Obesity in Canada

Yesterday, the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released their report on the state of obesity in Canada.

Included in that report is a series of 21 recommendations.

As a health/fitness/politics junkie, this report is like catnip to me, so I was pretty eager to get my grubby little paws on a copy.

Let’s take a look inside….

obesity in canada

The Cost of Obesity in Canada

The committee’s findings show the vast scope of this epidemic:

  • Each year 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight;
  • Nearly two thirds of adults and one third of children are obese or overweight; and
  • Obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity

In short: Canada’s obesity problem is way too big to be ignored

How did this happen???

1. Nutrition

In terms of eating habits, the committee was told that since the 1980s, Canadians have decreased their intake of high fat foods and increased intakes of fruits and vegetables, as recommended by the food guide. However, consumption of processed, ready-to-eat and snack foods have shown the largest increase over this period.

Over this period of time (80s – present), a review of Canada’s food guide reveals that Canadians have been told to switch…

  • from a diet of a modest number of daily servings reflecting a balance of whole foods
  • to a low fat diet that permits significantly more servings per day, a large proportion of which should be grain products, or carbohydrates.

The committee was told that, as a result, the food guide may be recommending a diet that is nutritionally insufficient with respect to vitamins D and E, potassium and choline and that only by eating artificially fortified and highly-processed cereals can the diet provide adequate levels of calcium, iron and vitamin B12

  • According to 2012 data only 40% of Canadians are eating even the lower recommended number of fruit and vegetables per day, 5 servings.
  • The food guide recommends that adults should be consuming closer to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

At the same time, Manuel Arango, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, indicated that as much as 62% of the Canadian diet can be categorized as highly-processed, a percentage that has been rising in recent decades at the expense of whole foods.

As a consequence of the increased intake of highly processed foods, sugar consumption has increased dramatically from 4 pounds annually per person 200 years ago to 151 pounds annually per person today.

The overwhelming consensus among witnesses with respect to food consumption trends was that the consequence of Health Canada’s evolving food guide and the increasing variety and availability of processed and ready-to-eat foods has been a pronounced decrease in consumption of whole foods and alarming increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

As a result, Canadians are eating too much calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food.

In short: Canadians eat too much processed food and not enough real food. 

2. Physical Activity (or lack thereof)

Regarding physical activity, the committee heard that the participation rate in organized sport among Canadians has not declined in recent decades, and may have increased. However, several witnesses emphasized that although participation in such activities is encouraged, it does not by itself ensure that Canadians, especially children, are getting sufficient exercise.

They described how many of these activities include a significant amount of sedentary time and that they tend to lead people into thinking that they are doing more than enough to be considered as being physically active. Members heard, for example, sports such as hockey, soccer or basketball include a lot of instruction time outside of games, and a lot of bench time during games, when participants are idle.

More importantly, several witnesses suggested that it is the decline in active, free play among children and a decline in the activities of daily living among adults that have primarily contributed to an overall decrease in physical activity.

In 2011 the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology  developed separate, evidence-based physical activity guidelines for four age-groups; children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

The physical activity guidelines recommend:

  • 180 minutes per day for toddlers and pre-schoolers,
  • 60 minutes a day for children and youth up to 17 years of age,
  • 150 minutes per week for adults aged 18-64 years including some bone and muscle strengthening exercises,
  • and similar guidance for seniors over 65 years with exercises aimed at improving balance and reducing the risk of falls.

In addition the guidelines recommend that:

  • children under four not be sedentary for more than one hour at a time.
  • Children and youth are advised to limit screen time to no more than two hours per day while limiting sedentary behaviour, indoor activities and motorized transport.

Unfortunately, a minority of Canadians are meeting these goals.

Although 50% of Canadians believe they meet the physical activity guidelines when asked, in fact, when objectively measured, only 15% of adults are actually getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

On average, Canadian adults obtain only 12 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.

Similarly, children and youth are largely failing to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. According to Elio Antunes, President of ParticipACTION, less than 9% of children and youth are sufficiently active, and the proportion of active kids decreases with age.

The committee was told that only 7% of 5-11 years olds meet the physical activity guidelines and this proportion drops to only 4% for adolescents.

With respect to the sedentary guidelines, the committee heard that less than 15% of 3-4 year olds and only 24% of 5-17 year olds are meeting the recommendations.

In fact, members were told that children and youth are spending 38 to 42 hours per week in front of television, desktops, laptops, ipads and smartphones.

In short:  While we think we have increased our rates of physical activity via structured exercise (sports leagues, gym memberships, personal trainers, etc), we haven’t….our rates of daily physical activity continue to drop while our rates of sitting on our butts staring at screens have continued to rise.

To make it even worse, we are setting up our kids to be even lazier than we are.

So….what are we going to do about it???

In the discussions of what we can do to reverse the trend of obesity in Canada, participants kept coming back to Canada’s anti-smoking strategy.

Despite the obvious distinction that smoking is a completely unnecessary practice while eating is essential, witnesses noted several lessons that we have learned from the anti-smoking campaign:

  1. the anti-smoking strategy employed several different approaches implemented by different levels of government.
  2. the evidence-base of the negative health consequences had to be elucidated and presented clearly to Canadians.
  3. the strategy had to bring about a societal change in terms of how smoking was viewed.
  4. the change in behaviour would take time.
  5. the strategy would not be popular with the industry.
  6. and finally, the federal government provided the leadership for a pan-Canadian approach.

In their comparison of the anti-smoking strategy to any anti-obesity strategy, witnesses continued to emphasize the need for a comprehensive, health-in-all-policies, whole-of-society approach.

The committee was told that policies, wherever possible, should encourage or facilitate the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. In this regard, witnesses suggested that a health lens, should be applied to a range of policy development, across departments and across all levels of government. An effective all-of government platform would encourage the development of provincial and regional initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles. As such, the committee would like to see the federal government take aggressive measures to help Canadians achieve and maintain healthy weights.

In short:  While Canada’s successful anti-smoking strategy can serve as an effective model, we have to remember that obesity is a much more complex problem and as such requires a more comprehensive solution.

In that spirit, the “Obesity in Canada” Committee has come up with 21 suggestions for reversing Canada’s obesity problem.

Here’s the list….

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, create and implement a National Campaign to Combat Obesity which includes goals, timelines and annual progress reports.

@healthhabits says:  This is exactly the kind of thing government should be good at. Bringing all sorts of disparate stakeholders together to work together towards a common goal. IMHO, this is a necessary step.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Immediately conduct a thorough assessment of the prohibition on advertising food to children in Quebec; and,
  • Design and implement a prohibition on the advertising of foods and beverages to children based on that assessment.

@healthhabits says:  Quebec has had a prohibition on the advertising of all food and beverages to children under the age of 13 under its Consumer Protection Act11 for many years. Studying the effectiveness of this program to determine if it should be rolled out nationwide makes sense to me.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Assess the options for taxation levers with a view to implementing a new tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages; and,
  • Conduct a study, and report back to this committee by December 2016, on potential means of increasing the affordability of healthy foods including, but not limited to, the role of marketing boards, food subsidies and the removal or reduction of existing taxes.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the study and just go ahead and slap a tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages AND take ALL of that money and use it to subsidize un-processed (aka real) food

Recommendation 4

The committee further recommends that the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada immediately:

  • Address the recommendations made by the Auditor General with respect to the Nutrition North program and report back to this committee on its progress by December 2016

@healthhabits says:  Northern communities are much worse off in terms of overall nutrition and the cost of nutritious food in particular. Canada’s north is one giant food desert. As such, it may require special (aka expensive) intervention.

Recommendation 5

The committee further recommends that the federal government conduct assessments of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Working Income Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit with a view to determining how fiscal measures could be used to help Canadians of lower socio-economic status, including our Aboriginal population, choose healthy lifestyle options.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the assessment, ditch the tax credits. They are designed to reward the well off & ignore the poor…which is just plain stupid as the poor are the ones driving Canada’s obesity epidemic. If we want to save healthcare & improve economic productivity, any physical activity incentives need to be directed primarily at the poor & secondarily at more affluent Canadians.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Minister of Health immediately undertake a complete revision of Canada’s food guide in order that it better reflect the current state of scientific evidence. The revised food guide must:

  • Be evidence-based;
  • Apply meal-based rather than nutrient-based principles;
  • Effectively and prominently describe the benefits of fresh, whole foods compared to refined grains, ready-to-eat meals and processed foods; and,
  • Make strong statements about restricting consumption of highly processed foods.

@healthhabits says:  All of these four recommendations sound great. 

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; and,
  • Does not include representatives of the food or agriculture industries.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. Economic bias should not be allowed in Canada’s Food Guide…even if food lobbyists support an MPs re-election campaign.

Recommendation 8

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils, to minimize trans fat content in food, unless specifically permitted by regulation.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%

Recommendation 9

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Reassess the daily value applied to total carbohydrates based on emerging evidence regarding dietary fat and the fat promoting nature of carbohydrates;
  • Ensure that the regulatory proposals for serving size have addressed all of the concerns raised by stakeholders during public consultation, and,
  • Require that the daily intake value for protein be included in the Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  Every few years, nutrition experts flip-flop their positions on the relative healthfullness of the different macronutrients. One decade, we are supposed to avoid fat…then it’s carbs…then it’s “too much” protein, then we’re back to fats…and so on…

My suggestion is to avoid making blanket statements on the healthfullness (or lack thereof) of any macronutrient.

There is nothing wrong with eating fat or carbs or protein.

The problems start when people:

  • start eating excessive quantities of overall calories
  • demonize a single macronutrient and replace it with a highly-processed substitution
  • choose poor quality highly-processed food over real food – fruit, veg, seeds, meat, etc.

With all of this said, I think that the consumer needs as much info about the quality of the food they are eating AND the gov’t can help them by requiring a total nutritional profile of every food product be made available on the company’s website

Recommendation 10

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health assess whether sugar and starch should be combined under the heading of total carbohydrate within the Nutrition Facts table and report back to this committee by December 2016.

@healthhabits says:  Give us sugar totals, starch totals AND total carb totals.

Recommendation 11

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health implement strict limits on the use of permitted health claims and nutrient content claims based on a measure of a food’s energy density relative to its total nutrient content.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. I would also require any nutritional claims require scientific proof. Links to that science should be available from the products page on the company website. Make a claim…back it up.

Recommendation 12

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Immediately undertake a review of front-of-package labelling approaches that have been developed in other jurisdictions and identify the most effective one;
  • Report back to this committee on the results of the review by December 2016;
  • Amend the food regulations to mandate the use of the identified front-of-package approach on those foods that are required to display a Nutrition Facts table; and,
  • Encourage the use of this labelling scheme by food retailers and food service establishments on items not required to display a Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  If you sell food in a package, you should be required to have a Nutrition Facts table as part of the packaging. As well, a website url pointing to a page with more complete nutrition info about the product should be included as well.

Recommendation 13

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health encourage nutrition labelling on menus and menu boards in food service establishments.

@healthhabits says:  This is a little vague. How about something more specific like…calories, macronutrients, allergens listed in small print on the menu AND a more thorough nutritional analysis for each item on a separate booklet…and on their website as well.

Recommendation 14

The committee therefore recommends that the federal government increase funding to ParticipACTION to a level sufficient for the organization to:

  • Proceed with Active Canada 20/20; and
  • Become the national voice for Canada’s physical activity messaging.

@healthhabits says:  Based upon what I have seen from ParticipACTION in the past few years, I am not sure if giving them more money is the best idea. 

It may be simpler and more effective for Health Canada to hire the same PR flacks that put together Canada’s anti-smoking campaign and get them to focus on a “exercise more : play more : move more” style of message.

I’m not sure why we need ParticipACTION’s added layer of bureaucracy.

