Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Just announced this week: A major study of issues and strategies for reducing calories eaten away from home in an effort to reduce weight gain and obesity.

It was a major effort, and the results make interesting reading. I was especially surprised by the types of studies and data collection efforts that the federal government is undertaking. For one example, there’s an effort to gather information from parents on the amount and types of activity they performed with their children. Items like ‘how many times did you go to the park,’ and ‘how often did you take a walk as a family.’

On one hand, it’s important information. On the other hand, it struck me just how much the family has changed over the decades. When we were children, there were no fences in the neighborhood, so baseball games, red rover, whatever, spanned at least two backyards. There was so little traffic that there was ALWAYS a stickball game in the middle of the road. The rare times there wasn’t stickball, it was kickball.

Would my parents have filled out a questionnaire like this? On a regular basis? I doubt it.

Just the fact that this study was performed – and IMO, is necessary – shows how much we’ve changed as a society. We eat differently, processed foods are so much more available and have become ‘necessary.’ As a society, we don’t cook much, we eat out more often [hence, the study!], and we’re not as involved in our communities as we once were.

When I started this little essay, I was going to discuss other aspects of this study, but I seem to have gone on a bit of a rant. Bottom line, while on some levels this study might hint of social engineering, it is actually the first federally funded, detailed look at making some serious changes in our society. It’s very hard to get people to change their habits in a vacuum, but, as we’ve discussed in the past, there’s gotta be some help from society and industry.

Well, here it is!

8 thoughts on “FDA and the Keystone Forum Report

  1. Lynette says:

    Well happy day! It’s striking to me to look back at photographs from the early 1900s on into my grade school years in the ’60s. There are almost NO fat people anywhere. It’s a rarity. Contrasting that with how many fat folks are on view in any public place today, it’s clear that much has changed in our society. I, too, can rant about children playing outside, television/entertainment addiction and the impact that has had on community, internet madness, etc. I am happy to see some action, any action at all. I am also grateful to be solidly maintaining -120 pounds and working on fitness every day. Life is good. It could be better if it were a bit slower, a lot more active, more connected to the rest of my community. When I go out in my front garden ~ who else is out there? Not a soul. Sad.

  2. GG says:

    Jane,
    Thanks for sharing this! I eat out a lot – but it happens in phases. This will be a very interesting read.
    GG

  3. slow disciple says:

    Woah!
    Have we really gotten to a place where we need the government to tell us we need to exercise, engage in activities with our families, eat healthier foods, etc.? Can’t we look around (or in the mirror) and say–we need to make better choices and it begins with me.
    I’m not practicing what I preach very well–yet, but I know a study from the government isn’t going to make me do it any better. If I’m honest with myself I could probably tell you what the study is going to without reading the study. Isn’t taking responsibility for ourselves, our health, our bodies, what this BLOG is about, at least in part?
    I’m probably being too harsh. I appologize. I guess I’m in a season of life where I need to quit blaming, or pointing fingers, or expecting others to solve my problems.
    I love the encouragement this post offers. Thank you.

  4. Jane says:

    Hey there, Slow disciple. Your points are absolutely correct. It is indeed our responsibility to recognize what a portion size is, what the optimal composition of meals and snacks should be [on an individual basis], the appropriate balance of exercise and food, etc. etc. etc. However, at this point, for a variety of reasons, chips have become a food group for many people – sandwiches and chips are standard lunch fare! – and restaurant portions are enormous. Many people figure that if a restaurant has served them something, it must be a portion and they’ll go ahead and eat it.

    We’ve become more sedentary for a variety of reasons, and fitting in 30-60 minutes of daily exercise is hard to fit into one person’s daily schedule – and nearly impossible to fit into an entire family’s without careful thought and planning.

    Advertising and marketing have historically been used to change people’s opinions and habits. After all, it’s gotten us to CHIPLAND and meals consisting of fried chicken, mac and cheese (as a veg), and corn. It’s time – very late, perhaps – to use these same techniques to promote healthier living. And that’s why I think this report is a good start.

  5. jonquil says:

    This study is all very well, and fast food menus may get healthier as a result, but the underlying economic forces behind this behavior aren’t being addressed. People are eating fast food largely because they have no time. For example, single moms with kids are often working two jobs to make ends meet, plus driving the kids to school, activities, the doctor, etc. Two parent families aren’t always better off, as it can take at least two jobs to pay a mortgage today, even in the far outer suburbs. And living far from one’s job means a long commute. Everyone I know is overscheduled, in debt, sleeping less, working way too hard, and essentailly living in their cars! There’s barely time to clean the kithen, bath, and do the laundry, much less eat well and exercise. That’s the lifestyle that made me fat, and I finally got so burnt out I had to opt out of the rat race entirely. It took years for my husband and I to break free, and many people aren’t so lucky.

  6. london slimmer says:

    I’m with you, Jane. There are many things that we can do ourselves to maintain a healthy weight and many of these are, indeed, common sense. However, there are other things which the government could definitely help with. I’d love, for example, to see nutritional information printed on all packaged foods, for our major fast food chains to have nutritional information available – at least on the web, but preferably in their branches. All too often, I try to order something that sounds extremely healthy, only to have it arrive drowning in butter and oil. I’d like to have my Pret a Manger sandwich without mayonnaise, but I’m told that the server HAS to add it, “it’s company policy”! I’d like to be able to share a main course – and not be told that my husband and I have to have one each – and to doggy bag food, when it’s too much (many places will not let you). I’d also love it if we had some cycle paths or safe cycling routes, so that I could cycle to work instead of taking the tube, without risking life and limb. It seems to me to be a similar issue to that of smoking. At home, of course, I can choose not to smoke, but out in restaurants, pubs and bars, I have no choice but to sit in a smoky environment (unless I just want to give up having a social life and stay at home). The government is banning smoking in public places as of next July. I’m sure there are equivalent things they could do to facilitate healthy eating.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    And let’s keep in mind that in low-income areas, not only can people not safely get activity outside, but there frequently aren’t grocery stores. There certainly aren’t health-food stores. What’s there? Convenience stores and fast food. Do we need the government to tell _us_ (those of us with access to farmers’ markets and gyms and the internet) what to eat and how to exercise? Probably not. Do we need the government to help us think about ways that communities can facilitate healthier living? Absolutely.

  8. Sandra says:

    We should also keep in mind that the dollars for the marketing machine that goes into promoting junk food i.e. fast food… is much higher than what could possibly be spent on promoting healthy eating… but every little bit helps.

    Yes, taking personal responsibilty is ultimately the way any of us will make changes, but a bit of prodding by our “government” isn’t such a bad thing.

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