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92 comments

Land of the Large?

Posted July 06, 2009 12:06 PM by Sharkles

I've written about the "obesity epidemic" in the United States a number of times now (here and here). For me, the issue is an intriguing one because despite many studies and reports that encourage and promote healthier lifestyles, American obesity rates continue to climb – for both adults and children.

Just recently, the survey "F as in Fat: How Obesity Problems are Failing in America" was conducted by the nonprofit organizations Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The results of the study released on July 1st show that obesity rates rose in 23 states compared to last year. Moreover, not one state showed signs of decreasing rates. The survey also indicates that adult obesity rates now exceed 25% in 31 states, which is up from 28 states in 2008 and 19 in 2007.

Adults are not the only people with increasing waistlines, either. According to the survey results, 30% of children between ages 10-17 are overweight or obese in 30 states. This study, like other previous ones, suggests that obese children are likely to be obese adults. This is a cause for concern with regard to the healthcare industry. Although researchers are now saying that overweight people often live as long as thin people, overweight people often have more chronic diseases that are more costly to treat.

Check out the rest of the report here to read how the different states stack up. You can also review key findings and read the nonprofits' recommendations for addressing obesity.

Whether you live in the U.S. or not, do you see this "epidemic" happening in your part of the world?

Resources:

http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2009/

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul2009/tc2009071_442911.htm?campaign_id=rss_tech

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#1

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 1:21 PM

Yes! While I don't consider myself to be "skinny", in public places I often seem to be on the smaller scale of things, with many bulging waistlines out there.

In stores the trend of vanity sizing continues. Also, stores seem to stock less of the smaller sizes, making it challenging to find things that fit when you are the "old average". Apparently the new average size for a U.S. female is something like 14 or 16 - which would be 18 or 20 in Europe!

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#2

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 1:24 PM

I read recently a study that seemed to indicate we are more active now then we were 50 years ago too. It's hard to figure out what's causing the weight gain. Maybe it's because we, as a nation, gave up smoking?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 2:50 PM

When I statred working in 1969, it was at a mcdonalds, a hamburg fry and a 12 oz drink were the 'average' order. I think it was 45cents for the trio...

That would be a kid meal today.

today the value meals are a huge fry, a big mac or quarter pounder, and a soda the size of lake ontario (or is it lake erie...) A 16 oz soda was the large drink in the 1960's its now the new small.

Also, in the 1960's, our typical family ate out maybe three or four times a year.

Today, its four or five times a week.

Plus lunch out at work???

WE are just eating more, and what we're eating is more calorie and fat and sodium dense.

The no smoking thing might explain why the gals now eat a snickers bar or bag of m&Ms as they enjoy their 3:30 pm diet coke...

milo

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 3:21 PM

It's funny you mention that. About 5 years ago, anytime I go to McDonalds, I only order a single cheeseburger (sometimes a double cheeseburger for a treat) and a medium coke. 500 calories total (though terrible calories). Sometimes they seem completely confused that I don't want fries since it's more cost effective, as if that's a reason to overeat.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 3:28 PM

The worst part of being on crutches and driving is my reliance on drive-through. I just recently picked up my temporary handicapped sticker so I can now at least try some grocery shopping to make lunch at home or at least stop at places like Subway.

How I loathe fast food!

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 3:34 PM

You make a great point: who is in control? Them by their pricing incentives?

Or us? Just order what we want-

And then we take our economic whipping.

milo

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:06 PM

Hang on, you're making good points, but I have to finish my can of Carbonated High Fructose Corn Syrup with Caramel Coloring. My teeth and liver are screaming in unison.

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#9
In reply to #2

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:09 PM

we may be more active or not, but one thing is for sure we are eating more processed or fattier foods.

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#18
In reply to #2

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 5:26 PM

Citation please?

TV's 50/60 years ago were very expensive, kids mostly played outside.

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#24
In reply to #2

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 11:23 PM

Maybe the data about weight gain is real and comes from actual measurements, while the data on higher activity is based on indulgent self reporting, or projections based on the amount of money spent on sports and gym equipment. Where I live a lot of people ride bikes. Some are fat. You can only burn so many calories through normal exercise. I think it's the fake food we settle for. It makes us depressed. Another cookie might help.

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#4

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 3:10 PM

Just doing a quick look at the chart, it is not a surprise that the south is heaviest region of the U.S. And I am willing to bet that trend continues. And not because of the number of Cracker Barrel and Waffle House restaurants, either.

Poverty and obesity have often been linked to one another in that healthy food is often much more expensive than non-healthy food. Just do a check the next time you are in the grocery store as to what is more expensive. Fresh fish or a frozen fish sticks.

And with the south being hit the hardest, by far, with the economic crash and being often noted for being in the throes of poverty, I think we can expect that trend of obesity, especially in children who lack the modeling of healthy eating and lifestyles, to continue.

If you have a chance and want a good read, try Melanie Scheller's "On The Meaning of Plumbing and Poverty". It is a BIT dated, but life in rural place like North Carolina isn't exactly one that has an abundance of wealth en masse. If you would like a more recent read on the issue, I'd also recommend the non-fiction work The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Very moving. I finished it in a day.

Okay...back to work.

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#10
In reply to #4

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:10 PM

You raise a good point, but it is not simply healthy food costs versus non-healthy food.

You can eat very healthy food for pennies, but it involves cooking!

Many people buy pre-made foods at the super market. They seem cheap, but many times you can do as well or better price wise buying raw food, preparing, and cooking it yourself.

The downside is that it takes time to do it and that is one thing that many families are short on when both partners are working full-time jobs. 50 years ago most wives were house wives and there was more time to get domestic duties done and still prepare a home cooked meal.

Today most families are dual-income.

However, there is a simple solution. I recommend trading TV time for cooking time.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:21 PM

Today most families are dual-income.

Ahemmm.

