December 16, 2009

Fast food fresh and green

Will America support a fast-food restaurant using local fresh ingredients, and a place designed to be green?

We hope so:

Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh (Fast) Food

Posted using ShareThis.

December 15, 2009

Unhealthy baseball habits strike out

First the designated batter. Then inter-league play. But now. Baseball players eating healthy. Where have you gone, Babe Ruth?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The doughnuts, fried chicken and candy bars that have long populated baseball's clubhouses—where players eat the majority of their meals—are being banished. Read more..

December 14, 2009

For Ohio schools ignorance is bliss

In Ohio the law mandates education down to the smallest detail. But when it comes to health education, especially good food choices, Ohio schools remain silent. Some think it's because you say the word "health" education and you are thinking about sex. And of course in Ohio, it's forbidden to talk about sex in schools. Who would have thought it's illegal to talk about obesity in Ohio's schools?

From Krista Ramsey in

With health such a hot-potato topic, schools focused their attention elsewhere. The solar system is safe; so is tornadic activity, igneous rock and probably even greenhouse gases.

But the care and construction of the human body doesn't come up much. In fact, educators say words such as body and lifestyle choices are buzzwords that set off alarms. Start talking about this body business, and sooner or later somebody's going to mention s-e-x.

So to spare adults that controversy, Ohio schoolchildren have been shortchanged on information about nutrition, contagious disease, basic anatomy, mental health and responsible habits.

And we wonder why they can't see that Blazing Hot Cheetos and a Mountain Dew are not a reasonable lunch.

December 13, 2009

Fat chance: obesity will cost you $1,400 every year

Today, it is estimated that $79,438 million dollars is spent due to obesity in the United States. With the projected increase in obesity levels, this will increase to $343,866 million dollars in 2018 or about ($1,425 dollars per adult in the United States.

Find out how your state ranks according to UnitedHealth Foundation: Obesity by State.

December 12, 2009

No need for abortions in Oklahoma

I'm always amazed by the ironic.

Isn't ironic that the Republicans opposing health care represent the least healthy state?

Isn't ironic that the states opposing abortions the most have the highest infant mortality rate?

In Oklahoma it's OK to be Republican and unhealthy:

Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation in the health outcomes of its citizens — ahead of only Mississippi — and 5,320 lives are lost each year because the state does not meet the national average in health outcomes, officials said as they unveiled the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan.

"We find that unacceptable," said Barry L. Smith, president of the Oklahoma State Board of Health.

And it's not just fat Republicans dying early, it's innocent Independents:

Nationally, 6.6 out of every 1,000 newborns die before they reach their first birthday, but in Oklahoma the ratio is 8.8 per 1,000 newborns, Crain said.

The cynic in me would say let the Republicans have their way. In the end there will be a lot less of them.

December 11, 2009

Are Americans food illiterate?

I recognize there are several paths to tackling a complex problem of American obesity. Here are several interesting points of view.

The Economist magazine recently debated whether governments should take a stronger role in guiding food and nutrition choices.

Kelly Brownell, Professor of Psychology at Yale University argues, three major food issues face the world. Local, national, and global governing authorities must take bold and innovative action to avoid catastrophic health consequences, political upheaval, and political and financial instability around the globe. Read more...

Of course on the opposition is Melanie Leech Director General of the Food and Drink Federation.
She counters that the food and drink industry shares society's concerns about the health of the nation, particularly rising obesity levels, and it is committed to playing a positive role in responding to this vital debate.

...the government is often not best placed to deliver such strategies. Its priority should be to develop a stable long-term policy and regulatory framework which harnesses rather than impedes both the wealth of knowledge the industry has about consumer needs and behaviour, and the power of industry and other players to invest and innovate to deliver the strategic objectives. Read more...

The cynical public -- especially the British public -- has a different view of American obesity: Let them eat cake. Here's a recent post.

Dear Sir,

"46% of the U.S. population are functionally illiterate"

If people are realy [sic] so dumb, shouldn't we let natural selection deal with them, for improvement of the future of the species? Eating himself to death is much more pleasant than being eaten by sabre-toothed tiger.

December 3, 2009

No calories for this pizza

Just hard to believe.

Customers are complaining to California Pizza about putting calorie information on the menus. So immediately California Pizza is taking that information off the menu.

California Pizza Kitchen, a Los Angeles based pizza and pasta chain, has been voluntarily listing their calorie counts since July 1, but recently dropped the extra information after customers complained. The information is available on the website, so technically they are still in compliance–for now.

In an article for the LA Times, Larry Flax, co-chief executive at CPK said, “You have to look at the restaurant business as entertainment. Why make the customer feel guilty?” He then went on to say that “people kept getting mad” because they didn’t understand that a state law mandates that chain restaurants provide this type of information to customers.

December 1, 2009

Healthy enough to graduate from college?

Should you have to be healthy to graduate from college? Lincoln University says, yes!


Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or above, reflective of obesity, must take a fitness course that meets three hours per week. Those who are assigned to the class but do not complete it cannot graduate.

Now that the first class to have this requirement imposed is nearing graduation day -- students who entered in the fall of 2006 -- the school faces criticism from both students and outsiders about the fitness class policy.

One of those students is Tiana Lawson, 21, whose recent editorial in the student paper has drawn national attention to the issue. Lawson wrote in The Lincolnian that she would be more understanding if the requirement applied to everyone. She thinks all students, not just those with a high BMI, should have to take the class. Read more...

November 30, 2009

Perfect Health Storm

The perfect storm has started. Throw together fast foods, processed sugar, and 21st century super-sized portions and what do you get? Obesity, hypertension and heart disease spinning out of control and the result is a trillion dollar health-care headache.

From the New York Times:

A study in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs concluded that 75 percent of the country’s $2.5 trillion in health care spending has to do with four increasingly prevalent chronic diseases: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Most cases of these diseases, the report stated, are preventable because they are caused by behaviors like poor diets, inadequate exercise and smoking.

Obesity alone threatens to overwhelm the system. In a recent study, Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, found that if trends continued, annual health care costs related to obesity would total $344 billion by 2018, or more than 20 percent of total health care spending. (It now accounts for 9 percent.)

Dr. Thorpe also said that if the incidence of obesity fell to its 1987 level, it would free enough money to cover the nation’s uninsured population

What's one thing companies can do to stop the spiraling costs?

In home offices around Boston, a shoestring operation of three full-time employees is working on an unusual answer to that question. As the wrangling over trillion-dollar price tags continues on Capitol Hill, a start-up company called the Full Yield is undertaking its own version of health care reform by using a simple, low-tech premise: Eat healthier food and you’ll become healthier

Read more on how your company can help you become healthier.

November 17, 2009

Too fat to fail

Our health system is about to fail because of obesity. USA Today reports fat will cost Americans $344 billion dollars.

If Americans continue to pack on pounds, obesity will cost the USA about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by 2018, eating up about 21% of health-care spending, says the first analysis to estimate the future medical costs of excess weight.

"Obesity is going to be a leading driver in rising health-care costs," says Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at Emory University in Atlanta. Thorpe did this special analysis on obesity for America's Health Rankings, the 20th annual assessment of the nation's health on a state-by-state basis.

"There is a tsunami of chronic preventable disease about to be unleashed into our medical-care system which is increasingly unaffordable," says Reed Tuckson of United Health Foundation, sponsor of the report with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention. Read more...

November 12, 2009

Go outside to hear heart attacks

Drive through any neighborhood. Listen for the sounds of children playing. Can't hear anything. Then you are listening to future heart attacks.

