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.