more embarrassed about it.
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:38 AM on July 8, 2011


    Hard to be embarrassed when I haven't got a clue what you're on about.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 2:53 AM on July 8, 2011


    And here I had been eye-rolling at all my (anorexic) French friends' "outdated" pokes at America's obesity. "We're so over it," I would claim, citing the new organic food and health craze trends.

    I guess being born in California in 1987 made a local norm seem like something totally new! and awesome! and different! compared to the rest of the country.
    posted by Mooseli at 3:12 AM on July 8, 2011


    In threads on The Obesity Epidemic, I keep hearing that people just need to walk a little and not drink so much soda.

    On the other hand, when someone posts in AskMe that they're not having success with weight loss, it's "You're in starvation mode!" "No, you need to eat even fewer calories and make sure you're tracking every bite that goes into your mouth!" "Grains are evil!" "Fruit is bad for you!"

    And, okay, there are some people who are just axe-grindy about paleo, but can those be reconciled? If reaching and maintaining a skinny weight require measuring every gram of food you eat, or never eating grains, then that just isn't sustainable long-term for the vast majority of people.

    If I walk a lot, and I cook at home a lot, and eat vegetables, and I'm still kinda fat -- at some point I have to reconcile myself to the idea that being skinny would require an intense commitment of time and energy, and the idea that everyone should be skinny seems almost like saying everyone should be a violin player, or speak three languages.
    posted by Jeanne at 5:22 AM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


    dickasso: If you think fresh fruit and vegetables are too expensive in the US (hint: they are not) your priorities are seriously messed up. Instead of dividing your spending between all of the above and more, budget for the good healthy food you need at the same priority level as your rent/mortgage and organise your life around having time to exercise. Even walking an hour a day is great for you, and not hard at all.

    What's weird about all this is that the epidemic is based toward people with low incomes, so you can't assume that the people suffering have cars, TV, fancy phones, or vacations.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:34 AM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


    In the US, we also have a culture that disdains any such education.

    In the US, we also have a culture that disdains education.

    Fixed that for you.
    posted by schmod at 5:40 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    It seems wrong to assume that obesity is linked so strongly to forced car based inactivity when the UK, which is for the most part very walkable, is ranked #3 in the world for obesity just after the US and mexico.
    posted by srboisvert at 5:51 AM on July 8, 2011


    It was horrible, Johnny. There was cheesecake and pork chops everywhere
    posted by Fezboy! at 5:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    the UK, which is for the most part very walkable, is ranked #3 in the world for obesity

    Yes, and Australia is sixth by this reckoning. Surprised to see the Germans coming in no higher than 14th, though.
    posted by Segundus at 6:07 AM on July 8, 2011


    I cannot stand even strawberry rhubarb pie. I do however LOVE rhubarb chutney. I am ill right now, recovering from pneumonia. So many things I normally like just taste bad to me. The things that taste bad include sodas. I find San Pelligrini orange flavored mineral water much nicer, no dyes.
    I find I do like vegetables much more, I like soups. Normally soup isn't filling enough. I have been less and les of a carbs person. I do like meat, in proper serving amounts.
    I lost ten pounds in hospital. That was in 5 days. Mostly I just couldn't face food. I think I will want more things as I recover, but for now, bring on the chicken noodle soup!
    posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:36 AM on July 8, 2011


    > And I swear to god, straws are fatter than they were when I was a kid. I have no proof of
    > this, of course, but I swear it's true. You drink faster/more with those fat straws.
    > posted by maryr at 7:52 PM on July 7 [+] [!]

    What's worse, now the straw wrappers are shrunk on there so tight you can NOT blow them at your parents, older siblings, tablemates twenty feet away, or random strangers. Ghod the Man is evil.
    posted by jfuller at 6:43 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


    Is this where I brag about having lost 30 pounds since January 2010? Intense calorie counting for the first 6 months, until I learned, I mean really learned, how much I could get away with eating, how much exercise I needed to do, what to eat, when to eat, all that. Then just putting that into practice for a long time.

    My weight loss is due to pure will power, aided by the fact that, at 6'5", I can get away with eating a lot and still lose weight--to maintain my current svelte 225 pounds, I can take in almost 3,000 calories a day. I have no other complicating factors, no physical disabilities. Perhaps a familial inclination to being overweight--I have several relatives in the 300+ range, and a couple easily at 400. My motivation was that my doctor increased my blood-pressure medication, which made me feel old and out of shape.

