December 17, 2008

Will fast foods disappear like GM and Chrysler?

The Los Angeles Times reports today decades of inaction by federal and state governments is starting to change.

It's a small wave, but it's a start in the Right direction. Of course restaurants and manufacturers object, but we can't let them stop us.

Remember the auto industry has fought for 50 years every safety and fuel efficiency standard. Now look where that industry is.

No one can visualize America without fast foods. But I can.

It may take years -- but unless that industry changes along with the tide of anti-obesity standards -- then McDonald's and Burger King and KFC may be the next American titans to fall.

Restaurants are being told to list calorie counts on their menus. Schools are banning bake sales, and cities are outlawing new fast-food restaurants in some neighborhoods.

State and local governments, concerned about the growing cost of obesity and diabetes and the ever-higher cost of healthcare, are acting more like food police. And more regulations may be ahead.

Decades of federal inaction in fighting the nation's obesity epidemic and regulating dangerous food ingredients such as artery-clogging trans fats are behind these local and state efforts, said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The Obama administration, with large majorities in Congress and headed by a president who made healthcare a centerpiece of his campaign, could launch a new era of food regulation, he said. "The Obama administration clearly believes strongly that government has a major role to play in many arenas, including protecting the public's health."

Jacobson and other proponents of more oversight of what and how the nation eats want to see the Food and Drug Administration split into two agencies, with one focusing on food and the other on drugs and medical devices...

Yum Brands Inc., the parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, isn't waiting for more legislation. It plans to add product calorie information to menu boards in its company-owned restaurants nationwide and to encourage franchise owners to do the same. The company said the calorie information would be phased onto menu boards starting this year and be completed by Jan. 1, 2011.

It's a big move by one of the largest purveyors of fast food. Louisville, Ky.-based Yum franchises or owns about 20,000 U.S. restaurants. More...

December 13, 2008

Let's have a Secretary of Food

December 4, 2008

Here's what Obama needs to do

The Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law presented to the Obama Transition Team a list of legal and policy recommendations to help reduce obesity in America.

Unfortunately, this is not an issue where Congress can "bail-out" the nation's youths.  It will take enormous effort and focus. And it must be done or all the money we pour into the health system will be wasted.

These recommendations are dense, complex and easy to dismiss as might not work. But it's a good start for the Obama administration.

BOSTON Nov. 24– President-elect Barak Obama’s Health and Human Services Transition Team today was presented with a series of nearly 50 legal and policy recommendations designed to combat the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The document, developed by the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University’s School of Law, was sent to the Transition Team by Richard Daynard, a professor at the law school and president of PHAI. DownloadPHAI Obesity Policy Recommendations to Obama Transition Team

“Public health, unlike some other national assets, cannot be ‘rescued’ or ‘bailed out,’” Dayard wrote in a cover letter. “A sophisticated and aggressive federal approach to obesity is desperately needed. “Such an approach could save countless lives and reduce the devastating consequences of this epidemic while meaningfully connecting with healthcare, agriculture and energy policies,” said Mark Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Institute. “A failure of federal obesity policy would have untenable public health and economic consequences.”

Among the recommendations:

  • Initiate a mediated public dialogue about reduced portion sizes as a tool for reducing caloric intake of the population.
  • Support adoption of a federal law requiring disclosure of calories on menus.
  • Develop a cultural program featuring popular personalities to elevate the social value of tasty, healthy food.
  • Impose federal taxes, both sales and excise, on purchases of unhealthy foods and beverages and earmark the revenue for obesity programs.
  • Promote and fund innovative farm-to-school and farm-to-community programs across the nation to support local farmers and increase access to locally grown food.
  • Prohibit and remove all commercial  promotion of food in schools and educational settings receiving federal funds.
  • Provide funding through the 2009 reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Bill to establish a garden in every school.
  • Establish strict federal regulations limiting food and beverage advertising to children, including the Internet.
  • Shift federal meal programs from the US Dept of Agriculture to the US Dept of Health of Human Services.
  • Include reimbursement for preventive care related to obestity as a structured health benefit.

December 3, 2008

Blue state, red state: color your state FAT

Despite spending billions of dollars Americans continues to wallow in poor health. 

For the fourth year in row, Americans (overall) have failed to improve their health. Key factors are the "unprecedented" levels of obesity. U.S. health lags behind 27 other countries despite spending more on health care. President-elect Obama must do something about this health crisis. And the way to do something is to spend money on prevention and stop the obesity madness.

MINNEAPOLIS (Dec. 3, 2008) — In a disturbing development, the 2008 America’s Health Rankings™: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities revealed that the health of Americans has failed to improve for the fourth consecutive year. Key factors contributing to these results included unprecedented levels of obesity, an increasing number of uninsured people, and the persistence of risky health behaviors, particularly tobacco use.
For 19 years, America’s Health Rankings™ has provided an annual analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis. The longest running report of its kind, America’s Health Rankings™ evaluates a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental, and socio-economic data to determine national health benchmarks and an annual ranking of the healthiest and least healthy states. Despite the discouraging national story, some states are making significant strides against some of the country’s biggest health challenges — demonstrating that there are workable solutions to the most prevalent health problems.

The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the last 19 years. An alarming one in four Americans is currently considered obese putting them at increased risk for health issues such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer (endometrial, breast, colon, and gallbladder).

The United States currently falls behind 27 other countries in terms of a healthy life expectancy with an average of 69 years, while Japan leads all countries with an average of 75 years. Some of these differences can be attributed to the inability of the United States to effectively treat disease. The United States has the worst mortality rate from treatable conditions when compared to 18 other industrialized countries. The U.S. has fallen four spots in the last five years.

Today show calls the report "appalling".

November 19, 2008

CEOs agree obesity should be Job #1 for Surgeon General

When American's health care CEOs got together recently to try and make sense of the health care issues, their top concerns were not universal health coverage, medical mistakes or even Medicare and Medicaid.  The #1 topic was obesity!

That makes sense. Because without addressing obesity, all the facts and figures on health are meaningless.

Obesity, of course, is a giant driver of rising health-care costs. Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella explained that two-thirds of Americans over 20 years old are obese, “and their children are becoming obese now.” The long-term impact on heart disease, joint disease and numerous other health problems is immense, Dr. Vasella said.
The executives said obesity should be the top priority of the nation's surgeon general.

Now is the time to let your President, Congress and local elected officials that we need to stop obesity in the United States.

November 17, 2008

Philly -- maybe -- to follow NYC's lead

Philadelphia is considering passing a law that mandates chain restaurants must post the number of calories in their meals in plain sight.

Very soon - possibly as early as today - City Council is going to vote on a bill that asks big chains like Wendy's or Applebee's to level with their customers: to post the number of calories in their meals in plain sight.