Perhaps you meant "duel" income. as in " I worked hard today I'm too tired to cook can you cook?" vs

"No I worked harder today, I'm not cooking. What say we go grab a burger?"

I agree with the TV time comment. But I don't agree with more time to get domestic duties done in the past. Without todays conveniences /energy slaves- washers dryers, microwave ovens, dishwashers and other motorized appliances, the day was filled with labor, not idle time. Today there is plenty of energyslave provided idle time. Hence Oprah Dr Phil etc. As engineers, we have eliminated much manual drudgery, but failed to provide an adequate substitute, it would seem.

I would also add that when cooking is a duty/chore, its a pain to be avoided.

When its play and fun (ie man with grill) its no big deal.

milo

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:23 PM

AH,

I will concede that it is not cost of food alone that is the problem. That time is also a factor and if TV time and cook time were reversed, then we would also probably see an abundance of better outcomes in human beings beyond just slimming waistlines (like the death of reality TV). But it isn't as simple as more time cooking means less obesity, either.

I also think that if there is little teaching in the process of how to prepare foods, today's youth will grow even more dependent upon sustenance that is pre-packaged and microwave friendly. Although the film had its downsides, I think last year's film Wall-E made a great point about generational decay in terms of healthy eating and lifestyle. We tend to emulate what we see as acceptable.

What we pass on in terms of habit to our children will only continually erode as we work more and eat processed foods because of time/financial constraints.

It will be interesting, and sad, to see what affect this recession has on the average American's health, weight, and lifestyle, even though I'd wager most outcomes will not be pleasant. I would like to see the correlation between poverty and obesity, though. Anecdotal observation (who I see at Wal-Mart vs. who I see at Abercrombie & Fitch) gives me some interesting jumping off points for discussion.

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:50 PM

"But it isn't as simple as more time cooking means less obesity, either."

Correct. Spending more time "cooking" is simply an opportunity. One can maximize it and its benefits or spend it making cakes, pies, and cookies if you so desire.

The internet provides a cookbook of near infinite proportion, if one simply chooses to open that door.

However, cooking for oneself using raw foods is nurishment for the mind, body, and soul. Particularly when it is a team effort, which is what we try to do.

There are so many ways that this is beneficial that I can't even list them here.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:56 PM

Now we just need a willingness/ability to pass that info on. Weaned on MSG and high fructose corn syrup, breaking the cycle seems like it has become as powerful addiction as other human vices.

As a side note, has anyone else noticed a remarkable increase in the price of produce in their area in the last six months, or is it a regional phenomenon where I live?

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#26
In reply to #10

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:51 AM

Dead right, but surely the main reason for making your own food would have to be the TASTE.

After you get acclimatised to the more complex flavors in fresh well made food, it's hard to go back to the sugary, fatty fast food. It'll be interesting to see if the current plethora of cooking shows (in Australia at least) convinces people that they can do it themselves.

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#42
In reply to #4

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 1:18 PM

A few times the past year while visiting customer locations I've shopped at poor inner city groceries for a comparison. I was shocked to see the prices being asked for third rate food items, one could travel out to the high end suburban market get first rate food at a bargain price by comparison.

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#65
In reply to #4

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 7:40 AM

you are on to it.......

Having designed process equipment for the food dairy and bakery industry, doing start-up and commissioning, I have noticed and pick-up interesting information.......

have people every wondered why or how, you can but 3-5 frozen pizza's for 10 dollars....and the pizza's are palatable for the most part.

this is open public source information but may be hard to find but they are there. So I am not giving anything away, but to increase consumption, sweeteners are added for no other reason. And studies are shown the results.

And effects to make up for it are false advertising.

http://smallbitesnutrition.blogspot.com/2008/08/in-80s-news-wonder-bread.html

http://www.physorg.com/news165153583.html

http://www.physorg.com/news155550999.html

Fact is, noting is wrong with it, just have a more balanced meal and MOST IMPORTANT. Control your intake

phoenix911

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#13

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:47 PM

I'm 6'3" and about 220 lbs I felt I was about 10 - 15 lbs over weight,

If one has any ability or self conscience, go to a buffet.

I love buffets, and when I was there about 10 years ago, I was disgusted, I saw girls about 18 yo, wearing 2 sizes too small clothes with their belly hanging out, or people that are 40 something that makes the dining chair they sat on not only look small it would even disappear.

Its a matter of choice and strength to not only lose weight but at least control it.

phoenix911

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 4:54 PM

Choice is, above all, what this is about and most people avoid taking responsibility wherever they can. It is both striking and scary how true that seems to be.

But what costs more? Any given buffet or a restaurant with real, healthy food? So again, I come back to cost (surprise).

With the average American looking to pass the buck of blame anywhere but themselves, I feel what you are saying, Phoenix. I really do. But I look at our worst often citizens and find too often they are the ones who are the most overweight.

There HAS TO BE some reason why that is the case. And I want to know why.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 5:00 PM

There HAS TO BE some reason why that is the case. And I want to know why.

My opinion,

Depression, anxiety, low self esteem, ect......all of which feeds on itself. (no pun intended)

And eating is a primal good feeling (but false) that offsets that negative feeling.

That being said, This country may not be in the best psychology state.

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#19

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 5:59 PM

My mum was in weight watchers decades ago.

There was a very simple calculation that she reminded us of OFTEN and it went something like this.

Body weight gain = calorie value of food digested MINUS calorie value of food burned by (Exercise plus metabolic living) x "Factor X"

"Factor X" is your own bodies ability to convert excess calories into body mass.

The basis of the equation is simple. If you don't burn what you eat, then you will gain weight.

Even if the surveys are correct (Not skewed by looking only at recognised "exercise") then more exercise, but greater increase in food intake still means net weight gain.

Calorie intake in the "advanced" western world has become less expensive and more easily consumed.