    It hasn't been easy or fun or anything. But I count myself very, very lucky to be able to just decide to lose weight, then lose it.
    posted by MrMoonPie at 6:48 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    What's weird about all this is that the epidemic is based toward people with low incomes, so you can't assume that the people suffering have cars, TV, fancy phones, or vacations.
    Actually I was addressing some people right here who'd implied fresh fruit & veg in the US are expensive, rather than the great obese masses. I accept that if someone has no money then buying anything is difficult but for the vast majority of educated and relatively privileged people who come to this site, I suspect, it's about priorities and not about poverty.

    I think for those who aren't at the very bottom of the wealth distribution, everything else there is just so damn cheap that it makes fruit look pricey.
    posted by dickasso at 7:08 AM on July 8, 2011


    I suspect portion size is to blame in many cases. One healthy serving of meat or potato is tiny. I daresay most familyish restaurants serve 2-4x as much as a good diet recommends. Giant candy bars, giant cokes, nom nom nom. Lots and lots of food.

    And of course when one goes from that to proper portion sizing, one ends up feeling hungry all the damn time. The gut, it learns to love being full.
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


    I lost a ton of weight simply by counting calories and exercise, and continuing to eat plenty of junk food. I'm annoyed by people who claim there is some magic set of foods you can eat that will cause you to lose weight.
    I accept that if someone has no money then buying anything is difficult but for the vast majority of educated and relatively privileged people who come to this site, I suspect, it's about priorities and not about poverty.
    What does that have to do with the "Obesity epidemic"? The average person doesn't come to metafilter. It's also incorrect to believe that just because someone can write clearly, they're privileged. Not so much on the blue, but if you go on reddit there are tons of posts from people who are obviously poorly educated/low class yet can write perfectly clearly. There are occasionally AskMe's from people who clearly are lower income.
    posted by delmoi at 7:17 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    A lot of people finally address their weight when they finally realize how a specific medical issue or issues can't be addressed by medical intervention and their quality of life is so corroded that they get motivated. But that epiphany takes the alignment of a number of issues. It's not much different than quitting smoking after a heart attack. You would think a lot of people would do it but few do. The one's that do quit generally do so because of fear and the hope of a better life and the understanding that science can't do shit for them.

    So the idea that people in their prime of life, who generally feel fine, are getting fatter because of all the myriad factors mentioned above is totally normal. For all the same reasons that most people on this board probably don't clean up their health habits until they are older, at which point some things really are hard to undo.

    And it needs to be said over and over - the cost of health care is going to escalate out of control because of obesity related issues no matter what else we manage to pull off in the near term as far as access or treatment of other chronic illness.
    posted by docpops at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Kind of previously.

    (Not directly, but if you look at the photos, you'll see why this post isn't surprising at all.)

    Also, have I mentioned how much I absolutely *adore* my local councilman? Walkability is *literally* his campaign slogan, and he rides his bike everywhere. He gets it.
    posted by schmod at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Mister Fabulous: "The only odd part is that not that long ago poverty implied starvation. Now it means Papa Murphy's."

    Papa Murphy's takes EFT (food stamps).
    posted by workerant at 7:27 AM on July 8, 2011


    I wish we could arrange farm subsidies in such a way that fresh fruits and veggies were drastically cheaper -- they should be the cheapest things in the supermarket.
    posted by clockzero at 7:47 AM on July 8, 2011


    Rainer cherries are 8--9 bucks a pound for god's sake. Bell peppers are 5 bucks a pound.

    Here in Cleveland, it depends on where you shop. Giant Eagle is the dominating grocery store chain, and their prices on most things are ridiculous. I saw a bag of cherries there last week for $7. A couple miles away, I saw a similar bag at the new Mexican grocery store for $3. This isn't an isolated example. Things like tomatoes, green onions and especially fresh herbs are so much more expensive at the chain stores than at the Mexican, Asian or Middle Eastern markets. $1 for a bunch of cilantro vs a few bucks for a plastic container holding a dozen sprigs. $5+ for a tiny glass bottle of McCormick's cumin or cloves vs $1 or $2 for a plastic tub many, many times the size.
    posted by Hubajube at 7:59 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


    Ubu, all of those things were available at my supermarket when I went a few minutes ago. Except beetroot and witlof, but those are not real things. By "Americans" do you mean "East Coast Americans?" Because, yeah, they don't have produce; but anybody remotely close to California has a hell of a lot of fresh produce almost all year long.

    Except that the great majority of us do. Although I realize that the southern portion of that coast isn't what people ever refer to as "east coast", veggies are plentiful and cheap here. Even in poor rural areas you have people selling greens and such on street corners for a few dollars a bunch. I think that's less of our problem than time, education and infrastructure are. Yes, there are certainly places where you have difficulty buying veggies, but I think it gives a false perception to describe whole regions as just having nothing.

