US Launches a Fight Against Obesity - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-10-2004, 01:32 PM
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US launches a fight against obesity

By Mary Leonard, Globe Staff, 3/10/2004



WASHINGTON -- Tommy G. Thompson, who dropped from 210 to 195 pounds by putting a pedometer on his belt and the Cabinet department he oversees on a diet, yesterday urged Americans to get off their couches and protect their lives through healthier eating and exercise habits.



"We're just too darned fat," Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, said at a news conference where he previewed the government's new, humorous advertising campaign aimed at motivating an overweight nation to look in the mirror and lose those love handles, the potbelly, and the double chin.



The "Healthy Lifestyles" campaign that Thompson launched appears to come not a moment too soon: Today, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that poor diet and lack of physical activity was the second-leading cause of death in the United States in 2000, and obesity is gaining fast on tobacco as the most serious health risk facing Americans.



"The problem of obesity is really an epidemic, and we need to apply the same tools to combat it as if it were an infectious disease epidemic," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study that examined mortality data from 1990 to 2002 to identify and quantify the causes of death.



CDC researchers found that while smoking accounted for 435,000 deaths in 2000, poor diet and physical inactivity led to 400,000 deaths that year and is likely to overtake tobacco soon because fewer Americans are smoking but more are gaining weight. Over the last decade, deaths due to obesity and sedentary lifestyles rose by 33 percent, the CDC reported.



According to HHS data, 129.6 million American adults, or 64 percent, are obese or overweight, and another 9 million children are too fat. Health officials say the condition increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, leading to medical costs and lost productivity that the US Surgeon General has estimated at $117 billion in 2000.



Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes for Health, yesterday called obesity a "public health emergency" and said that the agency was directing new research into the links between obesity, disease, the environmental factors that cause sedentary lifestyles, and the body's metabolism. "We consider this a major threat and will fight it," he said.



The National Institutes for Health's budget for obesity research is $400.1 million this fiscal year, up from $378.6 million last year, and the Bush administration has requested $440.3 million for next year.



Thompson said Congress should consider giving tax credits to Americans who lose weight, and he proposed that health insurance companies reduce premiums for people who keep the pounds off. Short of that, he urged Americans to fight the battle of the bulge by changing diets that depend on fast food and prepared foods, and neglect fruits and vegetables. He also criticized lifestyles of too little exercise and too much television.



The government's education campaign suggests that even minor changes in behavior lead to slimmer bodies and healthier lives. Among the tips offered: Skate to work instead of driving. Fetch the newspaper yourself. Eat off smaller plates. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Get a dog and walk it. Eat half your dessert and more celery sticks.



Thompson said his goal was not to make Americans feel guilty, but he did point out there were "chunky" people in the audience who could stand to do 10 sit-ups and five push-ups in front of the television when they got home.



"I've lost 15 pounds and I feel much more energetic," said Thompson, who said he still has 10 more pounds to go. If he was to be the administration's poster person for a trim figure, "I had to start looking the part," he said.



Thompson is not featured in the television ads, which were produced for free by McCann Erickson, the New York agency that created the MasterCard "priceless" commercials. The ads begin airing today at no cost to the government on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and PBS. In one, a puzzled man turns in a pair of fleshy love handles to a lost-and-found clerk in a department store. In a second, a couple trip over a double chin left on the floor of a supermarket. In the third, two boys speaking Spanish find a potbelly on the beach and poke it with a stick. The body parts were lost, apparently, when their owners started exercising.



The print ads show close-ups of unshapely hips, flabby stomachs, double chins, and very round derrieres. Superimposed are a series of dotted lines, showing that gradually increasing exercise could trim the fatties down to sleeker figures.



Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health-advocacy group, said she was happy the Bush administration was drawing attention to obesity but called the ads "a half-measure" to address it. "What they should be doing is trying to get junk food out of the schools, requiring calorie-labeling on chain-restaurant menus, prohibiting junk-food marketing aimed at children, and funding every state program to promote physical activity."she said.



Thompson said a big-budget initiative was out of the question. He also said there was a "better way" than to file lawsuits, as some obese consumers have done, against fast-food chains. Today, the House is expected to vote on the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act -- known to some as the "cheeseburger bill" -- that would prevent chains from being held liable in such suits.



Thompson promised that more "provocative" ads would added to the Healthy Lifestyles campaign, but said that President Bush, the administration's most ardent exerciser, would not be in them.
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#2 Old 03-10-2004, 02:38 PM
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Thompson said Congress should consider giving tax credits to Americans who lose weight, and he proposed that health insurance companies reduce premiums for people who keep the pounds off.