Why not…

  • hold a public contest for ad/pr/marketing firms to come up with their best message to get Canadian’s active again
  • have Canadians vote via the contest’s website/FB page/Twitter/etc
  • award the winner the contract
  • promote the heck out of the programs via internet, tv, radio and print.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw out a request to Canadian celebrities & athletes asking them to donate their time to film some short PSAs to add to the Health Canada Youtube channel.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about the fine folks who work for ParticipACTION. They may have exactly the kind of expertise to organize the kind of program needed to get Canadians active again.

Recommendation 15

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities together use the recently established National Health and Fitness Day to promote the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

@healthhabits says:  I didn’t even know there was a National Health & Fitness Day. I guess that’s why they need the promotion.

Recommendation 16

The committee further recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada provide sustained or bridged funding for pilot projects that have been assessed as effective.

@healthhabits says:  Hmmmmmmm who’s making the assessments? And what happens when they haven’t be PROVEN effective after a year or two of government $$$$ in their bank accounts?

Recommendation 17

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health in discussion with provincial and territorial counterparts as well as non-governmental organizations already engaged in these initiatives:

  • Encourage improved training for physicians regarding diet and physical activity; • Promote the use of physician counselling, including the use of prescriptions for exercise;
  • Bridge the gap between exercise professionals and the medical community by preparing and promoting qualified exercise professionals as a valuable part of the healthcare system and healthcare team;
  • Address vulnerable populations, such as Canadians of lower socio-economic status including Canada’s Aboriginal population, and pregnant women;
  • Advocate for childcare facility and school programs related to breakfast and lunch programs, improved physical education, physical activity and nutrition literacy courses; and,
  • Engage provincial governments in discussions about infrastructure requirements for communities that encourage active transportation and active play.

@healthhabits says:  All of the suggestions sound great…and yet they are couched in the kind of government bureaucracy speak that makes me lose all confidence. Can we please get a little less talk about what we want to do and a little more talk about how we’re going to do it!!!

Recommendation 18

The committee further recommends that the federal government provide funding under the New Building Canada Fund to communities for infrastructure that enables, facilitates and encourages an active lifestyle, both indoors and outdoors.

@healthhabits says:  If that means more walking paths, more bike paths and more walkable neighbourhoods…I am on board. If that means funding for arenas & pools…I have to disagree. We need to keep a focus on the cost : benefit ratio. Tax dollars don’t grow on trees.

Recommendation 19

The committee therefore recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada implement a strategy to increase the visibility, uptake and use of the Best Practices Portal by stakeholders across the country.

@healthhabits says:  Never heard of the Best Practices Portal. At first glance, it seems a little meh, but the idea is solid. Give Canada’s docs a dedicated site to source info on reducing obesity & related diseases seems like a great idea.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.

@healthhabits says:  See my comments on funding ParticipACTION above. We don’t need multiple groups coming up with different public awareness campaigns. Have a contest, using the Canadian people as judges, ask Canadian celebrities & athletes for assistance

As well, bring back Home Ec in school.

Recommendation 21

The committee further recommends that Health Canada and other relevant departments and agencies, together with existing expertise and trusted organizations, implement a comprehensive public awareness campaign on healthy active lifestyles.

@healthhabits says:  See above….physical activity, diet and healthy active lifestyles should all be promoted AT THE SAME TIME.

 

What do you think???

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook if you want to discuss.

canada is the worlds fittest country

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Research Proves Junk Food Advertising Causes Childhood Obesity

Back in the “olden days”, tobacco companies created marketing campaigns like this…

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…and this…

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…and this…

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…in an attempt to make their product seem healthy, family-friendly and to CAPTURE THE YOUTH MARKET.

Because they knew that:

  1. Kids are more susceptible to marketing than adults
  2. People who start smoking as kids are likely to be life-long smokers
  3. Targeting children is the most effective business strategy

“Younger adults are the only sources of replacement smokers” – RJ Reynolds, 1984

“Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens… The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris.” – Philip Morris 1981

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development.” – 1999 Philip Morris report

“They got lips? We want them.” – Reply of an RJ Reynolds representative when asked the age of the kids they were targeting

But of course, that happened way back in the olden days, before we got smart and told tobacco companies to stop giving our kids cancer. Nowadays, we would never let an industry knowingly make profits by making our kids sick….would we?

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According to this meta-analysis of all of the available scientific research, we know for a fact that unhealthy food advertising does increase unhealthy food intake in children…but not in adults.

And IMHO, that’s because children are children and lack the awareness & experience to resist the siren call of Madison Ave mind control.

According to lead researcher Dr Emma Boyland : “Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn’t just affect brand preference – it drives consumption. Given that almost all children in Westernised societies are exposed to large amounts of unhealthy food advertising on a daily basis this is a real concern.

“Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.

“On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted.”

And just in case anyone is confused about the health effects of childhood obesity, here’s what the CDC has to say:

Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.

Immediate health effects:

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Long-term health effects:

  • Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6  One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What does this mean to you?

 

  • Advertisers used to market tobacco to children
  • When enough parents were convinced that tobacco was bad for their kids, they demanded (via gov’t) that advertising tobacco to kids be stopped immediately.
  • Today, advertisers market processed junk food to children
  • Some of us (me, you, World Health Organization, CDC, American Psychological Association, etc) are convinced that (1) processed junk food is bad for our kids and (2) our kids are susceptible to junk food advertising.

Unfortunately, not enough parents are convinced…and until they are, their kids are at a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer,  osteoarthritis, and many types of cancer including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What can we do?

Thanks to the wonders of social media & the interweb, all you need to do is share this article on Facebook and Twitter.

All we need is one @KimKardashian retweet and those corporate childhood obesity peddlers are screwed  🙂

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Childhood Obesity Rates Ballooning All Around the World

Around the world, 41 million children under the age of 5 are obese or overweight according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And since 1990, the number of obese or overweight children around the world has grown by 10,000,000.

As if that wasn’t bad enough….the majority of that expansion has happened in developing countries…countries with fewer financial resources to help reverse this trend.

Why is this happening?

According to the WHO, the explosion in obesity rates of childhood obesity in developing countries is due to globalization and urbanization.

Or in other words…we took one of the crappiest parts of our society and spread it all around the world. Yay us.

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Specifically, the WHO identifies the marketing & consumption of processed food and drinks factor responsible for the increase in global childhood obesity.

The report said that the global childhood obesity epidemic had the potential to reverse many recent health gains made across the globe and called on governments to address what it called a major health challenge.

“WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and overweight, and help give children the healthy start to life they deserve,” said Peter Gluckman, ECHO co-chair.

Among its recommendations, the WHO said governments should:

  • promote healthy foods,
  • promote increased physical activity and
  • promote healthy school environments

 

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WHO Conclusions

The greatest obstacle to effective progress on reducing childhood obesity is a lack of political commitment and a failure of governments and other actors to take ownership, leadership and necessary actions.

Governments must invest in robust monitoring and accountability systems to track the prevalence of childhood obesity. These systems are vital in providing data for policy development and in offering evidence of the impact and effectiveness of interventions.

The Commission would like to stress the importance and necessity of tackling the complex issue of childhood obesity. WHO, international organizations and their Member States, as well as non-State actors, all have a critical role to play in harnessing momentum and ensuring that all sectors remain committed to working together to reach a positive conclusion.

My Conclusions

The WHO has identified a series global health issue, but like the carpenter who thinks that the solution to every problem is a hammer and a nail, the WHO is suffering from a great big case of confirmation bias.

While I agree that all the groups listed above have a responsibility to do their part in reducing global childhood obesity, the WHO neglects to hold PARENTS responsible for their part in this cluster-fudge.

As the father of an almost-one-year-old baby girl, I am royally pissed off that she will be inundated with messages 24-7 that the consumption of junk food is essential to living a happy life full of fun & friendship.

And I’m also not happy that quasi-governmental bodies allow industry to help develop the official government endorsed “health-eating plans.”

And don’t even get me started on CEOs that put short-term bumps in share price over the health of the children who consume their food products. Companies are made up of people…and if those people don’t care about my kid, I have no problems using social media to publicly shame them and encourage parents to make healthier choices.

Okay…that’s enough ranting for today.

If you can spare 5 seconds, please RT or share this article via Facebook 

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Restaurant Revolution: When Healthier Menus = Healthier Profits & Healthier Kids

In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.

  • Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
  • Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
  • And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.

NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.

What Happened Next?

  • Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
  • Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
  • 2008-2009: +1.5%,
  • 2009-2010: −2.1%,
  • 2010-2011: +11.1%,
  • 2011-2012: +5.1%,
  • and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
  • Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
  • Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
  • Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
  • Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)

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Conclusions

  1. Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
  2. Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
  3. Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier

Where do we go from here?

  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
  • As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.

Please Help

Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.

Please help by tweeting, sharing, pinning, tumbling, stumbling, etc.

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Junk Food and the Free Market

I wrote an article today for the Medium.com site. Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle. Click through if you want to read the whole enchilada.

An article in today’s Daily Beast (How Washington Dooms Millions of Americans to Premature Death by Nicholas Freudenberggot my brain spinning about food, obesity, junk food, diabetes, the free market, corporate responsibility, politics, personal responsibility and how all this ‘stuff’ has come together to create an epidemic of lifestyle disease.

In his article, NF brings up a number of interesting facts:

  1. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States
  2. 49% of Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
  3. In the United States, tobacco, alcohol and diet cause more than 1.2 million annual premature deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
  4. Chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare—about $1.5 trillion annually in the US of A.

So, how is it, that with all of this available data, the US spends less than 10% of total healthcare funding on health promotion / disease prevention?

  • Is it because public health campaigns don’t work?

Nope….while cases of diabetes have increased 176% in the last 30 years, it is estimated that 8 million ‘premature deaths’ have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking PSAs combined with increased taxes on tobacco products.

Public health campaigns can work…if they are well designed, well funded and receive government support.

So why isn’t that happening?

To find out the answer to that cliffhanger of a question, click through to the full article on Medium.com

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What Happens When Superstar Athletes Endorse Junk Food

  • In a free market, superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams are free to negotiate celebrity endorsement contracts with any company that they choose.

lebron sprite

  • In a free market, parents, pediatricians, anti-obesity advocates and health & fitness nerds like myself are free to be peeved that superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams choose to endorse products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are free to research which superstar athletes are most likely to trade their celebrity status with children for big endorsement contracts with companies who market  products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

athletes market junk food

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are also free to distribute that research to the media in an attempt to shame superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams about their decision to endorse products that threaten the health of their young fans.

freeoreos1

  • In a free market, public health experts are free to postulate what would happen if superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams had been exposed to the same kind of celebrity endorsed messages that today’s kids are exposed to.

fat lebron

  • In a free market, we are free to absolve Big Food corporations of any & all responsibility and choose to heap all the blame on the parents who buy their children junk food.
  • In a free market, we are also free to recognize that childhood obesity isn’t as simple as “blame the parents” or “blame the corporations” or “blame the government”, and that parents, government, food producers and superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams have all played a role in the obesification of our children.
  1. Parents feed their kids too much junk food.
  2. Government officials are manipulated by the lobbyists of Big Food producers into placing corporate profits ahead of the health of our children as well as the exploding healthcare costs that threaten the financial health of our countries.
  3. And superstar athletes (and other celebrity endorsers) ignore the reality that the kids who look up to them are being harmed by their financial decisions.
  • In a free market, we are free to use social media to tell our sports heroes that we want them to stop selling junk food to our kids
Click to expand
Click to expand
  • In a free market, we are free to tell our politicians to cut junk food subsidies, promote healthy eating and to force Big Food producers to stop advertising junk food to our pre-teen children.

twinkies1

  • In a free market, we are also free to accept our share of the responsibility and stop feeding our children huge quantities of junk food.

choose-real-food

Childhood obesity is a real threat to the future health of our children and there is more than enough blame to go around.

