FDA Excludes Movie Theaters From Calorie Counting

If you’ve been following the drama…I mean news…surrounding the idea of forcing restaurants to post calorie counts next to their menus you’ve watched it go from San Francisco where it the idea was coupled with getting rid of kids toys in meals that fail to meet certain dietary conditions. You’ve watched as major restaurant chains (did someone mention McDonald’s????) have opposed any possible legislation that would require them to give calorie counts claiming that people already have access to the information and that it’s a personal choice. Well, more recently the FDA has picked up on this idea and near the end of March this year they have proposed rules that would require restaurants and fast food chains to post calorie information directly on their menus. This idea has of course, met with opposition, but one voice of opposition is missing, and that’s because their not included in the rules.

According to the proposed rules movie theaters would be exempt from having to give calorie counts on their menus. The New York Times picked up on this story on and reported that an advocacy group has produced reports detailing exactly how many calories we’re getting in each jumbo size tub of delicious theater popcorn. According to some reports a large tub with butter (because it’s really not worth it without the butter) can contain as many as 1,500 calories. Add a large soda for at 500 calories a pop (pun intended) and you’re already at most individuals daily guideline of 2,000 calories a day!

This may not seem like a big deal, because while some people eat out at a fast food restaurant daily, very few if any of us go to the theater every day, or even every other day, but I think this an important issue. If we are going to require that something like calorie counts be given to help individuals make healthier choices, shouldn’t that rule extend to any place that offers food for public consumption? If we’re deciding that we have a right to know how many calories are in our burgers, shouldn’t we have the right to know what we’re getting at the movie theater too? Weigh in America, what do you think? Is it okay to exclude movie theaters, or should they be required to give the public information just like any other food establishment?

April 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm 8 comments

Fat Talk

I was reading the news on some of my favorite sites and this headline caught my attention, “‘Fat talk’ makes even skinny women feel huge”. This article by Cari Nierenberg said that 93% of college age girls engage in some type of fat talk, also known as body bashing, when women go back and forth complementing one another and finding fault with their own bodies. Though most of these women said that this helps them to feel better about their bodies, this study done about ‘fat talk’ suggests that just the opposite is true. This article also went on to bring up the point that ‘fat talk’ occurs almost exclusively among the skinny, mostly because those who are actually overweight would be too hesitant to bring up their weight in such a candid way. Many groups and organizations such as the Reflections Body Image Program have entire campaigns that target ‘fat talk’.

No, I haven’t forgotten that this is a blog primarily devoted to the other side of the weight spectrum, but I do think that there are a lot of parallels that we can draw from unhealthy behaviors associated with being underweight as well as those associated with being overweight. I think that ‘fat talk’ exists because women need to feel related to, they need to feel normal, and they need someone else to vocally reaffirm this for them. How does this relate to those who are overweight and obese? Well, I think that one of the biggest things that can help people who are in a position to lose weight is to have someone else vocally reaffirm that they are on the right track. I mean, who hasn’t told a little white lie to an overweight friend when we said that they should totally eat another bowl or ice cream or have a few more cookies, while saying that exercise is overrated anyway? Why is it that we so quickly move to tell people that they’re okay, rather than simply vocally approving of any positive healthy behaviors?

This year from October 17-21 women are making a move to end fat talk. What if we made a movement just to end dishonest talk? Why can’t we simple be honest with ourselves about our weight and go from there? Weigh in America, what do you think? Can we stop the ‘fat talk’, both real and unreal?

April 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm 2 comments

Opinion on Arizona’s Fat Tax

So, normally I don’t use opinion articles as a basis for posts, but I’m making an exception today because this one was too good to pass up. A few days ago I wrote a post about Arizona’s proposed “fat tax” in which obese residents of the state of Arizona who are unwilling to follow doctors orders to lose weight would be taxed an extra $50 dollars a year, along with residents who smoke. Today, Art Caplan Ph.D, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote this in an opinion article that was picked up by msnbc.com, “With more than 25 percent of Arizonans obese and 16 percent who smoke, there will be plenty of money available. And just to be fair, the governor can add the same tax to water-skiing, jet skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, owning a swimming pool, paragliding, rock climbing, failing to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle (Arizona has a very weak law) or choosing to work in roofing, mining or construction — or any other activity that carries a risk. Actually, if the governor really wants to make money, how about a tanning tax for those who bask in the Arizona sun and hike their risk of skin cancer? The way to get at the costs of health care is to take a long hard look at prices, overuse of services and fraud. But that would be too hard. Picking on the poor is just lazy and mean.” Dr. Caplan’s University of Pennsylvania bio states that he is a professor of bioethics and philosophy, and that he has research interests in transplantation research ethics, genetics, reproductive technologies, health policy, and general bioethics.

Here’s what I want to know, how is someone who studies health philosophy and bioethics qualified to compare water-skiing to obesity? I do think that Dr. Arthur Caplan makes some very valid points about the unfairness of a law that will tax the poorest in a state who already need government assistance, but I fail to see how his argument about activities that are generally seen as ways to lower your health risk by being active compare to poor nutrition and exercise choices. So, weigh in America, what do you think? How weighty are Arthur Caplan’s arguments, and how much consideration should we give his opinion?

Oh, and just for fun I thought I’d include a picture, because he failed to submit one with his opinion article to msnbc.

 

April 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm 1 comment

Pouring On the Pounds?