    When people talk about causes for behavior, they often focus in on one thing; after all, that's how we see it presented in studies. In reality, researchers are often thrilled when they can show that a variable is responsible for even 10% of an outcome, because there are so many different variables that influence any given outcome. So it's our lack of time, our food availability and choices, our portions, food composition, perhaps hormonal or environmental issues, individual differences that affect our set point, cultural influences, family habits, etc. It's way more complicated to say it like that vs. a battle to the death over any one factor, but more appropriate.
    posted by bizzyb at 8:00 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


    I suspect portion size is to blame in many cases. One healthy serving of meat or potato is tiny. I daresay most familyish restaurants serve 2-4x as much as a good diet recommends. Giant candy bars, giant cokes, nom nom nom. Lots and lots of food.

    I agree this is true for a lot of people. If you eat lunch at a fast food place and that meal alone is a zillion calories, that's going to make a big difference because most people will also eat breakfast and dinner, and have a snack or two.

    But portion control isn't the magic bullet (not saying that this is what you're saying). What works for one person may not work for another. Our friends who live downstairs went on a eat-better-get-healthier-lose-weight kick a year or so ago; they went with counting calories and portion control. In the early stages of things at least, they literally measured out their food in measuring cups. They go to the gym a lot. They look great and the way they're doing things is really working for them.

    And it wouldn't have worked for me at all. Doing it that way would have set me up for failure. The low-carb thing has worked for me because I'm not counting calories, and I pay almost no attention to portion size. I'm never hungry.

    I realize that this is purely psychological, but that's a huge (perhaps the major) component in changing one's eating habits with an eye towards losing weight, and making that process sustainable rather than it being A Diet. The low-carb thing has done good by me, but I know that it won't work for a lot of people for a whole lot of reasons.
    posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on July 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


    "But then again, those expensive cherries, blueberries, and apples aren't really helpful if you're trying to lose weight. "

    You're exactly wrong. You can pretty much eat as much fruit and vegetables as you can and you'll never gain weight. Those fruits in particular don't have very many calories, and the fiber keeps everything moving through your system.

    It's the sugar. Stop eating sugar. That's what's making you fat.
    posted by ged at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2011


    dickasso: “I think for those who aren't at the very bottom of the wealth distribution, everything else there is just so damn cheap that it makes fruit look pricey.”

    "Everything else there" is not "just so damn cheap." This is the perspective of someone who doesn't have to want for anything, frankly. Food inflation is now incredibly high, much higher than inflation on other goods. This is a serious problem, and the result is that food costs more relatively now than it's ever costed in US history.

    The truth is that fruits and vegetables just happen to be the most-impacted goods when it comes to food inflation. So: it's not that everything else is "so damn cheap." It's that everything else is so incredibly expensive that people are cutting out necessities in order to just get by. Even wealthier people are cutting out necessities because it doesn't quite seem worth it.
    posted by koeselitz at 8:51 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


    I think the "exercise doesn't contribute to weightloss (much)" makes a lot of sense when people think that exercise should be walking a mile a day, or an hour of yoga 3x a week. Because the exercise that burns significant calories takes a while to do. And it takes one (took me, anyway) a while of working out to get into good enough shape to necessarily complete it. 8 months ago, the idea of running ONE mile was absurd to me. And running was probably the most NOT FUN thing I've ever stuck with. It's still "hard" in the sweating, breathing hard, sore afterward way, but now, a short run for me is 5 miles. Which is about 500 calories right there. But it took a while to get up to that mileage-and yeah, I have to run more than once a week (and yes, I also lift). And, yes, I've lost a shit-ton (65ish) lbs in this time. But my point is really the "exercise does make a significant difference. You just have to do a lot more than you probably think."
    posted by atomicstone at 8:54 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    I'm eternally frustrated by our ignorance of the processes involved in weight gain and loss. I firmly believe there are multiple factors in the present environment that are potential causes of weight gain that have yet to be investigated because the prevailing medical attitude is "Just eat less, fatty." Gut microflora, the hormones responsible for hunger, the effect of eating so many chemicals and non-foods as food. These all seem much more promising as potential solutions than "Eat less." As a fat person who routinely eats way less than the RDA of calories, I get sick of all this BS about how fat people are just stuffing their faces all day. The moralistic attitude the people have toward weight is pointless, regressive and ignorant.
    posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


    It's the sugar. Stop eating sugar. That's what's making you fat.