It will require other nutritional data to be available. But calorie counts - the quickest way to judge what items will make you fat - will have to be posted on menu boards, or on the menu at your table.

Just like the prices.

Not cringing on the back of a tray-liner or the side of a bag. Or on a Web site - like you're going to go online standing in line.

Here are the top 10 reasons why it should be passed:

1. How else do you know what's in what you're eating? What you see isn't what you think you get: An innocent-sounding Ruby Tuesday turkey burger with fries? That's 1,171 calories, folks, half what you need for the entire day.

And that's just lunch.

Think that's tricky? How about this: Burger King's Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich weighs in at 100 calories more than the all-beef Whopper. When did beef get lower-cal than bird?

2. Not to worry. It won't apply to Tony Luke's or Geno's or Pat's. It's only for big chains (over 15 outlets) and for their standard menus. You can still eat your home-grown cheesesteak in blissful ignorance.


November 15, 2008

In this recession, don't go to McDonald's

Poor people have poor eating habits.

In these recessional times, don't make your health poor as you try to save money.

Already McDonald's has seen a jump in revenues as we ditched the $8 seared tuna for the $2 scorched hamburger.

But you can fatten your wallet without fattening your waistline.

Here's some tips:

Making coffee at home instead of buying it every day.
Brown-bagging it can cut your daily lunch tab in half.
Eat everything in your pantry before going shopping.
Visit your farmer's market or roadside stand. (Many are still open in the fall and winter).
Switch to tap water.
Reduce your meat portion size.
Buy popcorn instead of chips.

And here's a lot more from the Casual Kitchen blog:

November 14, 2008

Is Food Network making us fat?

The Lynchburg News Advance is asking: Is food television making you fat?

I love watching the Food Network. Since I advocate eating healthy meals at home and at restaurants, I'm always trying to learn more about food and cooking.

But until I read this article, I really haven't stopped to think about how bad a lot of the meals they make on TV are.

Paula Deen and Rachael Ray seem to be the worst. I'm sure their food tastes great and is filling...because it has so many calories. As we all know Paula uses butter -- lots of butter -- in all her recipes. Rachael seems to put cheese -- lots of cheese -- on every plate. Neither Paula nor Rachael could you call skinny.

Maybe the Food Network should put up nutritional information for each of the meals (just like the menu boards at NYC restaurants).

I think people might think twice about Paula's cooking if they knew one meal has nearly 3,000 calories (the same as 4 Whoppers!).

"Paula Deen shook her hips and said, “I feel like I’m being bad, y’all.”

And in one sense, she was. The Food Network’s Doyenne of Butter had just made a breakfast for her “Paula’s Home Cooking” show: Bananas Foster French toast, one-eyed sailor with cheese sauce, hash brown casserole and a hot mocha float for dessert.

Total calories: 2,881 per person. That’s more than most men need to eat all day to maintain their weight, and far more than most women need.

If you look at some of the scale-tipping chefs on the Food Network and cooking shows on other networks, and then you look at the expanding waistlines of Americans everywhere, you have to ask: Is food television making us fat?" more...

November 13, 2008

US companies spend $1 billion to make kids fat

Park Wilde in the US Food Policy blog tells us how the beverage and fast food restaurants spent nearly a billion dollars marketing sugary drinks and "happy meals" to our children. Even the Bush Administration's Federal Trade Commission is getting heartburn over these practices.  But don't expect action from the FTC or the companies themselves.

Wilde points out that the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a Better Business Bureau project to forestall government action, can't get many of the top fast food chains to participate. 

Unfortunately, my opinion is we need government regulation. Because as we have seen for the past eight years, unregulated businesses will fleece Americans everytime.  Even if it means their own destruction. 

In July, based on information collected through federal subpoena, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) produced a detailed report on the massive extent of children's food and beverage advertising (see earlier post).

concurring statement (.pdf) by Commissioner Jon Leibowitz most strongly criticized two industries whose practices "leave a tinge of heartburn": the beverage and fast food restaurant industries.
First, the disproportionate amount ($474 million) to market sugary carbonated beverages to adolescents is striking – that’s nearly $20 per American teenager in 2006. The marketing efforts must be working; on average, adolescents get eleven percent of their calories from soft drinks. Studies show that those who drink more soda are more likely to become overweight. To their credit, the major carbonated beverage marketers entered an agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and have committed to phase out the sale of full-calorie sodas in schools, shifting to lower calorie and more nutritious beverages. Wouldn’t a responsible next step be to extend this effort beyond the schoolhouse door, and curtail at least some marketing of full-calorie soft drinks to school-age youth – including teens – whether on television, via the Internet, in stores, or elsewhere?

Second, the big dollars to promote fast food restaurants to children are also somewhat hard to stomach: the $520 million for advertising and the toys included with fast food children’s meals was more than twice the amount spent by any other food category to target children under twelve in 2006. Some inner city low-income neighborhoods have numerous quick service restaurants but few grocery stores or markets that sell nutritious foods, so many of the children most at risk for obesity rely on fast food as a mainstay of their diets. Studies show that over-consumption of fast food likely contributes to overweight and obesity. I recognize that McDonald’s and Burger King are working to develop new, lower calorie menu items for children. But surely more can be done to add options to fast food menus and improve families’ incentives to order healthier choices.

November 12, 2008

Obese children are really 45-year-olds

Being young and obese cannot be good for you. The evidence of how bad is growing.

The Boston Globe reports obese children have the arteries of 45-year-olds.

NEW ORLEANS - Obese children as young as 10 had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raise their risk of heart disease, say doctors who used ultrasound tests to take a peek inside.

"As the old saying goes, you're as old as your arteries are," said Dr. Geetha Raghuveer of Children's Hospital in Kansas City, who led one of the studies. "This is a wake-up call."

The studies were reported yesterday at an American Heart Association conference.

About a third of American children are overweight and one-fifth are obese. Many parents think that 'baby fat' will melt away as kids get older. But research increasingly shows that fat children become fat adults.

November 11, 2008

As economy slows, people reach for the least nutritious food

McDonald's Sales Up 8.2% in October
McDonald’s October comparable sales increases by segment were as follows:

  • U.S. up 5.3%

  • Europe up 9.8%

  • Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa up 11.5%

OAK BROOK, IL – McDonald’s Corporation announced today that global comparable sales rose 8.2% in October. Systemwide sales for McDonald’s worldwide restaurants increased 5.4% for the month, or 9.9% in constant currencies. 

McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner said, “McDonald’s strong October sales show that we are delivering what customers count on from McDonald's – choice, variety and high-quality food and beverages at affordable prices."

U.S. comparable sales increased 5.3% in October due to the enduring appeal of McDonald’s breakfast, recent product introductions such as Southern Style Chicken, compelling value throughout the menu and the continued popularity of McDonald’s Monopoly game.