What Now???

  • If you want to check out the study looking at superstar athletes and their involvement shilling for junk food companies, head over to the Rudd Center website and read it – Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing – Pediatrics
  • If you want to apply some pressure on the athletes named in the study, go to their social media profiles (Twitter & Facebook are a good place to start) and tell them that you are not impressed. You can also contact the teams that they play for and tell them that you are not impressed with the behaviour of their employee.
  • If you want to apply pressure to the government, write/email/call your representatives directly and tell them that you expect them to start putting the health of young kids ahead of the health of corporate balance sheets.
  • And if you want to apply pressure to the producers of junk food….STOP BUYING JUNK FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS.

.

What do you think?

  • As a parent, do you appreciate Peyton, LeBron and Serena telling your kids to eat junk food?
  • How would you feel if they were advertising cigarettes or alcohol?
  • Should today’s athletes be expected to project an positive image of health & fitness?
  • If an athlete’s image is tarnished for taking PEDs, shouldn’t it be tarnished for marketing junk food to children?
  • Do athletes in team sports have a duty to their team to project an image of sportsmanship, athleticism,etc?
  • Do you consider the modern athlete a positive role model for our kids?
  • Do you appreciate junk food producers running advertisements on programs/websites dedicated to pre-teens?
  • Do employees of junk food producers have an ethical responsibility to not manipulate pre-teens?
  • Tobacco, alcohol and firearm producers are prohibited from marketing to children…why not producers of products that promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease?
  • Should our political representatives be placing the health of our children above the profits of junk food producers?
  • Should our politicians be placing the profits and jobs of junk food producers over the health of our children?
  • Should parents stop their kids from watching tv shows with ads for junk food?
  • Should parents contact tv networks to complain about junk food advertising aimed at their kids?
  • Should parents contact their politicians and demand expanded limitations on marketing products to children?
  • Should parents teach their kids about what advertisers are trying to do by running ads during Sesame Street et al?
  • Should parents be teaching their kids about living a healthy lifestyle?
  • Should parents ignore their kids demands for junk food?
  • Should parents feed their kids healthy food most of the time?
  • Should parents eat healthy and teach their kids by example?
  • Should I take a chill pill and stop stressing about junk food producers trying to brainwash our kids, politicians placing their financial wants over the health of our kids and parents abandoning their responsibilities and feeding their kids junk food every day???

Reference

Coca Cola to End Canadian Obesity Epidemic

Today is an important day in the history of Canada. From this day forward, Canadians will recognize April 23 as the day Coca Cola came to our rescue and helped us save ourselves from the medical scourge known as obesity.

Because on this day, Coca-Cola Canada announced the launch of a national campaign to inspire Canadians to come together to find real solutions to this important issue affecting our society.

“This campaign aims to inform people about the concept of energy balance, educate them on our products and inspire Canadians to live more active, healthy lives,” said Nicola Kettlitz, president Coca-Cola Ltd.

Wait a second…that sounds like a big pile of marketing BS to me…let’s check the BS detector…

bullshit_detector4

Yup, just as I suspected…total marketing BS.

If only we could have a little honesty injected into the discussion.

So…what do YOU think?

  • Is Coca-Cola being honest?
  • Or is it just marketing BS?

Reference

How is it possible that Americans are living shorter lives with poorer health than the rest of the “rich” countries???

The United States of America spends more money on healthcare than any other country in the world. And yet, Americans have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of disease and injury than almost all other high-income countries.

  • How is it possible that Americans are living shorter lives with poorer health than the rest of the “rich” countries???
  • And why is it happening?

The Data

When compared with the average for peer countries, the United States fares worse in nine health domains:

1. Adverse birth outcomes

For decades, the United States has experienced the highest infant mortality rate of high-income countries and also ranks poorly on other birth outcomes, such as low birth weight. American children are less likely to live to age 5 than children in other high-income countries.

  • Infant mortality

infant-mortality-rate

How is it possible that almost 3x as many babies die in the US than in Sweden?

2. Injuries and homicides

Deaths from motor vehicle crashes, non-transportation-related injuries, and violence occur at much higher rates in the United States than in other countries and are a leading cause of death in children, adolescents, and young adults. Since the 1950s, U.S. adolescents and young adults have died at higher rates from traffic accidents and homicide than their counterparts in other countries.

  • Deaths from traffic accidents

traffic-mortality

  • Violent deaths

violent-death-usa

Hmmmmm, American boys dying violent deaths…I wonder what could be causing that?

3. Adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections

Since the 1990s, among high-income countries, U.S. adolescents have had the highest rate of pregnancies and are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections.

  • Adolescent birth rate

birth-rate

The boys are dying violent deaths, the girls are getting knocked up and everyone is getting sexually transmitted infections. Well done.

4. HIV and AIDS

The United States has the second highest prevalence of HIV infection among the 17 peer countries and the highest incidence of AIDS.

No surprise considering the high rate of sexually transmitted infections. 

5. Drug-related mortality

Americans lose more years of life to alcohol and other drugs than people in peer countries, even when deaths from drunk driving are excluded.

This might explain all the pregnancies and STIs.

6. Obesity and diabetes

For decades, the United States has had the highest obesity rate among high-income countries. High prevalence rates for obesity are seen in U.S. children and in every age group thereafter. From age 20 onward, U.S. adults have among the highest prevalence rates of diabetes (and high plasma glucose levels) among peer countries.

childhood-obesity-by-countr

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and a whole bunch more lifestyle related medical conditions are driving America’s medical costs up and up year after year.

7. Heart disease

The U.S. death rate from ischemic heart disease is the second highest among the 17 peer countries. Americans reach age 50 with a less favorable cardiovascular risk profile than their peers in Europe, and adults over age 50 are more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease than are older adults in other high-income countries.

Hmmmmmmm, the home of McDonalds and Coca-Cola has the second highest rate of ischemic heart disease amongst their peer countries. Quel surprise.

8. Chronic lung disease

Lung disease is more prevalent and associated with higher mortality in the United States than in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

9. Disability

Older U.S. adults report a higher prevalence of arthritis and activity limitations than their counterparts in the United Kingdom, other European countries, and Japan.

NOTE #1 – Looking at all of these problems which cause Americans to live shorter lives with poorer health than the rest of the world’s “rich” countries, I keep seeing the same root problem. POOR LIFESTYLE CHOICES

  • Poor diet – quantity & quality
  • Inactivity
  • Violent culture + easy access to guns
  • Unprotected sex
  • High rates of drug & alcohol abuse

NOTE #2If you want all the details on this research, head over to the National Acadamies Press and download a free pdf copy of the report 

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Baby Formula Programs Your Child For Obesity

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have found that babies fed foods high in simple sugars (carbs) immediately after birth are prone to becoming overweight/obese as adults.

This is due to a period of developmental plasticity, extending from fetal development into the immediate postnatal period during which pancreatic islets and neurons continue to mature.

“That’s why an altered nutritional experience during this critical period can independently modify the way certain organs in the body develop, resulting in programming effects that manifest later in life,” UB researcher Dr. Patel says. “During this critical period, the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, becomes programmed to drive the individual to eat more food.

The Science

For more than 20 years, Patel and his UB colleagues have studied how the increased intake of carbohydrate-enriched calories just after birth can program individuals to overeat.

For this study, the UB researchers administered to newborn rat pups special milk formulas they developed that are either…

  1. Similar to rat breast milk in composition, (higher in fat-derived calories) or
  2. Enriched with carbohydrate-derived calories.

“These pups who were fed a high-carbohydrate milk formula are getting a different kind of nourishment than they normally would,” explains Patel, “which metabolically programs them to develop hyperinsulinemia, a precursor for obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

What happened to the baby rats?

At three weeks of age, the rat pups fed the high-carbohydrate (HC) formula were then weaned onto rat chow either with free access to food or with a moderate calorie restriction, so that their level of consumption would be the same as pups reared naturally.

“When food intake for the HC rats was controlled to a normal level, the pups grew at a normal rate, similar to that of pups fed by their mothers,” Patel says. “But we wanted to know, did that period of moderate calorie restriction cause the animals to be truly reprogrammed? We knew that the proof would come once we allowed them to eat ad libitum, without any restrictions.

“We found that when the HC rat undergoes metabolic reprogramming for development of obesity in early postnatal life, and then is subjected to moderate caloric restriction, similar to when an individual goes on a diet, the programming is only suppressed, not erased,” he says.

What does this mean to you?

  1. It may mean that you choose to breast feed your newborn
  2. It may mean that you choose baby formula with a macronutrient profile similar to breast milk
  3. It may mean that you ignore the study because it was performed on rats…and rats ain’t humans.

What happens if you choose #3?

According to the researchers, periods of moderate caloric restriction later in life cannot reverse the hypothalamic pro-obesity programming. This means that your little bundle of joy has a higher chance of becoming an obese adult…unless they choose to follow a calorie restricted diet for their entire life.

It’s your call Mom & Dad.

Reference

 

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The Secret Behind Your Addiction to Junk Food

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Moss spent four years researching the scientific research that goes into each bag, box or bottle of processed / junk food.

And what he found, should freak you out.

Teams of scientists spending millions of dollars researching bliss points and maximum bite force and sensory specific satiety…all with the aim of keeping you eating ‘food’ that is high in calories, sugar, salt & fat and virtually devoid of actual nutrition.

And they are very, very good at it.

And because…

  1. They are very, very good at their jobs.
  2. Their lobbyists are good at influencing politicians
  3. Government heavily subsidizes their industry
  4. They spend billions on marketing to both adults & children
  5. And most of us are equal parts lazy and uneducated about nutrition

…the sales of ‘real food’ continue to drop while the sales of ‘processed food’ continue to rise.

Also rising are….

  1. The rate of childhood and adult obesity
  2. The rate of type 2 diabetes
  3. The rate of heart disease
  4. The rate of obesity-related cancers
  5. The rate of Alzheimers
  6. Healthcare costs associated with these conditions

Something to think about the next time you go to the supermarket.

You really should buy Salt Sugar Fat. Or at least take it out from the library

Reference

99% of children are not getting enough exercise

Canada’s physical activity guidelines suggest that all children aged 5 to 17 years accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.

Unfortunately,  99.5% of the 856 schoolkids (aged 10-12 years) enrolled in this study did NOT reach that 60 minute minimum.

toronto-kids-inactivity

In fact, of the average 16.7 hours per day of data collected per day, the average child spent…

  • 13.3 hours (79.6%) being sedentary.
  • 2.9 hours of their day (17.4%) engaged in light intensity activity
  • and only 35 minutes for boys and 24 minutes for girls in the moderate-to-vigorous and vigorous activity ranges

Sadly, none of the girls and only 0.5% of the boys met the required minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day.

[box type=”note”]If you’re wondering what happened to the 24 – 16.7 =  7.3 hours that weren’t tracked by pedometer…..these were the hours that the ‘average kid’ spent SLEEPING.[/box]

Here is some more data for you to chew on…

  • 22.6% of boys  performed 30 minutes of MVPA per day at least 6 days per week
  • 5.4% of girls performed 30 minutes of MVPA per day at least 6 days per week
  • 71.8% of boys accumulated 30 minutes of MVPA at least 3 days per week
  • 39.6% of girls accumulated 30 minutes of MVPA at least 3 days per week
  • Not a single child accumulated at least 90 minutes of MVPA at least 6 days of the week
  • Only 2% achieved 90 minutes of MVPA on at least 2 days of the week (3.3% of boys, 0.9% of girls)
  • When we drop the frequency down to 1 day per week, we see 16.8% of the kids performing 90 minutes of MVPA – with approximately 10% more boys than girls doing so (22.3% and 12.3%, respectively)

Conclusion

Our kids simply aren’t getting enough exercise….is it really so surprising that more and more of them are obese and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

fat-kid-eating-chips-watching-tv

This study was conducted in urban Toronto. I have no idea how directly to apply this data to rural communities of other communities outside of Ontario, Canada. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the kids in your hometown are just as lazy as the ones in Toronto.