    Did that. Still fat.
    posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


    I've lost huge amounts of weight effortlessly twice in my life -- when I was pregnant with each of my two children. I get pregnant, and I can eat whatever I want and sit around on the couch and the weight just falls right off me. Thirty pounds in the first pregnancy, forty in the second. After I give birth, though, I start being careful with portions, measuring the cream cheese, restricting calories, and adding vigorous exercise to the mix, PLUS the calorie loss that comes from feeding another whole human being with my body, and the weight loss comes to a screeching halt. And if I stop doing any of that? I gain like crazy. I gained six pounds in two months when I had pneumonia, and I got it all off again in another two months, and haven't been able to shift a pound since.

    It's baffling and frustrating. Particularly since I have 100 pounds to lose and I don't feel like having three more children. I'm focusing instead on the fact that my stamina and endurance are improving, my blood pressure is improving dramatically, &c, and making my peace with my body, because apparently my giant ass is here to stay.
    posted by KathrynT at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    I suspect that in the future, once the science of weight loss progresses, we're going to look back at a lot of these diets as similar to bouquets of posies that were supposed to ward off plague or using mercury to treat one's syphilis.
    posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:11 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


    It's the sugar. Stop eating sugar. That's what's making you fat.

    This is exactly the kind of "Here is The Solution! The Silver Bullet!" thing that I'm talking about, and which is so very unhelpful and inaccurate.

    I don't have any problem with people saying "Here are things I did that worked for me," (obviously), because reading a wide range of techniques and methods and variables can give people the sense that there *are* things out there they can try, and if a thing doesn't work, well, try a different thing. Try different combinations of things. Failure at one thing doesn't mean overall failure.

    But saying "This is how I did it, and since it worked for me, it'll obviously work for everyone" when it comes to people, food, weight - a chaotic system if there ever was one - seems pretty self-centered and ignorant to me.
    posted by rtha at 9:16 AM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


    Well, the sugar thing is pretty scary. It is probably a contributing factor given how much processed sugar use has exploded in the last two decades, and not just the supersizing of sodas, but hidden in foods where you would least expect them.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:24 AM on July 8, 2011


    hidden in foods where you would least expect them.

    Oh, I agree. But I think that saying "stop all sugar, that will work" is too absolute. Especially since the fruits that ged recommends in the same comment contain a lot of sugar. They contain a lot of good stuff, too, of course. But "stop all sugar" and "eat as much fruit as you want" - especially given what current science has to say about the likely/possible role glycemic response plays in how people gain or lose weight - seems both incorrectly absolutist and contradictory.

    (Anecdata: while going low-carb has meant cutting way back on a lot of sugary things, I haven't eliminated them entirely. I still eat bacon donuts, for example. Not a dozen every day, but they appear regularly in my diet. I keep a little good dark chocolate in the house. I had some fantastic coconut sorbet the other day. Etc. In spite of that, the weight came off.)
    posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    dickasso: Actually I was addressing some people right here who'd implied fresh fruit & veg in the US are expensive, rather than the great obese masses.

    I don't know what the price situation is in Wales, but here in the US the costs of staples -- including produce -- are generally increasingly expensive, at least in retail chains. Here's the most recent list of retail produce prices from the Department of Agriculture. The list includes only standard produce, not stuff like dark greens and imports. The cheapest fruit is bananas, which, of course, have a high glycemic index. Apples are outrageously expensive right now, enough to make me think twice before buying them. Many vegetables are climbing in price -- it's gradual, but it adds up. Even onions used to be cheap and no longer are. Cabbage and lettuce are still cheap. That's about it. Bananas and cabbage. And if you're buying organic? Forget it if you're on any kind of a budget. The grow-your-own option is a good idea, but gardening is not as cheap as it sounds either, especially if the soil in your yard isn't accommodating.

    ged: You're exactly wrong.

    Yeah, that method ain't happening. I don't disagree that sugar is a demon, but if you think that saying the above works as a tool for anything other than bludgeoning people over the head with how correct you are and how incorrect they are, you're exactly wrong.

    atomicsense: I think the "exercise doesn't contribute to weightloss (much)" makes a lot of sense when people think that exercise should be walking a mile a day, or an hour of yoga 3x a week. Because the exercise that burns significant calories takes a while to do.

    This does make a lot of sense to me, but I am almost scared to find out how much exercise with my metabolism and at my age it would take to garner the kind of weight loss that you're talking about. And when I get confronted with that reality I feel defeated.
    posted by blucevalo at 9:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    blucevalo: my husband dropped 75 pounds in, hm, five months? when he changed from a car commute to a bike commute. But that was 125 miles a week, nearly two hours of biking per day. And since his driving commute was 45 minutes each way, he only added a half hour per day to his commute time, but gained two hours of exercise.

