Monday, January 10, 2011

Wake Up Americans! Obesity, Diet, and Inactivity is Killing US!

I usually try to keep this blog pretty positive.  I try to write about things that are motivational, loving, and inspirational.  I try to share the parts of my life that make me happy and I like to read things that make me happy.  But allow me spend just this one blog as a vent.  We all need a good vent once and awhile right?  

I just spent an hour in the waiting room for the nurse to give my kid her vaccinations that she has to have in order to continue at preschool.  I've always had my kids on a slower schedule for vaccines so we are a little behind but trying to slowly catch up.  

Vaccines are not the issue that I write about today.  During my long wait in the waiting room my time was spent trying to keep my little ones to a confined area so they didn't get exposed to every. single. nasty. germ there was with the sick people hacking and wiping their snot on the chairs.  Of course my 18 month old insisted on trying to play with every handle, lick every object that was tongue level and then suck on his fingers that he stuck in the water fountain.  I'm sure we brought home some germ friends with us today.  Hopefully they won't stay long.  

As I was standing there waiting for my name to be called, I looked around me.  I watched the people walk past me every few minutes.  I noticed the people sitting in chairs and standing.  And I noticed how terribly overweight every. single. person in that waiting room was.  Now, let me say that I know perfectly well that some people have health issues that they can't help.  I know that some people are overweight because of issues beyond their control.  I also know that I don't know what these people face in their life.  But I also know that the lady in the wheel chair who was 100 lbs overweight was eating Lays potato chips with her coke and I know that the other lady who was probably 3-350lbs came in from her lunch break with her McDonald's bag in hand as she slowly moved from one side of the room to the other.  And I know that I felt disgusted.  

I feel disgusted because these people in the waiting room are not alone in their eating habits and obesity. This is the norm in our country.  Try it.  Go sit in a mall somewhere or a populated area (other than your country clubs or ski resorts in Aspen).  Go sit somewhere where the average American might be.  And just watch.  Look.  Notice.  Observe.  And you will see.  Overweight, overindulgent, and inactive people.  This is something that needs to be changed.  How much money is being spent on health care?  How many health problems can be avoided just through diet and exercise??  A lot. 

Yes, I know, genetics plays a role in health issues and disease.  But wake up People!  What can you do with this one life you live?  What can you do differently with your diet so that you might not need that medication that costs so much money?  What EXERCISE are you adding to your life to keep your heart, bones, and muscles healthy?  What is happening to our country?  

For a long time I always said how sad it was that it costs so much more money to eat the best foods and that people with low incomes probably have a harder time affording good food.  But I'm done with that bullshit excuse.  It is time Americans.  Time to educate our own.  Time to start teaching our population how to eat.  Ramen noodles is not a healthy food source!  Mac n'Cheese (tasty, yes.  And yes, my kids eat it)  is not substantial food to serve your kid for every. single. meal with a side of Wonder Bread and American cheese.  Yes, it costs a lot to eat all organic fruits and veggies but you can eat decently at a pretty good budget.  But so many Americans don't know how to eat!!  We don't know how to eat something that doesn't come in a box with 3 simple directions and 3 different ways to prepare:  microwave, oven, or stove top. 

When I went to Thailand for the first couple times I was amazed at how normally sized everyone was.  And happy.  And Active.  No cheese.  No Milk.  Very little, if any, red meat.  So different.  My first visit in 2002 I was a little confused.  I had always been taught in school that you had to have your food know?  Where was your cheese and Beef?  What?!  No milk?  Damn, your entire country must have the weakest bones in the world and all the woman must have osteoporosis, right?  Wrong.  Now a little disclaimer here:  I don't claim to know much about the health care or diseases in Thailand and I'm not saying that it is better or worse.  I'm not saying anything except that there are entire countries, worlds, communities out there that are very healthy and happy and fit that don't eat like the average American Food Pyramid tells them to eat and they are better for it.  I think.  

Beth from SUAR just sent me a DVD called Eating to watch.  I have not had a chance do this yet but hope to soon.  A quote on the back of it:  "A compelling and often shocking look at the standard American diet.  Asserts that following federal nutrition guidelines can kill you."  American Library Association.  

I'm not quite sure any if this has even made sense but I sure feel better.  It just really bothers me to see so many obese, inactive, unmotivated people out there that are chowing down on their french fries, Big Macs and slurping down their Dr. Pepper.  

