Health What are you doing to fight obesity? Eric Ringham March 26, 2010, 5:00 AM Mar 26, 2010 41 comments This week we’ve been reporting on the obesity epidemic and ways to combat it. Today’s Question: What are you doing to fight obesity? ‹ Older How would you describe your recession in six words? Newer › What’s your experience with adult children moving back in with their parents? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org Al Eat less, eat healthier, exercise more! azna amira Wrong question: you cannot “fight” obesity. What you can do is INTEND a healthy, balanced body, supported by a healthy, balanced diet: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. I was once anorexic, a supposedly incurable, fatal relationship with food. When I shifted from “fighting” what I don’t want, to working toward what I do, I got better, and no longer obsess about food. Eating should be a joy, not a war. We all know WHAT to eat; we have to change our relationship with our sustenance, not try to “control” it. Ashley, St. Paul I have been fighting the deadly disease of anorexia for the last ten years. What does programing like this say to the one in ten young girls who suffer from eating disorders? We need to focus on health, not weight! When society is so concerned with weight, we only send the message to our children that we care about the way they look than about their health and happiness. This has been an interesting series, but a much better focus would have been healthy eating for children, not the ‘obesity epidemic’. Gary F Seeing what just happened this week I would suggest that people start getting healthy to stay independant of the government. Jena This is a topic which I am passionate about. I do what my parents and grandparents taught me to do; eat right from all food groups, stay active, keep portion sizes respectable (the size of your fist). Beyond that, I teach martial arts to children and adults to help them stay active and fight the battle as well. I also write a fitness newsletter for my martial arts organization based on research I’ve read (I’m a scientist by trade), the health knowledge I possess from years of training in the martial arts, and living with family members who cooked from scratch, gardened, and kept active in a variety of ways. Tony That’s an expensive ideal I’d like to chase after I get a decent-paying jobs. At the moment, working 80-hour-plus weeks at multiple jobs for 1/4 of the pay I used to make, plus parenting, doesn’t leave the time or cash resources required for such frivolous pie-in-the-sky pursuits. Alison Ashley – While I sympathize with your plight, I have been listening to this series all week. These MPR stories have focused on the health problems associated with obesity and healthy eating. This has not been a series about losing weight to like a magazine model. MPR has provided a responsible and thoughtful look at a serious health problem facing many people. Personally, I started eating more healthy and exercising about 5 years ago. Like the rest of my family, I was very obese. While I still eat healthy foods, it has been an ongoing struggle to control portion sizes and get enough exercise, but I keep trying. Keeping a log book of what and when I eat, and how much I exercise has been important for me to stay on track. Nathan Stop being lazy. Yes, people have different circumstances and genetics, but obesity comes down to laziness. Not exercising is lazy. Eating fast food is lazy. Ignoring healthy habits is lazy. But we’re a lazy society, so we have no motivation to change our habits, we’ll just take the lazy route and talk about it or argue that we’re victims. daddybear Since there is nothing worthwhile to do in Minnesota then eat processed food at home and fast food when out, what I’m doing for obesity is eating! Helps the economy too. Adam Two simple things: don’t buy food at conventional grocery stores and cook everything from scratch. I garden, shop at coops, farmer’s markets and local fishmongers/butchers/etc. If you buy processed foods, and we all do from time to time, simply look at the ingredient declaration and see if it is how you would make it with ingredients in your own kitchen. If not, don’t buy it. andrea I agree that it should be about living a healthy lifestyle rather than fighting obesity. Unfortunately, I think once you’ve become obese, it might be impossible to get healthy again without it being a battle. As for what I’m doing, I am trying to only eat real food, as much as possible. That includes making as much of my food from scratch as I can and staying away from artificial sweeteners and processed foods of all kinds. I also eat a mostly vegetarian diet. The main thing is I’m trying to instill these habits in my 14-month-old daughter as well. She loves my homemade wheat bread, tofu, brown rice, all kinds of veggies and fruits, and doesn’t even seem to consider Kraft Mac n Cheese to be edible food. I’m also trying to be active as much of the time as possible, whether that’s focused working out (not often) or just running