In Europe, strong performance in the U.K., France and Russia and positive results in nearly all other markets drove a comparable sales increase of 9.8%. Unique menu items and promotions as well as everyday value options continue to resonate with customers and drive results.

Comparable sales were up 11.5% in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, driven by robust sales growth in Australia and broad-based strength throughout the segment. Locally-relevant menu choices, branded affordability, and extended hours fueled the segment’s October sales.

South is now the fattest and sickest reports the rate of new diabetes has doubled in the last 10 years. Why? The obesity epidemic.

I'm really afraid that with all the nation's other issues, obesity will get very little attention. And millions more Americans will suffer.

I'm not in favor of increased health care coverage if it doesn't include obesity prevention as well. And that's both a health and business issue.

The nation's obesity epidemic is exacting a heavy toll: The rate of new diabetes cases nearly doubled in the United States in the past 10 years, the government said Thursday. The highest rates were in the South, according to the first state-by-state review of new diagnoses. The worst was in West Virginia, where about 13 in 1,000 adults were diagnosed with the disease in 2005-07. The lowest was in Minnesota, where the rate was 5 in 1,000.
Nationally, the rate of new cases climbed from about 5 per 1,000 in the mid-1990s to 9 per 1,000 in the middle of this decade.

Roughly 90% of cases are Type 2 diabetes, the form linked to obesity.

The findings dovetail with trends seen in obesity and lack of exercise — two health measures where Southern states also rank at the bottom.

"It isn't surprising the problem is heaviest in the South — no pun intended," agreed Matt Petersen, who oversees data and statistics for the American Diabetes Association. more...

November 8, 2008

War is Peace AND Fast Food is Healthy

When are fast food places going to get it?

With obesity rates in children raising throughout the world (as KFC and McDonald's globalize), it's only a matter of time before other-than-US governments take the lead and stop the American-based fast food chains from poisoning the children.

I know that's harsh. But we know for a fact that eating these meals will cause a variety of health issues. 

This new story tells it all. Today George Orwell would write: 

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Fast Food is Healthy

Burger King's New 'Healthy' Meal for Kids Is Mostly Hype: "(NaturalNews) The media is applauding a recent announcement by Burger King introducing new healthy menu items designed to appeal to kids. Apparently the term 'healthy' is relative. While it may be a baby step in the right direction, one is left thinking, 'Gee, Burger King, is this really the best you can do?'

The new menu items are part of a pledge to take more action in promoting children's nutrition. In making the pledge to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Burger King joins 11 other food and beverage companies claiming to be committed to advertising that promotes healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to children 12 and under."

October 29, 2008

Disco dieting

“Counting calories is so 1980s,” said one of the dancers. “But when it’s right there, it’s kind of hard to ignore.”

The New York Times now reports -- after restaurants had to list calories -- that counting calories is back in vogue, or at least in The New Yorker.
“More and more, people are looking at calories in, and calories out,” said Dr. Terry Eagan, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, who for 16 years has helped 
people with eating disorders and other addictions. “I know some people want something that’s sexy and different and new, but there really isn’t anything new about weight loss.”

September 25, 2008

Emotionally, you can't handle eating

Eating is life.  But it's also emotional, says a new study. Looking at menus and advertising affect our emotions and affect our food choices. People who make the healthiest choice have confidence in their emotions. 

Next time you order listen to your heart and stomach.

Menus and advertising affect our emotions, and if we understand those emotions, we make better food choices, according to a new study in theJournal of Consumer Research.

Authors Blair Kidwell, David M. Hardesty, and Terry L. Childers (all University of Kentucky) examined the "emotional intelligence" of consumers, including obese people. They found that people who made the healthiest choices had high correlations between their emotional intelligence and confidence in their emotional intelligence—what the authors call "emotional calibration."

"When perusing a restaurant menu, many consumers may not be aware of the subtle implicit feelings of arousal elicited by visually appealing presentations of unhealthy food choices," the authors write. Faced with choices between healthy and unhealthy food options, individuals who are confident that they can appropriately interpret and employ their emotions, but who do not actually possess these emotional abilities, are likely to make low-quality decisions."

In the first of two studies, the authors measured emotional ability, confidence, and nutritional knowledge. They asked participants to plan meals from a menu with a wide range of options—some healthier than others. They found that people with emotional miscalibration chose foods higher in calories, even more so than people with low levels of nutritional knowledge.

August 22, 2008

10 Breakfast Ideas

For great breakfast ideas see this blog:

10 Breakfast Ideas (With Photos): "10 Breakfast Ideas (With Photos)
by J. Foster

Here is a comparison of 4 breakfasts from fast food outlets, along with 6 home-made breakfasts.

Each breakfast was actually prepared (or purchased) and photographed. Calorie counts are listed (full nutritional details also available).

Ranae (who compiled this list) lost 137 pounds by eating around 1400-1500 Calories per day (divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks). All meals were around 300-400 Calories.

This is a 'real world' list. While it would be great for health if we all ate organic oats every morning - sometimes we need to be pragmatic about the foods we normally eat - and just how much change we can realistically make."

Jack is not nimble

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Want to enjoy a hearty, weekend-style breakfast on a weekday schedule? Then head to your local Jack in the Box(r) restaurant for a new Breakfast Bowl - a Sunday-brunch-worthy meal of eggs, meat, hash browns, and cheese that's filling, tasty and totally transportable!
I don't think so, unless you want more than 700 calories before 9 am. You'll be sluggish, slow and sloppy fat after eating these breakfasts. Stay away from the Box and the bowl.

Try a few mushrooms and spinach in a egg-white omelet and for less than 150 calories and you'll have save yourself 60 pounds in just one year.

August 4, 2008

Some 'kids' meals' are rated XXX

Fast foods are bad for you and your kids. Check out today's USA Today! Many of the "kids' meals" should be rated XXX, for way too big and too many calories. One meal has nearly a day's worth of calories.

If you have children you need to read this report. reports
"The first comprehensive report on kids' meals at popular fast-food and chain restaurants finds the servings are far too high in calories for a single meal.

In fact, some of meals contain more 1,000 calories, which is almost as many calories as some elementary-school children need for the entire day, according to the analysis from Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group.

Overall, the findings reveal that 93% of the kids' meals at McDonald's and Wendy's contain more than 430 calories, the average number of calories that children ages 4 to 8 should get at a single meal. The comparable numbers are 92% at Burger King; 89% at Dairy Queen; 69% at Arby's; 60% at Denny's. The latter's kids' meals don't include drinks."

July 30, 2008

Dunkin' dumps donuts


But Dunkin' Donuts knows it has to add healthier menu items if it wants to survive in the new century. reports:

Looking to entice those hungry for a healthier option, Dunkin' Donuts will begin offering a new slate of better-for-you offerings in August.