Reference

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A Plan to Reverse Childhood Obesity

In January 2012, the Ontario Government got serious about childhood obesity and created the multisectoral Healthy Kids Panel …asking them to sketch out a framework designed to help us reduce childhood obesity by 20 per cent within five years.

Here is what they came back with:

1. Start All Kids on the Path to Health

1.1 Educate women of child-bearing age about the impact of their health and weight on their own well-being and on the health and well-being of their children.
1.2 Enhance primary and obstetrical care to include a standard pre-pregnancy health check and wellness visit for women planning a pregnancy and their partners.
1.3 Adopt a standardized prenatal education curriculum and ensure courses are accessible and affordable for all women.
1.4 Support and encourage breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life.
1.5 Leverage well-baby and childhood immunization visits to promote healthy weights and enhance surveillance and early intervention.

the-Healthy-Kids-Strategy

2. Change the Food Environment

2.1 Ban the marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.
2.2 Ban point-of-sale promotions and displays of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages in retail settings, beginning with sugar-sweetened beverages.
2.3 Require all restaurants, including fast food outlets and retail grocery stores, to list the calories in each item on their menus and to make this information visible on menu boards.
2.4 Encourage food retailers to adopt transparent, easy-to-understand, standard, objective nutrition rating systems for the products in their stores.
2.5 Support the use of Canada’s Food Guide and the nutrition facts panel.
2.6 Provide incentives for Ontario food growers and producers, food distributors, corporate food retailers, and non-governmental organizations to support community-based food distribution programs.
2.7 Provide incentives for food retailers to develop stores in food deserts.
2.8 Establish a universal school nutrition program for all Ontario publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.
2.9 Establish a universal school nutrition program for First Nations communities.
2.10 Develop a single standard guideline for food and beverages served or sold where children play and learn.

healthy-kids

3. Create Healthy Communities

3.1 Develop a comprehensive healthy kids social marketing program that focuses on healthy eating, active living – including active transportation – mental health and adequate sleep.
3.2 Join EPODE (Ensemble Prévenons l’Obesité des Enfants – Together Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity) International and adopt a co-ordinated, communitydriven approach to developing healthy communities for kids.
3.3 Make schools hubs for child health and community engagement.
3.4 Create healthy environments for preschool children.
3.5 Develop the knowledge and skills of key professions to support parents in raising healthy kids.
3.6 Speed implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
3.7 Continue to implement the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
3.8 Ensure families have timely access to specialized obesity programs when needed.

Unfortunately,  Canadian media ignored the entire report, except for the proposed ban on marketing high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12.

Instead of focusing on the health of our kids, they decided that the real story was the potential restriction of the rights of processed food producers to convince our children to crave ‘food’ that promotes obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Well done Canadian media…I’m looking forward to your next story on childhood obesity and how we have to do something about it.

Jerks.

Reference 

How to (not) Make Your Child a Junk Food Addict

Obviously no one wants to make their child a junk food addict.

Unfortunately…a new study out of Australia (conducted on rats) “suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar.

In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.

The Science

Researcher fed one group of soon-to-be-a-mommy rats a normal rat food diet and a second group a range of human “junk foods” during pregnancy and lactation.

Junk Food Diet

  • peanut butter,
  • hazelnut spread,
  • chocolate-flavored biscuits (cookies),
  • extruded savory snacks,
  • sweetened multigrain breakfast cereal,
  • ham- and chicken-flavored processed meat,
  • and a mixture of lard and standard rat chow

After the rat pups were weaned, the pups were given daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker….which blocks opioid signaling. This in turn lowers the intake of fat and sugar by preventing the release of dopamine.

Test results showed that the opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk food fed mothers, suggesting that “perinatal exposure to high-fat, high-sugar diets results in altered development of the central reward system, resulting in increased fat intake and altered response of the reward system to excessive junk-food intake in postnatal life“.

Or in layman’s terms…Garbage In : Garbage Out.

addiction-to-junk-food-fase

Reference

Should We De-Legalize Coca-Cola?

Today’s post is written for people willing to….

  • Take off their “this is what I believe to be true” caps
  • Put on their “thinking” caps

[box type=”important”]For everyone who can’t resist the urge to scream FREE MARKET!!!!, I welcome your feedback, but expect to be mocked for intellectual laziness and your inability to recognize that there is no such thing as a free market. [/box]

If you doubt this statement, I suggest you try selling crystal meth & porno in front of the nearest public school to test your belief that you live in a FREE MARKET.

[box type=”note”]When I say Coca-Cola, I also mean to include Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc into the conversation. All soda-style products[/box]

Anyway, enough with my ranting. Here’s what I want you to think about.

Should we de-legalize Coca-Cola?

All arguments are fair game. Medical, social, economic, theoretical, etc…

coca-cola

And just in case you’re interested in my position…

  • I don’t believe that we should de-legalize Coca-Cola.
  • I do believe that Coca-Cola should come with warnings similar to tobacco products
  • I do believe that Coca-Cola should not be allowed to advertise to children (12 and younger???)
  • I do believe that we should apply “sin taxes” to Coca-Cola and have 100% of that tax revenue be directed towards health promotion programs. These health promotion programs need to be 100% transparent to receive this money. Any remaining money is funneled into treating disease affected by Coca-Cola – diabetes, heart disease, etc.

My reasons for taking these positions are as follows…

  • Coca-Cola has no nutritional benefit
  • It is devoid of micro-nutrients
  • It provides empty, high glycemic carb calories
  • It is addictive (caffeine)
  • It contributes to insulin resistance
  • It contributes to type 2 diabetes
  • It contributes to metabolic syndrome
  • These medical conditions have a profound effect on the health of our society
  • These medical conditions have a profound effect on our economic productivity

In short, Coca-Cola is a danger to both our health and our wealth.

On the other side of the ledger…

  • Coca-Cola tastes good.
  • We’re all grown-ups and should be allowed to make our own decisions (good and bad) without someone else telling us what to do.

And that’s how I came to my position.

  • Keep Coca-Cola legal
  • Tax it to offset it’s negative medical/financial impact on our society
  • Restrict it’s marketing campaigns to adults

What do YOU think?

Aspire Assist = Medically Assisted Bulimia

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we now live in a topsy-turvy world where….

  1. Obesity is a major medical and financial problem.
  2. Young girls (and now boys) are under a lot of peer pressure to NOT BE FAT.

As a result of #2, doctors tell our kids that bulimia is very, very, very bad and that instead of binging & purging, they should eat a healthy diet and be more physically active.

bulimia-2

Unfortunately, as a result of #1…

  • We have also seen an explosion in the number of people undergoing major surgery to help them lose weight, and
  • We have the creation and medical approval of the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System…

aspire-assist

A medical device which replaces a bulimic’s fingers with….

  1. A tube which is surgically implanted in the stomach and is attached to…
  2. A Skin-Port which is equipped with a valve which is attached to…
  3. A battery operated pump which…
  4. Sucks a portion of your stomach contents out of your gut…
  5. And mechanically vomits/poops them into your toilet.

Don’t believe me?

If that wasn’t gross enough for you…here is a real-life example of the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System in action.

Does anyone else see the irony here???

  • Self-directed bulimia is BAD
  • Medically-assisted bulimia is GOOD

confused-emoticon

This is quite a society we are building here. Idiocracy…here we come.

food nutrition health healthhabits fitness diet health

Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

As a big fitness/nutrition geek, I am constantly consuming the latest information on how to improve the health of our overweight & inactive society.

And when it comes to improving public health, the nutrition experts are forever saying that it all comes down to education.

If only “they” could teach “us” how to…

  • Eat healthier
  • Move healthier
  • Live healthier

…we would all take that knowledge…and stop eating junk food while watching re-runs of  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Too bad they’re full of shit.

In this new study, researchers presented 124 test with a fake food buffet consisting of 55 replica food items.

buffet-experiment

 

  • Participants in the control group were instructed to serve themselves a meal, as they would normally eat from the given selections.
  • Participants in the instruction group were asked to select a healthy, balanced meal.
  • People in the instruction + information group were also instructed to select a healthy meal, but in addition, they received nutrition information based on the Swiss Food Guide Pyramid.

The results?

  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group reduced their consumption of sweets & desserts.
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group increased their consumption of fruit.
  • No other food categories (including vegetables) were significantly altered.
  • There was very little caloric difference between the meals of all 3 groups
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group perceived their meals as healthy
  • The control group perceived their meal as less healthy
  • All 3 groups considered their chosen meals equally tasty

 

Their Conclusions

  1. When people aim to prepare a healthy meal, they replace dessert with fruit.
  2. Nutritional information on portion sizes fails to increase the amount of vegetables in a meal
  3. People, who were asked to choose a healthy meal, chose meals that they perceived as similarly tasty.

My Conclusions

  1. We like to eat tasty food…and most of us are not willing to abandon yummy to get healthy.
  2. We already know which foods are healthy and which are unhealthy
  3. We need more nutrition motivation and less nutrition education.

So, where do we go from here?

  • How do we motivate ourselves to eat healthier???

That’s the billion dollar question. I’m still waiting on an answer from the nutrition experts.

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Reference

A Really, Really, Really, Really Good Reason to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Early this morning…while waiting in line for my morning cup of joe, I watched an overweight mom buy her obese daughter a giant chocolate chip muffin.

About two hours later, I read this study which examines how obesity promotes the growth of cancerous tumors.

THE SCIENCE

In the first part of the research, the scientists found that tumors grew much faster in obese mice than they did in lean mice. They also observed that there were far more white adipose tissue cells (called adipose stromal cells) in obese mice than in lean mice and thus turned their focus on the role of these cells.

In the second part of the research, they found that these adipose stromal cells were being incorporated into tumor-associated blood vessels. And since tumor-associated blood vessels serve to increase tumor growth by feeding them oxygen and nutrients…this isn’t a good thing.

The researchers noted that “the ability of adipose stromal cells to contribute to the formation of tumor-associated blood vessels is likely one of the main reasons that the excess of these cells in tumors was associated with increased malignant cell proliferation and tumor growth”.

Or in other words….your body takes cells from your fat tissue and uses them to feed cancerous tumors.

Not good….and just another reason why it drives me nuts when otherwise caring parents let their kids become obese.

[box type=”important”]If you know any parents who need a wake-up call regarding the health of their little butterballs….please forward them this article[/box]

Reference

Childhood Obesity: Bruised Feelings v.s. Logic

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in America and around the world.

Unfortunately for America’s little butterballs, they live in a world where….

  1. Everyone want quick fixes to complex problems
  2. Gov’t & NGOs think that education is the cure-all for obesity & related diseases
  3. Way too many people feel that their bruised feelings trump logic & common sense.

Exhibit #1

Minnesota Blue Cross released the following two videos as part of their ‘Better Example’ anti-obesity campaign. The gist of the videos is that parents need to start setting a better example for their kids by making healthier food choices.

Makes sense to me….parents eat junk food…kids eat junk food…parents eat healthy food…kids eat healthy food…parents are lazy…kids are lazy…parents are physically active…kids are physically active.