"Now you can drive through entire neighborhoods where you know there are a lot of young kids there and hardly see any of them out," says Russell Pate, an American Heart Association spokesman.

Pate and other childhood obesity experts say more American youths are becoming obese because so many are addicted to television, video games, testing and fast food.

Obesity experts say the rise in childhood obesity isn't new.

The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents between ages 6 and 19 has tripled since 1970, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study found.

"Our study suggests that more of these young adults will have heart disease when they are 35-50 years old, resulting in more hospitalizations, medical procedures, need for chronic medications, missed work days and shortened life expectancy," said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, lead author of the study. Read more on

November 9, 2009

Are kids smarter than a restaurant owner?

Are kids too sophisticated for restaurants? And are restaurants too unhealthy for kids?

The Boston Globe points out in today's edition that our kids are much more knowledgeable and adventurous than ever before. But look at the kid's menu at any restaurant: it's full of chicken nuggets, spaghetti and grilled cheese.

My picky-eating son often skips the kid's menu. In Newport he ordered the lobster. On the Cape it's calamari. In our home town it's mussel Gorgonzola.

Let's outlaw those damn chicken nuggets, and get real food on the kid's menu.

The obvious problem with children’s menus is their nutritional value. Offerings are often high in fat, sodium, and sugar. “Most kids’ menus don’t even come with a vegetable,’’ says Allison Lauretti, lead clinical psychologist in the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, which evaluates and treats children who are overweight. “When we go out to dinner, we have to order a vegetable off the regular menu to give to the kids.’’ Read more...

November 8, 2009

Hide your eyes: The High Price of Cheap Food

Don't look away. I know you are eating your Sunday breakfast. But do you know how expensive that slice of bacon is? What about that hamburger this afternoon? And the steak tonight?

What does it take to raise cheap bad food in America?

Time Magazine gets real and tells you the truth. Don't look away; you need to read this.

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won't bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He's fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population.

Read more: Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

November 7, 2009

How fast foods screws up good food

So you have been reading this blog, and you are ready to stop eating those fat-laden Whoppers and skip the lard-fried potatoes. You order a veggie burger. It's got to be better for you than a beef burger.

That's the not the case at Rudy Tuesday's.

Order a Veggie Burger at Rudy Tuesday's and heads-up heart attack: The mixture of rice, black beans, and vegetables comes top with Swiss cheese and 53 grams of total fat. At a whooping 952 calories, that's more than a Whopper! At 952 calories that's half a man's calorie allotment for the entire day. A veggie burger!?

I'm not sure we can trust any fast food restaurants with our health. And this is the industry that doesn't want to post fat or calorie information. Now you know why.

November 6, 2009

Another Lie: Lose weight through exercise

There's a big lie around food. The lie is: Fast food isn't bad for you. Hamburgers aren't bad for you. Coke isn't bad for you. 1,500-calorie salads are not bad for you. YOU just need to exercise more. Instead of taking the elevator, walk up the steps. Walk 30 minutes a day. Get off the couch.

Well, it's a lie, and there continues to be science proving that lie.

The only way to lose weight, the only way to stop obesity in this country is to reduce portions, reduce calories, reduce the "bad" types of food you eat.

In the NY Times today, a new study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine, describes how exercise alone does help you with weight control.

But few people, an overwhelming body of research shows, achieve significant weight loss with exercise alone, not without changing their eating habits. A new study from scientists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver offers some reasons why.

“The message of our work is really simple,” although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. “It all comes down to energy balance,” or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People “are only burning 200 or 300 calories” in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. “You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.” more...
This is the message McDonald's, Coca-Cola, the corn syrup lobby and LA Fitness doesn't want you to ever read, let alone believe.

October 26, 2009

Food fight is unfair

It's not even a fair food fight. Consumer companies want your kids to be as fat as possible, and they don't care about the consequences.

Soda in the high schools, fast food restaurants on college campus, and of course, before you arrive at school, the companies have you hopped up on sugar.
A new study confirms what savvy consumers have long suspected: Most breakfast cereals advertised to kids are chockfull of sugar and low on fiber.

In fact, cereals marketed to kids have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber and 60% more sodium than those aimed at adults, according to the report from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Read more at
And the cereals with the most sugar are advertised the most to our children. When will the parents of America wake up and stop these companies? Right now 30 percent of all children in 30 states are obese. Will we remove these cereals from the grocery shelves? When the rate reaches 40 percent in 40 states? 50 percent in 50 states? 100 percent???

Cereals with the poorest nutrition ratings that are advertised to kids:

1. Reese's Puffs
2. Corn Pops
3. Lucky Charms
4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
4. Cap'n Crunch (tied)
6. Trix
6. Froot Loops (tied)
6. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles (tied)
9. Cocoa Puffs
10. Cookie Crisp

October 22, 2009

The new tobacco -- soda

What's wrong with a Coke once a day? Plenty, according to a recent UCLA study, "Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California". Each additional daily serving of soda increases a child’s chance risk for obesity by 60%.

There's nothing wrong with soda, according to the CEO of Coke-Cola, Muhtar Kent in the Wall Street Journal. Americans should "enjoy the simple pleasure of a Coca-Cola." He says TV and video games are the real problems.

Never mind that before the obesity crisis, Coke-Cola could only be bought in 6.5 ounce bottles with real cane sugar (88 calories). Now a small Classic Coke from Burger King is 491 calories with highly processed high fructose corn syrup.

The study tells the story: "Portion sizes have also increased from an average serving size of 6.5 fl oz (88 calories)in the 1950s, to 12 fl oz (150 calories), 20 fl oz (266 calories), and even larger portion sizes common today. The average serving size of soft drinks in fast food restaurants in 2002 was 23 fl oz (299 calories), with some chains now commonly selling soft drinks in 32 to 64 fl oz portions (416 to 832 calories, respectively)."

I remember when Coke was a nickel. In California sugary soda costs $21 billion every year.

From the study: "Each year in California, overweight and obesity cost families, employers, the health care industry and the government $21 billion. California spends more public and private money on the health consequences of obesity than any other state."

Here's some more sickening facts from Ron Eade and the Ottawa Citizen, read the entire column.

1. Over 10.7 million Californians over the age of one drink at least one soda a day (or other sugar-sweetened beverage).

2. 41% of children ages 2-11 drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day.

3. That number goes up to 62% of adolescents ages 12-17.

4. Only 1 in 4 adults drinks pop though.

5. Adults who do drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages each day are 27% more likely to be overweight or obese.

6. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, vs the recommended 5-9. That 200-400% more than recommended.

7. If you think that’s a high number, just one 20 fl oz single use bottle of soda has 17 teaspoons of sugar.

8. Almost half of the additional calories growth in our diet since the 1970’s come from soda.

9. Each American consumes an average of 50 gallons of sugar sweetened soft drinks per year.

10. Soda is the #1 source of added sugar in the American Diet.

11. Two thirds of all High Fructose Corn Syrup goes into soft drinks.

12. The average size of a soda increased from 6.5 oz in the 1950’s to 16.2 oz today (149% increase!)

October 8, 2009

Plan for health

You are not alone. Everyone has trouble staying away from cheap, unhealthy, fatty & salty fast foods.

The key to healthy, non-obese producing foods is just a little planning. Not much, just a little.

The Boston Globe reports on sticking to the outside aisles of supermarkets. For me, I never go into the middle of the supermarket. Fruits and veggies are on one side of the store, and dairy products are on the other.

Take a look at this article and see if at least once a week you can plan a healthy meal for your family.