So, I think this is officially the longest and most boring blog post I've ever written.  Not to mention, the most negative and grammatically incorrect one I'm sure.  The positive Amanda will be back in a couple hours to do a few tags from blog friends.  Thanks for letting me vent.  



  1. Amen.

    A. A bag of apples costs the same as a bag of chips. It can be just as cheap if not cheaper to eat healthfully - you just have to plan.

    B. I will always have a job.

  2. I know, i have the same thoughts too. I mean, just go to any restaurant here in the states. Do we really need to eat that much food?! It is sad - and embarrassing. We should know better.

  3. Amen! This is seriously something we discuss all the time. Ryan and I both work with obese individuals and people often question/seem annoyed with our eating patterns and we try to inform without coming across judgmental. People will ask advice about getting healthier but then find every excuse in the book as to why they can't/won't do certain things that would improve their health. It's extremely frustrating...especially when children are involved.

  4. This is a little bit of a touchy subject but thank you for having the courage to write about it! I think the saddest part is that obesity is completely preventable.

  5. Living in Southern California, where people torture themselves to be thin, sometimes I forget how obese the rest of the country is. I'm always blown away by statistics of obesity. It's always some crazy high number. I know I lucked out genetically to get this body, but I also know that vegetables are delicious, and don't have to be smothered in cheese to be so. I know that fried food should not be a daily occurrence, and soda can make you fat, if you drinking multiple two liter bottles a day. Your rant is right on. It's a sad state of affairs out there.

  6. OMG! Your singing my song. I live in the south, in MS, which has the honor each year of being the fatest of the fat. You can imagine how upset I am when these lazy bones are receiving FREE medical (Medicaid), eating their McDonalds, and sitting around living "the fat life.". Meanwhile, my hubby & I are grossly uninsured,, and have to pay everything out of pocket, medical related. Because of this, we must be extra diligent to at least attempt to eat right because we can not afford the medical bills. I mean really, people get free health care & we give them NO reason to eat right. How about, you loose you
    free Medicaid if you are obese? How about making good foods cheap - that
    would be a tax worth paying. I better stop here, because I will go CRAZY & guess what, I have to get back to WORK - no free ride here.

  7. I can't comment on food because I admit I have a terrible diet! Probably better than a lot of people, but it could be MUCH better!!

    But I can comment on my own observations that I make daily at my job. This is in regard to co-workers, not customers that may come in. As long as my schedule will allow for it, my mom (we work together!) and I will go for a walk in the morning and the afternoon. It doesn't matter what the weather is. I can't tell you how many times people seem shocked at this. They spend their breaks eating brownies at their desks. Ooh - and then there is the food at work thing! I have my own issues with eating in public, so maybe that helps. Right now I see 2 candy bowls, a tin filled with fancy chocolates and cookies and a basket with various chocolate covered products - and a few dried veggie. Nobody is touching the dried veggies.

    I haven't had ONE single thing from all of that. I haven't had a single piece of candy or chocolate since before New Years in the 9th grade. Talk about will power and sticking to a resolution, eh!?!

    I guess it shocks me that people are shocked at ME! It shouldn't be surprising that I take the stairs and don't snack. Even before I decided to be a runner I just never thought to snack at work on candy or anything. And it feels so good to just get up and move around when you can. Seems like even if we could spread the word at work maybe things could leak out and slowly spread to other people in our lives. I don't know. I'm with you on all this. It is just sad - in a pathetic way. We should all know better!

    Oh my gosh - okay, this is too long.... but I saw a headline of this morbidly obese man that wanted to sue the government? Or something like that anyway because he was sent to a dietician instead of a therapist for an eating disorder. Really?? If you can sit their naked and not need to be censored because your fat rolls keep your bits hidden ... you should just KNOW that you need to do something about it! And the people in his life need to stop enabling him. If he can't move he can't shop. So who is supplying him with all these terrible food??

    Okay - I'm done ranting. I could keep going. I'll just stop! :)

  8. Get this .... when I hit "post comment" --- it told me it was "too large"!

    How perfect!

  9. Over eating and poor nutrition is a bad habit. One that can't be hidden like other bad habits. It is a shame more people aren't more educated about it like drugs and alcohol.

    I wonder if the statistics will soon improve - like smoking statistics did.

  10. I completely agree with you. It is more "convienent" than cheaper to eat mac n cheese and other crappy foods. There are plenty of healthy ways to just takes more time...which sadly, some people don't think their health is important enough to take that extra time.

  11. You're exactly right. Americans eat too much and eat calorie-dense, nutrient-dead foods. Eating well takes careful planning, but simply eating LESS would do a lot.