around playing with my daughter, going for walks, etc. It’s hard to do all this and work and have a family, so I try not to have too unrealistic of expectations of myself and give myself a break when I can meet those ideals all the time. It’s a lot of work but I think it’s worth it to live a long healthy life and encourage my daughter to do the same! J This is one of the cases for MORE expensive food, believe it or not. I’m actually unemployed, but refuse to compromise on my food. This means I buy less, but buy better. Dried beans at the co-op instead of canned saves $. The bulk bins anywhere are a boon for good stuff on the cheap. Seasonality too, tomatoes out of season are both expensive and terrible, so don’t but them! But this also means I am eating less and keeping me weight level despite having to sell my bicycles. Quality, not quantity! Robert I’ve been using alternate day fasting since July 2008. I lost 50 pounds in the first six months and have maintained my present weight since then. I’ve lost weight before by using exercise and reduced portion sizes but alternate day fasting has proven an easier way to lose and maintain a healthy weight for me. I do not recommend it for everyone. Alternate day fasting would probably not be a good idea for someone with anorexia, growing children, pregnant women, etc. However, it is a healthy way of eating for many people. Studies on calorie restriction in monkeys, mice and rats have shown both health benefits and increased longevity. By limiting fasts to fewer than 48 hours (I usually fast for 36 hours) the problems of muscle wasting and reduced metabolism are minimized. Other advantages include having more time on fasting days since I don’t have to prepare, eat or clean up after meals; no calorie, fat, carbohydrate or point counting and flexibility. If Thanksgiving or another special event falls on a fasting day, I just change the following day from an eating day to a fasting day. I have made an effort to improve my diet on eating days by eating plenty of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. I also take a multivitamin with meals on eating days to make sure I don’t miss out on necessary nutrients and I have started to exercise on fasting days when I have more time available. Shannon To stay healthy in our family we eat whole foods, avoid processed ones like the plague, cook all our meals from scratch, focus on portion size, eat out only on special occassions (and mostly go to local, independent restaurants), and imposed a “ban” on fast food restaurants. We also go to the YMCA three times a week. Planning, shopping for, and eating meals together, as well as staying active, brings us closer us a family AND we have a better level of physical and mental health. vjacobsen We need to stop pretending that baby formula is a healthy alternative to breastmilk. We know that there are so many risks associated with artificial feeding, and I’m sure we’ll learn so much more as time goes on. We don’t bat an eye at starting children on a highly processed and inferior food for the first year of their lives, yet we see negative effects for the rest of their lifetimes. The total cost related to obesity and diabetes as a result of formula feeding is in the BILLIONS. The doctor talking on Midday earlier this week kind of alluded to the difference in healthy weight gain for breastfed infants. I wish he would have gone further! vjacobsen Start kids off right! We need to stop pretending that baby formula is a healthy alternative to breastmilk. We know that there are so many risks associated with artificial feeding, and I’m sure we’ll learn so much more as time goes on. We don’t bat an eye at starting children on a highly processed and inferior food for the first year of their lives, yet we see negative effects for the rest of their lifetimes. The total cost related to obesity and diabetes as a result of formula feeding is in the BILLIONS. The doctor talking on Midday earlier this week kind of alluded to the difference in healthy weight gain for breastfed infants. I wish he would have gone further! comments sent to MPR Comments texted to MPR: I bike to work five days a week, 12 miles per day. It’s a great way to get exercise without losing time. It takes me about as long as the bus. -Nate, Golden Valley I work in the health and fitness field. I see bad habits and lifestyles walk in our door everyday. I try to teach self acceptance and healthy changes. Reprimand is not the answer. Accountability is. -Julie, Howard Lake Jessica McMahon Eating local, fresh foods whenever possible. curt I’ve cut out eating lard sandwiches for lunch. I no longer drink milkshakes with cooking grease added for the extra flavor. I limit my Big Mac’s to 5 at one time, and I no longer hire someone to carry me from my car to my desk at work. JW I expend calories by hoisting and foisting Mike Pollan’s book at everyone I meet, actively nannying my fellow humans ’til I sweat – all in the pursuit of homogenous Nirvana where we lose the self to morph into the collective food nazi