    HOWEVER: His employer had a shower / locker room that he could use. He didn't have to get anything to work except himself and his laptop. He has an in-home daycare provider (me) so he didn't have to get children to and from daycare. And there's a separated bike path that runs for 10 of the 12.5 miles between our house and his office. So, you know, those are a lot of advantages.

    Since then, he's switched employers. The new employer has a gym in the same office, and he gets to use their facilities, which is good. But instead of being 12.5 mostly flat miles one way, it's 22 very hilly miles, and the majority of it is on high-traffic streets. He's not yet comfortable biking it in the dark or when it's raining, and, well, this is Seattle. He's hitting a target of biking 2-3 times a week in the summer, and I'm crazy proud of him every time. But it is folly to suggest that just because one guy can commute by bicycle, that everyone in the country can do it.
    posted by KathrynT at 10:15 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


    To much talk of nutrition and exercise. It is a conspiracy by:
    1) The wealthy attempting to eliminate the poor
    2) The Blue States (Democrats) eliminating the Red States(Republicans)
    3) The educated eliminating the uneducated
    or most likely:
    Well educated, wealthy liberals attempting to preserve Social Security for themselves while bankrupting Medicare and Medicaid for the old, poor and disabled (we all have a final year where most of the money goes).

    Seriously, I split my time between rural Ireland and smack in the middle of the rust belt. One very seldom sees obesity where we live in Ireland, you notice it because it is so unusual. Completely unscientific statement now--what are the most observable differences--Rural Ireland--three meals, very little snacking, sweets/chocolate but few refined carbs, walking and a general interest/practice in exercise . One can not buy a big bag of potato chips (the big bags have 6,10,12 individually bagged servings inside).
    posted by rmhsinc at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2011


    Reading the comments in this thread make me realize how absolutely fucking grateful I am to have affordable fresh produce sitting in abundance in locally-owned stores within walking distance of my house. I won't even lie, I take it for granted that I can eat vegetables every day. Plus bike routes everywhere!
    posted by monkeymike at 10:27 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Seriously, I split my time between rural Ireland and smack in the middle of the rust belt.

    I would wager that one also sees very few shotguns, publicly-wielded Bibles, possums, pitbulls, drive-in theaters, NASCAR tracks, evangelical preachers pounding the podium, beauty pageants, McMansions, and "America First!!!" Republican politicians in rural Ireland too, but as to whether that's the basis for any useful comparison beyond curiosity's sake is another question.
    posted by blucevalo at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2011


    Well educated, wealthy liberals attempting to preserve Social Security for themselves

    While your entire comment makes me go what, I will address this one in particular: Well-educated, wealthy liberals are not counting on Social Security (neither are their conservative counterparts). They are not in a position to need their $700/mo or whatever it will be when they retire, because they will have property and investments that will provide far, far more.

    And, really? Eliminating Medicare and Medicaid is a goal of liberals? Have you been under a rock for the last few months?
    Republicans have now lined up behind Representative Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposal that dramatically slashes Medicare spending even more for anyone under age 55.

    Say what? No wonder many people are confused. To cut through the claims and counterclaims, examine a statement Ryan has made repeatedly. In his Pathway to Prosperity booklet, Ryan describes his plan for Medicare this way: "Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy." Sounds good, right? The thing is, there is but a surface resemblance. The differences are crucial and illustrate why his plan isn't reform.

    In essence, under the Ryan plan Medicare recipients in 2022 would get a "premium subsidy" paid directly to a health plan of their choosing. The value of the subsidy would increase at the rate of the consumer price index; the Congressional Budget Office estimates the subsidy would be worth $8,000 initially. The yields on Treasury Inflation Protected Securities signal that investors expect consumer price inflation to average a bit over 2 percent over the next 30 years. Medicare per capita spending rose at an average annual rate of 6.7 percent between 1985 and 2009. The "cost" savings on Medicare come largely from older folks dipping deeper into their pockets and the government picking up less of the Medicare tab.
    posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    We've pretty much shamed and scared and taxed a lot of people away from smoking, so I don't think it's a big surprise that we're trying the same tactics with obesity, whether they work or not.
    posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on July 8, 2011


    @rtha--please please tell me you did not think I was serious. My writing must be worse than I thought.
    @blucevalo--no but we have road bowling, a 12 mile walk to celebrate New Years, full Irish Breakfasts, dead badgers in the road, whole milk, Republicans in the North, community theater, a book club and four political parties vying for the votes of liberals. As I said, not scientific but it is very very different.
    posted by rmhsinc at 10:53 AM on July 8, 2011


    @rtha--please please tell me you did not think I was serious. My writing must be worse than I thought.

    *sends sarcasm detector in for recalibration*

    *gets more coffee*
    posted by rtha at 10:57 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    As I said, not scientific but it is very very different.