  12. AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was standing in line at the grocery a few months back behind a woman and her child. The child picked up a pack of peanuts and asked if he could have them. The mom told him no because they were going to McDonalds when they got done checking out.

    Mom. Of. The. Year.

  13. Glad I have some of you appreciating this. I was worried about posting such a touchy subject but these things need to be thought care is out of control and we are spending countless amounts of dollars on things that don't have to BE if people would only just put some effort into being active and making better choices with their diet!

    Don't get me wrong, my kids have had McDonalds, and fast food, and I give them mac n' cheese from a box sometimes. I also give them candy, cookies and all kinds of food that isn't healthy. But we also teach them balance and the importance of exercise. I'm shocked that people let themselves get so OUT OF CONROL!

    Makes me question my opinions about health care.

    Thanks for your awesome comments. MOre than anything I want people to become more aware, be inspired and motivated to make healthy changes, and be empowered by their better choices. I want this to be a positive message....not just a bitch fest where I complain about a situation. I want to be PART OF THE SOLUTION.

  14. Ninew, being from Thailand, was shocked when she first came to the United States. Her first experience like this, was applying for her Social Security card in Aurora, Colorado. She was shocked at what she saw in the waiting room and wasted little time to call home to tell her friends and family about the shocking obesity that she saw!
    Thai people like to grow their own vegetable naturally. Thai people do drink milk, but it is usually soy milk. Meat is never the main part of the meal. Thais do seem to be healthier and happier than the average American! The only problem, is that Thai people think that McDonalds, Burger King, and Krispy Kreme are special luxury foods. These foods are available for those willing to slurge on the high price tag!:)

  15. Also Thai people do not try to hide the truth about obesity. In America, it is impolite to tell another person that they are obese. In Thailand, good friends and people that you hardly know will casually mention that you have gained weight and look rather fat! The Thai idea is that, if they are a good friend, they should warn you before you get too fat. Otherwise, you might not know, if nobody tells you!:)

  16. First of all, I completely agree with you. That said, I did not need to read this right before going to the grocery store, where every item I picked up made me think WWAS (What Would Amanda Say?) :D

    I think we have a fairly healthy diet in our house. That is, lots of vegetables and fruits are available and served at dinner, and I endeavor to get whole grains into my family whenever possible. It's very difficult when you have one very picky teenage eater and a husband who undermines you (not in a nasty way, just bc he was not brought up eating particularly healthy foods and is resistant to anything "different") at every step (buying Pop Tarts regularly, buying sugar cereals, etc). Very frustrating.

    And out of his whole family of 6, he only has one sister and his dad who aren't considerably overweight. He was fit when we married but has gained a lot of weight. It's hard to see him so inactive and so resistant to doing things because his knees hurt and back hurts...things that would probably be much less painful if he lost weight.

    And I'm no Barbie doll, for sure, so I don't have a ton of room to talk. But I do try to eat well and stay active. Hopefully it's a model that will inspire my husband at some point.

  17. Well, I read your post, Amanda, and all the comments. So I challenge ALL OF YOU to go see FORKS OVER KNIVES! It's all about this topic, and very convincing as well. If you haven't read THE CHINA STUDY, or PREVENTING AND REVERSING HEART DISEASE, or EAT TO LIVE, or KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT WHOLE, then you need to. Then SPREAD THE WORD and YOU WILL BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION. (Off my soap box now.....)

  18. I couldn't agree more. When I lived in Europe and New Zealand (where my hubs is from), everyone was pretty much normal size. The grocery store were full of foods with little processed ingredients. It was so wonderful! Its always depressing coming back to this food nation. I hope it changes soon!

  19. hank Martha. I am watching a DVD called Eating that is right along similar lines to these issues. I think a big part of my contribution to the problem is reading, educating my children (and students when I teach), and sharing my research and ideas through writing.

  20. Don't worry, I get the same way sometimes! I will just get so overly disgusted when I see the way that people treat themselves. I don't know what is happening to us as a society but it's pretty disturbing. Don't worry, we all have a rant post every once in a while!

  21. I totally agree with everything you said. I See a lot of my kiddos parents come in to the school every day that I want to say something to, but I can't. And I can already see that their kids are following in their footsteps. ughhh.

  22. I could not agree with you more. With every sentence I was nodding my head and thinking "YES! YES! YES!" she's saying it!!

