Images-1Hundreds of years ago we did not have a problem with obesity.  We were out there tilling the fields and physically working hard.  Food was not so easily available either.   We live in a culture where in most families both people work so finding time to make a meal isn't easy.  On top of that many people do not really know how to cook.  It isn't that fast food is cheaper than a healthy home cooked meal it is just easier.  You can buy a big package of chicken thighs and make them at home for less than a bucket of KFC. 

There was the tragic high school shooting last week Ohio.  Why guns so easily available is a whole other issue so I am going to stay on the obesity track.  The day after the shooting there was a picture in the NYTimes of the students marching arm and arm as a tribute to those injured and killed.  What struck me about the photo is that the majority of the students were chunky.  Not heavy but all could stand to lose 10 – 20 lbs.  If they are looking like that in high school when they are young and active what are they going to look like in ten or twenty years.  It set me back.

I live in NYC.  We walk everywhere.  So even if you don't get exercise, you could clock in some serious mileage walking around the town.  For whatever reason, in a city that has access to some of the most amazing meals and food on every corner there are not a lot of large people walking around this town at first glance so maybe that is why that photo made me take pause. 

I love Michele Obamas campaign called Let's Move that hopefully will educate more people in their communities about obesity being a national epidemic.  We spend more time being inactive that active in our daily lives.  We should bring home economics, physical education and even shop back to the education curriculum so people can move, learn how to make healthy food and even hammer in a nail.  Those basic fundamentals are one of the steps in getting people to be healthy.  OK so learning how to hammer in a nail isn't about healthy living but I do think it is important to learn. 

Weigh gain is about unhealthy eating and poor diets.  There is this explosion around the indie food industry that is about local products, interesting products and better made products…how do we translate that excitement around a growing industry into teaching everyone to learn how to eat healthy and exercise.  As consumers we should force companies to focus on healthy products but at the end of the day it has to start in the school system through education.  It has to start when the kids are young otherwise we will be seeing a serious drain on our health system in the years to come.  I fear we already do. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    http://lifehacker.com/58795…I thought this was a nice reminder in our sedentary work lives and liked the fact that it wasn’t all doom and gloom.Simple 2 things to do.. –         Make sure we stand up atleast once every hour-         And get 30 mins of activity every day And some nice other hacks..•           Park near the back of the parking lot.•           Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.•           Walk over and talk to a coworker instead of emailing them.•           Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct.(copied from an email I’d sent to friends after reading the article)

    1. Gotham Gal

      Scenic route to the bathroom is brilliant

    2. rebeccastees

       My friend and I both have pedometers.  I’m on on 2,737 today (out of 10,000) so time to get moving!

  2. kirklove

    Had this conversation with Dr Jay Parkinson a little while back. Number one reason New Yorkers are thin in my opinion is vanity. Nothing wrong with that. Vanity can be a very positive motivator in some cases.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Lol I was going to write that. I totally agree.

    2. pixiedust8

      Maybe, but I tend to think that a lot of people who move to/live in New York City are overachievers. It was almost more rare in my old office for people to NOT be running in marathons and doing other races on the weekends. There were also people doing yoga every day (not people with little kids!) and going to the gym at 5am. I feel like it’s kind of the nature of New York City, which can be good and bad!

      1. kirklove

        Absolutely agree on that as well. Vanity is one of many motivators. Perhaps the converse is that outside of New York (or LA) people tend to be more complacent about their physical make-up. The proliferation of Fast Food and Chain restaurants doesn’t help much either. 😉

        1. Gotham Gal

          vanity is definitely one of my motivators too. i figure whatever it takes…

  3. William Mougayar

    That’s a big and important issue which you have touched upon more than once, so I can appreciate how important you think it is. Making healthier food choices is one aspect of it, but there’s another part that’s equally important. Eating your meal as 1 main serving is bad (typical of junk food patterns). It’s better to space out your meal as 2-4 small servings with at least 20 min intervals in-between. That allows the food to move from the small intestin to the large one, and results in less bloating and obesity. When we go out, we often ask for 3 appetizers or 2 appetizers and share a main course with my wife. Some main courses at restaurants are ridiculously huge. Taking time for meals is important. Rushing meals leads to obesity too.