For years, Rachael Scanlon found the glut of fast food restaurants in Framingham almost too convenient. Pizza, hearty subs, and all kinds of Chinese take-out appeared regularly on the family dinner table when she lacked the time or inspiration to cook.

But the calories, cost, and monotony of these dinners drove her to reconsider this lifestyle. Even with “value meals,’’ as many restaurants call them, eating out regularly can add up quickly, from $20 to $30 for a family of four. More...

September 19, 2009

You lie! Coke.

Finally, the scientific community is jumping off the soda bandwagon.

The venerable New England Journal of Medicine said yesterday that soda is bad for you, and the only way to stop Americans from killing themselves is to tax Coke and Pepsi.

It worked with tobacco and smoking and lung disease; and it will work with corn syrup and soda and obesity.

The Wall Street Journal writes (yes, the Wall Street Journal printed this):
Beverage companies "have spent decades convincing people it's glamorous, sexy and athletic to be drinking sugared beverages, and it's time for some of that damage to be undone," said Kelly Brownell, a professor at Yale University and lead author of the paper.
The latest report joins a growing drumbeat of calls for taxes on soft drinks and other sweet beverages, which some health experts compare to calls in earlier years for cigarette taxes. Dr. Brownell originally put forward the idea of a beverage tax of a penny per ounce in a paper published in April with Thomas Frieden, who was New York City's health commissioner at the time and is now director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of course -- just like the tobacco executives who lied for 50 years -- the corn lobby and soda executives are against anything that stops them from making Americans the most overweight and least healthy people in the developed world:

Mr. Keane said there is no comparison between soft drinks and cigarettes. "Tobacco kills, directly and irrefutably," he said. "Soft drinks don't. You can be a healthy person and have a soft drink. You can't say the same about smoking. The public gets that."
Remember for years those same executives denied tobacco killed. Now they are telling you the same lies.

September 12, 2009

School lunches get a "F" for nutrition

When you send your children to school, you expect at a minimum, safety.

But in most schools, there's a hidden danger. There's always been bad jokes about bad school cafeteria food. But the truth is even worst. That food could kill your children with its fatty, calorie-laden, salty food.

One parent is fighting back.

The USDA's food pyramid schema emphasizes meals where fruits,vegetables and grains are take up most of a plate of food while meat, dairy and sweets have very little room on the plate. Obviously, this is the reverse of a school lunch menu. These are hard economic times and school lunch issues can easily be forgotten.

But how we can we stand by and let our children eat food that is more chemicals than actual food? By offering the current options for school lunches, Congress is sitting idly by giving the children obesity. This will lead to and eariler onset of diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Read more: Bad school lunches

There's an obese elephant in Obama's health plan

It's clear reading Michael Pollan in the NY Times that obesity, poor eating and the excess calories plied by fast food restaurants are costing Americans billions of dollars, maybe even trillions of dollars.

The real enemy of Americans -- the enemy that will tax us to death -- is American food. Until we address this issue any reform in health care is just moving the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care. The president has made a few notable allusions to it, and, by planting her vegetable garden on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama has tried to focus our attention on it. Just last month, Mr. Obama talked about putting a farmers’ market in front of the White House, and building new distribution networks to connect local farmers to public schools so that student lunches might offer more fresh produce and fewer Tater Tots. He’s even floated the idea of taxing soda. (Read more...)

August 21, 2009

Being a food critic made him thin

Frank Bruni just stepped down after five-plus years as the restaurant critic for The New York Times

His new book -- Born Round -- is about growing up, eating too much, becoming fat and then learning as a food critic and Italian resident how to have a healthy relationship with food.

Tucker Shaw in the Denver Post writes:
Who could have imagined that this gig would be what ultimately saved his relationship with food?

"Eating professionally imposes a forced structure and a forced rhythm," he said on the phone the other day. "You have to eat in a round and steady fashion to do the duty of your job. It takes extreme dieting off the table. The only control you have is moderation, portion control and exercise. Which, what do you know, is what works."

Bruni was primed to control his on-the-job eating by his time in Rome, another unlikely stop on his long, strange trip to skinny. "Everyone warned me about Italy," he said. "But I went. And there I was in that country that, far from being a peril, was a land of great food with people who approach it with grace. The portions you get at a true Italian restaurant or at a true Italian dinner party are much smaller. You never see an 'All-you can eat' sign there."

August 20, 2009

What?? Fox News finally has a balanced story

I can't figure out the angle in this Fox News story. It appears to be accurate, and yet it indicts America's health system. Or does it just indict all fat, rural Americans?

Life expectancy in the United States rose to an all-time high, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. But that's only half the story.

The country is behind about 30 others on this measure.

Though the United States has by far the highest level of health care spending per capita in the world, we have one of the lowest life expectancies among developed nations — lower than Italy, Spain and Cuba and just a smidgeon ahead of Chile, Costa Rica and Slovenia, according to the United Nations. China does almost as well as we do. Japan tops the list at 83 years.

And in an era where advances in medicine and better understanding of health issues should boost life expectancy significantly, the gains announced today were modest.

U.S. life expectancy reached nearly 78 years (77.9) in 2007, the latest year for which data from death certificates has been compiled. That's up from 77.7 in 2006. Over the past decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years.

In fact, U.S. life expectancy gains may be pretty much over, as some groups — particularly people in rural locations — are already stagnating or slipping, explains LiveScience columnist Christopher Wanjek. Meantime, soaring rates of obesity and diabetes among children and adults, owing mostly to lousy diets and lack of exercise, portend depressing mortality rates to come.

July 27, 2009

Billions of dollars for billions of pounds

Like we didn't know.

Obesity costs you and me billions of dollars. Guaranteed, a lot more than any government health plan.

USAToday reports:

Obese Americans — those who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight — cost the country an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008, double what it was a decade ago, a new study shows.

Overall, an obese patient has $4,871 in medical bills a year compared with $3,442 for a patient at a healthy weight.

The findings are from a statistical analysis released here Monday at a government meeting convened to discuss ways to reduce obesity and inactivity by changing the environment. More...

June 7, 2009

Food, Inc. - You won't want to eat again

Food Inc. is a new movie. Not about food, but about how America is destroying food. It's as if we are paving the fields of paradise and putting up a parking lot (for McDonald's).

Do you ever wonder how businesses can sell a hamburger for a buck, and soda for less than milk? Have you ever wonder why, businesses would do that?

Twenty years ago, it was clear to everyone who ever looked at the automobile industry that America needed a new model...not a new car model, but a new business model built on efficiencies. Overall transportation efficiencies: like electric trains, hydrogen buses, bike-friendly cities, etc. But most of all we didn't need Hummers getting 10 m.p.g. But nobody at GM was getting bonuses thinking outside of the internal combustion engine.

Well, the same thing is happening in food. Everyone knows we need to grow broccoli a lot more than 400-pound cows to supply Burger King with fatty hamburgers. Everyone knows we need less pesticides and more nutrition in our food. Everyone knows we need less 100,000 chicken cooped up, and more sustainable food sources.

GM is bankrupt. Look out Monsanto. Look out Tyson. Look out meat producers. Look out pork producers. Look out corn syrup producers. Look out Coke.

Check out Food, Inc.'s website.

Here's an excerpt from the New York Times review:

“Food, Inc.” begins with images of a bright, bulging American supermarket, and then moves to the jammed chicken houses, grim meat-cutting rooms and chemical-laced cornfields where much of the American diet comes from. Along the way Mr. Kenner attempts to expose the hidden costs of a system in which fast-food hamburgers cost $1 and soda is cheaper than milk.