    All but 2 of my co-workers are overweight or obese. What do they eat for lunch? Usually fast food, but if not, lunch is usually one of the most caloric sandwiches at the deli. The worst part is, I have heard EVERY SINGLE ONE of them say at one time or another "I know I need to eat healthier"...

    BUT? That's what I want to ask, but I don't.

    I am starting a run group at work. We are starting off walking with 30 second intervals of running. Everyone is signing up for the same 5k in April. I am hoping they will either learn to love exercise or at least see how vital it is to their health and existence.

    I loved your comparison to Thailand. We are not the only country struggling with obesity but when compared to MOST countries we are a complete mess. I could go on for days about the costs of healthcare and the fact that people are dying from PREVENTABLE diseases... but you already know all of that. We all do.

    I went to school for Public Health hoping I could get out there and find a job teaching prevention (prevention of Type II Diabetes, heart disease, etc)... and unfortunately what I found is that there are not enough programs out there doing this. So much money goes into healthcare and not enough into PREVENTION. We need to become a more proactive nation and start taking care of ourselves.

    Yikes, what a rant. Thanks so much for this post!! It really got me going, but that felt good ...


  23. more than makes me sad. i morn for the lives that they are missing out on, the things they could be doing. i feel horrible that the poor habits are passed from one generation to the next... i'm sad realizing how little respect they have for themselves. i wish i could convince them that it's worth it... that they are worth taking care of.

  24. It is all about portion control and sadly some people just cannot control it. This is an issue that makes me rant every once in awhile to my husband and it sounds just like you!

    I have awful eating habits- coffee, fast food, alcohol, etc. But I try to workout every day and I think about how much I am eating when I get fast food or eat the chips. You could just about eat whatever you wanted if you have the willpower to stop at a sensible portion.

    It starts with the adults taking time to care about themselves. If they did that, they would change their habits and show their kids a good example. I have a family member who is a perfect example of this. She eats junk so her kids only know to eat junk. I am trying to help by getting them to see food is fuel not comfort. But it is so hard!

    A few years back my husband and I went to an awesome personal trainer and I always think of this line when I want to complain about gaining weight, "Rebecca, it is as simple as: Put down the goddamn fork!"

    That definitely makes me eat healthier!

    I just pray that people in this situation start believing in themselves and realize that they are worthy of taking the time to think about what they eat and that taking the time to do that is much more important than say a spa day...

  25. I agree 100%
    I live in California but I am not American.
    When I moved here I was shocked to see the portion size in restaurant! And free refils on sodas? never seen that before. I agree it is all about portion and not eating with the eyes! Parents showing good example to their kids. Yes there are people who are overweigh where I am from, of course but nothing like what I see here. And the problem with the kids is out of control here, it is so sad to see. I make my kids play sports. I don't ask them if they want to like most my friends here. I sign them up and they go, the end. If they hate a sport they next we try another one, but we do something!

  26. Great Post Amanda! "What can you do with this ONE life that you live" SO true.

    Such a vicious cycle that starts so young. I went to help out tying skates for gym for the first grade. There is one little boy in Max's class who is obscenely overweight (I know him, I know his situation). Anyway, I asked the kids to loosen and slip their feet in their skates and I would come around and tie them. He could hardly make an effort. Just sat there reclined against the wall and said "I can't do mine" SO sad that at 7 years old, he barely has enough energy to loosen his own skates. When we finally get the skates on, no attempt to even go and have fun, just sits on the bench. He's giving up having FUN because he's too TIRED! The other kids give him a hard time sometimes but it seems to roll off him like he's already given up and accepted his fate-AT SEVEN!!....This truly BREAKS my heart!!! Honestly, I just want to take him home and help him. C'mon parents, give your kid a fighting chance....Rewarding your kids with FOOD and video games is not LOVE.

    I don't mean to sound over the top. My kids have certainly had junk, cookies, pizza and they like it but they also love fruits and vegetables and they LOVE activity. 9 times out of 10, they would drop the chip bag if someone started a game of tag etc.

    One more thing before I end this LONG rambling comment. I won't elaborate but I totally think processed foods are playing a MAJOR role in the demise of our country's eating habits. We obsess over calories but eat things that have a shelf life of 4 years......I'm not a complete follower but I do think the theory that your cupboards and fridge should be clear of anything with a shelf life longer than 2 weeks has some merit (Bob from the Biggest Loser)

    Thanks for posting on a pretty difficult topic! Certainly not boring!