god-head (resistance is futile, you will be assimilated, we are Borg.) Myself, I practice tsk-tsking those bad fat republican people while listening to Kathy Gross pontificate on the latest dating trends among one-legged GLBT kick-boxers in Sri Lanka. Then I gorge myself on Fava beans from the Coop and purge like Mt. Vesuvius in the Wal-Mart restroom. What ever happened to “common sense?” Did it die with Thomas Paine? Maria R.G. I’m educating myself on international and local food policy and community development issues as a way prepare myself for a life journey of working for food justice issues. Low income families and communities of color are being most affected by this “silent war on the poor” that is being exercised in urban and rural food deserts where low-income families have no access to fresh and economically accessible food and instead have a fast food chain or liquor store on every corner. Dianne I started using the Mayo Clinic Diet about a month ago. While I’m not following it strictly, the ideas that I have taken from it and applied to my life have resulted in a 13 pound weight loss. This year I plan to expand our patio garden, so we can eat more home grown vegetables. Katie McDonald As a recent graduate of St. Catherine University with a degree in Nutrition, I am doing my best to educate the public about the relationship between health and cooking from scratch. I believe that along with locally sourcing your food, the only way to know exactly what you are eating is to make everything yourself. Set aside time to do it for you and your family, make sure everyone does their part. It is not about low fat milk or granola bars, it is about eating ethically raised meats, more fruits and veggies and of course whole grains. It is about real food and tasty meals. Fat is flavor, you don’t need to be afraid of it. It will give you the satiety feeling at the end of your meal. Burn a little energy making your dinner. It’s okay to eat french fries, just make them yourself and don’t eat them everyday. Eat a salad every day, and make your own dressing. It takes two minutes. And lastly, learn how to read a label. Companies are very good at making you think you are eating “healthy”. Just cause it is organic doesn’t mean is isn’t made out of sugar. Audrey We buy around the edge of stores, ride bikes whenever possible, walk dogs every day. In the winter we skijourn everyday when it’s above 0. We try to avoid processed food, read labels for calorie content, and consider that every time we get up to do anything physical, it’s good for us. We make foods from receipes of world cultures like Morocco, India, Thailand and China. We remove the skin from chicken and pour off the fat before finishing cooking. We also eat seafood a lot, lots of walnuts and almonds and don’t drink pop. High fructose corn syrup is a killer. We have also gone low sodium and do not eat much red meat. We’re fighting this every day of our lives. So far, I think we are winning this war! But it takes attention to every thing put in the mouth. I also chew sugarless gum when I know I should not be eating but want an oral outlet. Mike Whenever I have a snack craving, I brush my teeth. With that just-brushed, minty aftertaste, grabbing that snack doesn’t sound so appealing after all. It also has the added benefit of keeping my teeth clean and healthy. Philip Eating one Ho-ho at a time. James I work:-) Little Falls Lady I’ve just started drinking a glass of water before I eat anything. I have already been exercising and I make very healthy meals from scratch but I reached a plateau in my diet. We’ll see if the extra water helps. Frank I am eating nutritionally dense food. I am avoiding foods that provide empty calories. Also, I have had a blood test to identify any deficiencies such as minerals and vitamins. I think by making sure I have sufficient levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, I will be able to maintain a healthy weight. Getting the right amount of exercise and sleep is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Shane I suppose with our new health care we will have required calisthenics everyday, lead by a government official of course. Get out you state provided jumpsuit everybody! Norine I watch what I eat, but never deny myself. Moderation, smart choices, and portion control. And, I exercise daily for at least an hour either weight lifting or doing a cardio workout. You have to be honest about how much you’re really eating, and what you’re really eating, and how much you’re really moving. It’s amazing how much you can eat if you exercise and make smart, healthy food choices. Steve the Cynic “I suppose with our new health care we will have required calisthenics everyday, lead by a government official of course. Get out you state provided jumpsuit everybody!” No, you won’t have to worry about that for a while. They’ll be too busy setting up the death panels. After they do that, then you can look for your government issue sweats. Jessica Sundheim I am the meanest mom ever! I turn off the tv and argue