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than the previous 10,000,” Michael Pollan says as the film opens. Mr. Pollan, an author and occasional contributor to The New York Times Magazine, is the spiritual guide for the film and serves as its narrator. “A lot of it is hard to watch,” he conceded, “but I think people are ready to take a good, unflinching look at how their food is produced."

May 9, 2009

Exercise will not stop obesity

Without a million dollar grant, I have concluded obesity in America started with over-eating, not the lack of exercise.

My own story was evidence. I lost 94 pounds by NOT over-eating. NOT by more exercise.

Now a new study concludes the same thing. From Times on Line:

Over-eating rather than more sedentary living is almost entirely to blame for the rise in obesity in the developed world, according to research.

A study of the US obesity “epidemic” — a precursor of world dietary trends — suggests that there has not been any significant reduction in levels of exercise in the past 30 years. It concludes that the surge in obesity is a result of excessive calories.

Researchers at the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, said that the findings would be reflected in other industrialised countries such as Britain.

Last year the largest British study into obesity, backed by the Government and compiled by 250 experts, concluded that excess weight had become the norm. It predicted that by 2050, 90 per cent of today’s children will be overweight or obese — costing taxpayers an estimated £50 billion.

Professor Boyd Swinburn, chairman of population health at Deakin University, said that US children had grown on average 9lb heavier and adults were 17lb more. For the US population to return to leaner 1970s levels children would have to cut their intake by about 350 calories a day — equal to a can of fizzy drink and a small portion of fries, and adults by about 500 calories — about the same as a Big Mac burger. Alternatively children would have to walk an extra 2½ hours a day, and adults nearly two hours.

“Getting everybody to walk an extra two hours a day is not really a feasible option for countering the epidemic,” Professor Swinburn said. “We need to limit our expectations of what an increase in physical activity can achieve.” He said that the findings did not seek to negate the value of exercise for weight control.

May 3, 2009

Colleges slow down fast foods

School cafeterias are teaching Americans all the wrong things about food. 

Fast, fatty, fried foods are the favorites of lazy cooks and fat students.

But some colleges are trying to change that with local, slow foods.

The Boston Globe reports:

But on a recent night at College of the Holy Cross, an entirely different scene was unfolding at one end of the cavernous dining hall: a five-course meal served on hand-painted Wedgwood china by bow-tied servers in crisp white tuxedo shirts. The stylish repast would last - gulp - two hours.

Students feasted on cream of asparagus soup, mushroom and chevre tarts, and maple-glazed hanging tender steak - all products of local farms. The din of conversation floated over the linen-covered tables as the last rays of the setting sun streamed through the wall of windows.

April 23, 2009

Two little eggs can make a big difference

Eggs can help you manage your weight.

That's the findings in a recent study. I can verify that experiment. I lost 94 pounds eating egg whites and mushrooms every morning. It filled me up and kept my appetite lowered during the morning.

If you want to control your weight, try eggs in the morning.


Eating eggs for breakfast can help adults manage hunger and reduce calorie consumption throughout the day, according to a new research on breakfast choices.

On the other hand, teens who choose a protein-rich breakfast are less hungry and eat fewer calories at lunch.

In one study, Maria Luz Fernandez,Ph.D., professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut, investigated the differences in post-meal hunger and daily caloric intake when eating a breakfast of either protein-rich eggs or carbohydrate-rich bagels.

It was found that men who consumed eggs for breakfast consumed fewer calories following the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast.

Also, they consumed fewer total calories in the 24-hour period after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast.

In addition, they reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied three hours after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast.

The study supports previous research, which found that eating eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than dieters who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.

The study found no significant difference in blood levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides between the individuals who ate the egg breakfast and those who ate the bagel breakfast.

In another study, researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center assessed the impact of a protein-rich breakfast on appetite and overall calorie consumption among teens who traditionally skip breakfast.

They found that teens consumed fewer calories at lunch when they ate a protein-rich breakfast of solid foods compared with a protein-rich beverage breakfast.

Also, they discovered that post-meal hunger was significantly reduced when the teens ate a protein-rich breakfast of solid foods.

April 22, 2009

When fat we have a million excuses and studies

When it comes to fat and obesity no one wants to face the truth.

Eating outside the home, especially at unhealthy fast food restaurants -- but also at cafeterias, schools, hospitals, makes nearly all of us fat. There only one reason a person becomes fat: eating more calories than burning calories.

But of course, we keep looking for other reasons of why we are fat. It's because of our mother, our genetics, our tonsils; it's because we are depressed or unhappy or too poor or too rich.

Scripps News give a sampling of recent studies:
-- Blame what Mom ate. Rockefeller University researchers found when a mother eats a high-fat diet during pregnancy, her offspring stimulates the appetite -- and lead to overeating and obesity early in life.
-- Tonsils keep us thin. Dutch researchers reported last month that children who have their tonsils surgically removed, with or without their adenoids, are at increased risk for becoming overweight or obese by the time they're 8.
-- Ear infections make us fat. Scientists at the University of Florida found that middle-aged adults with a history of middle ear infections tend to be overweight more than similar adults with no history of infections.
-- Obesity numbs the tongue. Penn State researchers reported that obesity in lab rats gradually numbs their sensitivity to sweet foods and prompts them to consume larger and ever-sweeter meals to get the same feeling of reward.
-- Gut hormones make food look better. Canadian researchers reported brain imaging studies on humans that showed reward centers in their brains responded more strongly to pictures of food when the subjects have received an infusion of the appetite hormone ghrelin.
-- Junk food makes kids happy. Kids eating fast foods were less likely to feel unhappy, sad or depressed.

April 20, 2009

Channel 7 may fry in fast food hell!

It's no wonder that Americans are get fatter every day.

The media continues to pepper the public with publicity, and not facts.

Take for example, Channel 7 in Los Angeles. ABC's Food Coach Lori Corbin tells you "popular chains have menu items they can be proud of and you should be ordering." She then goes through the entire list of healthy food at McDonald's, Chipotle, Panera, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Au Bon Pain. The list goes on for nearly -- wait for it -- three or four items. And of course none of the items are healthy.

Corbin crows about the reduced-fat cream cheese at Einstein Bros., but the oversized bagel will still cost you 500 calories. She says if you hanker Mexican, then Chipotle has a lot of choices...a lot of choices of 1,000-calorie meals.

No one in America is going to get fit and healthy with our media telling us fast foods is where the healthy food is.

If you want to read the truth see The Nation.

The Nation reports the first lady, Michelle Obama, is telling America quite a different message. And it's what I have been saying all along. Fast food is not fresh, tasty or healthy.

What made Obama's message so subversive was something she left unsaid: the food most Americans eat nowadays is not fresh, tasty or healthy. The superiority of fresh ingredients may be obvious to Italians, but it is a truth most Americans long ago forgot, if they ever knew it in the first place. Over the past fifty years, the United States has been transformed into a fast food nation, in author Eric Schlosser's phrase. What the typical American eats is not so much food as it is highly processed food derivatives that have traveled thousands of miles since leaving the farm, losing along the way most of the flavor and nutritional value they once possessed. To disguise such losses, food manufacturers overload products with fats, salts and sweeteners, especially corn syrup--additives that, along with the massive portions typically served in the United States, help explain why nearly one in three Americans is obese. more...

April 19, 2009

Splitting will make a whole healthy

Every health professional is encouraging Americans to eat less when dining out. One strategy is to split an entrée. For one thing most restaurant entrées are too many calories for a healthy meal. Many other sites are encouraging splitting meals to save money, but my passion is not putting restaurants out of business.