By the way, the SAME principal (difference between food intake and energy burnt up) is used to predict cattle growth rates in feed lots and milk production in dairy herds.

I'm also suspicious that we might be "exercising" more, but actually burning less calories. Who walks to the shops? Who rides a bike with their kids (And I mean pushbike, not motorbike)? Who drives their car "everywhere"? Washing machines and dryers and modern devices reduce the time, but also the effort in our daily lives, yet we do not reduce our dietary intake.

Enough rambling, I'm off for a walk to the mailbox to see if I've got an interview. (It's only half a Km away.)

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 7:37 PM

Daddy whats does 'e mean when he said "walk to the mail box?"

milo

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#21
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Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 8:00 PM

e means use your legs (like when you stand up with your Wii) and move out the door and actually move yourself across the surface of the earth, using your eyes to observe things that might upset you (make you fall down like in Donkey Kong) and reach a destination that is physically further away than you can throw a ball.

(As opposed to "e" mail which is usually no further away than the computer in your room/study/bedroom/loungeroom/garage.)

I really like the walk to my mailbox. In the last week there has been a "Wedgetail Eagle" that seems to be setting up nest around the midway position. It's only a young one with around 2 meter wingspan. Scared the #^%&$&^ out of me the first time it took off over my head. Wonderful and majestic creatures. They soar on the currents coming across the property and catch small groud critters for food. There have been a breeding pair in the district for around 10 years now (great to see them gliding as a pair) and this one might be the fruit of their labours.

Occasionally there will be a snake to avoid, and on the rare occasion there is a monitor lizard that lives near the front gate. (It's only abour 5 inches in size [between the eyes] and can climb trees faster than the squirrels that I saw around Marysville 10 years ago.

Yes, walking can be a really great pleasure, even when the task is taking out the rubbish bins.

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#22

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 8:06 PM

There are several points to consider.

Perhaps the most visible food problem is high fructose corn syrup. Pick up any item in the supermarket and read the ingredients. They're listed in order of quantity. So, where is high fructose corn syrup? The flip side of that is that almost none of the cheap, easy to prepare, processed foods could be made without it.

The second problem is just that: cheap, easy to prepare, processed foods. How many people are willing - hell, even able -to buy bulgar wheat, a head of lettuce, a bunch of kale, an onion, and a bag of dried lentils and turn that into a tasty meal?

The third problem is then how many people think something made out of those ingredients could possibly be tasty? Didn't I forget the meat? And the butter? And the sugar?

And, suppose you could convince your kids that was good food. Where would you buy fresh kale? Or good tasting brown eggs? Or fresh farmer's cheese? I'm lucky enough to live near an old hippie, semi-commie, vegetarian coop where I can buy fresh local produce. But, other things (like ripe cantaloupes) are truly extinct in this area.

And, I'm finding I can eat as much garlicscapes as I want without gaining an ounce!

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#23

Re: Land of the Large?

07/06/2009 8:52 PM

In My Honest Opinion:

Being on a tight budget will never (ever) be a valid excuse for being obese. Especially during spring/summer/fall seasons when fruit and vegetable are aplenty and always on sale. Produce during these seasons will more often than not cost less than junk food. The price of 1lb of strawberries will equal that of a discounted bag of chips (~$2.50-$2.99). I just bought a head of lettuce for 99 cents which is much healthier (and just as cheap) as that cheeseburger at McDonalds.

The convenience of having food readily available is getting to consumers heads. Restaurants, fast food chains, poor decisions in the grocery market will lead to pricey tolls on your body.

Even though people are exercising MORE doesn't mean they are exercising correctly or making appropriate choices when it comes to their diet. A lot of people also get into the mindset where, 'oh I worked out today, that's the equivalent of this piece of cake.' They ignore the gains they strove for in the gym (or home) and squander it with junky snacks that more often than not are more calories than what they originally burned off while working out. I am not saying that the occasional treat is not undeserving... but either make it less often or make the snack a fruit or vegetable.

And you may use the excuse: "I don't have TIME." Everyone makes time to do the things they want to do (but is plunking down in front of the tv for more than 1 hour really exchangeable for making a healthy meal? - Hint: the answer is no.). Even a basic stir-fry using fresh produce is fast and easy and can be very versatile based upon your taste.

Ever since I started injecting my diet with more produce and less packaged/frozen concoctions, I have had actually noticed my taste buds picking out distinct flavors. Fruits are more pungent and vegetables are earthier.

Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a 2 month trial to lose weight.

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 8:08 AM

I would agree that you can do it on a tight budget. The argument that I am making is about people below the poverty line, not those just on a "tight budget". Granted you might not be making the same argument.

And I want to know where you shop! Hannaford's is charging $4 for 1b of strawberries while Frito Lay Chip bags are $.99 to $1.99.

One other thought I had about the lettuce. Not that I like fast food, but you can make a dinner out of a cheeseburger at McD's (a gross dinner, but dinner none the less). You cannot say the same for a single head of lettuce. Just looking at it from a cost analysis perspective.

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#32
In reply to #28

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 9:18 AM

I understand that some of the people below the poverty line simply do not have access to the kinds of fresh produce I am, they are limited to the 'corner store.' I am more or less pointing at the people who think that eating healthy is much more expensive then eating unhealthily.

I shop at Price Chopper with an advantage card. They are often on sale 2/$5 with the advantage card and the card does not cost anything to obtain. I always find Hannaford more expensive and their produce not as good as price chopper.

You are correct, eating a head of lettuce has drawbacks. But remember, you aren't going to eat that whole head of lettuce in a sitting:

1/3 head of lettuce - $.33 (head of lettuce = $.99)

1/4 dressing - $.30 (bottle of dressing = ~$1.89)

1/4 zucchini - ~$.25 (whole zucchini = $.99)

------------------------------------------------

Total = $.88 per person for a serving of salad. Ingredients can change with respect to what is on sale. I used these price approximations from what I have bought from my grocery store. A meal like this will fill you up longer than a cheeseburger.

