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 Post subject: Beating Obesity
PostPosted: 26 Apr 2010, 10:07 
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http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... sity/8017/

By Marc Ambinder
May 2010 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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Would that we had had similar success battling obesity. In 1960, when President-elect John F. Kennedy fretted about fitness in an essay for Sports Illustrated titled “The Soft American,” roughly 45 percent of adults were considered overweight, including 13 percent who were counted as obese; for younger Americans, ages 6 to 17, the rate was 4 percent. Obesity rates remained relatively stable for the next 20 years, but then, from 1980 to 2000, they doubled. In 2001, the U.S. surgeon general announced that obesity had reached “epidemic” proportions. Seven years later, as the obesity rate continued to rise, 68 percent of American adults were overweight, and 34 percent were obese; roughly one in three children and adolescents was overweight, and nearly one in five was obese. Americans now consume 2,700 calories a day, about 500 calories more than 40 years ago. In 2010, we still rank as the world’s fattest developed nation, with an obesity rate more than double that of many European nations.

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I’m intimately acquainted with the struggle against fat. I may have been skinny as a child—my family used to joke about putting meat on my bones—and I played sports in school, but by the time I was bar mitzvahed, I was overweight. In my 20s, I spent hundreds of hours with personal trainers and diet doctors, and tried virtually every popular diet at least once. Lots of money in the pockets of the gurus; no joy for me. Approaching the age of 30, I passed the nebulous but generally accepted clinical threshold separating the merely overweight from the obese: a ratio of weight (in kilograms) to the square of height (in meters) of 30 or more. (A body-mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered “normal”; from 25 to 29.9 is considered “overweight.”) I also developed severe diabetes and sleep apnea. My aching back was the least of my problems.

Perhaps my own losing struggle with weight reflects a failure of willpower. That seems more plausible to me than the argument that I was a helpless victim of Arby’s. But most fat people aren’t like me: as an upper-middle-class professional, I could draw on plenty of resources in my battle against weight. The people most vulnerable to obesity, however, do not have access to healthy food, to role models, to solid health-care and community infrastructures, to accurate information, to effective treatments, and even to the time necessary to change their relationship with food. And if that is true for fat adults, it is even more true for fat children, many of whose choices are made for them. Their vulnerability to obesity is much more the result of societal inequalities than of any character flaw. Indeed, for all the attention paid to fat’s economic costs, the epidemic’s toll on children is a stark reminder of its moral dimension. Without some form of intervention, researchers worry, large numbers of black and Hispanic children in the United States will grow up overweight or obese and lead shorter, less fulfilling lives. Is that a legacy we want to live with?

Quote:
The rise in obesity is associated with a rogue’s gallery of individual, social, and technological factors. The “Big Two,” as scientists call the leading factors, are reduced exercise and increased food consumption: Americans are ingesting more and more calories than they’re burning. But underlying that simple energy-in, energy-out equation is a complex, and so far inexorable, interplay between powerful physiological and societal forces.

Start with our bodies. Molded by evolution in the Pleistocene era, when grains and meat were not easily acquired, they are hardwired to store as much energy in reserve—fat—as possible. Some scientists think that the brain tries to regulate our caloric intake and metabolism to keep our weight within a range that is heavily influenced by our genes. This “set-point theory” argues that an obese person’s body will actually “defend” an excessive weight. An alternative hypothesis, “settling-point theory,” argues that body weight settles into a range determined not just by genes, but by their interaction with learned behaviors and environmental cues.

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Stigma might be more bearable—an unpleasant way station on the path to a thinner, healthier life—if diet and exercise, the most prescribed solutions to obesity, worked. But they don’t. Qualification: if you eat less and exercise more, you’ll lose weight. But the chances that you’ll stick with that regimen are slim, and the chances that you’ll regain the weight, and then some, are quite high. A systematic review of weight-loss programs, by Thomas A. Wadden and Adam Gilden Tsai of the University of Pennsylvania, found that the evidence that commercial and self-help weight-loss programs work is “suboptimal.” People who diet often regain more weight than they lose.


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 Post subject: Re: Beating Obesity
PostPosted: 26 Apr 2010, 10:13 
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Long article in the May 2010 issue of The Atlantic; I've excerpted a few paragraphs. I read the article over the weekend, and my general reaction was :banghead: .