However, I do believe healthy food, healthy portions at the right price, and local ingredients will be the foundation of economically healthy restaurants in the future. reports a mixed bag in Detroit when it comes to splitting entrées. Some restaurants charge $10 and $5 to split. Others allow you to split at the table for free. In some places, they might try to embarass you into NOT splitting.

Last night we split the entrée at our favorite Italian restaurant. The waitstaff brought two extra plates, and of course, for its best customer, the restaurant did not charge any fee. (They have also waived any corkage charges in these economic times.)

I would encourage us all to speak up to the management if you think splitting entrées should be encouraged. And let's all eat the RightSize of food at our favorite restaurant.

I still remember the night my family and I were seated near a frail-looking elderly couple at an Italian restaurant in West Bloomfield, and the man told the waiter he and his wife would like one entrée to share.

In a disapproving voice loud enough to be heard several tables away, the waiter said something like, "Well, you'll have to pay a $5 split plate charge."

From his tone, I didn't think the waiter thought they were hard of hearing. I thought he was trying to embarrass them.

"What we are seeing, rather than more shared plates, are more people ordering petite entrées" -- regular menu items offered in a reduced size, said owner Jim Kokas of Opus One in Detroit.

But if diners still want to share an entrée, there's a $10 charge, which is clearly stated on the menu, as it should be.

The fee exists, he says, because his kitchen gives each person a half portion of meat or fish but a full measure of vegetables and starch, so it's serving more food. And there are other, less-obvious costs in serving two people rather than one: bread and butter for two, washing china and glasses for two, laundering napkins for two and so on.

Most restaurants, including Opus One, don't charge extra if a waiter splits a dish such as a salad or appetizer for the guests at their table. more...

April 18, 2009

Feed children only healthy foods in schools

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America today urged all Americans to make healthier choices and society to help remove the obstacles so many people face in making those choices, issuing 10 cross-cutting recommendations for improving the nation’s health. According to the Commission, how long and how well Americans live depend more on where we live, learn, work and play than on medical care, which accounts for only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of preventable early deaths. Building a healthier nation requires a broader view of health, the Commission said.
That's what this blog is all about. Proactively, building a healthier nation -- not by increasing medical care -- but by preventing a multitude of diseases caused by obesity.

I believe obesity is caused by eating too many calories and too many calories are in foods we eat outside the home.

It's clear the federal government should not promote obesity. But it does. It does it through food subsidies and it does it by forcing schools to sell unhealthy foods.
“Everyone must be involved in the effort to improve health because health is everyone’s business,” said Co-chair Alice M. Rivlin, former head of the White House Office of Management and Budget and the first director of the Congressional Budget Office. “People should make healthy choices by eating better, getting enough physical activity and not smoking. Communities and employers should support those choices by creating healthy environments. And the federal government should make and enforce healthy policies, like ensuring that all subsidized food is healthy and junk food is eliminated from schools.”

April 11, 2009

The best kind of tax

Some great ideas are not accepted right away. This healthy idea will take several years to catch on. And it will have to overcome one of the strongest lobbies in the U.S. But it's an idea that will take hold.

The idea is a tax on sodas and sports drinks containing sugar. And no other idea will stop sugary drinks in its tracks like this one.

From the New York Times:

A month after Gov. David A. Paterson dropped his proposal for a soda tax, New York City’s health commissioner has written an article advocating “hefty” taxes on sodas and sports drinks containing sugar. Such a tax, the article said, could be the biggest boon to public health since tobacco taxes.

The commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, and Kelly D. Brownell of Yale University, his co-author, argue in the New England Journal of Medicine that a tax of a penny per ounce could reduce consumption by more than 10 percent and raise $1.2 billion a year in New York State alone.

“It is difficult to imagine producing behavior change of this magnitude through education alone, even if government devoted massive resources to the task,” said the article, published in the journal’s April 30 issue and released online Wednesday. “Only heftier taxes will significantly reduce consumption.”

April 9, 2009

Music to my ears: Fatburger bankrupt

Two Fatburger subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

Who said that Americans would only eat cheap hamburgers during this recession? In any case they are not eating those fatburgers in California and Nevada.

Americans are starting to make wise choices, and the day of the hamburger is almost over.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Fatburger Restaurants of Nevada Inc. and its sister company in California have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying the recession has slowed sales and reduced the availability of bank financing.

The filings Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Fernando Valley, Calif., say Fatburger has 13 restaurants in Nevada with 205 employees, as well as two parcels of developed real estate. The Nevada restaurants generated sales of $12 million in 2008, the company said. More...

April 8, 2009

When you see salad, do you order French fries?

Sometimes these studies just don't make sense. The NY Times reports a new study says when a restaurant has a salad on the menu, you order French fries more often.

That has never happened to me. See salad, order fries. I sometimes order the crispy chicken on the salad, when I know the grilled chicken is less calories. (But I also know that the grilled chicken has nearly zero flavor.)

Here's the report, but I just don't know if I believe it.

Fast-food chains have recently deflected criticism of their menu offerings by adding healthy items like salads. But a paper soon to be released in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the presence of healthy options on a menu can induce some diners to eat less healthily than they otherwise would. 

In one study, college students were given one of two menus. One menu featured French fries, chicken nuggets and a baked potato; the other included those same items as well as a salad. The French fries, widely perceived as the least healthful option, were three times as popular with students selecting from the menu that had the salad as they were with the other group. more...

April 7, 2009

Chain restaurant finally want menu labeling (to overrule state laws)

The National Restaurant Association finally sees the need for menu labeling of nutritional information. But don't be fooled. The want a stripped-down version passed in Congress to overrule all local and state laws governing menu labeling.

QSRweb reports:
The NRA has called for a national standard since municipalities first began instituting their own calorie count rules a few years ago. But it didn't support previous federal menu labeling legislation until the Labeling Education and Nutrition (LEAN) Act was first introduced last fall.
Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at public health group Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the LEAN Act has no chance of passing, however. The bill lacks the necessary support because the chairmen of the House and Senate committees handling the bills — Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Edward Kennedy— have been co-sponsors of the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act.

CSPI and other public health groups have supported the MEAL Act, which has been introduced several times over the last five years but is not under current consideration. That bill has specified that restaurant chains with 20 or more units would have to post calories as well as saturated fat, trans fat and sodium content directly on menus or menu boards. Unlike the LEAN Act, the MEAL Act would not preempt menu labeling regulations in individual states.

April 6, 2009

18-year-olds are smarter than baby boomers

Who said youth is wasted on the young?

The NPD Group -- the leading market research company -- reported surprising, yet heartening, news. Shifting customer demographics are happening in the restaurant business as parents decide to leave the kids at home, and young adults, ages 18 to 24, cut back on restaurant visits. In 2008 that group went to restaurant 8 percent less. The group cites unhealthy food as the top reason.

However, there was bad news for baby boomers -- my generation. They increased their visits to fast food restaurants in 2008 vs. 2007. That's not good.

We need to follow the example of our children and grandchildren. Skip fast-food restaurants. They only serve high-calorie, low nutritional food. Find a local restaurant in your neighborhood using local ingredients, serving small healthy portions for a good value.

In the 3/31/2009 press release, the 18 to 24 age group was described as:

Health and food quality is top-of-mind with them. The study finds they feel restaurant food is often too high in calories, and there aren’t enough healthy/nutritious options. They also reference poor food quality, not freshly prepared, and no fresh ingredients when evaluating restaurant food.