The menu, which will debut Aug. 6, will feature two flatbread sandwiches made with egg whites. Customers will be able to choose either a turkey sausage egg-white sandwich or a vegetable one. Both will be fewer than 300 calories with 9 grams of fat or less, the company said.

'We just felt it was important to provide some choice in our menu,' said Will Kussell, president and chief brand officer.

The new menu will be called DDSmart and will include all current and new items that either have 25% fewer calories, sugar, fat or sodium than comparable products or contain ingredients that are 'nutritionally beneficial,' the company said.

June 24, 2008

The Worst Food in America -- 2008

My new favorite magazine, Men's Health, and its companion website has named the worst food in America.

And I would have to agree. Drum roll please, here's the worst food in America:

Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing

Check out all of the foods you should never eat.

Men's Health - Eat This, Not That - 20 Worst Foods - 1. The Worst Food in America

June 5, 2008

Bottom of the food chain

One day you are on top and the next day you're on the bottom of the food chain.

Just ask Clay Dover of Bennigan's and Pondersa restaurants. Just this year, the President and CEO of Metromedia Restaurants, accepted the Cheers Magazine Award for Beverage Excellence and the title of Best Chain Spirits Program for Bennigan's.

Last week he resigned.

This week the company faces bankruptcy.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Metromedia, the owner of national casual-dining chains Bennigan's, Ponderosa and Steak and Ale, is in talks with its major lender GE Capital Solutions in an effort to stave off a possible bankruptcy filing.

Why? A failed business model? A failing economy? A failed nutritional menu at all of these restaurants?

Is all of the above the correct answer?

The WSJ reports life has become difficult for casual-dining chains as consumers cut back on discretionary spending. And at the same time food prices for everything from corn to steak are on the rise. (Too many years of prices held down by government subsidies.)

Other chains struggling with unhealthy P&Ls are Outback Steakhouse and Rudy Tuesday.

June 4, 2008

In-depth look at childhood obesity

I urge everyone in America to read the Washington Post series on childhood obesity.

[About this series: We are all responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic: parents, government, schools, communities, companies, the health system. This five-day series searches for solutions.]

For a quick summary see: CalorieLab Calorie Counter News.

May 29, 2008

Guilty Food: Restaurants Fudge the Truth

It appears that George Bush is not the only person in America not telling the truth. reports that independent testing by eight TV stations showed far more calories than advertised in many meals.

I have been advocating for quite a while for restaurants to display the calories of each meal. I didn't know I had to advocate for "truthful" calorie counting.

So it's very clear that restaurants realize if they actually presented the truth about the nutritional value of their food, we would not buy it. And everyday they come up with new ways to make sure you don't get that information, by fighting regulations and by shading the truth when they finally do present the information.

Eight TV stations owned by Scripps tested a small sample of diet menu dishes (one sample of 23 different items) from popular chain restaurants including Chili's, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Applebee's and the Cheesecake Factory.

Reporters ordered off the low-calorie, low-fat menu. The food was then tested by lab technicians, who weighed each sample, extracted the fat and then figured out the calories in each meal.

Of the 23 items tested, 78 percent exceeded the fat limit listed on the menu and almost 69 percent of the samples went over the calorie count listed.

The guiltless grilled salmon at Chili's promises a dish that's 480 calories and 14 grams of fat. But the tests revealed the dish was actually 664 calories and 35 grams of fat. In fact, every "guiltless" item tested from Chili's contained more fat and calories than what was listed on the menu.

Chicken fajitas from On the Border Mexican Grill's "border smart" menu are listed as containing 570 calories and nine grams of fat. The serving tested weighed in at 654 calories and 26.5 grams of fat. And the dish came with a free "sample" of queso dip, salsa and chips that would add an additional 2,067 calories and 117 grams of fat.

The skinny chicken at the Macaroni Grill is supposed to be 500 calories and six grams of fat. Not bad at all, but if you eat the huge piece of bread they include, you get twice the calories and eight times the fat.

May 26, 2008

10 facts about childhood obesity

10 Facts You Should Know about childhood obesity from the

The average 10-year-old girl weighed 77 pounds in 1963; today, 88. The 10-year-old boy weighed 74; today, 85.

25 percent of all vegetables eaten in the United States are french fries or chips.


May 20, 2008

Remember weren't fat

Everything from coffee to sandwiches to plate size have expanded in the last few years.

Divine visually takes us down memory lane to the days when a cup of coffee was a cup of coffee, and not a grande latte, and when a couple of slices of pizza was a small lunch and not a broadsheet newspaper.

Check out the analysis of just eating pizza today. Two slices are 350 calories more today than yesterday. That adds up to 40 pounds over two decades.

Go to Divine

May 17, 2008

And the winner is...a loser!

To track how restaurants keep us fat I subscribe to the PR releases of restaurants. Day in and day out it is one new release after another of more fat, more calories, more beef and more bull.

Sometimes it's all wrapped up in a charity bun still dripping in saturated satire and spinkled with happy salt.

This week it's the Chili's Smokehouse Bacon Burger Showdown.

Amazingly, at Chili's the Bacon Burger won(?) the challenge.

Now think about this for one minute. The bacon burger that won has 1,530 calories without the ranch dressing. Add the dressing and fries and this meal has more than 2,100 calories. A normal male adult should have less than 2,000 calories for the entire day.

Nobody wins with that burger!

DALLAS, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- "He's at the 10, the five ... he could go all the way!" Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints scored in the Chili's Grill & Bar(R) Smokehouse Bacon Burger Showdown, earning him $10,000 for his charity, The Drew Brees Foundation.

"It was such an honor to work with Chili's on this great campaign," said Brees. "I am excited that my burger, the mouth-watering Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger won this contest, and am extremely grateful for the opportunity Chili's has provided me to give back to my Foundation."

The campaign, which began in late January, allowed guests to go online to Chili's Web site to vote on their favorite Smokehouse Bacon Burger. Additionally, guests could enter to win an all-expense-paid trip for two to any 2008 regular season pro or college football game and team helmets autographed by Brees, Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson and Philadelphia Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook.

Brees' winning burger, the Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger, was up against Peterson's Jalapeno Smokehouse Bacon Burger and Westbrook's Triple-the-Cheese Bacon Burger, respectively. Each player was vying for a chance to donate to their charity of choice. The Drew Brees Foundation provides care, education and opportunities for children facing adversity.

"Chili's greatly appreciates the participation of these world-class athletes that helped promote our popular mouth-watering Smokehouse Bacon Burgers," said Todd Diener, president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "We are honored that the proceeds from this campaign will serve the children of New Orleans and continue to strengthen this great city."

Restaurants may be forced to serve small portions

The Dallas Morning News reports consumers are cutting back on portions (not because of health, but because of costs). Any way it happens, it will be good for your waistline and wallet.