Monkey see Monkey do….Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

Some people see this anti-obesity campaign as:

  • A personal attack directed at them

I know no one will ever believe me when I say this, so fine. Whatever. But since, apparently, this isn’t evident even among health professionals churning out ad campaigns, I do not fucking eat chocolate cereal and buckets of ice cream. Here is what I actually do: Pretty much every morning before work I walk 1.1 miles uphill to a coffee shop, which is across the street from the organic co-op where I do all my grocery shopping. I eat normal, human amounts of unprocessed, fresh, largely local foods. I have no mobility problems. I have flawless cholesterol and blood pressure. I never get colds, I have never been hospitalized. I have a great job, I make a good living, I’m in an incredibly happy relationship. Sometimes I eat dessert, sometimes I don’t. I pay taxes. I take care of my family. I do not commit crimes. I’m nice to strangers. In general, I think you could say that I contribute more to the world than I take out of it.

And I’m a fucking epidemic? I’m a problem?

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

Even if I did eat a bucket of pancake-flavored ice cream for breakfast, burrito ice cream for lunch, and salisbury steak ice cream for dinner (OMPH GROMPH GROMPH), I still shouldn’t have to justify my existence to the world in the way I just did. But the fact that I exist, and I am not the sinister straw-fatty pictured in the above commercial—doesn’t it seem likely that there are other fat people like me out there who also aren’t lying about their lifestyles? And in that case, isn’t this commercial FUCKING USELESS NONSENSE? Congratulations! You guys totally “got serious” and took down not-the-problem-at-all.

Lindy West – Jezebel

  • Systemic prejudice against obese people

There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can’t. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this “problem” is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they’re an epidemic that’s ruining the world, then fuck you.

Sheeeeesh…what a cry-baby.

She actually makes some cogent arguments about how America’s food production & distribution companies need to accept responsibility for creating an obesogenic marketplace, but she totally blows it by whining about how mean everyone is being to her.

The Facts…as I see ’em

  • Obesity is caused by a mixture of nature & nurture
  • We can’t do anything about nature – your DNA is your DNA – deal with it
  • We can do something about nurture – develop Health Habits
  • The world is full of a-holes who like to insult people based on their obesity, skin color, sexuality, height, lack of hair, abundance of hair, clothing, musical preferences, etc…

Quit acting like a victim, take responsibility for your life and grow a thicker skin

Reference

America’s Great Big Fat Problem…is getting worse

America has a big, big, big problem.

According to the report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, “if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030…

  • 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent,
  • 39 states could have rates above 50 percent,
  • and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent”.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, this could lead to a 10x increase in the number of “new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030”.

Obesity could contribute to more than…

  • 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes,
  • 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke,
  • and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

But maybe you’re like me and take your health/fitness seriously and you don’t need to worry about these health warnings.

Unfortunately, this rise in obesity rates is going to affect you financially.

By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.

Although the medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is difficult to calculate, current estimates range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.

This means….

  • Your health insurance rates will increase
  • Social healthcare costs increase
  • Federal & state tax revenues are reduced due to lost productivity

And we all know what happens when government revenues can’t keep up with government spending…

  • Your taxes are increased, and
  • The quality & quantity of government services are decreased

so…what do YOU think…is it time that we did something real about reducing obesity across the board???

Reference

TV and Your Child’s Health

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but….when a group of researchers recently reviewed 12 studies in which the relationship between television viewing and diet was assessed in children between the ages of 2 and 6….”all but one study reported significant relationship between television viewing time and adverse dietary outcomes“.

  • More tv viewing = less fruit & vegetable consumption
  • More tv viewing = increased caloric consumption

And as if this wasn’t bad enough…the researchers concluded that these “adverse dietary outcomes occurred with as little as 1 hour of daily television exposure“.

1 HOUR!!!

  • The message to parents?
  • Stop plunking your three year old down in front of the tv.

Reference

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Childhood Obesity is Making Your Kid Stupid

Today’s parents live insanely busy lives.

And this means that sometimes….their kids eat microwave pizza & ice cream while staring at a screen instead of eating of eating a healthy home-cooked meal with the entire family.

Unfortunately, these “sometimes” are quickly becoming “all-the-times” and more and more of our kids are being diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome  – obesity (especially belly fat), insulin resistance, hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, researchers have discovered that adolescents diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome are not only at higher risk for:

  • heart disease,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • stroke,
  • kidney disease,
  • and poor blood supply to the legs

They also have:

  • smaller hippocampal volumes,
  • increased brain cerebrospinal fluid,
  • and reductions of microstructural integrity in major white matter tracts

Which results in…

  • impaired mathematics performance
  • impaired spelling performance
  • impaired ability to pay attention
  • impaired mental flexibility
  • and a trend towards lower overall intelligence

And if this isn’t scary enough…

The researchers have no idea if:

  1. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies will continue to get worse as our kids age,
  2. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies are reversible with weight loss and reversal of the other Met Syn symptoms.

Conclusion

Childhood obesity is no joke…We are thoroughly screwing up our kids.

Reference

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Childhood Obesity Leads to Heart Disease

Dutch researchers have found that 2/3 of severely obese children (aged 2–18 yrs) have been diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular risk factor:

  • 56% of the kids had hypertension,
  • 14% had high blood glucose,
  • 0.7% had type 2 diabetes,
  • 54% had low HDL-cholesterol

Even scarier….62% of severely obese children aged ≤12 years already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors.

Study Highlights

  • The definition of severe obesity started at a body mass index (BMI) of 20.5 for a 2 year old, at 31 for a 12 year old, and at 35 for an 18 year old.
  • Only one child’s obesity was attributable to medical rather than lifestyle factors.
  • Nearly one in three severely obese children came from one parent families.

Study Conclusion

“The prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in these children is worrying, considering the increasing prevalence worldwide of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents,” write the authors. “Likewise, the high prevalence of hypertension and abnormal lipids may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood,” they add. And they conclude: “Internationally accepted criteria for defining childhood obesity and guidelines for early detection and treatment of severe childhood obesity and underlying ill health are urgently needed.”

My Conclusion

Childhood obesity isn’t cute… and parents who enable it are doing their kids a HUGE disservice. 

 

Reference

I am the difference between fatness and fitness

 

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Does Big Food Need To Be Regulated?

Kelly Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has picked a fight with America’s food industry.

In an article commissioned for the PLoS Medicine series on Big Food, Brownell said that working collaboratively with the food industry to improve America’s health is a mistake and a trap. Like other industries, Big Food has an obligation to it’s shareholders to sell more products and make more money irrespective of the impact upon consumers.

“Government, foundations, and other powerful institutions should be working for regulation, not collaboration”.

Brownell believes that:

  • Big Food is attempting to improve their image by making small contributions to public health (donations, public-private partnerships, “healthy eating” campaigns, etc) while “it fights viciously against meaningful change (such as limits on marketing, taxes on products such as sugared beverages, and regulation of nutritional labeling)”.
  • For example, the soft drink industry gave the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia a US$10 million gift at the same time that the city of Philadelphia was considering a soda tax. “Such public-sector interaction with industry could be predicted to undermine public health goals and protect industry interests”.
  • He also cites the organized defense against soda taxes, the lobbying of congress to avoid restriction of junk food advertising to children under the age of 12, and the unbelievably huge amount of money being spent on marketing to pre-teens while simultaneously claiming to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles.

Brownell argues that while America’s food industry has introduced healthier food options, they have not promised to sell less junk food.

“Quite the contrary; they now offer ever larger burgers and portions, introduce ever more categories of sugared beverages (sports drinks, energy drinks, and vitamin waters), find ever more creative ways of marketing foods to vulnerable populations (e.g., children), and increasingly engage in promotion of unhealthy foods in developing countries.”

Brownell’s Solution?

Brownell argues that:

  1. Big Food can’t be trusted with our health, and
  2. When industry can’t be trusted to do the “right thing” the American government has a responsibility to step in and regulate change

He cites 3 historical examples.

  1. Tobacco industry regulation
  2. The elimination of financial regulation that led to the sub-prime meltdown and resultant global recession.
  3. Automotive industry regulation – seat belts, airbags, etc

Brownell believes that without government intervention/regulation, the food industry’s drive for increasing profits will lead to a continuing increasing of American obesity and a continuing degradation of American health.

So….what sayest thou?

  • Does Big Food need to be regulated?
  • If so, how?
  • If not, why?
  • And if you say that government regulation/oversight is a form of socialism, you will also need to explain to me why we have public military, fire departments & police departments.

Reference

Disney Goes To War Against Childhood Obesity

Mickey Mouse is doing what US politicians are too afraid to do.

Stand up against America’s junk-food producers.

Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger and first lady Michelle Obama will be making an official announcement later today that…Walt Disney Co, owner of the ABC broadcast network and a suite of cable channels, will stop accepting some junk-food ads on TV programs, radio shows and websites aimed at children.

Most Mousecular Mickey – Dean Armstrong

WOW.

Mr. Iger said he felt strongly that “companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that,” but added: “This is not altruistic. This is about smart business.”

Taking steps to combat childhood obesity allows Disney the opportunity to polish its brand as one families can trust — something that drives sales of everything from Pixar DVDs to baby clothes to theme park vacations. In addition, Disney has carefully studied the marketplace and executives say they believe there is increasing consumer demand for more nutritious food.

Mr. Iger noted that health food for children had already become “a very, very solid business” for Disney. Since 2006 consumers have purchased about two billion servings of Disney-licensed servings of fruit and vegetables, according to the company.

“Under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals — both current Disney advertisers — along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material”.

Disney said that in adopting the new advertising standards it was largely following recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators. The suggestions were aimed at inducing the food industry to overhaul the way it marketed things like cereal, soda and snacks to children.

[box type=”note”]Ironically, he is talking about the very suggestions that US lawmakers were too scared to make to Junk-Food Industry lobbyists last October.[/box]

This just goes to show how public opinion can influence real change…while government plays politics.

Reference

National Donut Day

Today is NATIONAL DONUT DAY…aka:

  • National Morbid Obesity Day
  • National Celiac Day
  • National Type 2 Diabetes Day

…and OMG…is that a Maple Bacon Donut???

Burp.

Are Overprotective Parents the Cause of Childhood Obesity?

Back in the olden days (the 1980s), me and my friends would race home from school, dump our schoolbags in our rooms, shove some leftovers down our gullets and run back outside to play road hockey (or baseball, football, etc) until…

  • it became too dark to see
  • or our Moms dragged us back inside for dinner & homework

Fast forward to 2012…

  • 46% of Canadian kids get 3 hours or less of active play per week
  • Only 35% of Canadian kids walk or ride their bikes to school
  • The average Canadian kid gets 7 hours and 48 minutes of screen time every day
  • As a result, Canadian kids spend 63% of their free time being sedentary
  • And they’re even less active on weekends than on school days

And according to Active Healthy Kids Canada, “two of the major barriers to regular, active play in Canadian kids are screen time and parental safety concerns. In combination, these societal realities force children and youth into highly-controlled environments, where they have little opportunity to let loose and just play“.

Play…like we all did back in the good old days…before the world became a scary place and we needed to start bubble-wrapping our kids to keep them safe.

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadian parents say they are very concerned about keeping their children safe and feel they “have to be over-protective of them in this world.” Safety concerns, whether or not they are founded, such as crime, traffic, neighbourhood danger, outdoor darkness and lack of supervision, discourage parents from letting their children and teens play outdoors.

And as a result, our precious little bundles of joy are fat and borderline diabetic.

NoteWhile this data is Canadian, I’m willing to bet that it isn’t unique to Canada.

Reference

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Why is America so Fat

The Free Market Doesn’t Give a Shit About Your Health…

… and why should they?

McDonald’s isn’t your Mommy.

  • They prepare food
  • You buy it
  • Their stock price tripled in the past 8 years
  • As did the ass size of the typical McDonald’s customer.

Unfortunately for fast food restaurants, childhood (and adult) obesity has become a major medical, political & social issue.

fatkidatmcds

 

A big enough issue that at the most recent McDonald’s shareholder meeting, a small group of shareholders came forward to say that “McDonald’s can no longer ignore the spiraling costs of its business practices on our children’s health and on our healthcare system. This issue is not only critical to the health and well-being of generations to come, but also to shareholders who should be better informed about the liabilities associated with the businesses they’re investing in.”

