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Obesity a crushing weight on U.S. health care

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Obesity a crushing weight on U.S. health care

Obesity is the elephant in the room of health care reform, a public health catastrophe that kills more than 100,000 Americans a year, cost the nation $147 billion last year and threatens to shorten U.S. life expectancy for the first time since the Civil War.

Whatever Washington does this year to reduce medical spending seems likely to be swamped by the nation's rising weight. Obesity lurks behind the top chronic illnesses - heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and colon, breast and prostate cancers, among many others - whose treatments routinely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One of every three Americans, and one of every four Californians, is obese and rates are rising at an alarming pace, particularly among children, experts say.

"Rising obesity rates are increasing health care expenditures per person in a way that is going to be very difficult to finance," said Jay Bhattacharya, a doctor and health economist at Stanford University's Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research.

"Unless there is some vast improvement in the efficiency of the health care system - and I mean vast - we're going to be spending a lot more just because a lot more people will have diabetes" and other obesity-related diseases, he said.

Obesity is all but impossible to treat. Prevention is the only cure. Yet while health care legislation in Congress would increase spending on prevention of chronic disease, it does little to tackle the underlying obesity epidemic directly. Most of the bills are silent on what many health experts contend would be one of the most effective weapons: a tax on soda.

Junk-food taxes are part of a push to adapt the successful fight against tobacco to the more complex obesity epidemic. Food, unlike tobacco, is necessary to life, and cheap food has all but eliminated hunger among the poor; yet there are many striking parallels between unhealthy eating and smoking.

State a leader in fight

California is proving a bellwether in the campaign against obesity, introducing novel prevention strategies under a remarkable collaboration between nonprofits and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a body-building Republican who launched his political career pushing fitness.

Legislation that took effect in the state July 1 has put calorie labeling on chain-restaurant menus, while nonprofits, led by the California Endowment, a health foundation, are conducting groundbreaking experiments that range from farmers' markets at Oakland schools to public park upgrades in the Salinas Valley town of Greenfield. California was the first to set nutrition standards for food sold in schools; now half the states do.

Still, such moves are up against a barrage of junk-food marketing, sedentary lifestyles, and federal farm and transportation policies that make processed fats and sugars cheaper than fresh food.

"We know exactly what to do about the obesity epidemic," said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy in Davis. "Every successful public health movement, whether it was sanitation or air pollution or drunk driving or tobacco, has shown that people can only be healthy if there are policies in place that support them in making healthy choices."

Recipe for obesity

Imagine a vast national experiment to encourage weight gain, Goldstein said. "We put fast food on every corner, we put junk food in schools, we got rid of P.E., we put candy and soda at the checkout stand of every retail outlet you can think of .... The results are in. It worked."

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's plans to establish public vegetable plots and eliminate junk food from city property sounds preciously Left Coast but may be the vanguard of an ambitious national movement that aims to redesign cities and the way people eat.

Two Northern California cities - Arcata (Humboldt County) and Orinda - limit fast-food chains, while Los Angeles limited them in the South Central district after finding that 30 percent of children in those neighborhoods were obese.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee mocked proposed jungle gyms and bike trails in health reform legislation, yet studies show such efforts help.

"It doesn't sound crazy if you start looking at the causes of the problem," said Kelly Brownell, an obesity researcher at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. "In poor neighborhoods there is low access to healthy foods, high access to calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods, and when healthy foods are available, they're more expensive."

The same holds for physical activity, where crime, poor facilities and parents working multiple jobs limit opportunities for safe play. "You put all this together," Brownell said, "and you have a picture that is maximizing calorie intake and minimizing calorie output, and there's your recipe for obesity."

Epidemic hit quickly

Life expectancy in the nation, rising since the Civil War to nearly 78 years now, could be halted or even rolled back as a result of Americans' weight gain and the chronic diseases that accompany it, many experts believe.

The obesity epidemic took hold over just one generation, a stunningly short period in the history of public health, said Marion Standish, program director for the California Endowment. Efforts to change individual behaviors have failed miserably; researchers now are focused on changing the environment that has fostered weight gain to prevent obesity in the first place.

"Policymakers who ignore or ridicule prevention do so at their own peril," Standish said. "Cost data just released by the Centers for Disease Control show there is no doubt the health care system is going to bear the brunt of this challenge."

Obesity by the numbers

$147 billion- Obesity-related medical spending in the U.S. in 2008

$15.5 million- Medical costs related to obesity in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties in 2006

50- Percent of California adults who don't exercise enough

33- Percent of children born in 2000 likely to develop diabetes

30- Percent of adult Americans who are obese

20- Average number of days a year an obese person is unable to work

16.7- Percent of American children who are obese

Source: Chronicle research

Obesity defined

An adult with a body mass index, or BMI, between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a score of 30 or higher is considered obese. Find your BMI at links.sfgate.com/ZHWJ.