Considering the cost of adding kids' meals to a restaurant check, it's not surprising that adults are deciding to keep the kids at home, and I believe we'll see more kids in restaurants once the economy improves," says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "It's a different situation with the 18-24 year-olds, their restaurant preferences have been changing over the last few years, and it will be important for restaurant operators to understand these preferences in order to get them back in."

April 5, 2009

Fast-Food French Fries: Which Are Healthiest?

Who knew french fries could be so different?

WebMD took a look at 14 different fast-food chain french fries to find out which had the healthiest. Now "healthiest" is a relative word. By nature french fries are not a healthy food. But with that said, some french fries have more calories, more fat and more sodium than others.

What they found was Sonic Drive-In's regular fries -- (75 g), 220 calories -- are are lowest in calories, fat grams, percentage of calories from fat, and total amount of "bad fats." (As well as second lowest in sodium.)

The worst french fries, just so you can see, are printed below. The entire article is at WebMD.

Highest in Calories:
Carl's Jr. Natural Cut small fries (116 g): 540 calories
In & Out regular fries (125 g): 400 calories
Highest in Fat:
Carl's Jr. Natural Cut small fries (116 g) = 25 grams total fat
Arby's small curly fries (106 g) = 20 grams total fat
Highest Percentage of Calories From Fat:
Arby's Curly Fries, small (106 g): 53%
Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato fries (85 g): 51%
Highest in "Bad Fat" (saturated and trans fats)
Jack in the Box Natural Cut fries, small (124 g): 9 grams (4 grams saturated fat and 5 grams trans)
Long John Silvers basket combo portion (113 g): 7 grams (3.5 grams saturated fat and 3.5 grams trans)
Lowest in Fiber:
In & Out fries (125 g): 2 grams fiber (tied with No. 2)
Sonic Drive-In regular (75 g): 2 grams fiber
Highest in Sodium:
Carl's Jr. Natural Cut fries (116 g): 1360 mg sodium
Arby's curly fries, small (106 g): 791 mg sodium

April 4, 2009

Don't eat food at these restaurants

The word for politics today is "transparency". Every dollar the government gives out is to have full disclosure. 

Even in the grocery stores, you have the right to know what's in the foods you are buying, what the ingredients are and what the nutritional value of the food is.

But there's no transparency in a restaurant. And that's why Applebee’s, IHOP, Outback, and T.G.I. Friday’s are the "WORST RESTAURANTS IN THE WORLD" (apologies to Keith Olbermann).

Men's Health lists the most unhealthiest restaurant for 2009 and the list is no surprise to readers of this blog. What should you do? Don't eat there.

Applebee's, IHOP, Outback and T.G.I. Friday's receive an "F"
These titans of the restaurant industry are among the last national chains that don’t offer nutritional information on their dishes. Even after years of badgering their representatives, we still hear the same old excuses: it’s too pricey, it’s too time-consuming, it’s impossible to do accurately because their food is so fresh, or we have too much variety. Our response is simple: If nearly every other chain restaurant in the country can do it, then why can’t they? more...

April 1, 2009

A spring sighting of the future

Today I saw a glimpse of the future.

It's extremely limited. It's disguised by the economy, but clearly it's the aroma of better times ahead.

What is it? Chipotle -- which I reported as one of the worst restaurants in the world, for its large portions, high calorie foods -- has now seen the dawn of the new world. A world where Americans are demanding smaller portions at appropriate prices, aka RightSizing in America.

The Westwood Food Blog reports:

So here's what's happening. Local Chipotle outlets will, over the next week or so, be rolling out a newly re-structured menu. There will be pozole in a couple different varieties and a kid's menu (which was always available, but had to be asked for). The existing menu will be "reconfigured" (Arnold's word) in order to showcase the diversity of plates available through a careful reading of the board. And there will also be a new section offering smaller portions at low prices -- single tacos, for example, served a la carte.

"We're calling it our 'low-roller' menu," Arnold told me, laughing. "The days of the high-roller look like they're going to be over for awhile, so this was our answer."

March 31, 2009

Exercise cannot turn the obesity tide

I lost 90 pounds without exercising.

I'm not saying that works for everyone, but I know exercise alone is not the panacea for the obesity crisis in America.

In fact you can exercise and not lose any weight. But it's extremely difficult to not to lose weight if you simply cut down on the number of calories you eat (no matter what the kind).

I lost 90 pounds by cutting my calories in half. In the process I learned to eat more healthy foods (because they are lower in calories). I stopped going to any fast food restaurants because I realized the hamburgers and fried foods were killing me. I realized over-sized portions were wrong, not only for my wallet but where I keep my wallet.

The TV reality show, "The Biggest Loser", shows an unsustainable amount of exercise. What they rarely show is the gigantic change in eating habits in order to lose hundreds of pounds.

To stop childhood obesity, we can't completely rely on exercise as reports:
Physical fitness programs in schools improve many aspects of children's health, but they don't appear to combat obesity, a new study in the Canadian medical publication CMAJ shows.

Improvements in blood pressure, muscle mass, bone mineral density, lung capacity and flexibility were some of the benefits experienced by the more than 18,000 students participating in "physical activity interventions" at their schools; however, the program's did not noticeably lower the children's body-mass index (BMI) -- a common measurement of obesity.

March 30, 2009

Most people can't find calorie information

Do you want calorie information at your fast-food restaurant? Most people couldn't or wouldn't find it.

This from the Washington Post:

Researchers from the psychology department at Yale University hung out in a handful of fast-food eateries (McDonald's, Burger King, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks) in Manhattan's Upper West Side; New Haven, Conn.; and Connecticut suburbs of New York City, keeping an eye on customers' behavior. Of 4,311 people they observed, only six looked at the nutrition information provided by the restaurant, whether it appeared on a poster, in a pamphlet or on a special touch-screen computer.

The authors of the study, which appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, say their findings suggest that nutrition information needs to be made more prominent, even added to menu boards. Moves are afoot in Maryland and several other states to require chain restaurants to provide nutrition data; restaurants argue that that information is already available by request at restaurants and on their Web sites. More...

March 27, 2009

NYC restaurants can't be trusted

You knew this was the case!

In NYC, you picked up a breakfast tart -- which Starbucks says is a healthy 120 calories -- and as you ate it you knew that wasn't right. We all can taste 300 calories of sugar and flour.

Well, you know you were right. That tart wasn't 120 calories...and that muffin wasn't 420 calories. They are much more!

You can't trust restaurants to ever tell you the truth. So the new law in NYC that calories must be displayed doesn't stop restaurants from still hiding the truth about unhealthy food from you.

This story from

Just when you thought you could trust your food, you can't.

Remember when food was actually food? Remember when it wasn't packed with excess dyes, sugars and calories? Hmmm, probably not. And guess what? Food is even sneakier then we originally thought. Well, packaged food is anyway. That's right America, nutrition labels are lying to us. They're lying to us and they're getting away with it.

Are you mad? You should be.

Recently, reporters from New York City's WCBS-TV sent snacks such as, muffins, scones and sandwiches to a calorie lab for testing. Not surprisingly, the real amount of calories didn't match the label.

For example, Dunkin' Donuts' turkey, cheddar, and bacon sandwich masqueraded around as 360 calories but tested at 460. A Starbucks blueberry muffin, labeled 420 calories, came back as 580. And its peachy apple tart, disguised as a 120 calorie delight, actually weighed in at 280.

March 26, 2009

Toxic food assets

Two years ago I told you fast-food and chain restaurants were in trouble.

The portions were too big, too over priced, and too unhealthy.