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  28. A-FREAKING-MEN girl. I 100% agree with EVERY word you said. It's amazing how people don't see the disconnect between their awful eating habits and lack of activity, and their poor health and obesity. I work as a personal trainer and a nutrition counselor, and I am constantly FLOORED at some of the people that come to work with me. MANY of them don't even see their habits as bad, and quite frankly don't see the importance of changing them. It kills me. It's so sad that America is literally eating themselves to death. Way to bring up such an important topic. WE NEED TO CHANGE THIS PLACE!!!

  29. Wow, my readers/followers are amazing!!! I can't believe what thoughtful responses everyone wrote....I have been reading them all as they come in but I want to go back and read more closely and respond to each of you when I get some time! i'm so glad this was mostly well received. :)

  30. Hi Amanda,
    Do you read Tricia's Blog called Endurance Isn't Only Physical? You should take a peek. She is amazing. She recently posted about this being the 2 year anniversary of her "decision" to lose weight. Guess how much she lost? 128 lbs. and now she's a Marathoner. She's super cute, funny, happy and a total inspiration to over 1,000 Followers!

  31. I'm mountain biking when I can on weekends, riding the stationary bike, and trying to fit in some strength/core stuff at least once a week. We'll see how it goes...

    Shopping is always stressful bc of the strain between what I want to buy and what people in my house will eat. When they don't, I eat a LOT of leftovers! lol

  32. I love that all the restaurants have to post calories now. I confess I ate at McDonald's today. I had a mini meal with a diet coke. I know diet coke is poison, but it is delicious on occasion (read my blog about my fantastic coconut water find). Anyway I consumed my 420 calories and was on my way. calories are ok to track and I think it is a start for people who have no idea. The key like you said is to educate our community. While I love french fries, I much prefer real food and grew up on fresh home grown hearty meals and had no idea what a calorie was until I started to consume mainstream American food.

  33. Yes! And I love french fries, candy, pizza, a good burger now and then but just not all the time. Moderation and portion size!

  34. Great post. My husband says I have an issue with fat people - it's kind of our little joke. I don't have an issue with overweight people (hello, used to be one), but lazy people who don't even attempt to live a somewhat healthy lifestyle, yes, I have a problem with that. The people in my neighborhood drive me nuts. The number of people who can't walk to the end of the driveway to get their mail or walk to the school bus stop to pick up their kids astounds me. And, yes, all of these people are the ones who are very overweight as well.

  35. AmenAmenAmen..I totally agree and I am Canadian so I agree with the view on your country and mine. Awhile ago, we were at the movies and saw this very overweigh girl in her car - smoking and drinking a coke. My first thought? There is where my health care dollars are going to go...not to me who is doing everything I can to take care of myself. I am all riled up. :)

  36. Your post was great and I couldn't agree more. The thing that gets me is the lack of activity so many kids get. I love love love the fact that my 4 year old knows I run and that I put him in his 1st 1 mile race when he was 3. Many of my friends looked at me like I had done something wrong, but sometimes you just have to do what you feel is right. Now a 4 year old as of Dec 28th, Oscar goes to the park across the street and plays ALL DAY LONG. 5 solid hours one day. I think it is so important for kids so be active and involved in things besides tv and video games. (we still do watch TV and my 4 year old does have a nintendo ds...but the time is limited and given the choice he would much rather be outside playing soccer, throwing a frisbee, playing at the park, riding his bike, etc.) I just feel bad for kids these days b/c when the parents are not active it is that much harder to produce an active kid. Kids are a direct product of their parents!

  37. It is strange the denial. My sweetheart was just back East and his neices were allowed to drink pop all day, eat poptarts and slim jims. None of which, is food.

  38. As a nurse who has worked both ICU and ER, I couldn't agree more.... so much of what patients are admitted to the hospital for are obesity-related or obesity-fueled diseases that might not be present if the person was of a healthy weight/lifestyle. There are skinny people that aren't healthy, though, and have some of the same problems that the obese have due to lack of physical activity/unhealthy lifestyle choices/etc.

    As a health care worker, I try to educate my patients (skinny or overweight) about choices they can make to help them live a healthier life which may increase the quality of their life in later years that could have been wrought with preventable diseases. I have to say... it's scary to see the statistics of obesity in this country and without some serious changes, it's only going to get worse.

  39. this isn't negative. it's true! it's very sad how lazy and complacent we have become as a society. convenience trumps health; i'll just take a pill for that... i know i need to eat cleaner myself but i have not yet given up on my "treats" as muchas i know i should!