    1. Gotham Gal

      AbsolutelyI am always aghast when I see the size of serving portions at restaurants. Getting your moneys worth is an insane concept in goodMore veggies less protein

  4. ellen

    Today is a good day to discuss obesity and fast food. The story about pink slime  beef additives is all over the Boston news todayI thought by buying beef only ground by my  local market   and not a meatpacking plant was enough. Oh how I was mistaken.Eating healthy is not only about choices and amount but also about the meat and agricultural lobbies and their pacs. I was horrified by the company, beef products Inc.When healthy lean  beef can  cost $29 a pound and a single uncooked healthy chicken cost $14 and a  single organic orange can cost $2, it seems that it is more of an  economic issue.Cheap eats now causes many health dollars later. The issues sometimes are too fragmented and there needs to be a more cohesive approach to “healthy lifestyle” where everyone can benefit.Remember, the beef companies in Texas  sued Oprah for an offhanded comment and so many people are against Jamie Oliver’s food revolution.I personally was never  allowed to eat in the school cafeteria and never entered a McDonalds until I was 22.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i remember having mcdonald’s once in a blue moon as kids but we never ate that kind of food. my kids won’t touch it.

      1. pixiedust8

        That’s probably because you educated your kids. I do that with my daughter, but she also (naturally) dislikes the taste of beef, so I don’t have to have the McDonald’s struggle. She knows that it’s not healthy food, though, and that there are better options.

  5. ShanaC

    The easiest way to help- bring back recess.  Kids don’t get to just run around outside anymore 🙁

  6. Guest

    Obesity is becoming the new normal for adults and kids and everyone is being too polite about it.  Hammering a nail is about healthy living.  It’s about doing it yourself instead of relying on an appliance, a remote control, or a car to do it for you.  The world we live in promotes and even celebrates obesity.  Vanity sizing, drive through everything, and Paula Deen.  

    1. Gotham Gal

      Paula Seen and diabetes

  7. ATG

    I think this is also a class issue. There was one fat child in my elementary private school grade and not many in my private high school (both of which served rather healthful, tasty meals and, as I understand, have made even further improvements since my time). I can probably count the number of tims I have eaten fast food on my hands. This is not to say that people that have better options are never fat–they certainly are and you can certainly get fat on the most expensive/luxurious four star restaurant food. But proportionally, I would guess there are far fewer of them. I also know you have mentioned that healthy food does not cost more than fast food, but I’d argue that healthy prepared food (i.e. whole foods-type prepared food, quality sushi, a salad at chopt, etc.) is more expensive than fast food, and I’m guessing many of the folks who buy fast food for their children as a primary source of nutrition, if they know better, don’t have access or the money for healthy prepared food when they don’t have time to cook–if they know how to cook.

    1. Gotham Gal

      there is no doubt that healthy prepared food is insanely expensive. making healthy food is not. education on food is also probably a class issue. how do we fix that?

      1. ATG

        This is where I think, as you noted, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is fantastic. I love the passion she is bringing to it. Starting in public schools is great. Bringing urban farms to schools would be fantastic. And making laws that prohibited unhealthy food from being served in school would be wonderful. But at some point, we’d need to reach the adults too, and that might be more difficult. I think where there are food deserts and areas of extreme obesity, we need local heroes and celebrities to stand behind the push for healthier living. We need to find role models those having trouble can relate to–I think.

        1. Gotham Gal

          i think you are spot on. i have always been more interested in changing the behavior as well as helping children through non-profits with the hope that they can. adults are really tough to make changes after so many years of being stuck in a mode. weight watchers actually did a good job getting celebrities to show that they too got heavy and lost weight. wonder if that made an impact?

  8. S Solovay

    I agree with you. This is an enormous issue and one that unfortunately has massive lobbying groups that work against solving it.  Have you read about the controversy in Georgia over Strong4Life’s Georgia Obesity Ads? This commercial freaks me out.  http://youtu.be/HKzY0vXlhnQ

    1. Gotham Gal

      holy shit. that is quite an ad. should scare anyone to stop and think about what goes in their mouth.

    2. Noha

      wow, really well done ad. Thanks for posting.Joanne, I completely agree!