    And that's a good thing. I can't say as I'd mind living anywhere in Ireland, rural or otherwise.
    posted by blucevalo at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2011


    Is there really a correlation between mode of transportation and obesity? Here's a list of countries by vehicles per capita. And here's a list of countries by obesity rates. OK, so the US is at the top of both lists, and Australia is #6 for obesity and #4 for cars. But Mexico is #2 for obesity and #51 for cars. The UK is #3 for obesity and #22 for cars. Italy has lots of cars (#6) but not a lot of fat people (#25). I think walkable cities are great ideas for many reasons, but I don't think they're a panacea for obesity.
    posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


    One very seldom sees obesity where we live in Ireland, you notice it because it is so unusual.

    That's a bit different from my experience. Part of my family lives in rural Ireland (in the West) and while you don't usually see hugely obese people, everytime I go I see more and more overweight people; I can stand in a parking lot in Co Sligo and see close to same percentage of overweight people as I remember seeing in Los Angeles. That's true of Dublin too, where most people are taking public transit and it also seems to be a class thing - you're far more likely to see overweight people in Ballyfermot than in Dublin 4. I don't know what the stats are for Ireland, but there's a lot of talk of rising obesity in Irish newspapers.

    I see a lot of people ripping (rightly) into fast food and its harms. But if you're poor fast food is often one of the few treats you can afford and that makes it almost irresistible. It's not about lack of self-control, it's that the rest of your life doesn't really give you much to celebrate and you take small pleasures where you can. Maybe those small pleasures should be a healthy meal, but I'm not going to judge someone who has worked at a minimum wage job all day and stops off at McDonalds on the way home.
    posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    @lesbiassparrow--you are right. I just looked at a variety of statistics--Ireland is generally in the middle of the pack of industrialized western countries. . We live in Co Kerry, the land of butter and cheese. The observations hold but the data for most of Ireland shows a significant and growing concern--particularly with youth. It might well be that where we live (Kenmare) is atypical. I need to spend more time in the cities and north, but why. I can do that in Ohio
    posted by rmhsinc at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2011


    desjardins: Is there really a correlation between mode of transportation and obesity?

    Here's one study done in Los Angeles that illuminates some dynamics of this issue: "Car owners have higher BMIs than non-car owners; however, individuals who do not own cars and reside in areas with a high concentration of fast food outlets have higher BMIs than non-car owners who live in areas with no fast food outlets."
    "People who are less affluent don't own cars and can't go distances for healthier foods." . . . Car owners on average weighed 8.5 pounds more than non-car owners except in areas with high fast food concentration, meaning five fast food restaurants per mile. Non-car owners in high fast food concentration areas were found to weigh 2.7 pounds more than car owners who lived in the same areas, and 12 pounds more than residents of areas without fast food outlets. Those who did not own a car and lived in areas without fast food outlets weighed the least.
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    I'm reluctant to wade into any "fat" thread, but... watch me wade in. I'm afraid that for a great number of people trying to lose weight, the problem is not medical, but psychological, especially if they have a history of failed diets (which the majority do). When you entangle weight with a whole host of external issues, you're almost guaranteed to fail. That's why shaming is such a counter-productive tactic. People unfortunately beat themselves up psychologically, make physiologically unrealistic demands of themselves, tie up their self-image with weight, fasten their dreams and desires to losing weight, use weight as an all purpose get-out-of-jail all card and so forth. It's such a thick psychological tangle that you'd have to be superhuman to break free. If you cannot do it on your own, then you need some kind of guided psychological therapy before you even attempt to diet. I don't know if such a thing exists in out there in therapy land, but I do see the need. Quit blaming yourself. You are not a monster, failure, weak, X, or whatever, for wanting a piece of cake. Stop fetishizing food. Your diet does not define you. No diet can make you a good person, or a bad person. Stop with all that. Being thin will not make you a success in this world. Your being fat does not excuse you from whatever failure you experience in your life, and stop putting all your failures down to "if only I were thin", because if you don't stop, then you have a subconscious motivation to remain "fat" so that you can excuse whatever you perceive to be your failures.

    The only way to approach weight loss is to divorce it from everything else that you and the society around you insists on encumbering. Fat is just tissue. Approach this like any engineering problem - they all have solutions.