The resolution would compel the Board of Directors to assess how the growing body of evidence linking fast food and its marketing with diet-related conditions will impact McDonald’s finances and operations.

In response to the proposal, McDonald’s board of directors recommended a “no” vote on the proposal, calling it “unnecessary and redundant.”

  • 93.6% of McDonald’s shareholders agreed and voted NO.

Hmmmm…. a cynical person might assume that 93.6% of McDonald’s shareholders and the entire board of directors already know how McDonald’s menu & marketing practices impacts childhood obesity…and they don’t want to see their profits, share prices and performance bonuses get hammered by the truth.

  • And why would they?
  • Their job isn’t keeping our kids healthy.
  • That’s our job.

Just know that McDonald’s (and KFC, DQ, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc) doesn’t give a shit about your health or the health of your children.

Reference

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The Weight of the Nation : Change Maker or Obesity Porn?

As America’s problem with obesity grows…

  • The cost of medical treatment grows…
  • The cost to the economy grows…
  • The cost to our quality of life grows…
  • And the opportunity to make a ton of money grows

As a result of these 4 issues, obesity has grown from a quasi-medical issue into a topic worthy of mainstream media and HBO documentaries.

[box type=”important”]And as much as I think all of this attention focused on obesity is vital to instigating change… I wonder if we will ever develop the public will required to combat the money being spent by companies who make their profits from overeating.[/box]

Because if we are ever going to reverse our current obesity epidemic, it’s going to take a whole bunch of ordinary people making their voices and choices heard.

  • Lobbying politicians to put their public need ahead of corporate want
  • Making better food choices for their families
  • Organizing to help make neighborhood playgrounds safe for our kids
  • Telling food producers to stop overdosing us with sugar, salt & chemicals
  • Getting off our collective asses and leading by example

And documentaries like The Weight of the Nation may help to spark this type of change.

But then again, maybe this new wave of obesity awareness is nothing more than obesity porn… where we are shocked & awed by all those gross fat people who can’t muster the willpower to walk past McDonalds.

22 Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario

Earlier today, Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released a report detailing 22 recommendations to improve the health of Ontario.

And some Ontarians are losing their minds over some of the “recommendations”

What do you think?

http://2071264.polldaddy.com/s/22-recommendations-for-a-healthier-ontario?iframe=1

Childhood Obesity : A Primer for Parents

Having an obese child doesn’t make you a bad parent.

  • Uninformed : MAYBE
  • Bad : NO
  1. Processed food producers spend an ungodly amount of money learning what type of foods encourage overeating…and over-purchasing. Sugars, fats, processing techniques, flavor enhancing chemicals, etc.
  2. In addition to the bio-chemsitry, then spend big bucks on neuro-psychology to determine how your eyes and brain can be manipulated while you shop. Believe it or not, there is a lot of science behind product placement and purchasing decisions.
  3. Moving on to the science of manipulation, our food producers also spend huge amounts of money creating and delivering marketing campaigns aimed directly at your kids….knowing that if they get them while they’re young, they will have them for life. Creepy – YES…but also very effective.
  4. And if that wasn’t enough, they also spend a lot of money employing lobbyists to protect their interests within government, generate massive food subsidies and to block any legislation limiting their influence over our kids.

Put it all together and it’s not too surprising that our kids keep getting fatter and fatter.

Luckily, there are solutions.

  • Informed parents can make better food and activity choices for their kids.
  • Informed parents can tell their government that they don’t like advertising directed at their pre-pubescent children.
  • Informed parents can bring attention (thank you social media) to the political manipulation that makes a mockery of the Free Market.
  • Informed parents can talk to other parents and local government to improve access to healthy foods in their neighborhood.
  • Informed parents can take advantage of existing grants and support organizations to improve the walkability and “playability” of their neighborhoods

And how does a parent get informed?

Here’s a good place to start.

Other Resources

Childhood Obesity : Monkey See Monkey Do

Attention Parents!!!

Researchers have discovered the cure for childhood obesity.

Unfortunately for your addiction to stuffed-crust pizza…..the cure is for YOU to lose weight FIRST.

“We looked at things such as parenting skills and styles, or changing the home food environment, and how they impacted a child’s weight,” said Kerri N. Boutelle, PhD. “The number one way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight is to lose weight themselves. In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss.

Parents are the most significant people in a child’s environment, serving as the first and most important teachers,” said Boutelle “They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids.”

The Science

80 parent-child groups with an 8-12 year old overweight or obese child were enrolled into either:

  • A parent-only treatment program, or a
  • Parent + child treatment program

Both programs ran for 5 months and focused on evaluating the impact of three types of parenting skills taught in family-based behavioral treatment for childhood obesity, and the impact of each on the child’s body weight:

  • the parent modeling behaviors to promote their own weight loss,
  • changes in home food environment, and
  • parenting style and techniques (for example, a parent’s ability to help limit the child’s eating behavior, encouraging the child and participating in program activities)

The Results?

Consistent with previously published research, parent BMI change was the only significant predictor of child’s weight loss.

Conclusion?

Monkey See : Monkey Do

If your kid is obese and you’re worried about their future, it’s up to YOU to do something about it.

Reference

United Nations says that Factory Farming Sucks

Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has written an amazing article about global hunger / obesity / food policy in today’s Toronto Star.

In the article, he highlights the connections between:

  • Factory farming,
  • Political influence & lobby groups,
  • Obesity,
  • Under-nutrition / starvation,
  • Small scale farming,
  • Junk food advertising aimed at our children,
  • And the rise of global chronic disease

It’s a great read…and one that should be spread all around the internet.

Reference

Canada's Health Ranking Falls Like a Fat Guy Through an Wicker Chair

Canadians love to talk about their healthcare system.

  • We love to brag about how much better it is than the American system, yet
  • We also love to complain about the long wait times and the imminent bankruptcy of the system.

Lately, it’s been more complaining than bragging.

  • We blame the nurses’ union for being greedy.
  • We blame the hospital bureaucrats for their big salaries and “obvious” incompetence.
  • We blame illegal immigrants and the poor for clogging up the emergency room instead of going to their GP.

We blame. We blame. We blame.

Problem is….we should be blaming ourselves.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the real problem with the Canadian healthcare system isn’t the system…it’s the Canadian public and their lazy lifestyle that is ruining the healthcare system.

Canada’s 2012 Health Report Card

The Conference Board of Canada takes an annual look at 17 industrialized nations and compares them using 11 different markers of health.

  • In the 1990s, Canada was ranked 4th.
  • Today, Canada has fallen to 10th.

What gives? 

According to the research, while top-ranking countries like Japan, Switzerland & Norway have invested in programs designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, thereby lowering the economic impact of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia, osteoarthritis, and heart disease, Canada has virtually ignored health promotion.

And according to the Conference Board of Canada, “most top-performing countries have achieved better health outcomes through actions on the broader determinants of health such as environmental stewardship and health-promotion programs focusing on changes in lifestyle, including smoking cessation, increased activity, healthier diets, and safer driving habits.

Leading countries also focus on other determinants of health—such as education, early childhood development, income, and social status—to improve health outcomes”.

It’s a novel concept…spend a small amount of money preventing disease instead of spending a large amount of money treating disease.

What now?

The cynic in me believes that nobody is going to pay attention to this report and that the status quo will rule the day.

However, just last week, the federal government announced $4 million in additional federal money for Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Awareness and Education Initiative.  And while $4 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the total spending on healthcare, it’s a start and may represent a shift in government thinking.

Time will tell.

What can we do NOW?

You could write a letter to your MP or MPP or the appropriate federal/provincial Health Minister….and they might send you a nice form letter telling you how they take the health of Canadians seriously…yadda yadda.

Or you could use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to put a little heat under their seats.

  • Canada – Leona Aglukkaq – Federal Minister of Health and Long-Term Care – Facebook – Twitter
  • Alberta – Fred Horne – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • British Columbia – Michael de Jong – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Manitoba – Jim Rondeau – Minister of Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors – Facebook
  • New Brunswick – Madeline Dubé – Minister of Health – Facebook
  • Newfoundland – Susan Sullivan  – Minister of Health and Community Services – Facebook – Twitter
  • Northwest Territories – Tom Beaulieu – Minister of Health and Social Services  – website
  • Nova Scotia – Maureen MacDonald – Minister of Health and Wellness  – FacebookTwitter
  • Nunavut – Keith Peterson – Minister of Health and Social Services – website
  • Ontario –  Deb Matthews – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Prince Edward Island – Doug Currie – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • Quebec – Yves Bolduc  – Ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux – Facebook
  • Saskatchewan – Don McMorris – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Yukon – Minister of Health and Social Services- Facebook – Twitter

NOTE – this problem isn’t unique to Canada. Other countries (like the US of A – #17 of 17) could use with a healthy dose of health promotion.

The reason why big government "healthy lifestyle" programs don't work is…

…because they think education is the answer.

And while I am a big fan of education, I am pretty sure that the majority of us know that:

  • Exercise is healthier than watching tv
  • Vegetables are healthier than pizza
  • Meditation is healthier than obsessing over that idiot who cut you off in traffic
  • Drinking a glass of wine with dinner is healthier than downing a bottle by yourself
  • Socializing with friends is healthier than being a loner
  • Stretching tight muscles is healthier than sitting all night after sitting all day at work

We already know this stuff…..and yet, we eat junk food, watch too much tv and barely get any exercise.

EDUCATION IS NOT ENOUGH

Education by itself didn’t reduce the number of smokers.

It took education + higher taxes + municipal bylaws restricting public smoking + a whole lot of shaming from non-smokers who finally felt empowered enough to tell someone to butt out.

And if we want to reduce the healthcare costs attributable to poor lifestyle choices – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, cancer, etc…. we need to do more than education.

Image: http://www.glasbergen.com

 

NYC Escalates War Against Childhood Obesity

New York City’s Department of Health & Human Services has escalated their war against childhood obesity with their latest  ad campaign urging New Yorkers to be more aware of portion sizes – and how they have increased – when choosing what to eat or drink.

Their concern is that the quantity of food served in a “medium” or “large” order is significantly greater today than in previous years.

In the last 50 years, for example, the serving sizes of sugary drinks quadrupled and french fries nearly tripled. With a few casual selections, a single meal could balloon to contain many more calories than the amount an adult needs for an entire day.

And based on the “growth” of our kids over the past few decades, I would have to agree

For more info, check out their Portion Size Fact Sheet, or check out a whole pile of awesome Health Habits articles on childhood obesity.

Stop Sugarcoating Childhood Obesity

The State of Georgia has created an anti-childhood obesity program that has upset various:

  • fat-acceptance groups
  • anti-obesity advocates, and
  • child-protection experts

They’re concerned that the print/tv/online ads used in this campaign will backfire and cause obese kids to face increased bullying and result in lower self-esteem, depression, and even worse eating behaviors…resulting in even greater levels of obesity and decreased levels of overall health.

And they might be right…if these ads were the only tool being used by the people at Strong4Life.

But it isn’t…as explained during this interview on The Today Show

  • Phase 1 is designed to grab attention…which it has done.
  • Phase 1 is designed to help parents understand that childhood obesity has very real consequences upon the health and happiness of their children
  • Phase 1 is NOT about solutions.

The solutions being proposed by Strong4Life come in Phases 2 & 3.

Hopefully they’ll be spending just as much money and receiving just as much media attention on their message of healthy eating and increased physical activity.