With the price of basic foodstuffs, such as wheat and corn, making restaurant prices rise like a soufflé, consumers are cutting back. In part they're eating out less, but they're also eating less when they go out.

That means treats like the aforementioned bite-size cakes, fancy alcoholic drinks – even french fries – are finding fewer takers.

"When cash on hand gets tight, consumers will act to preserve their visit frequency while more aggressively managing their spending" on the meal, explains Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information services for the National Restaurant Association.

"I can feel the pressure" of rising prices, said former Dallas resident Brad Hilton, 41, who was dining with friends Sunday at Maguire's North Dallas on the Dallas Parkway.

"I've been splitting meals with my girlfriend rather than both of us ordering something," added Mr. Hilton, who estimates he eats half of his dinners out, down from 60 percent a few months ago. "It makes sense price-wise and health-wise since you get such big portions."

May 12, 2008

Chipotle's hires marketing genius who can't add

Restaurants have fought to keep calories off of the menu. Now that New York City requires it, here's a new way of keeping the consumer in the dark: lie about it.

The blog Midtown Lunch found that Chipotle's calorie numbers just don't add up. They put the range for a burriot as 420-918 calories. But as I found out just using Chipotle's own numbers on the website, you really can't have a burrito for less than 1,000 calories.

Midtown Lunch says:

Let’s take the basic burrito as an example. The Chipotle in my building has the range for any Burrito as 420-918 calories. Common sense might cause somebody to think “Hmmm, low probably refers to the vegetarian burrito, high is burrito with some sort of fatty meat”. That would be a faulty assumption.

According to the nutritional information on the Chipotle website, the flour tortilla *alone* is 290 calories, leaving one to wonder, what exactly is in this 420 calorie burrito?

So, by process of elimination, if you want a burrito on the low range of the calorie scale (420), you will be ordering a flour tortilla, filled with vegetarian black beans. No salsa. No sour cream. No rice. No cheese. Can that even be considered a burrito? Has anybody ordered a burrito like that? Ever?

The NY Post lists the Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito at 1179, a full 250+ calories higher than any range listed on the Chipotle Menu.

When I first discovered Chipotle's my wife, thought the beans, rice and chicken would be a healthy alternative to the rest of the fast food restaurants. How wrong were we? A lot it turns out. We skip Chipotle's all together now. There's nothing good about gigantic sizes of calories disguised as healthy food.

May 1, 2008

Here are healthiest restaurants. Not! has just published the healthiest Fast-Food Restaurants.

And this tells you how confusing and complex buying food out can be.

The site chose these restaurants the best out of 43 sit-down and 53 fast-service chains:

Noodles & Company
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Au Bon Pain

They eliminated any restaurant that did not provide any nutritional information.

The rest were judged on healthy food preparation; the availability of organic or hormone-free foods; whole grains on the menu; limited or no trans-fats in all dishes; low-sodium options; healthy beverages; and portion control; as well as how easily you can access nutritional information.

Noodles & Company

On the surface -- like a lot of restaurants -- its menu looks reasonable. Lots of vegetables, salads and soups. But try to access nutritional information, and it takes 20 mouse clicks to find the calorie information. And then don't be surprised to find your meal at 1,000 calories or more. The mac and cheese is at least 1,050 itself and the suggested salad adds 350 calories.

Now remember this is the HEALTHIEST restaurant chain out of 96 in America...according to If you are watching your calories Noodles & Company recommend starting with a small order of Pad Thai at 380 calories and adding a small salad at 170 calories (the same as a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese).

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Keep in mind this is the second healthiest restaurant in the free world. Chipotle does not practice anything close to portion control. Ninety-nine percent of the customers go in to order the huge 13-inch tortillo-wrapped burrito, and through the entire process you are asked over and over, "do you want meat, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, corn salsa, etc." At the end you can have something the size of a yuletide log, and it weighs in at over 1,300 calories. Add chips and you have had all the calories for the day in this one 15-minute meal.

What did like so much about Chipotle: the hormone-free sour cream (at 120 calories).

And by the way, try and find the nutritional information on its site. Good luck, I couldn't. Google found it for me buried deep inside the website.


I'll look at one more...but you know where this is going.

Have just a bagel and cream cheese and you are talking 600 calories. (Remember you could have a large plate full of egg whites, mushrooms, and spinach for less than 200 calories.)

One pumpkin muffin sounds healthy, but it's 530 calories; for ONE muffin.

Good luck finding healthy food in fast-food restaurants. Each restaurant seems to have one item that's less than 300 calories, and they call it the healthy choice. After that, all the items will take you to the dark side.

April 28, 2008 Names the Top (or is it Bottom) Not-So-Healthiest Restaurants took a look recently at the healthiest and not-so-healthiest fast food restaurants.

I don't agree with its list of healthiest, but I'll save that blog for another day.

Today I'll share what calls the America's Not-So-Healthiest Restaurants.

Scary chicken: At Chili's, 1 serving of Crispy Honey Chipotle Crispers (no dressing) just laid 1,890 calories at your door.

Sides to Die For: Literally. O'Charley's Onion Rings with Cajun Horseradish Sauce packs 1,800 calories on the plate, and 139 grams of fat.

Worst advice: It's hard to think healthy when the menu encourages you to fatten up, which is exactly what Cracker Barrel does, telling you to 'loosen your belt and enjoy' its Country Boy Breakfast, which offers your choice of country ham, pork chops or steak grilled to order, three (!) eggs cooked to order, fried apples, hashbrown casserole, grits, gravy, homemade buttermilk biscuits, real butter, and preserves or what they call Jam n' Apple butter.

Is there such a thing as too much cheese? Yes, Pizza Hut: Stuffing cheese into pizza crusts is just plain overkill.

No wonder they sell a lot of soda: The chicken and beef grilled stuft burritos at Taco Bell both have more than 2,000 mg. sodium (and your daily max should be 2,300).

Killing us with silence: These places might look like healthy options, but they provide NO nutritional information. And we begged. Benihana, Bertucci's, Bonefish Grill, and California Pizza Kitchen, why aren't you talking?"

April 27, 2008

The New Recession Diet

There appears there is at least one way to get Americans to cut down on restaurant portions: have a recession.

The New York Times reports Americans may be forced on a Recession Diet. Data suggests middle- and working-class consumers are switching to eating at home instead of dining out, and eating less red meat and more pasta.

Wal-Mart Stores reports stronger-than-usual sales of peanut butter and spaghetti, while restaurants like Domino’s Pizza and Ruby Tuesday have suffered a falloff in orders, suggesting that many Americans are sticking to low-cost home-cooked meals.

Such trade-offs were on vivid display last week in Ohio, where layoffs have been rampant. At Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery store in Cleveland, Teresa Rutherford, 51, chided her sister-in-law, Donna Dunaway, 44, for picking up a package of Sara Lee honey ham (eight ounces for $2.49).