Of for ****'s sake. You know, socialized medicine would solve all this crap...
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#3 Old 03-10-2004, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mikie View Post

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health-advocacy group, said she was happy the Bush administration was drawing attention to obesity but called the ads "a half-measure" to address it. "What they should be doing is trying to get junk food out of the schools, requiring calorie-labeling on chain-restaurant menus, prohibiting junk-food marketing aimed at children, and funding every state program to promote physical activity."she said.

.



All these ads sound like they do is continue to demonize fat and fat people, when what the administration needs to focus on is all the stuff that Wootan brings up. Once again, the issue of health gets turned into new ways to make people feel bad about their bodies. Appealing to people's vanity probably leads more to eating disorders and an increase in cosmetic surgery, rather than long-lasting, healthy lifestyle changes.
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#4 Old 03-10-2004, 03:56 PM
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The Secretary of Health was overweight?
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#5 Old 03-10-2004, 04:00 PM
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I'd go for a tax break for losing weight

fat chance of that happening though.
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#6 Old 03-10-2004, 04:09 PM
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I don't see why the government should be involved with this. America is too fat. Let the people handle it themselves.



The government should be taking more efforts to save the environment before it starts yanking away cheeseburgers.
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#7 Old 03-10-2004, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eggplant View Post

All these ads sound like they do is continue to demonize fat and fat people, when what the administration needs to focus on is all the stuff that Wootan brings up. Once again, the issue of health gets turned into new ways to make people feel bad about their bodies. Appealing to people's vanity probably leads more to eating disorders and an increase in cosmetic surgery, rather than long-lasting, healthy lifestyle changes.

Agreed.



Thompson said Congress should consider giving tax credits to Americans who lose weight, and he proposed that health insurance companies reduce premiums for people who keep the pounds off.

I think weight is not a good measure who's to say what percentage fat vs. muscle, what the cause is, how it is effecting you. It might drive people to unsafe measures like starvation diets or surgery. Perhaps a reduction for physical activity classes, like they give you discounts for defensive driving classes. Exercise benefits everyone.
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#8 Old 03-10-2004, 04:35 PM
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Weight is definitely a bad measure of health. I'm a woman weighing 190 lbs at 5'9 which puts me in the "obesity" range, and yet my bodyfat % is only 29, which is within "normal" range. I also run 5 miles a day and only take in a max of 1600 calories. But I was very overweight for a long time (when I started to lose I was at 260), and I don't think ads like this would've done it for me. It has to be so much more of a lifestyle change than that. It's nice that they are trying to combat the problem, and when I think about it, people from Tommy Thompson's generation (like my own father) probably would respond to ads like this. So I understand where they are coming from...but I just don't think it's going to fix it. As to tax credits, would these be retroactive? How much would a 70 lb loss get me?
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#9 Old 03-10-2004, 05:49 PM
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LOL...I think our government is just so used to using scare tactics on people that this is all it can think of to do.



"Get off of your couch and put down the chips or you're going to DIE!!!!!!!!!!"



This is helpful.



Or here, let me pay you to loose some weight, will that work? BTW, have you tried the atkins plan?



Never mind that when many people are scared and stressed, they eat. And when they get extra money, they generally spend it on food....ah well.



Oh, and also, never mind that the government sponsored school lunch is notoriously unhealthy and gross.



Ah well....



B
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#10 Old 03-10-2004, 06:02 PM
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I browsed through nearly every newspaper covering the announcement, and most of them were repurposed from the AP report. Not one of them mentioned the benefits of a plant-based diet in treating the problem, of course.
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#11 Old 03-10-2004, 06:54 PM
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Great. Now I can't wait for the ads where they link obesity to terrorism like they did in the anti-drug ads.
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#12 Old 03-10-2004, 09:07 PM
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Or SUVs for that matter.
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#13 Old 03-10-2004, 09:45 PM
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Yep... health is not all about size & weight.



They should offer tax deductions for home exercise equipment purchases or gym memberships. Healthy living should be promoted, not weight loss!