A Health Habits Plan to Eliminate Obesity – Part 2

A few days ago, I published Part 1 of my Health Habits Plan to Eliminate Obesity

In that post, I identified the two main causes for obesity:

  1. Medical causes which require medical intervention – ie pharmaceuticals or surgery
  2. Lifestyle causes – ie lack of exercise, overeating, junk food, etc

I also highlighted the three main targets for modifying the lifestyle causes of obesity:

  1. Lack of Knowledge
  2. Lack of Resources
  3. Lack of Motivation

And finally, I hypothesized that when it comes to lifestyle modification, there will never be a magic bullet solution for obesity

What’s required is a comprehensive approach that can satisfy the causes I listed above.

  • Lack of Knowledge
  • Lack of Resources
  • Lack of Motivation

Today, I am going to put my ego on the line and start laying out a plan that I think could:

  • Make use of already available expert knowledge
  • Allow small businesses to flourish
  • Improve the image of the corporate business sector
  • Reduce health care costs across the board – gov’t, business, insurance & end user
  • Improve municipal infrastructure
  • Cost the public sector next to nothing
  • Spark our motivation to live a healthy lifestyle
  • Encourage us all to take ownership of our own health
  • Reduce levels of chronic disease,
  • Improve levels of physical fitness, and
  • Drastically reduce levels of obesity

The Plan

As it stands right now, if you want access to the information, resources and motivation required to lose 50 lbs and get into great shape, it helps to have money…lots of money.

For personal trainers, nutritionists, uber-healthy food, supplements, lifestyle coaching, etc…

  • What if we could offer those services in every neighborhood around the country for next to nothing?

Wouldn’t that help with our lack of knowledge and lack of resources?

  • And what if every time you turned on your tv set or surfed the net, you were bombarded with healthy lifestyle advertising created by the world’s best marketing companies featuring the world’s biggest celebrities.

We live in a world where we are convinced to buy stuff that we don’t need but are told that we should want. What would happen if those same companies tried to sell us on a healthy lifestyle?

We’re not talking “say No to Drugs” PSAs…we’re talking big multimedia advertising campaigns boring their message directly into our influential little brains.

Wouldn’t that help with our lack of motivation?

What if I told you that there were already programs like this popping up around the country…but they suffer from a lack of scale, a lack of proper management, a lack of influence, a lack of awareness and a lack of money.

But not for much longer.

Everyday there is a bunch of stories in the news about obesity….from which country is the fattest, to an 8 year old boy being taken from his mother because he’s too fat…obesity has become a major topic of discussion around the world.

The Economics of Obesity

Billions of dollars are spent every year on treating obesity and it’s related health conditions. Unfortunately, only a teeny tiny fraction of that money is spent on OBESITY PREVENTION.

Which is weird considering that obesity is largely a result of poor lifestyle choices.

For example….

  • In Canada, it’s estimated that the cost of obesity (2008 numbers) rose to a staggering $7.1 billion.
  • Based on population data, the province of Ontario’s share of that cost is approximately $2.75 billion
  • And yet, it’s department of Health Promotion & Sport has a total annual budget of $470 million
  • Of which, only $4.3 million is spent on nutrition & healthy eating.

Hmmmmm

  • Obesity cost to Ontario:  $2, 754,8000,000
  • Amount spent by Ontario gov’t to encourage healthy eating:  $4,324,400

Does this make sense to you?

Back in the olden days, my Grandma used to tell me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a six year old, I had no idea what the heck she was talking about.

My guess is that whoever’s paying for these obesity costs still hasn’t figured it out.

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BTW, it’s us paying the cost

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Reference

Is Obesity Child Abuse?

An eight year old Cleveland boy was recently taken from his family and placed in foster care after case workers said that his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.

The child in question is over 200 lbs – the average 8 yr old boy is 56 lbs.

Lawyers for the mother argue that the county “overreached” in taking her son, saying the kid’s health is not in imminent danger.

“They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child,” the boy’s mother. “Of course I love him. Of course I want him to lose weight. It’s a lifestyle change, and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”

What do you think?

And if you do agree that childhood obesity is child abuse, what do you think that “society” should do about it?

The Ohio state health department estimates more than 12 percent of third-graders statewide are severely obese.

  • Do we take all those severely obese children away from their parents?

What about your neighborhood?

  • Would you be okay with your local children’s aid society taking away 12% of the kids in your neighborhood?
  • And why stop at obesity?

Without crappy parents, we wouldn’t have so many junkies, murderers, rapists, perverts, etc…

Even the best parents screw up their kids in some way.

And as much as it pisses me off to see parents enabling their kid’s obesity, I just don’t see how putting all our severely obese kids into foster homes makes any sense on a large scale.

But that’s just my opinion.

Reference

Truly Terrifying Obesity Statistics

Bad news everyone.

By the year 2020, America is going to be really, really fat and really, really sick.

  • 83% of American men will be overweight or obese
  • 72% of American women will be overweight or obese
  • 77 % of men will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes)
  • 53 % of women will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes).
If you don’t want to be part of the majority, click, read and take charge of your health.

Reference

 

Childhood Obesity, Junk Food Profits and the U.S. Congress

Earlier this year, an interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced that they would be recommending that America’s food producers should voluntarily end all food advertising to children unless they were for healthy choices, such as whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables.

Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

This first draft of voluntary guidelines set  maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium, among other requirements, and asks food companies not to market foods that go beyond those parameters to children ages 2 through 17. The guidelines would apply to many mediums, including ads on television, in stores and on the Internet, in an effort to stem rising obesity levels.

Under the original proposal, salty, fatty or very sweet foods or foods with trans fats would no longer be advertised to children, defined as age 17 or under.

Once again… Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

In response, the food industry, backed by House Republicans, has aggressively lobbied against the voluntary guidelines, saying they are too broad and would limit marketing of almost all of the nation’s favorite foods, including some yogurts and many children’s cereals. Though the guidelines would be voluntary, food companies say they fear the government will retaliate against them if they don’t go along.

Officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who jointly wrote the guidelines, will on Wednesday face the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already made its distaste for the proposal clear. In a letter last month, Republicans on the committee wrote the agencies and called the (voluntary) guidelines “little better than a shot in the dark.”

Following the industry objections, the congressional pushback and a public comment period on the proposal, the government agencies involved appear to be softening their approach.

In testimony released by the committee before the hearing, David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the coalition of government agencies is “in the midst of making significant revisions to the original proposal.

Among the changes he suggested are narrowing the age group targeted and focusing on children aged 2 to 11 instead of up to age 17 and allowing marketing of the unhealthier foods at fundraisers and sporting events. Vladeck also said that his agency would not recommend that companies change packaging or remove brand characters from food products that don’t qualify, as was originally suggested in the guidelines.

“Those elements of packaging, though appealing to children, are also elements of marketing to a broader audience and are inextricably linked to the food’s brand identity,” Vladeck says in prepared testimony. Tony the Tiger is well-known as the mascot for Frosted Flakes and Toucan Sam for Froot Loops, both Kelloggs’ cereals.

So, there you go. Democracy in action.

  • Companies market questionable food-like products directly to children.
  • Parents and special interest groups bring attention to this business practice
  • Government investigates and prepares a series of voluntary recommendations
  • Lobbyists for the affected food producers work hard in an attempt to dilute the voluntary recommendations
  • Congress supports the position of the food lobby
  • Recommendations are watered-down
  • Food producers resume original marketing practices
  • Children influenced by said marketing grow up to be obese adults still affected by said marketing practices
  • Continuing increases in systemic obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome et al drive healthcare costs up and quality of life down

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Reference

 

The Fat Taxes Are Coming

Denmark, one of Europe’s leanest countries, has instituted the world’s first “fat tax”.

Approved by a large parliamentary majority back in March, Danish consumers now have to pay a 16 kroner ($2.72 USD) tax per kilogram of saturated fat in a product.

This means that Danes have to pay $0.15 more for a burger and $0.40 more for a small package of butter.

This is in addition to the higher fees already applied to sugar, chocolates and soft drinks.

Why a Fat Tax?

Officially…these targeted food taxes are part of a larger government plan to increase the life expectancy of Danes by three years over the next 10 years.

“Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,” health minister Jakob Axel Nielsen said, because “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

Opponents to the tax say that it is very complex, involving tax rates on the percentage of fat used in making a product rather than the percentage that is in the end-product.

As such, they expect that this new level of bureaucracy will cost Danish businesses about $28 million in the first year.

Do Fat Taxes Work?

Opponents of fat taxes say that there is no proof that fat taxes will:

  1. Reduce consumption of fatty foods, and/or
  2. Improve the health and longevity of the Danish citizens

However, considering that fat taxes are a new invention, the opponents don’t know that they won’t work either.

Proponents of fat taxes look at the success of cigarette taxes to lower consumption levels and hope that Danes will be eating healthier and living longer because of this intervention.

However, food is different from tobacco. Smokers can live without cigarettes. No one lives without food. 

As well, there is no proof that replacing butter with margarine and a weekly burger with a fish sandwich is going to result in greater longevity.

At the end of the day, neither side can prove their argument…and as a result, what we have here is an experiment. An experiment being watched by governments around the world.

  • Governments that are desperate to reduce their healthcare costs.
  • Governments that are also desperate to increase tax revenue in order to generate balanced budgets.

And it’s those budget deficits that are going to play a big part in the adoption of fat taxes around the world.

Governments have become dependant on cigarette and alcohol taxes to help stay afloat.

And a nice big fat infusion of tax dollars coming from a pro-health fat tax seems like a real win-win for progressive legislators.

 

Just when you thought that the world couldn't get any fatter….

According to a paper published in The Lancet, there will be 65,000,000 more obese Americans by 2030.

And it’s not just the U.S. of A.

Great Britain is aiming to plop another 11,000,000 obese citizens and their accompanying health conditions onto their already overburdened National Health Service.

And those health conditions don’t come cheap.

fat world fat globe

 

In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that medical costs associated with the treatment of new obesity related disease will increase by $48-66 billion per year. And considering how much of that cost will be borne by the American taxpayer, perhaps American politicians should stop mocking Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and start thinking up better ways to cut the fat.

And here’s why:

The researchers predicted the following impacts for the U.S. by 2030:

  • Obesity prevalence among men will rise from 32% in 2008 to approximately 50%
  • Obesity prevalence among women will rise from 35% to between 45% and 52%.
  • 7.8 million extra cases of diabetes
  • 6.8 million more cases of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • 539,000 additional cases of cancer
  • Annual spending on obesity-related diseases would rise by 13-16%, leading to 2.6% increase in national health spending.
  • Total medical costs associated with treatment of these preventable diseases are estimated to increase by $48-66 billion/year.

For the U.K., researchers predicted the following developments by 2030:

  • Prevalence of obesity among men would increase from 26% to between 41—48%.
  • Prevalence of obesity among women would increase from 26% to 35-43%.
  • 668 000 more cases of diabetes
  • 461,000 more cases of heart disease and stroke
  • 139,000 additional cases of cancer.
  • In the U.K., annual spending on obesity-related health would increase even more rapidly than in the U.S. due to its older population, rising 25%.

Conclusion

The next 20 years are going to be a great time to be a bariatric surgeon.

Reference

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Childhood Obesity, Breakfast Cereal and Whiny Kids

Last week, while shopping for groceries, I happened upon a scene familiar to many parents.

Passing the breakfast cereal aisle, my ears picked up the less-than-angelic tones of a 7 year old child screaming at her mother that she needed a specific brand of cereal and that she would hate her mom forever if she dared to purchase a product not endorsed by the appropriate cartoon character.

Luckily for the little girl’s growing pancreas, her mom didn’t give in to the blackmail.

But, it made me wonder.

  • How many parents would have given in?
  • How many parents would break under the strain of incessant nagging?
  • How many parents would sacrifice their child’s health in return for some peace & quiet?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have recently examined this “Nag Factor”.