    Of course, I understand that it's not easy. When you've lived so long in a paradigm where every bit of food you may want "says something about you", it's hard to change that way of thinking. A few years ago, I guided a friend through this - not that I'm any kind of therapist, just a supportive friend. He lost 80lbs and has not regained it yet (6 years). Basically, it amounted to a meditative type approach - mindfulness. You have a thought - "ooh, a pie with coffee would be nice" immediately followed by "I'm so hopeless, how will I ever lose weight, when I spontaneously think about fucking PIE!!!", and "people don't take me seriously when I'm fat, and I see no way out" etc. The trick is to immediately become aware of what you are doing - you are tying food to self-image and to catastropheysing and projecting, and so on, into another psychologically damaging spiral. Instead, acknowledge the thought - like in meditation - "I see, pie and coffee - why is this thought occurring to me?". You must slowly deconstruct the whole psychological tangle you've put fat into.

    I'm not saying there are not people whose weight is not purely related to medical issues. Just that for the vast majority, dieting will not be successful, until they stop entangling all these issues into an impenetrable mess. And knock it off with the shaming. But first and foremost: your self-worth must not be tied to your weight. Try to whittle the issue down to as narrow a target as possible, and then bring all the force down to this target. You are not trying to become a superstar, get a job, achieve world peace, become a talented artist, a great friend of animals - you are just going to lose weight. You just want to build some bookshelves. You got a few tools, get to it. These are practical, very concrete, solvable problems. Can you imagine, if you made the bookshelf about all that other mess, like you do about weight?... How exhausting!... and a bookshelf would be as rare as hen's teeth.
    posted by VikingSword at 5:16 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


    I'd like to echo subject_verb_remainder and say that I love lots of things that I didn't like as a kid, not neccessarily because of my family (although they weren't exactly gourmands), but because for whatever reason kids get weirdly insistent preferences in their heads. Stuff I've discovered I like as an adult: nuts, sushi, avocado, bleu cheese, caviar, sauerkraut...the list goes on. I still like all the other stuff I liked back them, I've just expanded (literally), but there's always new goodies to discover.
    posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


    I'd like to echo subject_verb_remainder and say that I love lots of things that I didn't like as a kid

    My parents used to trick me into liking things as a kid. I was one of those kids who always wanted older kid status, and they'd take advantage by saying "try it again, maybe your taste buds have changed since you were little". So they had a 7-year-old who liked brussels sprouts and liver and onions.
    posted by Hoopo at 8:37 PM on July 8, 2011


    My aunt, who is a nurse, pointed out the other day that the FDA hasn't updated its definition of a "normal" adult male weight for dosing purposes since the fifties. It is defined as 150lbs. How many adult males do you know who weigh 150lb??? So she contends that one reason so many people are on multiple medications, like 2 or 3 drugs for high cholesterol, is that they are being under-dosed, and that this is good for drug company profits, but bad for people.

    ...

    One thing about eating fruits and veggies: there's a pretty good variety of fruit at my supermarket (though a lot of it is genetically modified for appearance, resistance to disease, transport-ability, etc and doesn't taste very good), but there aren't very many kinds of vegetables. I'm lucky because I live close (by car) to an Asian market where there are approximately fifty gazillion different kinds of green vegetables, so even if I'm just putting them in soups or stir-fry, I still feel like I am eating something different every day.

    (Cause all other health issues aside, I sincerely believe that one reason most diets fail in the long term is that they are BORING.)
    posted by subdee at 12:01 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


    How many adult males do you know who weigh 150lb???

    Depends on whether we're just counting lean body mass.
    posted by BrotherCaine at 1:58 AM on July 9, 2011


    Normal does not mean average. Despite the fact that lots of people wear glasses (and probably the majority of people over 40), what we refer to as "normal vision" is vision that does not need to be corrected. Humans have not biologically evolved at all in 50 years, so the optimal weight in 1950 is still the optimal weight now, regardless if people are actually close to that.
    posted by desjardins at 6:04 AM on July 9, 2011


    It seems to me that constant hunger is the key to weight loss.

    Le sigh.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:52 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


    How so, fff? Been losing weight but haven't been hungry (except in circumstances where one should be hungry, like lunch at noon and dinner at 9 pm).
    posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on July 9, 2011


    Really? I'm hungry all the damn time these days.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:30 PM on July 9, 2011


    I am memailing you! (Unless everyone else is really fascinated, which I bet you're not, because the detailed talk about eating habits is generally boring.)
    posted by rtha at 12:39 PM on July 9, 2011


    *pities Americans & their awful lack of fresh produce*


    Not sure if this was addressed, ubu, but I'll weigh in.

    For several years I would spend a few months living in an inner suburb of Melbourne, alternating with a few months living in NYC. Both are obviously very urban areas, and probably offer more in the way of variety than if you go rural.
    In Melbourne I lived very close to the Prahran Market, a hall which had a variety of fruit and veg mongers and also butchers and fish and cheese stands, in addition, I had a pretty big asian grocery/greenmarket on the ground floor of my building.
    In NYC, I live on the lower east side, very close to Essex Market, a hall containing a variety of fruit and veg mongers, and also butchers and fish and cheese stands. I also have here an asian grocery/greenmarket on the ground floor of my building.