with my kids for half an hour to get them to go outside because “it’s sooo boring and there is nothing to do out there!” Then, when supper is ready I argue for another half hour for them to come in and eat because “they’re having soooo much fun and do they really have to come in right now?” I remember doing the same thing when I was a kid – like everything about parenting it’s payback I guess. Reuben Koutal First of all, you should define ‘do’, ‘fight’, and ‘obesity’, or at least reach some level of cosensus. What is obesity? Is it some kind of flower, beast, some stone? or what. Well, you might say it’s a number, of say in the BMI Index, those in the lower twenties are fine. Well OK. Mind you, that’s just a statistic, just like a blood pressure which is in the right range, it belongs to those, among a very large population of more or less healthy people, across all socieoeconomic, age, gender, race, culture, that one can possibly meet on The Earth. Next is the fight. Do we have to fight? and then obesity, which I myself don’t understand what is refered to, that is I and my wife. She always says, look at the dogs, not that dogs are bad things, but heavy huge bulls, pulling the cast nearly one ton ploughs on the corn field or rice field, hours after hours, and what they eat, hay, and water. Steaks, Chocolate Cakes, Vitamins to fade off SARS and a cocktail of look-for-it-and-dig-it-up microbes and illnesses, and a puff of cigarette to enjoy and relax getting tired eating all that? I doubt it. Wild dogs don’t eat more than one meal a day, and hardly that, they don’t have in particular attending physician who keeps close check on them, I’m sure, the Wild ones I mean. So, we don’t know what is fighting, and for that matter doing something to fight obesity. Actually, we, that is I and my wife, refrain from using words such as ‘don’t. We just live the Nature. That’s just about it. Why we have to fight anything, we feel exclaimed. We eat what you see in Nature, or try to look for it around you, and what remains, is what remains outside of our quarters. That’s why obesity is foreign to us, as well as drugs and whatever comes with it. Unclear or ambiguous, or incomprehensible, well you go find out about it. We just go about day by day. Whatever was two years ago or one hour is dead and gone. We knew about obesity. Noah Bucklin I think we need to change the way that were eating and open free gyms to workout in and find a healthier way to eat for everybody so they can stop becoming obese! Zen R I’m eating healthy and staying away from junk food. When I get a little bit older, I hope my kids develop healthy habits just like me. A lot of people in the U.S are obese or overweight. That is also true in other countries, but we should help get rid of that and have a healthy world. Also so the average human, (By Statistics), will have a longer average life span. I just hope that in the next generation of our country, the U.S will have a percentage of 1% of Americans are overweight. Then we will probably be known as the healthiest country in our world. Z Raud Everyday, I watch what I eat. I suppose that if you can get into local gyms for a low cost or maybe even for free. There are a lot of ways that each of us can stop ourselves from being overweight or obese, but I feel that getting a lot of exercise and eating healthy food everyday could help a lot with our nation’s problem. Maybe not everybody can do this everyday, but people who can’t should just do it as much as they can. (YOU SHOULD!) Anna L. As twelve year-old I can’t do much to help with the bigger picture but I can insure that I stay healthy, I’m on a swim team that practices almost every other day and I make it a point to eat organic and sustainable foods, my parents have a share with an organic farm near where we live and we get all our meat from there, we can know exactly where all our food came from, even the name of the animal (though I don’t eat meat, I a vegetarian.) I think that if everyone tries to eat healthy and just passes along the idea to a friend then web will all be surprised how much healthier we all are. Mackenzie Christensen I started to eat more homegrown fruit and veggies and started to go outside more like biking, even going to friends houses playing volley ball, baseball, basketball, and just running around the block… but did you know that if you start to starve yourself your body will feed on your muscles and that does not look good if you do that… Sylvia Enzler When you are obese you don’t feel good about yourself and you feel like you failed and you can’t do anything about it. I am 11 years old and in my MN History class we are reaching food. The subjects change, right now were talking about the problems about people who are obese and overweight.When someone is obese or overweight they feel depressed.I think we should make a game or some exercises that are fun and rewarding. Then people who are obese can loose weight and have fun. Thanks for listening, Sylvia SharonV How do those people lose weight, who don’t have internet ?