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#25

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 1:12 AM

Have you noticed that food no longer tastes like it used to? I first noticed this with bananas- the small, speckled bananas had (and, actually still do, if you can find them) a lot more flavor than the big gorgeous yellow things they sell today. Apples, corn on the cob, tomatoes- it all seems to have lost its flavor. My theory is that, due to the agricultural industry's push for ever increasing productivity (more yield per acre, more crops per year), the food just doesn't have time to generate all the healthy stuff it used to have- plant growth and seed production need time.

So, what else is missing from today's foods? When your system tells you that you are hungry, it is because it is looking for certain nutrients. If those nutrients aren't there, your body is going to say, "That was nice, but it didn't give me what I need. Send more!"

Bottom line- people are getting fatter because they are starving to death...

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#35
In reply to #25

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 11:07 AM

Tomatos & bananas are good examples both must be picked long before they are ripe & all the sugars have been produced, to be able to maximize the amount that actually cross the check out stand. Tomatos are bred more for the ability to be transported than taste. The closer to the farm you can get the better the taste.

An orange that has been picked green & stored for several months is a pale imitation off an orange that fell off the tree into your hand.

It's all a problem of logistics when it comes to produce!

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#45
In reply to #35

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:23 PM

It's all a problem of logistics when it comes to produce!

Another smoke screen of greed.

The cost disparity at the retail level between those produce item fresh picked and trucked and those frozen then stored not indicative of a logistical problem but of disinformation and greed.

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#50
In reply to #45

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:55 PM

More like buyer ignorance.

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#52
In reply to #50

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 3:07 PM

Good assessment.

At one time the consumer gaged the value of goods and had a significant part in the valuation process by refusing to purchase over priced or inferior products and the CPI was data delineating this process.

Today it appears the consumer has abandoned it's role in the process.

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#54
In reply to #45

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 3:33 PM

Please tell me more about what you call a smoke screen?

Consider the nightmare [logistics] it would be to get an already ripe peach to the supermarket shelf. the shelf life would be about 1/2 a day, the percentage of spoilage would be in the double digits.

It is certainly about making money, there are too many steps between the farmer & consumers, every one adding 2-20% to the price. Cut out the middlemen grow a small garden, buy from farmers markets.

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#36
In reply to #25

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 11:10 AM

If those nutrients aren't there, your body is going to say, "That was nice, but it didn't give me what I need. Send more!"

I think that you are on to something about cravings.

I abuse(d) pepsi and chocolate, especially dark chocolate. 4-6 ounces of dark chocolate minimum daily. I won'teven go into how much pepsi. I started taking a chromium picolinate supplement and No longer enjoyed the taste nor craved these items in mass quantities.

So is suspect thatthe craving for the chocolate was driven somehow by a need for micronutrients.

Taking a chromium pill isn't nearly the joy of having a dark chocolate melt in the back of your mouth, so I continue to 'enjoy' a more occassional chocolate treat ( I can now go days rather than merely hours between chocolate.) and my soda consumption is probably down to a third of what it used to be.

milo

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#49
In reply to #36

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:47 PM

You'd be startled to discover the portent yeast has upon the scenario you've described; pursuant to effects of nutrient and the large bowel your research may be exhaustive (no pun intended)...

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#47
In reply to #25

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:40 PM

If those nutrients aren't there, your body is going to say, "That was nice, but it didn't give me what I need. Send more!"

The body then receives another dose of placebo and with such attrition the body then gives a signal of agu/fatigue which is misunderstood and an industry is born

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#81
In reply to #25

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 8:10 PM

.. starving to death.. you got it right.

I can't even think about this blog topic without immediately thinking about trans fats. Here is overweight and starving to death, in spades.

Trans fats cannot be broken down by our enzyme system. They don't occur in nature (if you see them listed as a 'natural' ingredient of meat - think again: these animals have been fed feed containing trans fats, and that's where it came from). Your body gets no good out of it. And we cannot break it down, so it has to be stored somewhere.... hips, belly, arteries...

this is really where an 'obesity epidemic' comes from. Trans fat is added to many of the prepared foods such as baked goods, for the reason: they will keep much longer. Why, because nothing breaks the damn stuff down.

We were warned about this in organic chem course over a decade ago. It took this long for it to filter out to the public and to get attention of policy makers.

And as you so rightly pointed out, if you wanted some fat to burn, and you ain't gettin any, well you're gonna want to eat more, because in fact you are starving....

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#82
In reply to #81

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 9:28 PM

And we cannot break it down, so it has to be stored somewhere.... hips, belly, arteries...

makes me think.............so, how then is it lost? or does this not happen.

phoenix911

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#83
In reply to #82

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 6:58 AM

.. how is it lost...?

I honestly don't know. But the usual metabolic pathway for breaking down fats can't be used. Normally, you would break down fats to get energy. Instead, I think, whatever alternate pathway there is to break down and dispose of the trans fats, is probably energy-costly.

I'm pretty sure that whatever trans fats are stored in your system are the hardest fat to get rid of. If I get an hour later this week, I'll go search the research database for "trans fat metabolism" or the like. This is, of course, why it's now being banned...

Cheers.

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#85
In reply to #82

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 7:10 PM

Well, I checked out the wiki, and I got this: under "Other Effects" after heart disease being the big one...

"Obesity: Research indicates that trans fat may increase weight gain and abdominal fat, despite a similar caloric intake.[50] A 6-year experiment revealed that monkeys fed a trans-fat diet gained 7.2% of their body weight, as compared to 1.8% for monkeys on a mono-unsaturated fat diet.[51] Although obesity is frequently linked to trans fat in the popular media,[52] this is generally in the context of eating too many calories; there is no scientific consensus connecting trans fat and obesity."

So there's some evidence for it, but no consensus.

