Aug 30 2007

We’re Smart: How Come We’re Gaining Weight?

A comment on my August 15 post, “Playing With Obesity Maps” (click on Obesity), asks: “…can you “weigh in” on…the fact is that the nation’s getting fatter even though there’s so much information available out there that should make these numbers go down instead of up?”

Sure. Happy to. We like to think that knowing what to do to stay healthy would be enough to make us do it and it would be great if it did. But mere mortals need more help than that. That’s why the social environment is such an important influence on what we do. Right now, we have a social environment that encourages us to eat more (larger portions! food everywhere!) and move less (computers! remotes! cars! elevators!). As individuals, we fight society when we try to eat less and move more. So education, which is easy to do, rarely turns out to be enough. We have to change society–and that, of course, is not so easy, not least because doing so runs up against a lot of vested interests.

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  • http://fanaticcook.blogspot.com/ Bix

    I love what you say here.

  • http://farmpolicy.com/ Daniel Ithaca,NY

    We may be smart about the foods to eat and the physical activity we need, but are we smart about the decisions Congress, the USDA, and the FDA make and how these choices affect what foods we have readily available to us, and the price we will pay?

    What if the decisions of governmental organizations weighed the potential impact of their decisions on public health prior to the less important concerns of Agribusinesses?

    Also, what if the USDA didn’t have the conflicting role of
    >>promoting the interests of Agribusinesses (even the stuff that we would be better off mostly avoiding: high fat meats, eggs, & dairy)

    >>while concurrently pretending to give appropriate nutrition recommendations, telling Americans what it would be best for us to eat. (many see their Pyramid as being best for Agribusiness, not Americans)
    For an alternate, healthy* Pyramid see:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramids.html
    *I really like the layout of this with one glaring excepting: Canola, Soy & Corn oils are not the same as olive oil and should be in the “use sparingly” area, not in equal proportion to Whole Grains. All of these oils are high in calories.

  • http://farmpolicy.com/ Daniel Ithaca,NY

    that pyramid is about 1/2 way down the page:

    “Building a Better Pyramid”

  • http://migraineur.wordpress.com Migraineur

    It would help if the information we got was correct. The low-fat diet currently promoted everywhere made me overweight, nearly obese, and nearly pushed me over the edge to diabetes. When I gave up all that silliness and started eating low-carb and getting at least 60% of my calories as fat, my health improved.

    We are all victims of bad nutritional advice.