Described as “the tendency of children, who are bombarded with marketers’ messages, to unrelentingly request advertised items”, researchers explored whether and how mothers of young children have experienced this phenomenon and their strategies for coping.”

Here’s what they found.

According to study author Dina Borzekowski, “it’s clear that children are not the primary shoppers in the households, so how do child-oriented, low-nutrition foods and beverages enter the homes and diets of young children?

Our study indicates that while overall media use was not associated with nagging, one’s familiarity with commercial television characters was significantly associated with overall and specific types of nagging.

In addition, mothers cited packaging, characters, and commercials as the three main forces compelling their children to nag.”

Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, researchers interviewed 64 mothers of children ages 3 to 5 years.

Mothers answered questions about the household environment, themselves, their child’s demographics, media use, eating and shopping patterns, and requests for advertised items.

Participants were also asked to describe their experiences and strategies for dealing with the “Nag Factor.” Researchers selected mothers as interview subjects because they are most likely to act as “nutritional gatekeepers” for their household and control the food purchasing and preparation for small children.

They found that nagging seemed to fall into three categories:

  • juvenile nagging,
  • nagging to test boundaries,
  • and manipulative nagging.

Mothers consistently cited 10 strategies for dealing with the nagging; the strategies included:

  • giving in,
  • yelling,
  • ignoring,
  • distracting,
  • staying calm and consistent,
  • avoiding the commercial environment,
  • negotiating and setting rules,
  • allowing alternative items,
  • explaining the reasoning behind choices,
  • and limiting commercial exposure.

And after sifting through all the data, the researchers determined that :

  1. manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with the age of the child.
  2. 36% of mothers recommended limiting commercial exposure as an effective strategy, while
  3. 35% of mothers suggested simply explaining to children the reasons behind making or not making certain purchases.
  4. Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least effective strategies.

Conclusions

  • Kids are influenced by marketing messages.
  • Kids respond to those marketing messages by emotionally blackmailing their parents
  • Parents who give in to emotional blackmail are making a big mistake.

For the sake of their kid’s health, and their own sanity, parents need to fight back.

Fight back by slapping a household ban on breakfast cereals and other junk foods that use movies & cartoon characters to manipulate our kids.

.

Reference

The Chubby Baby Workout

The Institute of Medicine is warning America’s pediatricians, parents, and policymakers that:

  1. Obese babies often become obese adults, but
  2. With a few simple lifestyle changes, pot-bellied Chicken McNugget eating infants can quickly & easily become buffed, one-armed push-upping super toddlers.

Here are the tips:

Identifying At-Risk Children

Studies show that many parents do not understand the consequences of excess weight in infants and young children or are not concerned about early excess weight or obesity, the committee found.

  • Health professionals should measure infants’ weight and length and the body mass index of young children as a standard procedure at every well-child visit.
  • They should identify children at risk for obesity and discuss with parents their children’s measurements and the risks linked to excess weight.

Sufficient Sleep

Evidence points to a relationship between insufficient sleep and obesity. Data indicate that over the past two decades there has been an overall decrease in the amount of sleep infants and children get, with the most pronounced declines among children less than 3 years old.

  • Regulatory agencies should require child care providers to promote healthy sleep durations in their facilities, the report recommends.
  • Pediatricians, early childhood educators, and other professionals who work with parents need to be trained to counsel them about age-appropriate sleep times and good sleep habits.

Physically Active Play and Sedentary Activities

  • Agencies that regulate child care facilities should require child care providers and early childhood educators to create opportunities and environments that encourage infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to be physically active throughout the day.
  • Child care providers should engage children in physically active play for a cumulative average of at least 15 minutes per hour spent in care, joining children in their activities, and getting children outdoors to play when and where possible. They also could avoid using restriction of play as a disciplinary measure.
  • Infants should be allowed to move freely with appropriate supervision.
  • Potential steps to achieve this goal include using cribs, car seats, and high chairs only for their intended purposes and limiting use of strollers, swings, and bouncing chairs.

Media

  • Child care providers should limit television viewing and use of computers, mobile devices, and other digital technologies to less than two hours per day for children ages 2 to 5.
  • Child care facilities and preschools could advance this goal by restricting screen time of any form to 30 minutes in half-day programs and one hour in full-day programs.
  • Health care providers could counsel parents on the benefits of restricting screen time.
  • The appropriate federal agencies — including the Federal Trade Commission and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — will need to monitor industry compliance with voluntary national nutrition and marketing standards for children, which are currently being developed by an interagency task force.

Healthy Eating

  • Given that only 13 percent of mothers breast-feed exclusively for six months after birth, and only 22 percent continue breast-feeding up to a year, health care providers and organizations should step up efforts to encourage breast-feeding.
  • All hospitals should adopt the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which limit samples and depictions of formula and help mothers initiate and continue breast-feeding.
  • All child care facilities and preschools should be required to follow the meal patterns established by the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which reflect age-appropriate amounts of sugar, salt, and fat and necessary nutrients. CACFP standards promote fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and provide guidance on appropriate portion sizes for children at different ages.
  • The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should establish dietary guidelines for children from birth through age 2. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines currently apply to age 2 and up.
  • Government officials should take steps to boost participation in nutrition assistance programs. More than one-third of those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and 40 percent of those eligible for WIC — a nutrition program aimed at women, infants, and children — do not take advantage of them.

Reference

Choose My Plate…The Paleo Version

Bye bye Food Pyramid…..and hello Choose My Plate.

In an effort to encourage healthy eating, Michelle Obama and the USDA have tossed out the dreaded Food Pyramid and replaced it with a simple, clean graphic of a dinner plate.

According to the First Lady, all parents have to do now is “take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

The symbol is part of a healthy eating initiative that will convey seven key messages from the government’s dietary guidelines, including:

  1. enjoy food but eat less;
  2. avoid oversized portions;
  3. make half your plate fruits and vegetables;
  4. drink water instead of sugary drinks;
  5. switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk;
  6. compare sodium in foods;
  7. and make at least half your grains whole grains.

And for the most part, even cranky old Health Habits gives it a qualified “thumbs up”.

It’s much easier to understand and is a huge improvement over the old pyramid.

Too bad that it still favors the interests of industry over the health (and waistlines) of the nation.

If only Michelle had returned my phone calls. Americans could have had a food pyramid / plate like this:

BTW, please forgive my lack of graphic design skills. If I had USDA money, I could afford an actual copy of Photoshop.

Speaking of money, if you’re wondering what Paleo is, go ahead and download my free ebook – A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century

 

Toronto's kids are lazy…How about yours?

According to this report by Get ACTIVE Toronto, 93 per cent of Toronto’s kids aren’t getting their recommended level (60 min) of daily activity. This includes walking to and from school.

In contrast, the average 12-19 year old Torontonian spends 2.75 hours in front of a computer or tv screen.

And it’s not just Toronto.

This U.S. research shows that 20% of Americans between the ages of 24 and 32 have high blood pressure.

We (the grown-ups) are turning our kids into unhealthy little butterballs.

  • We’ve cancelled P.E. classes in public schools
  • We can’t find teachers or volunteers to help coach sport teams
  • We drive our kids to school instead of letting them walk
  • We’re afraid to let them out to play after school
  • We feed them processed food instead of making something from scratch
  • We buy them X-Boxes instead of basketballs

So, what are you going to do about it?

  • Take away the video games?
  • Make a real meal for dinner tonight?
  • Sit down and eat with your kids at the dinner table?
  • Contact a group like Kaboom and help re-claim a playground for your kids?
  • Ask for guidance from groups like Get Active Toronto?
  • Pester your local politicians for help?
  • Ask your neighbors to pester your local politician?
  • Let your kid walk to school?
  • Shoot hoops with your kid after work?
  • Go for a walk with your kid?
  • Nothing?
  • Watch your kids get sick?
  • Watch our healthcare costs go through the roof?

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Dr. Oz vs Childhood Obesity

Yesterday Dr. Oz asked a very controversial question: Is Child Obesity a form of Child Abuse?

And for a big health & fitness geek like myself, it was must-see tv.

  • We had “experts” blaming the parents,
  • We had parents blaming society,
  • We had experts advocating that courts should remove obese kids from their parents’ care,
  • We had other experts arguing that this would mess the kids up even more.
  • They talked about penalizing “bad” parents by removing child tax credits.
  • They talked about the hypocrisy of overweight adults telling other overweight adults that they are bad parents because their kids are overweight.
  • We even had one mom who felt that she shouldn’t have to stop eating bags of M&Ms just because her kid was fat.

In short, Dr. Oz took an incredibly complex issue and compressed it neatly into one hour of self-help tv. Not exactly enough time for a thorough examination of the issue, but it was a start.

And luckily for some parents, Dr. Oz has found a solution for America’s overweight children – The Wellspring Academy

Where for $78,000 per year, your obese child can:

  • learn all about healthy nutrition,
  • get plenty of exercise
  • receive psychological & lifestyle counselling
  • and lose a ton of weight

Too bad about the $78,000 per year pricetag.

If only some smart guy like Doctor Oz could think of a way to lower the cost and make it more accessible for those Americans without gold plated health insurance or a spare $78,000.

How about this?

  • What if we start by taking one public school in each big city and turn it into a charter school focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing the obesity levels of their students?
  • What if we re-install P.E. class?  We used to have teachers who knew how to teach P.E.
  • What if we re-install Home Ec class? – focusing on the most effective diet for weight loss and improving health.  We used to have teachers who knew how to do that.
  • With those two bases covered, all we need to add is the psychological/lifestyle counselling component of the Wellspring program. Perhaps the good people at Wellspring would be willing to make a few hundred million dollars by rolling out this part of their concept in public schools all across the country.

We already have the infrastructure.

We already have (or used to have) the P.E. and Home Ec teachers.

We’re already paying for the medical costs associated with childhood and adult obesity.

Why not redirect some of that medical spending towards prevention?

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Let me know what you think

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If you’re interested, I have added links to the videos from Dr. Oz’s show.

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Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 1.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 2.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 3.

Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 4.

>Is It Child Abuse to Have a Fat Child? Pt 5.

Win the Fight Against Child Obesity, Pt 1.

Win the Fight Against Child Obesity, Pt 2.

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Egg-Crepe health food nutrition healthhabits

Protein at Breakfast Reduces Hunger & Prevents Overeating

Research shows that eating a protein rich breakfast increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day.

And for those of us who are prone to the mid-afternoon munchies, this is very, very good news.

The Study

For three weeks, a group of adolescent girls (Age: 15 ± 1 years) with a high BMI (93rd percentile ± 1%) and a habit of skipping breakfast (5 ± 1×/week) either…

  • continued to skip breakfast (BS)
  • or consumed 500-calorie “normal protein” breakfast meals (NP) consisting of cereal and milk
  • or 500-calorie higher protein meals (HP) consisting of Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt.

At the end of each week, the girls returned to the lab to eat their respective breakfast followed by:

  • appetite questionnaires and
  • an fMRI brain scan to identify brain activation responses to viewing food vs. nonfood images prior to lunch.

The Results

Compared to skipping breakfast (BS), both breakfast meals (NP & HP) led to increased satiety and reductions in hunger throughout the morning (3 hrs post breakfast).

The fMRI results showed that brain activation in regions controlling food motivation and reward was reduced prior to lunch time when breakfast was consumed in the morning.

Additionally, eating protein at breakfast led to even greater changes in appetite, satiety and reward-driven eating behaviour compared to the normal protein breakfast.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that a protein-rich breakfast might be an effective strategy to improve appetite control and prevent overeating in young people.

And aside from the fact that I take issue with their description of their HP breakfast – Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt – as being high protein, I have to agree.

NOTE – Some of my previous articles – The Big Breakfast DietWeight Loss & Breakfast: Eggs are Better – have shown that skipping breakfast can be a very bad idea.

Reference