Also, I was wrong, there is a trace or very small amount of trans fat in natural products - in meat and in dairy products - called vaccenic acid. They say up to 4% of dairy fat can be trans. But they also say that trans fat in mothers milk varied depending on trans fat in the diet. So those figures would have to be assessed depending on what the milk cows are fed too. If the feed is tainted, you'll be getting that trans fat passed on in the milk products.

The natural vaccenic acid is not the same as trans fat produced by hydrogenation in margerine etc. which can be 30 to 50% of its total fat content according to the wiki.

Anyway, whether a cause of obesity or not, it's definitely crud. Here's the wiki.

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 7:21 PM

"Metabolism of natural 20-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acids like arachidonic acid results in the biosynthesis of mediators with potent physiological effects such as prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, leucotrienes, and lipoxins. These substances are known collectively as eicosanoids because they contain 20 carbon atoms (Greek eikosi = 20). However, polyunsaturated trans fatty acids cannot be used to produce useful mediators because the molecules have unnatural shapes that are not recognized by enzymes such as cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Although low levels of trans-vaccenic acid occur naturally in some animal food products, partially hydrogenated oils contain a large proportion of diverse trans fatty acids. When large amounts of Trans fatty acids are incorporated into the cells, the cell membranes and other cellular structures become malformed and do not function properly."

.. unnatural shapes not recognized by enzymes.. and your body is starved for the important "mediators" which are produced when natural fats are broken down. So eat more... etc. If this isn't a contributing factor to the obesity problem, I'd be very surprised.

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#27

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 6:34 AM
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#29

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 8:30 AM

I'm not worried, and really don't care about the "obesity epidemic"... it's a waste of time to think too much about. If obesity was no longer a problem, something else would take it's place; it's science, and there's always a balance...

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#30

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 8:43 AM

Here are my tips to loose weight:-

1.Be Veg.

2.Do exercises such as jogging, yoga, walker etc.

3.Avoid junk food say no to pizza, burger, ice cream, cookies etc.

4.Avoid big cups of coffee, tea, coke sugary juices.

5.Avoid driving cars for short distances walk.

And many more you can think of your self.

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#37
In reply to #30

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 11:23 AM

Except a recent medical study found that vegetarians have a 9% lower bone density from a lack of calcium in the bones. Thus they are prone to fracturing of the bones. Of particular concern they indicated prone to fracturing the hip. You must have a well balanced diet. The issue of obesity is just an issue of exercise and portions, not an issue of changing diet to an un healthy unbalanced diet that requires supplements.

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#41
In reply to #37

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 1:06 PM

I'd be interested in seeing that study. Some societies have been predominantly vegetarian for hundreds or thousands of years, so I read that with a little skepticism.

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#43
In reply to #41

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 1:21 PM

Hi, Anonymous Hero

I too was interested in reading the study and found some articles citing it, although the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - where is was published, is only offering me an abstract.

Here is a link from news-medical.net, which talks about the study, and here is an abstract from the Journal.

An interesting study for sure. By doing just a google news search for "vegetarian bone density," half of the articles pointed to the recently-released study, while the other half touted the benefits of vegetarianism - go figure!

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#44
In reply to #41

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 1:26 PM

I don't know where he got his numbers, but I did find this study.

I think that there are different vegetarians, ones that get all of their nutrients and are conscientious of their diets and ones who are not. I am willing to bet that it is the newcomers to vegetarianism that are putting themselves at risk and not the predominantly vegetarian societies.

As this article states:

"Professor Nguyen says some of the research indicates that countries with a high rate of vegetable consumption have a low risk of hip fracture, which implies that vegetable consumption is good for bone health, while other studies have highlighted lower BMD measurements among vegetarians and have come to the opposite conclusion.

Professor Nguyen says the truth, encompasses many dietary and lifestyle factors and while BMD is important, it is not the only thing that contributes to fracture risk."

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#84
In reply to #41

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 5:24 PM

Plus there is a huge difference between culture like the indigenous people of south america who are "predominantly" vegetarian because they are living as hunterer/gatherers at a subsistence level and meat is infrequently available. They actuall suffer from severe protein deficiencies that stunt their growth, so doing a detailed study on calcium deficiency might not be distinctive given the other malnutrition they suffer. Modern 1st world vegetarianism is supplemented and does not involve eating meat when they can kill it. These 1st world vegetarians try to avoid any meat, and some even avoid any milk or poultry of any kind also, then use man-made processed supplements that took more energy to produce and have a higher impact on the environment in the end. Even chimpanzees know to eat meat when they can get some (even cows and hippos will eat meat if it is easy enough to get, and they are design to digest grasses). The thing is that it has become so easy for 1st world people to get meat we eat too much of if and our digestive/metabolism systems have not evolved as fast as our capacity to produce and consume meat has (except maybe for some who are genetically related to the huns and such that survived on blood, horse milk, and grain).

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#61
In reply to #37

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 3:20 AM

Hi RCE,

I agree with you. Here old people whenever they fall they break their hip bone and are operated.Such operation here costs around $3,000/-. There is less calcium content in vegi diet but now we supplement it with change in diet or additional calcium pills, so that we can increase bone density. I was just thinking we engineers should design a belt which can protect old persons from breaking their hip bone whenever they fall. Any ideas are welcome.

Regarding various studies on veg diet, I would like to clarify we Indians, are mostly vegis since ages. It is not true that we have high level of bone fractures. There are some cases of hip bone fractures which I suppose are also there in other part of the world. Such bone fractures are in old age and due to fragile construction of hip bone.

Moreover in old age bones turn out to be brittle and break soon. In india we suppliment calicum shortage by drinking milk which has good content of the calcium.

Suresh Sharma.

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#31

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 8:45 AM

There have been a lot of good points made but one I have seen that appears to have been overlooked is in regards to the definition of "obesity". More than likely this is being defined by BMI because it is quick to calculate but is wrought with inaccuracy.

