Monday, August 27, 2012

Obesity Studies Have No Purpose

According to a recent study profiled in USA Today, Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the USA with Colorado clocking in with the lowest.  So how does that help us lose weight?  Everyone knows that being overweight has many adverse consequences, so another report that confirms that there is a lot of FAT in America really doesn't do much for making any of it go away.
Even worse, some busy-body Government official will see yet another case for the Food Police to intervene. meaning another round of rules and regulations about what we can eat. 
The new regulations in New York City about limiting the size of soft drinks in restaurants are a joke.  It won't help people lose weight, it will just change how they buy what they buy.  And if they want a giant sugary soft drink, they will still buy it, just in a different establishment, like one of the thousands of kiosks on the streets of Manhattan that sell soft drinks, or a convenience store, or a grocery store, or whatever...
First of all, no one can lose weight unless they are truly motivated (from within) to do so.  Thus, instead of creating silly rules, a far better approach to reducing obesity in America is to provide people with useful and practical information about how to lose weight without going insane. 
But perhaps if we look deeper into the results of the study mentioned above, we can get a glimpse into what some of the culprits of weight gain really are and how they can be dealt with.  The top four heaviest states after Mississippi included Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia and Michigan, three of which are in the South.
Being a Southerner I know full well what we have working against us down here in the lower right of the country - FOOD.  Or maybe a better definition is FRIED FOOD.  The typical southern diet actually includes healthy stuff like vegetables, but then we go and screw it up with a heavy dose of grease.  This is a prime example of how just a change in cooking habits can make a big difference in the caloric (and health) value of the food we consume. 
One of my first lifestyle modifications was to cut down on (not eliminate - too hard) fried foods.  Over time I begin to eliminate many of those things that I used to eat routinely.  The key is to go slow, because if you give up too much too soon, you probably will fail in your mission.
In addition to cutting back on bad stuff, I started looking on how to improve the good stuff to make it edible.  One of the problems with diet change is that the really healthy stuff sometimes has no flavor.  To go from fried chicken to baked skinless, boneless chicken can be a real shocker in the taste department, as in none.  But with some experimentation in terms of spices and flavorings, you can create some really good tasting food that is satisfying to eat, yet healthy for the body.  My wife has a dozen different chicken recipes that actually work!
Just everyday little things like tomato soup can be improved.  Though somewhat lightweight, tomato soup has a ton of sodium, which besides being unhealthy in general, can also cause water retention which adds on pseudo pounds (not fat, just weight).  But if you get the low sodium version its like eating water with red food coloring...ugh.  The solution is too use a dash of garlic and maybe some pepper, which will make a TREMENDOUS difference in the taste.
So if government bureaucrats really want to help, they should quit making rules, call off the Food Police and focus on providing useful, helpful tips for making lifestyle changes that matter.  At the end of the day, you can't force people to lose weight or make better food choices, but you can certainly provide them with the tools to make informed decisions.
Bottom line, some people just don't care if they are fat or not... so quit the studies and leave them alone... it's their life and their choice.

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