Hugging and Chalking

This blog is about obesity and the inanity/insanity it spawns, the encroaching lawsuits and growing diet industry. Obesity is a matter of genes and personal responsibility. You can have an endocrine problem, or you can have a balance problem (too many calories and too little exercise). It’s not where you eat, but how much you eat; it’s not McDonald’s fault, or Mama’s fault, or Washington’s fault if your body is too fat or too thin. Rosabelle.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Why are we eating "healthy" and just getting fatter? There's an interesting article in the NYT Magazine called "Unhappy meals" about how we eat, focusing on nutrients instead of real food.

Nutritionism may be the culprit, says the author. There are more government regulations, more nutritional studies, more diets (low fat, low carb, etc.), and there's a huge industry of journalists and authors (including the one who wrote the above article) who do nothing but write articles or publish books about what to eat and how to eat it. One nutrition/exercise/health web site I read recently said we are spending more on obesity per day than on the war in Iraq. I haven't crunched the numbers, but that's scary! Read the article (recommended by Janeen who combats food allergies daily in her family) and see what you think.

There are good ideas and points in this article--many we've heard before, but cherry pick. We are bombarded by anti-western this and that, and eco-friendly tidbits by the same journalists who wrote us into obesity! You need to be selective. In the 1970s women were literally pushed out of the home and kitchen; we've been getting fatter since. Now we're being reeled back. Barefoot and pregnant probably won't fly these days. But do try to eat real food.

If you can find it.

From a longer post at Collecting My Thoughts.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The No-Brainer Life Extension Plan

That's not the official name, of course. But when I read the summary, I thought, "Well, that's a no-brainer." If you don't smoke, eat lots of fruits and vegetables,, exercise regularly, and drink alcohol only in moderation, you might live 14 years longer than a control group who are careless with their health behaviors.
    We examined the prospective relationship between lifestyle and mortality in a prospective population study of 20,244 men and women aged 45–79 y with no known cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline survey in 1993–1997, living in the general community in the United Kingdom, and followed up to 2006. . . Four health behaviours combined predict a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women, with an estimated impact equivalent to 14 y in chronological age.
"Combined Impact of Health Behaviours and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study," Kay-Tee Khaw1*, Nicholas Wareham2, Sheila Bingham3, Ailsa Welch1, Robert Luben1, Nicholas Day1, Public Library of Science Medicine, published Jan. 8, 2008. Or download pdf.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Noted along the way in 2007

1) The hallmarks of successful weight loss maintenance include a low-calorie diet and high energy expenditures--1300-1800 calories a day consumed, and 2600 calories spent a week in physical activity. Medications for weight loss haven't worked well compared to lifestyle changes. In fact, Robert Lustig, MD, says their effect is "underwhelming."

2) Based on my observation of who uses them, I'd say that diet drinks and special diet foods help make people fat. These foods, in my opinion, don't taste right and create a craving for more. Want low fat? Add some water or milk. The label says that's the first ingredient. Or use less of the real thing.

3) According to the EPA, removing 100 lbs. of "stuff" from the trunk or back seat of your car will improve your fuel efficiency by 2%. Removing 10% of your body weight from your "trunk" or "back seat" will improve your own energy efficiency too.

4) Losing the sloppy jeans and t-shirt look, a close shave, and a good haircut can probably make a man look 10 lbs. thinner. Math clue: baggy sweat pants and shirt add, they don't subtract.

5) The ordinary person without type II diabetes has average health care costs of $2848 a year, including $541 out of pocket costs; the person with type II diabetes has annual health care cost of $9,797, with oop of $1566. In 2006, the nation spent an estimated $22.9 billion on direct medical costs related to diabetes complications (

6) Research shows that kids will eat more of anything after watching food ads, so the advertising doesn't necessarily build brand loyalty, but does increase weight. Turn off the TV or computer and send them outside to play.

7) A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2007;167:766-773) found a clear relationship between being overweight and filing Workers' Comp claims. Employees with a BMI 40 or over had 11.65 claims per 100 FTE, where recommended weight employees had 5.80. So on a job interview, does the HR person see you and your skills or $51,091 vs. $7,503 per 100 FTEs and more lost work days? Think about it. Is that really discrimination or watching the bottom line (no pun intended)?

8) Children with sleep disorders are often hyperactive, have attention deficit, and more absenteeism from school, according to a study in JAMA, June 27. Obesity, adnoids, tonsils, facial abnormalities, colds and allergies are contributing factors.

9) Obese people tend to sit for 150 more minutes a day than their lean counterparts.

10) Healthy eating doesn't fix everything. JAMA reported in the July 18 issue that women breast cancer survivors did no better on special low fat, high fruit/vegetable diets than the control group who ate the recommended 5 servings a day. The researchers were surprised and disappointed.

11) Out of the frying pan into the fire: according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences some powerful drugs used for treating mental illnesses cause patients to gain so much weight that they often develop life-threatening complications such as diabetes and heart disease.

12) Arthur C. Brooks observed in the WSJ (2-17-07) that a BMI of below 25 can't be "normal" if so few people are there. Overweight men give more money to poverty relief and also are more generous with their time in volunteering than thin men. Brooks suggests that denying one's self may translate into denying others.

13) Of all the "foodie" books I noticed in 2007, this one, "What to eat: an aisle by aisle guide" by Marion Nestle (2006) looked really good. I haven't read it yet, but she has my philosophy, "eat less, move more," and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Arranged like a tour of your supermarket, the book is, according to a CDC review, "a revealing look at the standard practices of government agencies, retailers, and food manufacturers that the complex world of food sales comprises." I have certain aisles at Meijer's that I won't walk through.

14) About a year ago, JAMA reported that in a study of the four major diet plans, the only successful people were the publisher and the author/researchers who got the grant. None of the diets worked well, or consistently, and none of the groups (ladies) were really following them.

15) It's not rocket science. Reading and following even well-intentioned, healthy recipes can add pounds. A roasted pear, walnut and feta cheese salad has 400 calories. A side dish of fresh, tender crisp asparagus has 88. And if you're like me, the cheese will make you hungry.

For the most part, this is cross posted at my regular blog, Collecting My Thoughts.

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