When I was in college I was required to take a health class. So when we were required to do a project/presentation one semester I compared my ratings by taking different tests. I am recreating the results since I don't have my college health class reports with me. It ended up being more of a proof against BMI. I explained the different ways to measure if you were underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese in regards to BMI, the fat pinch test and the density tank. At the time I was extremely fit and muscular. At 6'3" and 215 lbs I would have received a BMI score of 26.9 which states I am fairly overweight(25-29.9) and approaching obesity (30 or higher). This was extremely far from the truth because I worked out regularly and had a very low body fat %. I did some research and the average person's inseam length is 46% of their overall height. According to this I would have a 34.5" inseam but it is actually 31". So, even though I am 6'3" I am have a longer than average mid-section and shorter than average legs for a person my height. This results in a heavier weight no matter what. The BMI can be used for general reference but it does not take enough factors into consideration when calculating whether a person is obese or normal weight.

Today I am less muscular but at 205 lbs I am still considered overweight which is still inaccurate.

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#38
In reply to #31

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 12:10 PM

As a "long torsoed" guy myself, I know what you mean. I completed a sprint triathlon (.5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run) in 2002 and finished in the middle of the pack. It was my first endurance race, and I was able to beat out half the people in my age group (20-29). But according to BMI alone, it sounds like I should have died doing it.

at the time I was 6'1 & 230 lbs, according to BMI scales (don't remember the exact number, just remember the weight range for the upper end of non-obese and that was 189 lbs), I was 41 pounds overweight when I completed the race. Now I admit that I could have dropped another 15 pounds or so with additional training, but to be able to complete the race and be competitive against other athletes, I can't believe that I was considered that much overweight.

Bear in mind I did a good deal of power lifting in college so even at a much larger size now, I've never had the body that the raw numbers suggest - although dropping 50 pounds in the near future still wouldn't hurt ).

I totally agree that obesity is a hard number to gauge. At 250 lbs, when I was coaching track, I could out sprint the back up member of the varsity 4 x 1 team.

If it is a numbers game, is it body fat percentage, is it fitness performance, is it BMI? Or are we all going to just use the standard that make us sounds the best/suits our purposes the best.

Lovin the discussion....nice topic Sharkles.

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#48
In reply to #38

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:42 PM

Thanks! I've loving the discussion, myself. I'm glad so many other people think this is an important issue as well. Cheers!

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#33

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 10:43 AM

Has anyone seen the movie Food, Inc. yet? I have heard it will literally leave you unable to eat food for days. I have heard/noticed the following:

- The price of food has dropped to near-historic lows and this can be attributed to the food industry which in a competitive market is able to produce a huge amount of food for very little price. For example, I can go to our normal grocery store and buy a couple ribeyes for about $8.00 per pound (roughly). These are probably cows from a feed lot that eat a highly regimented diet of corn products and other things I don't want to think about. Then I can go to the all organic store and buy ribeyes from them at $20.00 per pound but these are grass-fed cattle. I'd take the Pepsi challenge on the taste difference between those two ribeyes. Same goes for produce (like the tomatoes that another poster mentioned). A typical trip for me to the normal grocery store is about $150, this will feed my family of three for about 1.5 weeks. I usually spend at least this much at the all organic store for a couple of meals, but then again I am getting the $20 chilean sea bass at the organic store. Bottom line to me is that cheaper food = higher consumption and that this cheaper food is of a much lower quality.

- In this country, particularly in the South, it is impossible to get anywhere without a car. When I lived in Houston last year, I had 2 hours in the car every day just to and from work. I couldn't afford to live closer to the office. Riding a bike or walking downtown in Houston was literally taking your life in your hands and you couldn't get around town without a car. Austin tries to be better about this but it is still the same. Baton Rouge was like that, Corpus Christi was like that, Dallas was like that, etc.

- Austin has a very active outdoor lifestyle push that is really nice. There are a lot of city-run and state-run parks here that encourage bike riding and jogging. My family spends at least an hour every Saturday exercising at one of these parks. I would say you can definitely see the difference between the average Austin resident and the average Houston resident.

- Kids definitely seem to be fatter these days than when I was a kid (which was only 15 years ago). There are a number of factors to this I would imagine including diet, exercise, the culture of fear in the US today (this could be a separate topic on its own), etc.

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#39
In reply to #33

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 12:41 PM

That also goes to the farm level.....example the dairy industry though it had (2) good years of over $20.00 per cwt of milk the price is again down around about $9.50 cwt.

the same price back in the late 70's.

While fertilizers costs quadtripled in price at least...not to mention fuel and machinery costs.

Then again, to make a loaf of bread in the 70's it cost about $0.03 worth of wheat.

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#51
In reply to #39

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:56 PM

Pity producers aren't required to list the percentage of chaff as an ingredient too

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#57
In reply to #51

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 4:50 PM

Chaff, no but bacteria and sematic cell count (deteremines an infection) ...as well they test for antiboitics.

And chaff....you can to better than that, but than again it is being tested for bacteria.

anyways, filters remove that.

another point,,,,very few people in the sterile world can no longerr handle raw milk.......except maybe the farmers themselves. That can be a whole other topic.

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#34

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 11:05 AM

One of the major factors of obesity has been completely side stepped here. All true in regards to TV, junk food, high fructose corn syrup, etc., but no one has mentioned Aspartame, which came into use at the same time as the other factors. It's nasty stuff!

Besides producing a craving for carbohydrates, aspartame has been linked to systemic lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, memory and vision loss, and the breakdown of the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin, leading to depression, panic attacks, rage and violence. Another study linked aspartame to brain tumors in rats.

And aspartame (produced from methanol) does this by converting to formaldehyde and then to formic acid in the body, which in turn produces metabolic acidosis. Airline pilots have complained of the effects of drinking Diet Coke or Pepsi while in flight (vision loss, reaction time, confusion, memory loss).