Okay, so this isn’t exactly hot off the press, but as I’ve been researching obesity (aka googling it) this came up and it caught my attention. In the big apple has a new campaign to help New Yorkers visually see what they’re drinking every time they down a soda. The goal of this ad, and others like it is to help people think about what they’re doing to their body every time they drink a soda or some other sugary drink. According to the NYC website a 20-oz soda can pack as many as 250 “empty” calories. They’ve released a fat-drinking video that shows you exactly what 10 pounds of fat looks like and you can watch for yourself, or just trust me, it’s gross.

Though this gross-you-out tactic has disgusted a lot of people and got a lot of attention how effective is it? Does showing people graphic images really work? This campaign reminds me of the “this is your brain on drugs” commercials that used to grace our Saturday morning cartoon shows. I still remember the stuff in the frying pan and being grossed out, but I don’t know that it really helped me make up my mind. So, weigh in America, what do you think? Are ads like this helpful, or a waste of tax dollars? Are there more effective things we could be doing with this money, or is it well spent where it is?

April 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm 3 comments

Arizona’s Fat Tax

I was checking out the news this morning and this headline “Arizona Considering $50 Tax for Smokers, Obese” caught my attention. Under this proposal Medicaid users would be subject to an extra $50 tax for smoking or being obese. A spokesperson for the state of Arizona said that they hope this will give Medicaid users a sense of greater accountability for the decisions they make daily that have an impact on their health. Other private insurers in other states such as North Carolina have already implemented similar plans, but met with a lot of opposition as they were first introduced. Obviously a lot of things need to be thought through, such as how obesity will be measured, how actually efforts to lose weight will be assessed and how to react to obesity that is the direct result of another health problem, but I think that this is an interesting move.

What will this actually mean for someone who has to pay this tax? Will it be enough to make someone who is making unhealthy choices really think about their actions or is it too removed from the actual point where people are making their decisions? Weigh in America, what do you think? Is this tax too invasive, or is it needed? As a nation we’re growing around the middle faster than many people ever anticipated, but how much of this is directly related to individual choice?

April 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm 1 comment

Under Accumulators of Health

In my last post I talked about the Maudsley Method and how I thought that I might be applicable to weight loss and not just weight gain. I can’t get this idea off of my mind and everything that I do seems to come back to it! Even books that I’ve read a long time ago seem to fit into this almost opposite application of the Maudsley Method. For example, if you’ve ever read the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko you’ve heard the terms ” Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth” or PAWs and “Under Accumulators of Wealth” or UAWs. In their book PAWs are those who have behaviors that help them become and stay wealthy and those who are UAWs struggle financially because their behaviors make it very difficult for them to save money and increase their overall financial net worth. What if instead of wealth, we used these terms to describe health?

In this book those who accumulate wealth tend to rely on good financial advice and they are willing to pay for it to ensure that they handle their money in an appropriate way. On the other hand, those who are under accumulators of wealth live the way they envision a millionaire should live. Many times in an extreme case of UAW a financial planner will take control of their clients spending to get it back on track. This means that the UAW is put on a major financial diet in which they can spend only what they are allowed by their financial planner.

You’re probably thinking that this is all well and good, but what on earth does it have to do with obesity or weight loss? Well in the case of finances, when someone puts their financial well-being in danger control is taken out of their hands and placed into those who know best. This is similar to the Maudsley Method in that those who put their physical well-being in danger turn control of their eating over to someone outside their situation who can help them. What if we applied this to obesity? What if when someone put their physical health in danger by overeating they were able to give up control to someone who knows better and could help put them on the right track?

Let me be clear I”m not talking about a forced plan here (I really believe that unless someone truly wants something that no amount of pushing can change that), but giving people the option. So, weigh in America, what do you think? Would something like this help? Help me think this through, what are the flaws, what are the strengths?

March 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

The Maudsley Method for Weight Loss?

I don’t know how many people have heard about the Maudsley Method for treating eating disorders. The first time I really explored it was when I read the book Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown. This story details how her family dealt with and treated her oldest daughters anorexia. You may be wondering why I’m talking about anorexia on a blog devoted to the issue of obesity, but as I read this story and then researched this method in greater depth I wondered how it could be applied to those who struggle with overeating as an eating disorder.

First let me explain the Maudsley Method. This approach has 3 phases that are designed to help an individual gain control over their eating habits. In the first phase titled “Weight Restoration” the dangers of sever anorexia (such as malnutrition, hypothermia and cardiac dysfunction) are emphasized as parents learn to re-feed the individual without being critical. (In the Maudsley Approach eating disorders are very much described as an illness, not purely individual choice). This stage will continue  until the individual has accepted parental feeding habits and has begun to steadily gain weight. In the next phase titled “Returning Control of Eating Back to the Adolescent” the family transitions and gradually allows the individual more agency (as in deciding whether they will have an apple with peanut butter or a protein bar for their afternoon snack) and more control over their own diet. This stage can be long and intense and is not considered complete until the individual is back at a health weight for their age and gender. Phase three, “Establishing Healthy Adolescent Identity”, involves identifying  the impact that anorexia has had on the individual and establishing a new individual identity that does not have to be associated with anorexia.

Now that you’ve lived through that whole explanation, I want to ask you how you think this could be applied to individuals who overeat and need to lose weight. The idea from the Maudsley Approach that is the most appealing to me is the idea of family help and coordination in the efforts to overcome the eating disorder. I think that this applies to weight loss too ( I mean, I can’t say no when my husband is eating ice cream and asks me if I want a bite). Weigh in America, how can we utilize the family structure to combat the problem of overeating and obesity? How can we help ourselves use this type of an approach to lose the weight and live a more balanced lifestyle?

February 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm 7 comments

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