    There was almost always less variety of produce available in Melbourne and the prices were almost always higher than what was available to me in NYC.

    This is obviously anecdata, comparing urban to urban only, and in either situation I think that there is available pretty much the best variety of fruit and veg one could get.

    I think that what a lot of people are referring to here is what is available once you get away from the urban areas. I've experienced "food deserts" while traveling both in Australia and in the US.

    The bigger difference I saw between the two countries, however, was in the grocery stores. In AU there doesn't seem to be nearly the amount of processed food (especially sweets.desserts, cookies,and snacks like chips, etc) as on the shelves of the supermarkets in the US, though I have also noticed a difference between NYC supermarkets and rural supermarkets here. Supermarkets in the rural areas seem to have a much more limited selection of produce (relatively speaking), at much higher prices, but an amazingly vast selection of processed stuff at much more affordable prices.

    So I guess what I'm saying is you need to compare like to like is all.
    posted by newpotato at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Regarding the "awful lack of fresh produce" in the USA: I live in Seattle (a pretty Northern latitude), and I walked to the produce market down the street today. I paid a total of $14.48 for two bagfuls of produce, including:

    - a bunch of collard greens
    - a head of red leaf lettuce
    - a little over a pound of cherries
    - a little over two pounds of bananas
    - 10 vine-ripened tomatoes
    - 2 red bell peppers
    - 6 hot peppers
    - 1 avocado
    - 1 white nectarine

    This will probably last us (two people) several days. And by no means did I only choose the least expensive options in the store. Although I got regular WA state red cherries ($1.99/pound) instead of Rainier ($3.49/pound), I could have paid less if I had selected, say, "regular" tomatoes over vine-ripened, or gotten some carrots instead of the red peppers, or picked up one of the "overripe" bags of produce that are on special.

    Yes, I understand that not everyone has a produce market down the street, that not everyone has transportation or time to shop further away than their closest supermarket, etc. I am just "weighing in" (heh) on some of the things that are available in my area of the USA at this time and what they cost. A categoric statement about the supposed lack of affordable produce in the USA just isn't in keeping with my experience.

    I also used to live on the East coast, in suburban Maryland and in Queens, NY, for many years, and while produce is more expensive there, especially during the winter, the situation I experienced certainly wasn't as bad as has been portrayed.

    Lastly, I wanted to mention Fallen Fruit: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.26925443842.37596.12466118842
    It's a great option for those who can't afford to buy fruit and live in an area covered by one of their maps (mostly in various towns in California but also in Santa Fe, NM; Salt Lake City, UT; Virginia City, NV; several places in Colorado; and in cities in Colombia, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico, and Austria).
    posted by parrot_person at 6:54 PM on July 9, 2011


    evidenceofabsence: " I'm still trying to talk myself into dropping a $120 joining fee and $65 a month for the Y a couple blocks from here.
    "

    If you truly have a hardship, the YMCA has an application you can fill out and pay only what you can afford.

    The "black zones" that a couple of you referenced are also called food deserts.

    That recent article on all the blogs (Lifehacker etc) about how sitting is bad for you and is going to kill you made the whole exercise issue basically hopeless. Because that article specifically said it doesn't matter how much exercise you do; the sitting that inevitably occurs harms you. Many people HAVE to sit at work, and post-exercise you (or maybe it's just me) want to sit down and rest.
    posted by IndigoRain at 12:27 AM on July 10, 2011


    I just looked at a variety of statistics--Ireland is generally in the middle of the pack of industrialized western countries. . We live in Co Kerry, the land of butter and cheese. The observations hold but the data for most of Ireland shows a significant and growing concern--particularly with youth. It might well be that where we live (Kenmare) is atypical.

    I don't know the situation in Kenmare, but I wonder if it has something to do with better transit and a more walkable environment. And possibly a wealthier population overall? Sligo town is very walkable, but getting into town for work or shopping from any of the nearby villages or towns is a total pain by transit. The bus service is horrible (I don't think you can even take it to work from some places, as it arrives too late.) So people drive a lot more than they did years ago.

    In Dublin I think there's many of the issues that beset lower socio-economic groups in the US, though because of the smaller size of the city and better transit I don't think we have food deserts. But in a lot of these places there is just nowhere to exercise and no money for sports for children, particularly in school. And given the cuts, I imagine the few facilities that exist will be on the block. (The leisure centre in Ballyfermot is always packed, especially the pool, so it's not like people won't use them, either.)
    posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2011


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