Just watch at the supermarket checkout counter. The fatties all have diet soda, and several bags of chips, pretzels, dough products, 'comfort' food, etc.

I have excerpted from 'Aspartame: Sweet and Deadly, by Michelle Johnson, ND Who in turn has quoted from a variety of studies, and from an article by Nancy Markle (1120197) from the World Environmental Conference and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation: 'F.D.A. Issuing For Collusion With Monsanto'. Also Dr. Russell Baylock from his book 'Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills', and Dr. H.J. Roberts, diabetic specialist and world expert on aspartame poisoning and his book entitled 'Defense Against Alzheimer's Disease'.

Go figure.

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#46
In reply to #34

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 2:30 PM

Hi, Tippycanoe

GA, I completely agree - aspertame is not helping at all! Post-college, I began just by looking at labels for stuff like high-fructose corn syrup, aspertame, and other hidden additives that I just didn't feel should be in my body. After making this a habit, I have felt healthier and less "weighed-down".

I believe I had read that the "fake sugars" actually are worse for when you're trying to lose weight because the asptertame/sucralose tricks your body into thinking it's about to receive something sweet, so it gears up the pancreas to produce insulin to combat the sweet - but the body then never receives it and the extra insulin remains. Because of this, the articles I had read suggested that artificial sweeteners actually promote rather than combat obesity.

Unfortunately, as with a lot of issues in cyberspace, there seems to be quite a few articles online that continue to encourage and promote artifical sweeteners as the best alternative. At this point in my life, if I drink/eat something with even a trace of artificial sweetener, it stands out to me immediately - yuck.

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#40

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 12:59 PM

There is a simple formula, which I'm sure has exceptions, But it is a good ballpark figure. Your goal weight x 10 = the number of calories you should intake a day

EX: 200#s x 10 = 2000 calories. This doesn't leave much room for bacon double cheese burgers & cokes.

Along with this actually getting off your butt & doing something, will keep you at a reasonable weight.

Eating regular meals on a schedule helps. 3-4 meals...

this show has good quick meals: http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/shows/cook-yourself-thin

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#53
In reply to #40

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 3:30 PM

I wonder what the genetic differential is on metabolism? Independent of age and activity level (although, I'd like to see the differential on age as well; I think we'd al agree that more activity = high metabolism, of course).

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#55
In reply to #53

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 3:36 PM

Though some individuals seem to have the high metabolism without much activity until an age or consumption threshold is reached then bulge occurs.

So is it a certain physical chemistry that allows a temporary abatement?

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#56
In reply to #55

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 3:39 PM

This is me, I ate whatever I wanted up until about eight months ago and I have gained 15 lbs. since then. Now I'm starting to make an effort to be in shape and eat smarter.

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#58

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 10:05 PM

supersize me, modern comfert has made humans lazy.

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#59

Re: Land of the Large?

07/07/2009 10:44 PM

I wonder why we have to use the word obese. Was the word "fat" not good enough. Somehow the word obese or clinically obese just does not sound so bad as plain old FAT.

There are many very good points made in many posts about "healthy" food, good diets, bad diets, exercise, the economic factors involved etc. and I agree with many of them.

However, I take a very simplistic view, if you are fat you are eating too much.

The reason why your are eating too much is a different topic.

In America my wife and I only ever order one portion at any fast food outlet, and we share it. In most cases it is more that enough for two people. (Or for one person to get fat on).

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#60

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 2:12 AM

I too had a fitness class in college and by the numbers I am obese and unfit but yet I am actually not. My genetic heritage is German, Russian, and Norwegian.

By design I am built to a larger denser body mass with a naturally muscular build and denser skeletal frame. My caloric intake is 2500 calories just to stay alive and over 4500 on active days. I am 6 foot 3 inches and have weighed 250 pounds (+- 10) for nearly 15 years. Same shirts and pants sizes since I was 23 as well, I am 35 now.

By the numbers I should be fat and float, however my scuba diving experience says other wise! Without a flotation device I am the first one who will drown, simply from exhaustion. I do not naturally float like person that is supposedly 35 pounds over weight would. I sink even with the deepest breath I can force myself to take.

Body build and genetics play a large role in how a person retains fat or doesn't. And also it has much bearing on how your body metabolizes the food you eat.

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#67
In reply to #60

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 8:59 AM

Had the same SCUBA experience in college. At 6'1 230, I had negative buoyancy. Granted, I have added flotation devices since college from all of my desk work.

That beings said, my legs are still like tree trunks and densely muscular. If I stop kicking hard, they act like an anchor. People use to laugh that I could take a full breath and literally sit at the bottom of the pool with full lungs.

I am German and Lebanese, so I don't know how that falls in line with genetic body composition differences.

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#71
In reply to #67

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:05 AM

muscle is density is greater than fat, if that makes you feel any better.

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#70
In reply to #60

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:03 AM

When I worked at the shipyard, the yard had a fitness program, and has everyone screen for health.

Well one of the operators, who was heavy build looked healthy, and was as strong as a ox, was considered obese.

I working at the yard putting in 9-10 hours days traveling 50 minutes twice a day,, and then coming home and working as a contract engineer instead of relaxing, going out or watching TV.......(single, unmarried, loved my job...too much) I was considered average, but, in my opinion and opinion of others, I was rail thin, pale, and looked drawn out, but in very good physical shape.

Where the hell do they get these references from......Ethopia? That was the joke at the yard.

phoenix911

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#73
In reply to #70

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:12 AM

That is what I mean. Before I ruptured my Achilles tendon (blog coming soon), I could dead lift around 350lbs for sets, and squat 300 for sets on surgically repaired knees.

