Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Lean-ness

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Especially when we travel, I’m shocked and saddened by the general health of American men and women, as evidenced by the increasingly high percentage of obese and morbidly obese folks, typically standing in line at the JiffyMart with a cart full of Little Debbie Cakes and soda.

But apparently, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Stand back. America is undergoing expansion. Consider the outclips below from HealthNews. Saddest of all, this is entirely preventable. Page two offers some suggestons.

Are there efforts in your community to influence advertisers, educate eaters, train dietary staff and offer locally-produced healthy food instead of high-fructose corn-based poison on a bun?

Obesity in America Projected to Affect 164 Million by 2030 

If rates of obesity continue to follow the current trends, half of the United States population will suffer from obesity within the next two decades. With projections that the number of obese people in America will climb from 99 million in 2008 to 164 million by 2030, obesity-related diseases and health care costs are expected to soar. The disturbing information come from a new report recently published in the journal The Lancet.

The rise in obesity is expected to lead to 7.8 million additional cases of diabetes, and 6.8 million more cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as 539,000 added cancer cases by 2030.

The study also found that rates of obesity differ by gender and ethnicity, with about 25 percent of all American men being obese in 2008, compared to 30 percent of white women, 33 percent of Hispanic women, and 46 percent of black women.

According to the report, if the U.S. population would just collectively lose about two pounds, more than 2 million cases of diabetes could be prevented, along with about 1.5 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and 73,000 to 127,000 cancer cases.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. It’s the same here in the UK, the population is growing fatter and fatter daily. I blame processed foods that are literally dripping with bad fats to which we appear to be becoming addicted. I once stood in a queue at a checkout and gazed in horror at the contents of the trolley in front of me which contained not one item that I would call food. And its owner looked at my own trolley that was full of vegetables and fruit and then looked at me askance as her toddler stuffed three jam doughnuts into his mouth

  2. As a teacher, I think that a lot of the obesity problem starts with our education system. We spend hours each day teaching children the three R’s but at lunch time it’s “hurry up, pull whatever disposable items is in your lunch box out as quick as you can and eat it as quick as you can so we can get outside to recess”. Granted, recess is important, but learning about where food comes from, how it grows, how to care for it through its various seasons, how it is processed (by this I mean, in the kitchen), how it can be savored, etc are so vital. Should the school system be responsible for “food” education? They’re going to have to be since most kids aren’t getting that kind of education at home either. More and more gets piled on the teachers to teach, and for kids to learn. And I don’t mean sitting and looking at a food pyramid. Kids (well, people in general) need to develop an intimacy with food beyond a mere diagram stating what they’re “supposed” to be doing (and then feeling guilty and helpless when they don’t follow the food “rules”).
    So why don’t we teach these more “food” and “farming” ed in school? Because it’s not seen as important by society. Whereas memorizing the quadratic equation is somehow seen as somehow much more crucial. In general, the role of “food grower or food prerparer” is not as valued as it once was. I don’t care who tends the garden or who cooks the meals, male or female, the fact of the matter is that not many families have somebody at home doing these jobs anymore. Everybody is too busy working (usually more than 8 hours a day) outside the home. And I understand that a lot of families just plain have to have two people working outside the home, however, I think there are also a lot of families who do so just don’t value the jobs that are at home- the growing, the preparing, the teaching. Afterall, somebody has to do it or else Little Debbie or Coke or at best the food pyramid (USDA) are the ones doing it…..

  3. PS- Am I remembering correctly that SustainFloyd doing a project that brought more gardening and outdoor learning programs into the public schools? A Farm to School program is great too, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. If we do end up in Floyd, I’d love to get involved in any of these types of outdoor ed/food ed programs as they are a passion of mine.

  4. Please pardon the typos in the above comments- I’m realizing it now as I’m reading it over. Not good for a teacher. Lesson- proof BEFORE hitting the “send” button. =)