I fear that all the "obesity" news will lead people to try more fad diets, more diet pills, and more plastic surgery... all in the hope of a quick fix.
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#14 Old 03-10-2004, 10:20 PM
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Yeah. When I think about how this might have affected me when I was seriously overweight, I think it might've just made me more self conscious. Most overweight people are really very aware that they ARE overweight (at least, I and my friends were!), and they know they probably ought to lose some in order to be healthy. What seems to be a secret is how this is actually done - and plans like Atkins, South Beach, etc only serve the belief that there is something "magic" about weight loss. The government might make long strides toward combatting the problem by outlawing false advertising when it comes to diet plans and exercise equipment, and somehow making it very well known that the only real way to lose is via the MELF plan (more exercise, less food!). I don't know, maybe get people on a commercial (ala infomercial style) who've lost a ton of weight the healthy, correct way (I'll step up! "I lost 70 lbs on the MELF plan! I went from a size 26 to a size 14!" Though the amount of time it took me to do this might turn some people off...).
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#15 Old 03-10-2004, 11:40 PM
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[QUOTE=Cassiel] I'm a woman weighing 190 lbs at 5'9 which puts me in the "obesity" range, and yet my bodyfat % is only 29, which is within "normal" range. I also run 5 miles a day and only take in a max of 1600 calories.



I don't mean to offend you in any way, but how do you manage to be obese and go running? I am quite ovweight, though not obese, and can't even run for half an hour due to my weight. And, I used to go running everyday before I started gaining weight, so I know it's not b/c I was out of shape.

I want to know what your secret is. I really do miss my running!
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#16 Old 03-11-2004, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassiel View Post

Though the amount of time it took me to do this might turn some people off...).



Yup...everyone wants instant gratification.



It's not like there's a big secret to being healthy, it's mostly common sense stuff that everyone knows. But they get suckered into the idea that there's some trick that will let them get what they want without having to work for it.
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#17 Old 03-11-2004, 01:23 AM
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[QUOTE=PeasForAll]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassiel View Post

I am quite ovweight, though not obese, and can't even run for half an hour due to my weight. And, I used to go running everyday before I started gaining weight, so I know it's not b/c I was out of shape.

I want to know what your secret is. I really do miss my running!





I used to be in the obese range as well and go running. I could see it being difficult, if not dangerous, for someone who is morbidly obese to run, but there's no reason a moderately overweight person shouldn't be able to run. Have you started by running for shorter periods and gradually building up to 30 minutes, or did you just start trying to run 30 minutes? If so, just start with a half a mile or so and walk the rest of the time until you feel like you can do more. If a thin person just decided to run for 30 minutes one day without gradually getting in shape first, they probably wouldn't be able to do it either...
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#18 Old 03-11-2004, 01:25 AM
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Sorry, I just realized you said you weren't out of shape. Maybe you're just not used to the new weight? If you don't mind me asking, why do you think you gained weight if you've been exercising?
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#19 Old 03-11-2004, 09:59 AM
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Eggplant,

I developed binge eating disorder this past year....so despite the fact I've been running and lifting weights on a regular basis I still gained tons of weight....
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#20 Old 03-11-2004, 10:43 AM
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Muscle weighs more than fat. It's not all about your actual mass.
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#21 Old 03-11-2004, 10:14 PM
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Peas, sorry - that was my point. Due to my muscle mass, I'm put in the "obese" range without actually being obese, because of my weight. My doc says my ideal weight is about 175 - that would give me 25% bodyfat. I just have a freaky tendency to build muscle (at least for a woman). But as to being obese and running , I DID do this - I began to run 4 years ago when I weighed 260 lbs. Yes, I just started very slow. But I know a man who weighed 295 when he began running! I now run 5 mi/day, 6 days a week! But when I started, I only did a half a mile at a time. Then I added another half mile. And another...and now, the longest distance I run so far is 12 mi (on a Sunday long, slow distance run), and I'm training for a marathon in September. Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread! Just wanted answer Peas' question...
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#22 Old 03-11-2004, 11:18 PM
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Cassiel,

Thanks for the info! You are giving me hope that I can get back to my running. BTW, do you weight train or just have a natural tendency to make muscle?
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#23 Old 03-11-2004, 11:35 PM
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It seems to be a family trait to build freakish amounts of muscle! We all have massive calves - all muscle. We all, also, weigh more than we "should", even though my brother is a marathon runner with 18% bodyfat. Neither of us weight trains. We are just "lucky", I guess. Irritating to an extent when the fashion for girls is to be waifish and instead I look like a bodybuilder. Yet, the more muscle you have, of course, the more easily you keep fat mass away... I'm sorry to hear about your eating disorder, by the way, that's tough business especially if you're used to being really fit! I hope you're able to successfully combat it and return to running. I don't know what I'd do without my daily running workout. But if you take it slow, being seriously overweight doesn't need to keep you from running. Just make sure you ramp up slow (remember the 10% rule - don't increase your effort by more than 10% a week, that includes pace and distance increases) to let your joints and muscles get used to your new weight. Ever visited coolrunning.com? It has a great discussion forum for new runners (which I return to periodically, especially after I've had a running hiatus - lots of great advice). Good luck!
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#24 Old 03-12-2004, 10:46 AM
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[QUOTE=PeasForAll]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassiel View Post

I'm a woman weighing 190 lbs at 5'9 which puts me in the "obesity" range, and yet my bodyfat % is only 29, which is within "normal" range. I also run 5 miles a day and only take in a max of 1600 calories.