Read more:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/16/MN8F194A71.DTL#ixzz0ORmU3gSh
by on Aug. 17, 2009 at 9:36 AM
Replies (31-39):
Jynnifer292
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 11:02 AM

I am sure there would be a big difference. People that are addicted buy what they are addicted to. If you read what I wrote, MSG is injected into rats to purposely triple their weight. It is in almost everything on the shelves, so it does play a part. Just like alcohol and cigarettes, people need to break away from the addiction. MSG has no nutritional value and is not a preservative. It's only function is to addict and the side effect is obesity. It has no place in food as an additive.

Quoting potterpeaches:

I don't want to sound disrespectful to your post, but I bet if you went through an obese persons refrigerator you would find a significant difference from that of a non-obese person. You will also find a difference in the lack of exercise between the two groups. I'm not saying that you don't have a good point, but there are many variables in obesity. When I was overweight it was because I was eating too much food. MSG was not to blame for my eating habits.

 

Quoting Jynnifer292:


Quoting rotPferd:

Maybe its just me but I don't believe stuff is put in foods to make you addicted to it.I agree that alot of bad substances are added that takes away its nutritional value and are chemically laden. However, ppl have to take responsibility for what they eat. You can buy fresh fruits and veggies at the grocer and wash the crap out of them before you eat them. You're still getting some good stuff in there. I do crave a Big Mac every once in a while just cuz I like how it tastes, not cuz its addicting. Fast food is convenient and that's what ppl are addicted to..convenience.


 

 

MSG is also in your favorite Tim Horton's and other
brand coffee shops! Pass this on to those who still may be unaware
or disbelieving of the dangers of MSG. I wondered if there could be an actual chemical causing the massive obesity
epidemic, so did a friend of mine, John Erb. He was a research
assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and
spent years working for the government.
 He made an amazing discovery while going through
scientific journals for a book he was writing called "The Slow
Poisoning of America ". In hundreds of studies around the world,
scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or
diabetes test studies.

 
No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so the
scientists have to create them. They make these morbidly obese creatures by injecting them with MSG when they are first born. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates; causing rats (and humans?) to become obese. They even have a title for the fat rodents they create: "MSG-Treated Rats".

 I was shocked too. I went to my kitchen, checking the
cupboards and the fridge. MSG was in everything! The Campbell 's
soups, the Hostess Doritos, the Lays flavored potato chips, Top
Ramen, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Heinz canned gravy, Swanson
frozen prepared meals, Kraft salad dressings, especially the
'healthy low fat' ones.
 The items that didn't have MSG marked on the product
label had something called ''Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein'',
which is just another name for Monosodium Glutamate. It was
shocking to see just how many of the foods we feed our children
everyday are filled with this stuff. They hide MSG under many
different names in order to fool those who carefully read the
ingredient list, so they don't catch on. (Other names for MSG:
 'Accent' - 'Aginomoto' - 'Natural Meet Tenderizer' etc)
But it didn't stop there.

 When our family went out to eat, we started asking at
the restaurants what menu items had MSG. Many employees, even the
managers, swore they didn't use MSG. But when we ask for the
ingredient list, which they grudgingly provided, sure enough MSG and
Hydrolyzed
 Vegetable Protein were everywhere. Burger King,
McDonalds, Wendy's, Taco Bell , every restaurant, even the sit down
ones like TGIF, Chilis', Applebees and Denny's use MSG in abundance.  Kentucky Fried Chicken seemed to be the WORST offender: MSG was in
every chicken dish, salad dressing and gravy. No wonder I loved to
eat that coating on the skin, their secret spice was MSG!

 So why is MSG in so may of the foods we eat?.. Is it a preservative or a vitamin??
 Not according to my friend John. In the book he wrote,
an expose of the food additive industry called "The Slow Poisoning
of America” he said that MSG is added to food for the addictive
effect it has on the human body.


 






We are all shades of gray. It’s been said again and again; life’s a process. We are fleeting moments that come and go, and I am grateful to have my time, my aspirations and my mistakes, my flaws and my abilities. Think of me what you will, but before you do, don’t. Alexander William Gaskarth