Those restaurants are just like Wall Street. Their excesses were disguised for only so long. Now with a contraction in the economy, the emperor is exposed. Those restaurants cannot increase sales by opening another 1,000 stores next to schools and in the inner city.

It's not surprising Americans have stopped going to the over-fried, over-red meat, over-portioned fast-food restaurants. It's too expensive for your wallet and for your health.

Two stories this week have come together for me: 1) a study that links eating red and processed meat with increasing your risk of dying prematurely, and 2) restaurant chains are struggling so they have lowered the price on a couple their entrees.

Why over-pay at a chain restaurant and eat unhealthy food? Many Americans are choosing to say no.

The industry must expunge those toxic food assets, just as Wall Street needed to.

March 21, 2009

Obama's first small step against obesity

The Obamas have started to lead the charge against obesity.
From First lady Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House "kitchen garden" Friday. It will be the first working garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a so-called "victory garden" at the height of World War II.

This time, however, the enemy is obesity. The first family is hoping to send a clear message to a fast food-driven nation that often seems to be losing the battle of the bulge.

"We're just hoping that a lot of families look at us and say this is something that they can do and talk to their own kids about and think a little bit critically about the food choices that they make," presidential mother-in-law Marian Robinson said

March 7, 2009

Don't look at this food (# 1)

Applebee's will not publish its nutritional information.

Now you know why.

Did you think that the Chicken Wings could possibly be 1,545 calories?

But that's not the worst. The Chicken Broccoli Pasta Alfredo Bowl (for god's sake, it's broccoli) is 1,644 calories with 84 grams of fat.

But wait, there's more. The Boneless Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing tops out at 1,724 calories and a whopping 132 grams of fat.

You'd have to walk the dog for six hours to burn off those wings.

Applebee's, officially, has the worst food of the day.

March 6, 2009

Fast food salads to make you fat!

The Today show along with "Eat This, Not That" took a look at salads. You have to watch this video to see one salad which is the caloric equivalent of eating an entire pizza, and another salad that has the same calories as eight donuts.

March 5, 2009

Fast food near a school means fatter students

Sara Mead of The Internet Food Association reports that a McDonald's close to schools means fatter kids.

A new study by economists from Berkeley and Columbia University finds that 9th graders who attend schools within a tenth of a mile of a fast food restaurant are 5.2 percent more likely to be obese. Such students consume 30 to 100 more calories a day than their peers.

The good news: Having a fast food restaurant a quarter to a half mile away from the school doesn’t increase students’ risk of obesity, nor does having non-fast food restaurants in close proximity to a school. Proximity to fast food restaurants also seems to have greater impacts on youngsters’ consumption and risk of obesity than it does for adults. More...

March 1, 2009

Indiana trails in everything

Nobody has ever accused Indiana of being on the forefront of anything. That now includes children's health.

State Rep. Charlie Brown of the Indiana General Assembly tried to follow New York City's lead and have fast-food restaurant display calorie counts. But the lobbyists made sure the proposal would not get out of committee. And what's the rationale?

The yellow legislators said the federal government might pass a national law soon, and Indiana should wait rather than lead.

It seems the entire nation has past by Indiana...and Notre Dame football, and Indiana basketball.

If a bill to force fast food restaurants to prominently display the nutritional value and calories of their menu items isn't dead this year in the General Assembly, it's definitely on life support.

No word on whether the proposal suffered a heart attack due to morbid obesity and calcification of the arteries.

State Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary had hoped showing Hoosiers some of the nasty stuff they eat would move them to eat less of it.

He predicted children and teens would lead the way, convincing their parents to stay away from the more nutritionally reprehensible products on the menu.

But opponents argued restaurant owners would face unreasonable costs to comply.

They also pointed out a federal statute governing fast food nutritional information could soon become standard across the country, and said Indiana should wait rather than putting its restauranteurs at a disadvantage.

The bill languished on the House agenda for weeks, as Brown tried to privately drum up support.

When he finally called it to the floor, Brown's proposal failed on a tie vote, 48-48.

He hopes to introduce the bill again, and find the votes necessary to get it passed.

February 27, 2009

Early death for obese teenagers

From it is reported obesity in teens is as unhealthy as smoking.

Teen Obesity as Deadly as Smoking
Study Shows Obese Teens Have Similar Risk for Early Death as Teen Smokers
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 25, 2009 -- Obese teens are just as likely to die before they reach old age as teens who are heavy smokers, while those who are overweight, but not obese, have the same risk for early death as lighter smokers, a new study shows.

Researchers followed 45,000 Swedish men from the time they were drafted into the military at the age of 18 until most were in their mid-50s.

They found that those who were obese in their late teens had nearly double the risk of dying during the almost four decades of follow-up, compared to those whose weight was normal at age 18.

This was a similar increase in risk as seen in men who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day in their late teens.

Men who were overweight, but not obese, in their teens and did not smoke had a similar risk for early death as normal-weight teens who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day.

The study appears in the latest issue of the journal BMJ Online.

"Most parents would warn their child about the dangers of even moderate smoking, but most probably wouldn't associate being overweight with the same level of risk," study researcher Martin Neovius, PhD, of Sweden's Karolinska Institute tells WebMD.

February 26, 2009

Why do our taxes pay for unhealthy fast food in schools?

One of the worst lunches our children eat is at school. The government through the National School Lunch Program promotes extremely poor food choices.

Our taxes pay for $9 billion worth of processed cheese, high-fat, meats, chicken nuggets and pizza, ready to be thawed and reheated. How good can these foods be? The value is 20 cents a meal.

This is shameful in America. This is wasteful in America. And this is terribly unhealthy in America.

You must read the Op-Ed section of the NY Times to understand this problem.

THIS new era of government bailouts and widespread concern over wasteful spending offers an opportunity to take a hard look at the National School Lunch Program. Launched in 1946 as a public safety net, it has turned out to be a poor investment.

When school districts allow fast-food snacks in the lunchroom they provoke widespread ire, and rightfully so. But food distributed by the National School Lunch Program contains some of the same ingredients found in fast food, and the resulting meals routinely fail to meet basic nutritional standards. Yet this is how the government continues to “help” feed millions of American schoolchildren, a great many of them from low-income households.

Many nutrition experts believe that it is possible to fix the National School Lunch Program by throwing a little more money at it. But without healthy food (and cooks and kitchens to prepare it), increased financing will only create a larger junk-food distribution system. We need to scrap the current system and start from scratch. More...

February 25, 2009

Everyone agrees this diet works

There is only one kind of diet that works, says the latest 2-year federal study.

And it's exactly what I have been telling you in this blog for more than 2 years.

Reduce the calories and you reduce your weight. It doesn't matter whether you listen to Atkins, Zone or Ornish. It doesn't matter if you visit Weight Watchers, Medifast or Jenny Craig. It doesn't matter if you eat only grapefruit, cabbage or red meat.

There's only one way: eat less calories than you burn. For most Americans you need to eat about 1,200-1,500 calories a day to lose weight.

Take it from me. I stopped eating 1,000 and 2,000 calorie meals, and in six months I lost more than 90 pounds. I did it through Nutrisystem, but any type of food would have worked in the right portions. And this is what this blog is all about. Let's get all of America eating the RightSized portions. Let's get all the restaurants to serve smaller portions at smaller prices. 

The study was published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. reports: LOS ANGELES - Low-fat, low-carb or high-protein? The kind of diet doesn’t matter, scientists say. All that really counts is cutting calories and sticking with it, according to a federal study that followed people for two years.

However, participants had trouble staying with a single approach that long and the weight loss was modest for most.

