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Posts tagged with "obesity"

Fighting Obesity One Pound at a Time

Just days after I wrote “Lose Weight, Get Healthier, Not So Easy!” the CDC ( that about 10 percent of medical costs in this country are linked to obesity. Expenditures of $147 billion per year or 9% of all medical dollars spent treat problems related to weight. One out of three Americans is carrying an average of 23 extra pounds. The CDC study points out that obese individuals’ health costs are approximately $1500 (@41%) more than individuals who do not have weight issues. Most of that money goes to pay for prescription drugs to control diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart conditions. These same individuals also have a higher incidence of disability and early death.

Twenty three pounds, you say, look around you! Who does not have 20 or more pounds to lose? It is easy to justify carrying extra pounds when everyone has the same problem. It is extremely difficult to follow a regiment to shed those pounds by modifying your diet. Everywhere you turn, you are tempted by high fat, high sugar, high calorie foods some of which are touted as “healthy”. Even when you think you are healthy because you exercising several times a week, if you do not shed pounds you need to pay attention.

The CDC ( looks at the bigger issues – the health of the nation and how to implement changes that impact everyone including: regulating how foods are marketed and presented to the American public; taxing those foods that offer no nutritional value and educating Americans on healthy eating habits. I suggest they also look at regulating the multi-million dollar diet industry and those diet promoters who push fad diets and quick weight loss programs, many of which encourage you to continue to eat the same foods (albeit in smaller portions) that got you to where you are. The record shows that as soon as you go off those diets, you gain back all the weight you have lost and more.

The key to reducing the overweight population is to change people’s eating habits. For starters people need to eliminate all juices and sodas and products that contain white sugars, corn starch, and white flour. There are healthy eating programs and healthy foods are on the grocery shelves alongside the bad foods.

The USDA has a website ( where individuals can go to learn about the recommended healthy foods, register and enter their name, age, weight. They can record and track their daily food intake and exercise program and the USDA site creates an individualized set of recommendations. It is an eye opener. The calories you think you have eaten are generally higher the exercise program you think you have completed to counter-act your intake of food is lower than required.

None of us are ready to give up the piece of apple pie with ice cream, chips, hot dogs, and glass of wine or beer completely. However, if we begin to understand what we are eating and how that fits in the overall nutritional scheme, it will be a start toward to a healthier nation.

Lose Weight; Get Healthier, Not So Easy!

In my last blog (“Should we be Paying Individuals for Good Health Habits“) I advocated that healthcare insurance companies reward their customers for practicing good health habits including: exercising, losing weight and quitting smoking, by reducing insurance premiums thus putting money back into their customer’s pockets. In the long term this alone will lower the number of people who suffer from chronic disease and save millions in healthcare costs.

Many applaud this idea which is embedded in the healthcare reform legislation that is currently being discussed. Several health plans now pay a percentage of a person’s health club or weight loss program fee. However, in spite of exercise and a million different diet programs, when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, most people simply cannot win this battle. Who cannot say that they have lost 10 pounds only to gain back 15 pounds a year later? We live in a society where richer, fattier food in large portions is marketed to the American public as a way to experience the good life.

In a recent Boston Globe column: “Putting Obesity out of business” (,Ellen Goodman points out that overweight people are not where they are just because they do not have the will power to resist food but because we live in a country that makes it cheaper to buy fast food than fresh food; where portions served are bigger and where the food industry works very hard and spends a lot of money to make it attractive for us to eat more.

Accolades should be given to the Starbucks coffee shops in New York City where they are posting the outrageous number of calories in the drinks and pastries they sell, which for many are standard breakfast fare every day, (caramel macchiato grande whole milk 319 calories; white chocolate mocha venti, with skim milk 628 calories, classic blueberry muffin 422, mixed fruit scone, 335 etc.). Every Starbucks should adopt that policy.

If it became a law that every food company from MacDonald’s with its Big Mac – 540 calories, large fries – 539 calories, to the local ice cream parlor posted the calories of the foods that they sell; perhaps we would see a reduction in the pounds that people are carrying with them.

Hopefully, with more education, less marketing hype from the big food companies and posted calories people would begin to understand the real story behind what they are ingesting.

There are over 130 million Americans who suffer from chronic conditions, many caused by abusing their bodies with drinking and eating bad calories and introducing smoke and inappropriate drugs into their bodies. Millions more are on the brink of Type II diabetes, asthma, heart disease caused by over-indulging in bad eating and drinking. In discussions on healthcare reform, shaking up the food companies could go a long way toward a healthier nation.