DixieFlower
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Agreeably yes obesity is something that people need to get a grip on. However, there are many causes for it. It's not only the whole well just stop eating so much and exercise more solution. Why is a person consuming so much more than their body requires? For some yes it is just the basics of I want it so Im going to eat it be damned what might happen. For others there is something chemical going on there. Ever wonder why "comfort foods" comfort? It has been proven that these foods send a chemical response to the brain that conteracts the sad/unahppy chemicals. People need to realize what their triggers for this are and find ways to react besides the food. I will admit I am guilty of this. In 1997 I went into a very deep depression wouldn't go out anymore. I just stayed in my dorm room and basicaly studied and ate. By the time I realized that I seriously needed to do something I was over 400 lbs at 5'2. So I thought okay Ive got a bike lets go riding everyday. Well the first day I rode around campus I ended up falling off of my bike. No big deal right? I get back to my dorm room and find a picture of me falling off of my bike blown up to 8x11 taped to my dorm door. The caption on the picture read "This is why fatasses waddle and not ride bikes". I never took my bike out again while I was living on campus. Should I have said to heck with them and done what I knew was right for me yep. It wasn't that easy though. In 2003 I had gastric bypass before surgery I had gotten down to 395. Within two yrs I was down to 260. I felt good I was going to the gym everyday (two days weight training, three days aerobics). Then in 2006 I got married. The first yr of marriage was very stressful and guess what stress is my trigger. So I gained 50lbs back. Since Ive realized that I am working on losing again. Im lucky though I know what triggers the excessive eating of things I shouldn't. While Im not always able to stop myself I know whats going on and how to fix it. Most doctors though are too quick to just make the assesment of ok cut calories and exercise more instead of seeing what is really causing the excessive eating and lack of exercise.


wedding tickers

potterpeaches
by Member on Aug. 22, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Yes. I can see that not eating is easier said than done. The above posts seem to make sense to me when I look at it from another perspective so perhaps there is something in the theory.

 

loriann12
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 12:24 PM

But why is healthy food expensive and crap food so cheap?  When I moved out of an abusive situation, thus holding down 2 mortgages to keep my family healthy mentally, I had to make a sacrifice and not feed them as well.  It's expensive to eat healthy.  My food budget is $520 a month for a family of 4.  You try to eat healthy on that!  And that's not just food, that's everything you buy at a grocery store, to include paper products, heatlh and beauty products, etc. And 3 out of 4 of my family are celiac disease and can't eat wheat oats or barley.  So I can't let my children eat lunch at school, I have to send a lunch every day.  And gluten free bread doesn't travel well, they don't provide a microwave for my 5th grader (because if they did for him, they would have to for every child) so he NEVER gets a hot meal for lunch.  My special needs so did because they cooked in his high school class as part of the life skills training.

If you make the food industry make everything healthy, they'll just jack up the prices on everything, and there you go.  They'll pass it right along to the consumer.  Then you'll have poorer poor families.  they'll be skinnier because they won't be able to afford food at all.  Are you going to put more families on food stamps?  Oh, another nationalized program. 

loriann12
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 12:33 PM

OMG! See we can agree on something.  I would so much rather eat raw, organic with range free, pesticide free, hormone free......sorry, I drifted off into dreamland for a minute. I'm back now.  I HAVE A POSSIBLE CONTRACT ON MY FIRST MORTAGED HOUSE AND MIGHT BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO THAT!  Sorry for yelling, I was excited, Let me wipe the drool off my computer.  I so miss eating right.  My MIL is the same way, she cooks green beans in bacon grease for 4 hours - canned green beans!  You could eat them without teeth.  I like my veggies lightly steamed al dente! 

But, government has no business regulating how we as citizens eat.  We need less governent not more. 

Quoting Shiiloe:

When we were living with my MIL for a short time, she used to cook all her veggies until they resembled something akin to grey pudding.  My stomach rolls just thinking about it.  What is  it with people feeling the need to cook veggies to death? ::shudders::

Quoting Raintree:

People flat out don't eat enough vegetables. Nope. Look at the average steakhouse plate. Piled with meat, potato- and a little tiny helping of steamed, anemic vegetable on the side. And we've recently been on a whole grain binge. Whole grains are good- but that doesn't mean you get to eat those instead of green stuff.

It's like we think it's all a garnish or something.

 


aimige
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Not everyone that is obese over eats but many are.  I know some that choose the wrong foods and eats way too much.

I am considered obese but its not because of what I was eating.. it is how much I was eating.  I went to a nutritionist on base and worked with a  personal trainer and found out I was not eating enough food/calories and my body was storing instead of burning.. once I started getting enough "fuel" in my body the weight started coming off in addition to working out in the gym 6 days a week. 3 days consisted of boot camps and 3 days doing the Body for Life program.  Then I got pregnant and had a bad bleed at 11 weeks right after a workout so I haven't been back since.  Once the baby comes I will be back in the gym working just as hard.  I have a hormonal imbalance..PCOS.. which aids in my weight issues... it has to do with being insulin resistant because of the PCOS..


