Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Suggestion to Help Fight Obesity

I just returned from southern Illinois after attending my wife's 30th high school reunion. We stayed a night at the Drury Inn in Springfield, IL. You know, one of those places with the free breakfast buffet available in the morning. The accommodations were average, but the people seemed to come for the free breakfast included in the room rate. Certainly if you have a bunch of kids, this seems like a good idea.

So the next morning we came downstairs for breakfast. It was remarkable how many people there were obese. Not just a little overweight. I mean obese. It was striking. And the place was packed to capacity. Tons of people (I mean that literally) having their breakfasts of biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, cereal, french toast, orange juice, coffee, eggs and sausage, before heading out for the day. I wondered if others noticed the same phenomenon. Now I'm no anorexic, but for me to be one of the skinniest guys there was striking - the average body mass index there seemed to exceed the national deficit.

And after returning home, I noticed this article in USA Today about if doctors should tell kids they're "obese". In the interest of political correctness it seems doctors are being encouraged to avoid telling kids they're "obese." Instead, I guess they want is to use the less offensive words "a bit overweight."

Now, having kids of my own, I can certainly sympathize with those who want to be judicious in their criticism of a child's weight, but there's one thing I am certain: kids detect B.S. better than anybody. I strongly believe in being honest with our children. Certainly kids in adolescence have an obsession with their appearance at that age. But kids' peer groups are often much more ruthless and will often ridicule obese children about their appearance. So for us not to acknowledge the obvious and label it accordingly sends a mixed message to children and downplays its importance to their health. Constructive, long-term solutions and guidance are what a child needs and wants, not polite "phrase-ology."

And we mustn't ignore the drug industry's interest in all of this obesity epidemic. As noted by
"Leading international health writer Ray Moynihan says an expert committee of the American Medical Association has "tentatively decided" to reclassify obesity definitions. The fear is healthy children would be classified as overweight or obese -- and therefore eligible for treatment with obesity drugs. Approximately a quarter of toddlers and two-fifths of children between ages 6 and 11 would be considered obese.

Moynihan asserts one of the advocates behind the proposed is a senior member of the International Obesity Task Force. This Task Force, Moyniham says, has close ties to the World Health Organization, which was set up in the mid-1990s with the help of grants from three drug companies and continues to benefit from drug company sponsorship.

Two-thirds of the funding given to the merged International Association for the Study of Obesity and the Task Force, Moynihan says, will come from pharmaceutical giants Roche and Abbott. Roche makes the anti-obesity drug Xenical (orlistat), and Abbott makes the appetite suppressant Reductil (sibutramine hydrochloride). In recent years, drug company sponsorship is likely to have amounted to "millions" says Moynihan, but the Task Force maintains internal scrutiny ensures independence from sponsor influence."
And if you believe that independence exists, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona that I'd like to sell you....

But there really DOES seem to be a problem here in the U.S. The hardest thing to determine is how to effect change in our own habits and open our eyes to this incredible bloating of America. Look around as see what you think. See if you agree with me.

Well, maybe I can suggest a simple way to avoid such gluttony at breakfast and make a small dent in the obesity problem. To loose weight, we might just be better off paying separately for our breakfast rather than staying at these all-you-can-eat breakfast motels. Might we all eat less if we had to pay for each item we consumed? Or if we do stay at one of these places, I think we should be able to get a credit if we decide NOT to use the breakfast at these motels. If I can ask for a non-smoking room, why can't I can ask for an "obesity-friendly" breakfast plan, and save a few bucks. After all, my room rate goes to feed the masses at these places. In effect, I'm supporting the obesity epidemic by staying there.

After all, when it comes to our weight, there's no such thing as a 'free' breakfast.



Moby Dick said...

Obesity needs to be treated like a real disease. I was overweight as a kid and later became obese. Look at these obese children and ask yourself what will be the quality of their lives?

Anonymous said...

A credit for not eating breakfast sounds about right to me. But on a more serious note, I sat on a task force in my local Elementary School to look at the Childhood Obesity problem. PE teachers can not tell a student they are obese. But they weight and measure all the kids. Someone has to talk about it! With compassion and support yes, but talk we must.

Sandrine said...

Well, as someone who seriously watches her weight after having lost over 100 pounds I appreciate the hotel breakfast buffets because I am able to find a healthy option on that buffet as opposed to a menu with very little choice. typcally on a menu I am left with ordering a fruit salad or something of that sort which is not really enough nutritionally. The buffet allows me to eat little portions of alot of nutritionally necessary foods. I can have a little bit of eggs, one small piece of bread, some fruit, etc...i have the CHOICE to CHOOSE well. I have also noticed that there are many obese people at most buffet type restaurants...chinese buffets especially, but feel that we have to learn to control the quantities and the foods we choose off of those buffets. Easier said than done, of course, but I think the most important is not to get rid of the buffets, but to offer HEALTHY CHOICES on those buffets.