Lately there have been some fascinating articles on issues of weight and obesity in America. Here’s some of the more interesting ones with excerpts followed by my own opinions:
“We don’t think [the subsidy question] is the real issue,” says Richard Martin of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, a group that opposes any government proposals to curb food-industry advertising to children or to tax high-fat foods. “We don’t force people to buy products. We are driven entirely by consumer demand, and people don’t want restrictions. What really matters is how many calories people consume. Unless people are able and willing to expend enough energy in relation to calories, they’ll gain weight. I don’t really like the phrase ‘personal responsibility,’ but to a large degree it is an individual’s responsibility. There are no simple answers.”
It is what those involved in the obesity issue all over the state say, from Oxford to the impoverished towns along the Mississippi Delta, where the obesity problem is believed to be most acute. “In any place, but particularly in a poor area, parents often express their love for their children through food,” says Kathleen Yadrick, an official with the Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative. ” ‘Mama fed me a lot’: You hear that often. The attitude can be: ‘The more I feed you, the more I love you. And you won’t get hungry. I might not have the big house on the hill, but I can give you all the food you want, and make it delicious, too.’ “
“More than half of all U.S. consumers that have tried following diets that eschew carbs such as bread and sugar have given up, a survey released on Wednesday found, and interest in the popular regimens appears to have plateaued.”
Ultimately, it’s not the carbohydrates Ã¢â‚¬â€ or the next unsuspecting food group that will come under attack Ã¢â‚¬â€ that will make us overweight. It’s our relationship with food and our lifestyle. In other words, how we eat is just as important Ã¢â‚¬â€ if not more so Ã¢â‚¬â€ than what we eat.
Maybe that’s the ultimate cooking lesson. In general, Italians take their time when they eat. Many businesses in Italy still close in the middle of the day for three hours to allow for a leisurely lunch. Family mealtimes are sacred. Cooking for one’s family becomes an act of love. Family meals allow for conversation and strengthen the family bond. The antithesis of the Italian eating style is fast food and “eating on the run,” where little attention is given to what is being consumed and the quicker one is done, the better. There is a physiological benefit of eating more slowly, too: your body senses that food has reached the stomach and shuts off the feeling of hunger before you overeat.
The fight against fat is not one that is going to end anytime soon. I agree most strongly with Giuliano Hazan’s piece from The New York Times, “You Are How You Eat.” It is about people’s relationship with food and health, not about advertisments or fad diets. People need to understand the basics of healthy eating and caloric consumption. (I am a firm believer in understanding the basics of how calories work, if you consume more than you work off, you gain weight, it’s a simple but incredibly important and underknown equation). As more and more children stay inside with their Playstations and instant messengers, these obesity trends will only continue. Schools need to begin doing a better job of educating children of what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle (something suggested in the wonderful, sad and quite long, Washington Post article “The Weight”). I firmly believe that Atkins is not the answer. I refuse to accept that it could possibly be more healthy to eat a brick of cheese with a side of bacon than it is to eat a turkey sandwich on bread (even if that bread is of the wicked white variety). I think these articles start to get at the crux of the problem: we are a time starved nation. Everything we do is to save time (email, cell phones, etc.), but to what end? If we can’t sit down and eat dinner somewher other than Kentucky Fried Chicken, then what are we saving time for?