  9. pixiedust8

    I read this article recently that said what a tremendous effect taking 10k steps a day makes. As a result, I decided to walk to my hair salon (about 60 blocks roundtrip) yesterday, although obviously, it takes some extra time to do that, and that’s not always possible.  I am thinking about getting a pedometer.http://well.blogs.nytimes.c… 

    1. Gotham Gal

      the pedometers are really cool. i have a friend who is obsessed with his.

  10. Susan Rubinsky

    I think there are many factors which have led to the obesity epidemic, from things that seem minor to things that are obvious. Take a look at your kitchen plates. Then go to an antique or collectible shop and look at the size of plates 50 years ago. Everyday plates now are 2-3 inches  (or more) larger in diameter. Personally, I use 1930’s plates. They are just the right size. I’ve had dinner guests comment that my plates “are so small!” and they are surprised when I tell them that they are what was considered normal 70 years ago. I’ve noticed that people don’t use teaspoons anymore either — they use large serving spoons to eat things like cereal.Overall, this epidemic is a lifestyle issue. Small things like the plates and spoons, are a reflection of small daily decisions that are ingrained in the culture of families. Purchases at food stores are also a reflection of lifestyle and habit. I happened to be in BJs last night (one of those big warehouse stores) and noticed that a lot people had carts full of giant size snack type foods. Meanwhile, I was buying giant sized bags of green beans, parisian cukes and bell peppers — these are what we buy for snacks in our house. The cost of a two pound bag of mini multi-colored bell peppers is about a three quarters less than the cost of the giant sized box of snack food. It’s not about cost. It’s about ingrained habits.I totally agree that schools/education can help. When I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher who was truly ahead of her time. She taught us about recycling and the environment even though back then everyone threw away what are now considered recyclables. This teacher ignited a passion in me for thinking about how my choices effected the environment. This message did not come from within my home but I brought home the message (and suffered years of eye rolling from my family). But in cases like these, it is only the rare child that can persevere and change DESPITE the family environment.The efforts to fight obesity, therefore, must be multi-pronged. It will require education but also consistent engagement at the community level to help families change. Once families change and start making different choices, then the marketplace will change. This same effort is needed for several social issues, most obviously education.

    1. Gotham Gal

      the other night i went to a restaurant and i thought there was way too much food on the plate. so i spoke to the chef.he said that the protein on the plate was only 6 ounces…they got smaller plates. I thought that was very clever.

    2. Angela

      Good point!  Everything is supersized.  I just remembered how I get frustrated using chopsticks because I can’t get the food fast enough!  

  11. CCjudy

    Im in SF and we have a chain Walgreens that recently decided to add food some is ok like fruit and what are most people buying is bags of chips. I think their revenue from these foods may surpass that from the medications.

  12. Cecelia Feld

    I urge you and your followers to go to http://www.stan.feld.com and read his blogs on Repairing the Healthcare System. He has many blogs on obesity archived. You can subscribe. Stanley Feld is a retired Endocrinologist, having been in private practice for 30 years in Dallas. He is my husband.

  13. Lisa

    Wow, so true!  Got to keep moving, and not stuffing my face with stuff!  Years ago my Dr. told me that I was gaining weight b/c I was eating too much!!  I was mad but grateful he told me that.

  14. Angela

    Too many bad fats (processed foods) and not enough good fats (omega 3’s).  I’ve lived in large cities and small towns.  Less options in small towns.  So many people – the only options for eating out are Burger King and Taco Bell.  In farming towns, the kids are healthier, probably because they work hard and eat more real food.  Not sure where this town in Ohio is.  Also, I think all this growth hormone in the milk is making kids bigger.  Not sure what the consensus is on this though.

    1. Gotham Gal

      my guess is that you have touched on all points that are true.

  15. chefbikram

    Yes, starting the talk about health when kids are young is good and having schools get involved is also good. BUT it needs to start in the family. And families, restaurants and others need to stop making everything taste good by frying and adding a stick of butter. GG, your recipes are often fat loaded….

    1. Gotham Gal

      They aren’t that fat loaded. Moderation is the key to life

      1. chefbikram

        Hmmm…not sure I agree. But yes, moderation. So how to teach that to kids, right? Education about balance. We let our 5   1/2 year old often choose how to add balance to her meal. We have treats available but tend to favor small sizes and also let her have the treat with dinner so there is less “eat this then get that.”

        1. Gotham Gal

          Our rule was one dessert or treat.a day