The women said that soaring prices for food and fuel had changed what they buy and where they buy it. “We used to eat out at Bob Evans or Denny’s once a month,” said Ms. Rutherford, who works in an auto-parts factory. “Now we don’t go out at all. We eat in all the time.”

Not only could the portions be getting smaller, but the portions may be getting healthier. Some consumers are skipping the red meat for the better-for-you turkey.

Mary Gregory, 55, a telephone company operator in Cleveland, used to eat red meat at least once a week. Now it is hardly ever on her menu. “I usually buy turkey instead,” she said. “Any recipe that calls for meat, like chili or spaghetti, I try to substitute turkey.”
There may be a silver lining in a recession.

Would you stop a car wreck?

If you saw a mother smoking in a car with the windows up and in the back were three small children, what would you do?

If you saw a father driving drunk with children in the backseat, what would you do?

If you saw a grandmother hitting her grandchildren in the park, what would you do?

Most of us would do the right thing.

Now, what if you saw overweight mothers and fathers lining up with their children to go and eat bottomless steak fries at Red Robin? Would you get right in line with them?

We all know smoking and driving and abuse are wrong. But taking our children to McDonald's for 5-6 meals a week, that's OK?

Betsy Hart, host of "It Takes a Parent" radio show in Chicago got me to thinking. She writes in - FOOD A HEALTHY WEIGHT A too-thin trend in America? Fat chance: "

A few years ago, my family hosted a teenage French girl for several weeks during the summer. It was her first time in the United States. She was stunned by three things: American flags flying everywhere; the fact that the only time American news programs focused on other countries was when we were at war with them; and the sheer plethora of food, and thus the size of Americans.

She simply couldn't believe the food that was everywhere. At a church social, in the ice-cream carts as we exited museums, at children's sporting events--and the size of portions in restaurants simply astounded her.

Yet what do any of us do about this portion poison?

What if all of our children's teachers couldn't read? That wouldn't be good role models. But what if the schools advertised the fact that the teachers are illiterate and coming to this school you could get more illiterate.

Now take a look at your local fast food restaurant. Look at the advertising: Our customers are fat, and we can make you fatter.

Take the 1,420-calorie burger sold at Hardee's and Carl's Jr. Arguably, it's the first fast-food sandwich to publicly flaunt its excess of calories and fat.

Andy Puzder figures he'll be forever famous — or infamous — for creating fast food's first edible Frankenstein: the Monster Thickburger.

The food police and media have portrayed the CEO of CKE Enterprises (CKR) as fast food's demon.

But Puzder insists all he's really trying to do is offer consumers what he believes most want: tasty food. "These products sell better than health-conscious products," he says. "We don't tell consumers what they want. They tell us."

April 24, 2008

Is recession or poor food hurting McDonald's?

McDonald's this week reported globally an increase in sales nearly anywhere, however, there was some negative financial news -- and maybe some good RightSizing news. Sales in the US are down for March.

Are consumers becoming a little more health conscience? At McDonald's they are eating a smaller portion.

The really bad news is the rest of world is eating more and more American-style fast food. And the world is becoming more and more obese as well.

Let's hope the trend continues as the recession forces more Americans to think about their wallets (and this blog forces more Americans to think about their waistlines).

From the Wall Street Journal: Global Comparable Sales Drove McDonald's First Quarter Earnings to $0.81 Per Share

April 21, 2008

Bottomless lunch means a big middle

Until last week, I'd had never heard of unlimited food at fast food restaurants. Sure, some local Chinese places have those awful buffets stewing under broiler lamps, but I didn't know Chili's and Red Robin entice obesity right there on the menus.

Yesterday, I saw Chili's advertising a bottomless lunch. I wasn't sure what a bottomless lunch was so I went to its website. (And bottomless lunch is trademarked, like they have to legally protect it from other restaurants.)

There it was: unlimited chips and salsa, a Caesar or House salad and one of three soups: Chicken Enchilada, Baked Potato, or Broccoli Cheese. (Why limit your choice of soup? If want patrons to risk a heart attack, let them try all three at one sitting.)

Even without being unlimited, that meal is not the RightSize. It has too many calories for your midday meal.

Let's see, just one basket of the fat fried chips and salsa is 480 calories. A Caesar salad is not healthy at all at 510 calories. And all the soups are more than 320 calories: Chicken Enchilada (440), Baked Potato (420), or Broccoli Cheese (320).

So for those without a calculator at lunch, the total -- before the unlimited -- is at least 1,250 calories. More than 60% of your daily recommended calories for lunch, and again, this is before the unlimited part. A little extra salad and soup, and you have all your calories for the day.

Soup, salad, chips. Sounds reasonable. It isn't. It's not Right.

April 19, 2008

Watch your bottom with Red Robin bottomless fries

Please tell me I'm not the only person in America that thinks the restaurant, Red Robin, single-handedly is trying to make sure everyone stays fat.

The chain which started in Wisconsin is now expanding into the Northeast where I live. I saw my first Red Robin TV commercial, and I could not believe my eyes or ears. Red Robin was touting to America -- like a bartender at a AA meeting -- to come on down and have "bottomless" fries. That's right, it's not bad enough that its "Whiskey River BBQ burger" has nearly 1,000 calories, but to complement it, they give you unlimited fries. A normal order (of about 10 fries) has nearly 400 calories. But don't try to confirm those numbers on Red Robin's website. It refuses to list nutritional information.

Back to those "steak fries", (and isn't that interesting they are called "steak" fries). Is that because they have as much fat as steaks, but none of the protein?

Red Robin gets my nomination as the worst food in America this week. Its motto is: "Honest to goodness ingredients."

George Orwell was right: think about that doublespeak. Red Robin manages to tell you that its food is honest and good. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are not honest with the calories, and there is nothing good about shoving unlimited steak fries in your mouth.

April 18, 2008

Restaurant serves "illegal" portions

America doesn't need too-large of portions served at restaurants.

In Buffalo, New York there was an illegal reason the Mexican restaurant was serving extra large portions. The owners were arrested for using illegal aliens, not paying minimum wage and then skimming the profits.

When you see (and eat at) a place that doesn't make economic sense, there's usually a reason. And many times it's because it's illegal.

The Buffalo News reports: "When El Caporal, a Mexican restaurant across from Cheektowaga High School, got a review from Cheap Eats in The Buffalo News, the reviewer gave it 3 1/2 pennies out of four.

“Appropriate for a restaurant bearing the Mexican name for a ranch manager,” reviewer Anne Neville wrote of El Caporal, “this is a place to strap on the feedbag for a real south-of-the border experience.”