I could also run three miles and was playing rugby three times per week (two practices and one game) against people almost half my age. I know I am out of shape (because I lumber when I run) and that I carry a bunch of extra weight), but I am stronger and have more power drive than most of the guys on my team.

I keep coming back to having an accurate measurement of weight as it pertains to obesity. If my blood pressure is in the normal range and my resting pulse is normal, what gives?

Would anyone consider the guys from "World's Strongest Man" obese, fat, out of shape, whatever? None of them have six pack abs.

It just raises a difficult question that I have yet to see a good answer for. Assessment and measurement being an important tool in engineering (and in education), it puzzles me as to how we can't have a rubric for this that seems to fit the bill.

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:17 AM

To catagorize you, they need statisics and to have statistics you have to be catagorize.

And we are nothing but things or numbers.

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#75
In reply to #74

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:21 AM

chicken or the egg, eh?

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#62

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 4:21 AM

No-one would accuse Arnold Schwarzenegger of being overweight.

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 7:09 AM

At times he has been and had to go on a crash course to get ready for a movie.

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#64
In reply to #62

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 7:14 AM

oh but they have......

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#68
In reply to #64

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 9:02 AM

Would that be the basis for another action movie?

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#72
In reply to #68

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:08 AM

Ha, can you imagine a stewardess going up to him and saying.........I'm sorry Mr. Schwarzenegger,. you have to depart this plane. Your over your own weight limit laid out by this airlines.

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#76
In reply to #72

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 11:29 AM

"Hasta la vista, Baby".

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#79
In reply to #76

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 2:32 PM

And on top of that....your skirts too short too.

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#80
In reply to #62

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 4:20 PM

Actually not a true statement. He was so built up when playing the role of Conan the barbarian that he couldn't maneuver himself efficiently he was in his own way and needed hot packs applied to reduce size.

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#66

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 8:34 AM

Obestity may be an epidemic, but it ain't no disability for you to be fat. Keep your butt out of my airplane seat fatty. Buy an extra seat if you want to expand.

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#69
In reply to #66

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 10:56 AM

Kyoto,

but the drug companies want it to be a disease.....another topic.........

Keep your butt out of my airplane seat fatty.

I was traveling to the west coast, plane ride would be about 2 1/2 - 3 hours.

As I sat waiting minutes before departure, I sat thinking I was lucky no one is going to be sitting next to me........as soon as I thought that, a 300+ lb passenger got on........I thought what are the chance he's going to sit next to me............pretty damn good.

well since we were going to get close and personable even though I was mad and piss off, I started talking to him. Turn out he was a professional Santa Claus. Had a business card, looked the part, went to school for it, Hell he had everything but his union card.

Had a very interesting talk with him throughout the flight. but I still had wished for someone less than 250 lbs to have had that seat next to me.....maybe I should have had Santa put that on my Christmas list while we were chatting.

phoenix911

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#77
In reply to #69

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 12:02 PM

You and Kyoto got that right! I would rather hitchhike than take public transportation for that very reason. Had there been another empty seat available, I would have found it. After all, the fat man is not going to be in the same cab with me. Other than outrightly ostracizing these people, they need to get a hint that fat is not beautiful anymore. Who ever came up with that campaign needs a reality check.

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room", has real consequences for those of us clinging to a seat somewhere. Now they even make supersized wheelchairs and doctors office furniture. What next?

I was agast when I hit 200 pounds. I'm targeting 170, and getting there not by changing an otherwise healthy diet (I'm an organic gardener), but by simply using lunch plates for dinner, and stopping before I'm full. Easy. Minus 2 notches on my belt so far.

PS. My sex life is improving too. Wonder how the fatties do it. On NO, (slaps shiny head), Not going there.

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#78

Re: Land of the Large?

07/08/2009 1:20 PM

I guess I was truly blessed by having a mother who is (even at 75) a phenomenal cook. As a youngster, I would watch/help my mom cook and took great pleasure in learning. She also did a lot of baking which is most likely where I got my "sweet tooth".

Fast-food restaurants (McD's and the likes) are 3-4 times a year; no more.

I've never been a "cola" drinker and will gladly grab a glass of water instead of soft drinks (beer is definitely another story though). And this is something that we passed on to our kids: their definition of fast food is Subway® (healthy sandwich resto) and can cook for themselves since the age of ~6 (eggs for breakfast at first and now 15 & 17, complete meals). Their idea of pizza is completely homemade dough, fresh veggies, low-fat cheese and sometimes meat (pepperoni, cooked chicken or cooked seafood).

The computer (in our house, anyway) is probably the worst thing for the kids. They are sloooooowly understanding that and beginning to see the benefits of exercising but that was a long and painful battle.

At least, the schools are beginning to understand (at least in our area) and are switching towards more healthy choices. Hopefully, it's not too late.....

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#87

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 8:28 PM

Fun all these studies, Trans fat, Saturated and unsaturated fat.

Just eat less and excercize more.

(and downsize those soda drinks, that are sugar bombs)

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#88
In reply to #87

Re: Land of the Large?

07/09/2009 9:11 PM

yah, but eat right and know whats eight, one would be better off.

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#89

Re: Land of the Large?

08/10/2009 10:35 PM

I never got enough to eat when I was young.

I think I ended up with a small stomach as a result.

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#90

Re: Land of the Large?

08/26/2009 12:49 PM

I would give a GA to all replies to this blog. I can't think of anything more I could add. As far as "active" is concerned, I read recently a study that seemed to indicate we are more active now then we were 50 years ago. we may be more active, but that is not the same as exercise. Farmers who drive farm machinery are "active", but they don't burn calories like the farmer of "horse and plow" days.

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: Land of the Large?

08/26/2009 2:09 PM

I get plenty of exercise; running my mouth and jumping to conclusions. I should be soooooo skinny.

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#92

Re: Land of the Large?

08/27/2009 6:35 PM

I once saw a response to a question about diet that read "If it tastes good spit it out".

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