As the world grapples with rising obesity, millions have turned to popular diets like Atkins, Zone and Ornish that tout the benefits of one nutrient over another.
Some previous studies have found that low carbohydrate diets like Atkins work better than a traditional low-fat diet. But the new research found that the key to losing weight boiled down to a basic rule — calories in, calories out.

“The hidden secret is it doesn’t matter if you focus on low-fat or low-carb,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the research.

Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key, she said.

The study, which appears in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, was led by Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.

February 24, 2009

When is not healthy

On the web there is a lot of good being done -- informing and motivating people towards the RightSizing of America. I have tried to highlight those websites and let you know where you can get good healthy information.

On the other hand, there are many, many websites that look like good information, but they are not. These sites have names that sound like they are healthy, but look again. Sometimes the articles just don't make sense. Last year I told you about Sounds like a great idea. It's not. Burger King, Domino's, Hooters, and Chili's support it. Type in your city and all you get -- for healthy eating -- is the worst fast food restaurants in your area. You can guess who pays for the site. Not your locally produced, locally owned eatery.

Yesterday, I visited Wow, you'd really expect good healthy ideas on this site. Wrong! I was curious about its article: "America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants". Immediately I got sick to my stomach. This pretend health web site proceeded to tell me McDonald's and Chipotle are two of the MOST healthiest fast food restaurants in America.

(It shouldn't have surprised me to discover that's research is supported by Coke AND Pepsi.)

Luckily, I'm not the only person in America that can see fraud. Below are comments from's own website:
healthy? really? It’s articles like this that perpetuate the myth that “eating fast food can be healthy.” And perpetuating such myths is one of the many reasons why our country’s citizens are generally obese or overweight.

A lot of these places have many food choices that end up in the ‘Not That’ category (of the ‘Eat This, Not Fat’ website).
When Chipotle and McDonalds (SNACK WRAPS HEALTHY?!?!) make this list… makes me think that there wa$ $ome in$entive to get the$e companie$ on thi$ li$t…..

February 19, 2009

Italians love Pizza Hut! Huh?

My wife and I laugh every time, I see the Pizza Hut commercial on its new lasagna. If you haven't seen it, the commercial shows Italians in Rome eating Pizza Hut's new menu-item, lasagna, and of course, lauding its praises. Hard to believe, because that lasagna bears no relationship to any kind of food I have ever seen or ate in Italy.

In fact, I have never seen a 3-pound entreé with 2.5 pounds of cheese ever in Rome. Meals are simple, cheese is sparse, and the tastes are layered with fresh ingredients. I don't need to tell you that this commercial has no basis with reality.

What is real is the number of calories and grams of sugar (yes, sugar) in Pizza Hut lasagna (which comes with bread sticks)? How about 710 calories in 12 oz. of lasagna and one breadstick, and don't forget the 13 grams of sugar (more sugar than two of Pizza Hut's desserts). And don't forget the 1 gram of trans fat thrown in for flavor.

I'm not sure I believe Pizza Hut's website on how many calories are in its lasagna. At other restaurants lasagna can really put you over the scale:

Pizza Hut -- 570 calories.
Olive Garden -- 858 calories.
Macaroni Grill -- 1048 calories.
Sbarro's -- 650 calories.
Old Spaghetti Factory -- 850 calories.

February 18, 2009

Here's a sweet tax

There's two things you can't avoid: death and taxes. But now a tax might delay the first.

In New York they are considering a tax on sugar drinks, the scourge of all healthy life. Gov. Paterson is thinking of lumping soda pop with tobacco and liquor, as something "sinful" and thus, needing for his citizens to limit their intake.

I applaud his actions, though, good luck against the Pepsi, Coke and corn lobbyists. Sugary drinks have ZERO nutritional least a Big Mac provides a few nibbles of protein. And it's not like any of these drinks have real plantation-grown sugar. They are just made up of some chemical-lab-born corn syrup.

(A quick story: My aunt in the early 60s would always complain to me about how Coke in the 12-oz. cans tasted different than her supply of the 6.5 oz. real-glass bottles. I thought she was a little nuts, because I couldn't taste the difference, nor could there be a difference. It was all Coke, wasn't it? Later I found out that the little bottles of coke had real sugar, while the new-fangled cans had corn syrup. My aunt knew those laboratory boys were fooling around with her coke.)

If we want to win the war on childhood obesity, one way to start is to tax Mountain Dew, Coke and all the rest.

Here is why. Americans now consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago - and a great deal of these extra calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. A fast-food burger, for all its shortcomings, does have some nutritional value. A 20-ounce soda provides none. And sugar-sweetened beverages now supply 10% to 15% of total daily calories, both in children and adults.

It gets worse. Rigorous scientific studies have shown that consumption of sugared beverages is associated with poor diet, increased rates of obesity and an increased risk of diabetes. In studies where the same people are followed over time, and other studies where people are assigned randomly to reduce sugared beverage consumption, diets improve and subjects lose weight.
Obesity rates in New York State are staggering - 58% of adults are overweight or obese, and the current prevalence of diabetes represents a 50% increase since 1993. When a harmful product is legal, cheap and readily available, a modest tax is the single best way to change behavior.

Yes, we've all heard the complaints from the soft drink industry. I've been an advocate for soda taxes for 15 years - and have heard the special interests cry foul at every turn. Soft drink companies bombarded Maine with money and consultants to successfully overturn a smaller tax there last year.

In fact, in jurisdictions around the country, this debate has unfolded with neatly scripted predictability. In scene one, the industry claims it's just standing up for hardworking taxpayers. To counteract the credible scientific evidence linking sugar sodas to obesity, the industry pays a stable of scientists to write papers saying the evidence is weak, just as the tobacco industry paid scientists who claimed for years that smoking does not cause lung cancer and nicotine is not addictive.

February 17, 2009

There's no Joy of Cooking at home

Most excess calories are consumed away from the home. That's why I created this blog. To alert Americans -- and especially parents -- of the dangers of eating away from your own kitchen table. That includes fast-food restaurants, office cafeterias, 5-star hotels and, even, hospitals. Every time you eat away from your house, you are in danger. In danger of "mindlessly" overeating because of the portions and cues you receive when dining.

Now I find out, that the portions are clearly creeping up even at home, and you don't even know it. Why? Because the bible of cookbooks, "The Joy of Cooking", has been pumping up the calories in its recipes. I don't know about you, but I frequently consult the "The Joy" when I am cooking. I use it exclusively for my Cincinnati (turkey) chili, and banana nut bread. But Brian Wansink has taken the time to review all the recipes from all the "The Joy of Cooking" books, and has discovered some startling information, but not surprising data.
Though restaurants often take the blame for portion distortion - the trend of serving up ever larger helpings - cookbook recipes have done some Supersizing of their own, a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

"There's so much attention that's been given to away-from-home eating and so much attention that's been focused on restaurants and the packaged food industry, it makes me wonder whether it's actually deflecting attention from the one place where we can make the most immediate change," says Cornell University marketing professor Brian Wansink, who directed the study.

The study, which looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years, found a nearly 40 percent increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed, about an extra 77 calories.

The study identified the trend in numerous cookbooks, but it focused on American kitchen icon "Joy of Cooking," first published during the '30s and regularly updated with new editions since then, most recently in 2006.

Of the 18 recipes published in all seven editions, 17 increased in calories per serving. That can be attributed partly to a jump in total calories per recipe (about 567 calories), but also to larger portion sizes.

Only the chili con carne recipe remained unchanged through the years. The chicken gumbo, however, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version. Read more...