DixieFlower
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Isn't that the truth. Im a live in companion for an adult that is DD. Her non negotiables are decaf coffee, chips, popcorn, waffles and pork chops. So no matter what I have to have those items in the house. When I first moved in I thought well I'll buy fruits and veggies instead of chips for her snacks. Wrong she wouldn't touch them and she then told me that we have to have chips. So plan B was to purchase natural or baked chips for her. Well first of all the bags were smaller and the price was higher than her regular chips. I only did that for one month with our food and supply budget. (that month I actually ended up contributing more than half of the budget to cover the added expense) The next month money wise it just came out to be better price wise to get the regular chips. She will eat for the most part balanced meals that I make. A lot of the time though I see her scrapping the veggies into the trash when she's done.  She also complained when I first moved in because I actually make correct portions for meat. (I overheard her on the phone with her boyfriend about how small the pork chop was that Id fixed). She's finally gotten used to that though.

Quoting loriann12:

But why is healthy food expensive and crap food so cheap?  When I moved out of an abusive situation, thus holding down 2 mortgages to keep my family healthy mentally, I had to make a sacrifice and not feed them as well.  It's expensive to eat healthy.  My food budget is $520 a month for a family of 4.  You try to eat healthy on that!  And that's not just food, that's everything you buy at a grocery store, to include paper products, heatlh and beauty products, etc. And 3 out of 4 of my family are celiac disease and can't eat wheat oats or barley.  So I can't let my children eat lunch at school, I have to send a lunch every day.  And gluten free bread doesn't travel well, they don't provide a microwave for my 5th grader (because if they did for him, they would have to for every child) so he NEVER gets a hot meal for lunch.  My special needs so did because they cooked in his high school class as part of the life skills training.

If you make the food industry make everything healthy, they'll just jack up the prices on everything, and there you go.  They'll pass it right along to the consumer.  Then you'll have poorer poor families.  they'll be skinnier because they won't be able to afford food at all.  Are you going to put more families on food stamps?  Oh, another nationalized program. 



wedding tickers

Jynnifer292
by on Aug. 22, 2009 at 1:28 PM


Quoting loriann12:

But why is healthy food expensive and crap food so cheap?  When I moved out of an abusive situation, thus holding down 2 mortgages to keep my family healthy mentally, I had to make a sacrifice and not feed them as well.  It's expensive to eat healthy.  My food budget is $520 a month for a family of 4.  You try to eat healthy on that!  And that's not just food, that's everything you buy at a grocery store, to include paper products, heatlh and beauty products, etc. And 3 out of 4 of my family are celiac disease and can't eat wheat oats or barley.  So I can't let my children eat lunch at school, I have to send a lunch every day.  And gluten free bread doesn't travel well, they don't provide a microwave for my 5th grader (because if they did for him, they would have to for every child) so he NEVER gets a hot meal for lunch.  My special needs so did because they cooked in his high school class as part of the life skills training.

If you make the food industry make everything healthy, they'll just jack up the prices on everything, and there you go.  They'll pass it right along to the consumer.  Then you'll have poorer poor families.  they'll be skinnier because they won't be able to afford food at all.  Are you going to put more families on food stamps?  Oh, another nationalized program. 

But part of the problem is what they are ADDING to the food. Not adding it shouldn't make the price go up. They are spending billions in advertising the crap food. If they took out the junk and spent less on advertising, it SHOULDN'T cost us more. They do it because they can get away with it, not because they have to.





We are all shades of gray. It’s been said again and again; life’s a process. We are fleeting moments that come and go, and I am grateful to have my time, my aspirations and my mistakes, my flaws and my abilities. Think of me what you will, but before you do, don’t. Alexander William Gaskarth

eaglemama2
by Silver Member on Aug. 22, 2009 at 1:49 PM

You are what you eat - it is your responsibility to take charge of your health, to educate yourself about nutrition and choosing a healthy lifestyle, it's a choice.   Education begins at home - if mom eats a tub of ice cream and twinkies for breakfast, there is a pretty good chance the kids will brag about how awesome mom is, they can eat anything and its ok.  After eating its ok to park your ass on the couch and watch whales are us or play a round of video games.    Learn how to read nutrition labels, teach your kid how to read them, plan your meals with the kids, shop with them if you can, teach them to prepare the meals, involve them.   Play a tennis match on WII with them instead of playstation.      Make your own babyfood, none of this is hard, none of this is an inconvenience.

I made all my own baby food, my kids understand nutrition lables, they are 6 & 7, when I know I will be out all day doing errands and whatnot, I pack an eski and throw it in the car.    I have never given my kids juice, I don't buy junk food of any kind, the kids have their own drawer in the fridge which contains healthful snacks.

I could go on, but I won't.    The government could do a better job, but then again, they are on such a roll right now, that would just interrupt their momentum, LOL.

Take responsibility people, it's not rocket science, really.


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