Federal authorities seconded that comment Wednesday when they arrested the restaurant owner as an illegal Mexican alien. They said he paid for workers to be smuggled across the border to work at El Caporal and in six other restaurants he owns in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Simon Banda, 41, of Depew, was awakened at 6 a.m. Wednesday by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau when they raided the Lancer Court Apartments.

Located on Union Road across from the high school, El Caporal developed a reputation as a place where hefty portions of food were served for a reasonable price.

The investigation had shown the undocumented workers were forced to work up to 70 hours a week in Banda’s restaurants for $600 every two weeks, the two lawmen said. Half of their wages went back to Banda, they said, to repay the smuggling fees.

In addition, Banda skimmed half of the operating profits from each restaurant, according to statements of Nelson Yera Jr., an Immigration and Customs agent, in a lengthy affidavit for search warrants.

April 17, 2008

Finally New Yorkers will know what they are eating

New York City has hundreds and thousands of rules and regulation. Those laws and policies control nearly every square inch of the world's busiest city. But until yesterday, there was no law allowing New Yorkers to know what they were eating. Oh sure, there are laws to keep the places clean and hopefully free from contiguous diseases, but to help you in your battle of the bulge, there was nothing the Health Department could do.

That changed when a judge ruled the city can require fast food restaurant chains to display calorie counts.

And by the way, what a bunch of post-digested pasture grass, are the industry's arguments:
  • it's too complicated,
  • it's too hard,
  • it's too flawed,
  • it's too patchwork,
  • it's too confusing,
  • it's too contradictory,
  • it's too local,
  • it's too much information on the menu...
The menu labeling regulation is designed to let you know the calories at the time you are eating the calories. No one is stopping anyone from eating a 1,169-calorie burrito from Chipotle. But I bet it will make you at least consider the burrito bowl at 489 calories instead.

And read the National Restaurant Association Chief Apologist's statement below. They are willing to put calorie information everywhere in the world, just not on the menu board where you might actually read it as you order. No, they say you should carry your laptop and access their website as you order (and that's not complex). Or you should carry around 25 different brochures and a calculator should you decide to visit a fast food place in the city (and that's not too flawed).

The food at McDonald's and Burger King is not as bad as the attitude of the industry. And the food is pretty bad.

The fast food industry is fighting tooth and nail to prevent you from seeing calorie information.

From Fox "Today's ruling on the New York Board of Health's menu labeling regulation is extremely disappointing. Its flawed approach won't ultimately help consumers receive nutrition information that is useful to them," said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. "If this is allowed to go into effect, there could be a patchwork quilt of confusing and contradictory local regulation.

"A significant number of the largest chain restaurants in the country are already providing nutrition information in a host of different ways, and the trend is that more are offering detailed information in convenient formats every day - including brochures, posters, in-store computer kiosks and web sites.

"We are also seeing technology trends that are allowing consumers to access restaurant nutrition in new and innovative ways. The National Restaurant Association has partnered with, a search engine that allows consumers to find nutrition information from more than 55,000 restaurants across the country. And there are other products and programs that are allowing customers to access nutrition information from almost anywhere, through cell phone text messaging and other means.

"We are committed to working collaboratively with all parties to establish a uniform policy that provides consumers access to accurate and relevant information in a way that is meaningful to them."

From the NY Daily News: "A federal judge gave the city the green light on Wednesday to force fast-food chains to list calorie counts for items on menu boards - a change many New Yorkers welcomed.

'The more information the better,' said Barbara Kadish, 60, a retired teacher from Tudor City, Manhattan.

Carol Dawson, 58, of Flushing, Queens called the plan 'an excellent idea.' Too often, she said, she orders by 'the picture and my appetite. But this will raise my awareness.'

The Health Department has battled harsh resistance from fast-food favorites since it ordered them to post a menu item's calories alongside its price on bright menu boards.

The Health Department estimates the regulation will prevent at least 150,000 New Yorkers from becoming obese and 30,000 of them from developing diabetes in the next five years.

The policy is set to go into effect on April 22 but enforcement of fines won't begin until June 4.

"It doesn't hurt anyone to add the calorie information," said Joe Bermudez, 64, a retired economist who is borderline diabetic. "I have to be careful about what I eat."

March 26, 2008

Obesity Business is getting bigger

Rebecca Scritchfield's blog reports:

Obesity Business is Booming:"The economy and housing market may be tanking, but there is one space that is growing… and growing… and growing. The market for obesity.

I know, I know. Surprise… big whoop, right? But I think it’s worth a look at the numbers. In case you are wondering what will fuel the growth, it’s mostly prescription drugs. Two newbies emerging that will be sure to be backed by big bucks marketing campaigns.

The market for obesity treatments will grow five-fold by 2016, according to research firm Decision Resources."

Read more at her blog...

March 1, 2008

Gluttonous Rite takes place in New Jersey

Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, waxes poetically on the seven deadly sins.

Today we easily can condemn six of the originally 13th century transgressions. It's clear that lust, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride are not characteristics anyone wishes to associate themselves with.

But there is one sin in today's world that we continue to partake. In fact, we revel in Beelzebub's biggest blinge: Gluttony!

We even turned the more word, gluttony, into the more palpable, gourmand or connoisseur.

But there's nothing gourmet about the New Jersey rite of gluttony that passes for charitable socializing.

It's something out of the decadent turn of the century just after the 300-pound President William Henry Taft takes office. When men, and only men, gorged themselves on meat, bread and beer. But it's happening right now. Right after the turn of this century.

The New York Times describes this gluttonous ritual almost gleefully. It's called a "beefsteak", an all-you-can-eat-and-drink debacle in New Jersey's Bergen and Passaic counties.
It was Friday evening at V.F.W. Post 4591 in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and the scene was a vegetarian’s nightmare.

About 350 men, seated shoulder to shoulder at long tables, were devouring slices of beef tenderloin and washing them down with pitchers of beer. As waiters brought trays of meat, the guests reached over and harvested the pink slices with their bare hands, popping them down the hatch.

“Once you start going to beefsteaks, it’s an addiction,” said Al Baker, a Hasbrouck Heights policeman who had organized the evening’s festivities to benefit the Special Olympics. “You’ve got the tender beef, butter, salt, French fries, beer — all your major food groups.
Maybe Pope Gregory the Great had it right listing gluttony as a sin. It's bad for your health and it's very hard to juxtapose it with the lack of food in the rest of the world.

I never thought of it like this, but RightSizingAmerica is not just the right thing for your health, but it's the right thing for your soul as well.

February 7, 2008

Why cross the road for KFC chicken?

The Wall Street Journal reports KFC is looking to start serving non-fried chicken.

Yes, that's right. The company that gave you 3,000 calories in a bucket is looking to change its ways.

Its core business remains fried chicken on the bone. But disappointing U.S. sales last year "underscored the need for dramatic change," CEO David Novak said.