Ambinder says that blaming Arby's isn't plausible, and then goes on to blame the food industry and advertising. He talks about how we eat more calories and are more sedentary today than previous generations, but then says that cutting calories and exercising more won't work because most people won't stick with it. He was 85 lbs. overweight (not in the morbidly obese category), and had bariatric surgery to lose the weight. I lost 85 lbs. through diet and exercise over a several year time period, and have kept the weight off. It seems to me he underwent the medical "fast food" equivalent to a quick fix to solve the problem.

He says that people don't have access to information on how to stay healthy. Huh? How much do you need to know to know that a banana is healthier than a bag of doritos? You can look up calorie information for virtually any food for free on Google. You can find out what your approximate level of caloric intake should be on free websites like freedieting.com. If you don't have a computer, you can get the same information from a public library. Yes, our bodies are wired to store calories. Yes, there are food ads and a plentiful supply of food available, including cheap, quick, unhealthy options. But ultimately it comes down to making healthy choices for oneself.

I recognize the power of food cravings, but I've found out something that has worked for me. When I cut out processed sugar and sweets, and substituted the calories for healthy proteins and fats, the cravings disappeared. And I was able then to cut back on my overall caloric consumption without feeling deprived all the time. For most people, it is possible to lose weight and to maintain the weight loss by making healthy lifestyle changes.


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 Post subject: Re: Beating Obesity
PostPosted: 26 Apr 2010, 10:21 
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http://www.postcrescent.com/article/201 ... ds-at-home

Wayne Vandenlangenberg of Neenah appears as guest on NBC's 'The Biggest Loser' after the show inspired him to lose 400 pounds at home

By Cheryl Anderson • Post-Crescent staff writer • April 1, 2010

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Neenah's Wayne Vandenlangenberg, 49, was inspired by NBC's "The Biggest Loser" to lose more than 400 pounds at home.

Quote:
At his heaviest, Vandenlangenberg weighed 674 pounds. At Tuesday's weigh-in he was shocked to discover he was down 418 pounds. His current weight is 256, now just 6 pounds shy of his 250-pound goal.

Vandenlangenberg, who had the common obesity- inflicted diseases such as sleep apnea and diabetes, was hospitalized for 64 days in November 2007, facing heart failure and lung damage. He was in a coma for 11 days.

When he returned home using a wheelchair, it was Season 6 Biggest Loser contestant Jerry Skeabeck of Cleveland who inspired him.

"If he can do this, I think I can do this, too," Vandenlangenberg told his wife, Laurie.

His weight loss journey officially began June 24, 2008.

Vandenlangenberg cleaned up his diet eliminating red meats and pork and limiting himself to fish, chicken and turkey. He also cut out soda, refined sugars, white flour products and white rice. He slowly began an at-home exercise regime.

He lost a substantial amount of weight with the help of the Biggest Loser Challenge at Appleton's Community Weight Center, and his friends and family.

"He's such an inspiration to so many people," said Cindy O'Connell, who owns CWC with her husband Kurt. "We're just so proud of what's he's done and he's been so committed to his journey."


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 Post subject: Re: Beating Obesity
PostPosted: 26 Apr 2010, 10:35 
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One thing I do agree with Ambinder on is with regards to children, who often have little control over what they are given to eat. It is up to their parents and schools to make healthy choices for them, and to teach them how to make healthy choices for themselves in the future. I regularly talk with my kids about preparing healthy, balanced meals, and I get them involved with meal preparation so they learn how to do it.

Mrs. Z and I have been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and it is appalling what passes for "balanced" meals in public schools. French fries count as a vegetable?!? Flavored, sugared milk is offered as a choice? (Guess what the kids choose.) The USDA dumps cheap processed shit onto the schools, and the schools can hardly afford not to take it. It seems that the USDA is functioning more as a marketing arm of the food industry than as a regulatory agency.

In last Friday's episode of the show, a good number of the kids were "brown bagging" it, and the sorts of things their parents were packing them for lunch were pathetic. Potato chips and jellybeans? (That was all that one girl had in her lunch box). Lunchables? (Loaded with fat, nitrates and sodium.) Only one child had an actual sandwich. It isn't hard to make a healthy lunch if you want to send your kids to school with a lunch box. But why would they feel the need to do it when the cafeteria was serving healthy homemade meals from fresh ingredients? Did the kids complain, and the parents cave? Kids will eat healthfully if that is what is served to them. Even kids who are used to junk will adapt to healthy stuff. And the families and schools will see the benefits not just in healthier children but in more attentive and better behaved children (in Friday's show, one teacher noted that students were no longer falling asleep in class in the afternoons).


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