I don't mean to offend you in any way, but how do you manage to be obese and go running? I am quite ovweight, though not obese, and can't even run for half an hour due to my weight. And, I used to go running everyday before I started gaining weight, so I know it's not b/c I was out of shape.

I want to know what your secret is. I really do miss my running!

Take it easy, don´t run, walk instead and gradually increase the speed and run a 100 yards until you´re fit enough to run the whole course again.

If I'm not answering quickly enough - leave a note on Twitter for @Rheumatologe
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#25 Old 03-12-2004, 12:34 PM
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I'm not overweight and I can't run to save my life- I can do a mile at a time and it takes 10+ minutes when I'm going all out. I've gotten 2 miles in a few times at the gym and been alright after, but it wasn't what I'd call fun, I hurt for days. However, if you ask me to swim I can go for an hour and a half (though after the first hour I get cranky)... which brings me to my point, lol. If you find you just can't run, there's always the option of swimming? I'm sure your probably embarassed of the weight you've put on, but you can always go when some of the easier classes are offered to start out- there's not a lot of people at the pool aside from the people taking the class and you'll be too busy in the water to dwell on insecurities. Swimming's extremely low impact, so if that's part of the problem you're having with running, that might help. Swimming will help build up your endurance and tone some, but I'd also suggest doing some simple weight training on the side to help you along. After some time you'll feel more in shape and you might be able to resume running a little easier?



As for the anti-obesity thing...I think it's silly. I agree that America is getting fatter and fatter and needs to start doing something about it, but I don't think this is the right way to go about it at all. Are they going to make it illegal for obese people to buy the foods they like, next? "No ma'am, I can't sell that sugar to you. You're fat, it's illegal for you to buy that. However, if you'd like to buy some Equal sugar replacer...". Why can't we just take more measures to get people exercising and eating better? Marketing campains like the "Verb" commercials for kids and more availability of healthy foods at the work place and schools? They can never force people to eat better, that much is true, but at least get the information out there and hope then that people will take initiative...
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#26 Old 03-12-2004, 05:16 PM
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Targeting weight, in my opinion, is a mistake. Offering education on healthy eating and healthy exercise and encouraging THAT is a much better idea.

For example, instead of giving tax breaks or insurance breaks or whatever ( I can't remember which one was said, but I think both are ideas) for staying at a healthy weight, why not give them for proof of exercise or healthy eating? One guy I know who goes to the health club I work at asks for a receipt of his purchases yearly, and he gets a $300 refund for that. They could do the same thing with grocery bills, I dunno...

I just feel that making weight the focus, instead of healthy habits, is a mistake. I know that in my life, my excessive focus on weight instead of on my habits has basically led me to nothing but misery and unhappiness, instead of enriching my life.

Just my 2 cents.

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#27 Old 03-14-2004, 12:39 PM
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Yeah, a tax break on exercise equipment, gym memberships, dance classes, etc would be nice. A lot of my spending goes that direction. And maybe they could have some grants for free community nutrition classes. Our parks and rec services offers them for $20 per 6-week session, which isn't bad. But free would probably encourage more participation. Maybe they could have informative government-sponsored commercials about what size a serving should be, and compare that to how many calories are in, say, a Big Mac or even your average restaurant dinner (which I usually can't even finish 1/2 of).



I mean, there's got to be a better way for the government to "fight" obesity than to simply insult the people who are struggling with it (which it sounds like the commercials are doing).
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#28 Old 03-15-2004, 10:21 PM
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Free nutrition would be amazing. Even after being diagnosed with an eating disorder, I still couldn't get insurance coverage on that...it was like $90 a session.

Maybe I better shop around!

Sorry...slightly off topic.
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#29 Old 03-15-2004, 10:30 PM
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$90 a session?! Yikes! Were they private? (I hope)
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#30 Old 03-15-2004, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epski View Post

I browsed through nearly every newspaper covering the announcement, and most of them were repurposed from the AP report. Not one of them mentioned the benefits of a plant-based diet in treating the problem, of course.



Don't think that has anything to do with it. You can eat just as much fattening junk food with a plant based diet, and I know a whole lot of over-weight vegetarian/vegans. Not to mention activity (do vegetarians move more than omni's? )
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