The changes are an acknowledgment by the company that its major U.S. businesses are in need of rejuvenation to meet changing consumer tastes...

Consumers don't want a bucket of lard. Chicken and turkey can be the healthiest of foods. KFC bring back a better chicken.

February 2, 2008

Don't feed the (obese) animals!

Sometimes even I think I might be too strident in trying to get restaurants to change their ways.

But today I realize I might be too timid. reports three legislators want to make it illegal for restaurants to serve obese customers in Mississippi. Now Mississppi has one of the worst obesity problems in America. And if restaurants continue to insist on supersizing all portions of calories and fat then the government will step in.

By resisting every attempt to reduce obesity (or even acknowledge they are part of the problem), restaurants are inviting criticism and regulation.

House Bill No. 282, which was introduced this month, says: Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health. The State Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person."

The proposal would allow health inspectors to yank the permit from any restaurant that "repeatedly" feeds extremely overweight customers.

January 31, 2008

One NFL player found his goal says former NFL player Anthony Davis is one football player that doesn't want to die of heart disease. Even the most fit person (at one time) needs to eat the right portions (all the time).

Tackling a Weight Problem:
“Last February, I weighed 100 pounds more than I did when I played college or pro football. I wasn’t exercising,” recalls Davis. “It was a lifestyle that was killing me.” Literally. Davis had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He suffered from painful flare-ups of gout (an inflammatory disease linked with obesity). Davis also struggled with sleep apnea, an obesity-related condition in which one stops breathing several times a night. “Every night, I had to hook up to a machine that helped me breathe,” says Davis"

But Davis’s days of indulging in fat-laden appetizers are over—by his own accord. Last year was a big one for Davis. In 2006, he was “enshrined” into the College Football Hall of Fame. It was also the year that Davis decided to regain control of his life, he says.

Almost a year later, Davis is 90 pounds lighter, “just about down to my college weight,” he says. His waist measures a trim 33 inches. And he feels better than ever. “I have so much energy,” he says. “My diabetes, gout and sleep apnea are gone.” Thankful for this second chance at a healthy life, Davis speaks publicly about his positive experience with gastric bypass surgery (which, it should be noted, is reserved for very overweight people with serious medical risks).

January 30, 2008

Want to die early: eat like an NFL player

Here are two stories that I came across today.

The restaurant Chili's is using three NFL players to tout its new bacon burgers. As you have read many times on this blog, bacon burgers are not the kind of portions anyone should be eating, especially NFL players. And just to confuse you, Chili's wants you to over-eat burgers so they will contribute to charity.

There something wrong -- very wrong -- with the NFL, with charities and Chili's, all associated with over-eating burgers.

There should not be confusion around the second story. If you want to die before you are 50 years then be an overweight NFL player. You'll double your odds.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will each represent one of three new Chili's Smokehouse Bacon Burgers in the name of their favorite charity. Available now, guests are encouraged to visit their neighborhood Chili's to taste these new burgers, because the player with the best-selling burger at the end of the 60-day promotional period will receive $10,000 from Chili's to donate to their charity of choice.

"These three new Smokehouse Bacon Burgers are sure to satisfy the hungriest of appetites," said Todd Diener, president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "We are proud to team up with these great athletes for a promotion our guests can get excited about and, more importantly, support their charities and the communities they serve."
Of course. Those burgers have enough calories to feed several people.
ESPN - Heavy NFL players twice as likely to die before 50 : "The amazing athletes of the National Football League -- bigger and stronger than ever before -- are dying young at a rate experts find alarming, and many of the players are succumbing to ailments typically related to weight.

The heaviest athletes are more than twice as likely to die before their 50th birthday than their teammates, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of 3,850 professional-football players who have died in the last century."

Most of the 130 players born since 1955 who have died were among the heaviest athletes in sports history, according to the study. One-fifth died of heart diseases, and 77 were so overweight that doctors would have classified them as obese, the study found.

January 28, 2008

McDonald's give investors indigestion

McDonald's Corp. announced on Monday sales are increasing at the lowest level in six years.

The Wall Street Journal suggests the numbers may be from a downturn in consumer spending. Just last year McDonald's CFO Peter Bensen said the company was "recession-resistant".

Could McDonald's success be on the wane? And not just because of recession. Could Americans be choosing healthy portions over unhealthy fast food? And if the slowdown was all about a recession wouldn't Americans look to a restaurant that is known as "cheap" food.

Numbers don't lie, though. McDonald's must change, just as must Americans. The way we eat will change. McDonald's may go the way of the Automats if they don't change.

From Guardian Unlimited:
The cold blast of America's economic downturn has blown into McDonald's.
The world's biggest fast food chain surprised Wall Street today with a warning
that consumers were cutting back on Big Macs and fries.

Widely seen as relatively immune to recession because of its
rock-­bottom prices, McDonald's delivered a 22% increase in profits to
$1.35bn for the final quarter of the year.

To the alarm of investors, McDonald's said that US like-for-like sales
growth of 3.3% during the quarter had slowed to zero in December.

Chief executive Jim Skinner blamed the slowdown partly on harsh winter
weather putting off "convenience" customers. But he said a weakening in the
economy was depressing comparable sales by one to two percentage points.

"We acknowledge that the general retail industry here seems to have
been impacted by the economic environment," said Skinner, who pointed out that
McDonald's has traditionally been robust in downturns.

McDonald's shares dived by 5.3% to $51.21 during early trading on the
New York stock exchange - a rare setback for a firm that has seen its stock
price quad­ruple over five years.

January 27, 2008

Parents: Admit you have a problem

The first step to solving a problem admit you have a problem.

But parents of obese children can't do that. Combine that with the fact most people don't know how many calories are in a happy meal and you have the perfect storm for a future obese generation.

The New York Times reports that in a 2,000-parent study, more than 40 percent of parents could not admit their 6-to-11-year-olds were obese.

Parents need to face reality in the mirror and in their children. Admit there is a problem. Then start solving it by no more happy meals, no more fast foods. Sit down with your kids at supper time and start the long journey to good nutrition.
Obesity - Children - Parents - Medicine and Health - New York Times:

When researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed more than 2,000 parents about their children’s health, they heard some good news. Despite the growing obesity problem, many of these parents could report that their sons and daughters, at least, were “about the right weight.”

The numbers, alas, told another story. The parents were also asked to provide information about the children’s height and weight — and many of the 6-to-11- year-olds turned out to be obese. Yet more than 40 percent of their parents appeared unaware of this.

Dr. Matthew M. Davis, a pediatrician and internist who directed the poll, said he and other doctors wondered why parents who brought overweight children in for appointments so often did not seem concerned.

But, Dr. Davis said, “If they don’t actually perceive their children to have excess weight, then how can we realistically expect them to make changes?”