We are Fat, and Getting Fatter

At the Sioux Falls Information meeting on Monday July 11th  the health department releases a report on the health of the community.  Scott L. Ehrisman at South DaCola called the report scathing  Greg Belfrage at KELO-AM talked about the report Tuesday morning on his radio show.

The part that everyone seemed to be focus on was the section of obesity.  The good news is everyone is in agreement what should be done.  Eat healthier foods, and more exercise, less junk food, less TV/computer time.

In the report, the Health Department make these suggestions:

1.     Increase availability of healthier food and beverage choices in public service venues.
2.     Improve geographic availability of supermarkets in undeserved areas.
3.     Improve availability of mechanisms for purchasing foods from farms.
4.     Increase opportunities for extracurricular physical activity.
5.     Improve access to outdoor recreational facilities.
6.     Participate in community coalitions or partnerships to address obesity.

All noble ideas, for sure, however they alone will not fix the problem and they cost money we don’t have.  We need to address the under laying problem.  Greg put his finger on it in his radio program, the root of the problem is our lifestyle.  One of the examples Greg used was when someone wants a glass of milk, they go to the refrigerator, open the door, and there is the milk, they did not have to go round up the cow, and milk the cow twice a day.  (The thought of people in Sioux Falls having a miniature cow or a half dozen chickens in their backyard is somewhat amusing. ) If we want to tell someone something, we don’t go find them and talk to them, we send them a text message, even if they are sitting right next to us.

We shouldn’t be looking at just the kids lifestyle, we also should look at the parents.  Many homes have only one parent who works, and in homes with two parents, both parents work 50, 70, and some as much as 90 hours a week, just to make ends meet.  When they get home, they are not far from their job via computer, cell phone, or PDA.  A good percentage of those jobs in Sioux Falls are call center jobs  where workers really don’t move around much. They sit in their cubicle, stare at a computer screen.   When they do get home they are mentally exhausted.  Our lifestyle somewhat reminds of life on-board the Axiom in the movie Wall ? E.  If we keep going they way we are, we might not be to far from that.

There is no silver bullet, no magic, no secret formula, no super-slim trainer going to show up at your door.

The cure is fairly simple, we need to get up, get out, and start doing things for ourselves.  We also should start eating better.  Grow a garden, and eat what you have grown.  You’ll save money, get a work-out and eat much better food.  That doesn’t mean we put the computer on the shelf to collect dust or parking the car.  It means using these things in moderation.

What role should the government play in this?
Do we tax or ban food that is not good for us?
Do we demand that employers have a exercise program for all employees
Do we put cameras in lunch rooms and see what people are eating?
Do we curb advertising of certain foods to our children?
Do we ban sack lunches at school?
Should the state take custody of children who are obese from their parents?

I believe the Government has done its job.  It has provided us with the information we need both in the report and through the extension service.  Anything more will cost money we don’t have, or become more intrusive.

It is now up to us.  We must take control and responsibility of our own lives.

14 Replies to “We are Fat, and Getting Fatter”

  1. Duh

    Americans will always be fat when they consider eating as entertainment rather than sustenance. The TV has programed us to eat things that in real life a goat may look at twice. KFC? Woo, where’s the closest one?? Quintuple Bacon Cheeseburgers double fried in whale fat?? Yummy. Diet soft drinks that rot your innards? Gulp, gulp (I’m big time guilty here) Advertisers can make road kill look palatable.

    Thanks to shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, everyone has equal opportunity to clog an artery. It always slays me when people spend $50-$100 a head to eat something that ends up in the restaurant can before they leave. Virtually every cook I know says when a home made meal is done, they eat less because they saw the production or are tired. The evil is already made meals or drive throughs where instance gratification occurs.

    The work ethic of the 52% of americans who actually pay taxes doesn’t help either. Americans spend, per capita more hours at work than any other industrialized country and have less time off for vacations. Sitting at your desk for hours at a time, as per the AMA, is horrible for your health regardless of the amount of time you exercise. Way to go Pam Hohman (sp?) saying that kids can opt out of exercise classes. Gotta keep pounding the books on worthless subjects that have no practical use anyway. I think I’ll go eat an (A x B) / pi x X3ab. Maybe start class before 9 a.m. and keep going until 4 and you could find time to get the jelly roll off Johnny’s belly…

    I know I’m guilty of some of that gluttony it’s killing me. Self responsibility is right on… Now where did I put those nut covered, deep fat fried, chocolate covered funyuns ???

  2. PNR

    You know, I’m really getting tired of this nagging about weight. My mom, my wife, and my daughter want to say something, that’s fine. My doctor is paid to tell me stuff like this. But everybody else can just drop it already. It’s none of their business.

    Oh. Right. “For the children…” Where have I heard that before? “The children” are not an excuse for picking our pockets or denying our freedoms. I know MC isn’t arguing for government regs – not on purpose – but this all becomes part of it.

    Have you noticed, by the way, that for all this obesity our average life expectancy continues to go up, and our ability to continue working into our older years is improving, too?

    We’re doing fine. Yeah, some of us are fat. All this nagging just adds to the stress and gets me down. I think I’ll go buy a box of twinkies for lunch tomorrow – no. Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Maybe a fudge brownie, too….

  3. Anon

    I don’t want the government telling me what I can eat, how much I can eat, etc. However, the taxpayer is the one who is picking up the tab for so many of the ills caused by obesity. Those who like to eat so much, let them, but they should not have the taxpayer pay for any illness associated with obesity. Since PNR doesn’t like to be told to eat healthy, I am sure that he would not be opposed to this proposal.

  4. Anon

    South Dacola doesn’t get that we can buy an apple for a lot less than a candy bar and we can buy a bag of veggies for less than a bag of potato chips. A bottle of juice probably costs less than a pack of pop.

    We need to prioritize better. We need to be allowed to eat what we want. A hamburger from home costs less than one eaten out at a restaurant.

  5. DVR

    @Anon (July 14 at 11:52 p.m.) – In my weekly grocery store ad, a 12-pack of 12 oz. soda (144 oz.) costs $3.66. A 64 oz. bottle of juice (which is usually pretty sugary) costs $1.99. Thus, the soda is cheaper per oz. than juice. Heck, soda is usually cheaper than milk, or essentially the same price.

    The average costs of a pound of apples is $0.83 (USDA Economic Research Service), and 3 medium sized apples make up a pound. So an apple does cost less than a candy bar, but not by much.

    So, eating healthier isn’t necessarily cheaper, but I agree that priorities matter.

  6. Spencer

    The problem is the lifestyle that we are gravitating toward. I have students who trip over themselves just to run up to the gas station to get a large bag of chips and pop for a 20 or 30 minute trip during or after school just before lunch or supper. When these are the same students that Skype with their friends rather than actually going over to their house and seeing them and drive their cars in between school buildings (1 city block) to avoid walking, you start to understand how entrenched this problem is and that it is likely going to get far worse with future generations. I doubt that there is anything that the government can do about it; it really is just the unfortunate byproduct of our economic success.

    Perhaps if we focused more on marketing our lifestyle problems with the same tact that we market food to get people to over consume, maybe we will have a more positive viewpoint on a problem that we as a society cannot likely fix. Case in point, saying that the obesity rate in South Dakota has increased 90 percent since 1995 sounds horrible. But, if we spin this statistic in a more positive light it can be stated as receiving 90 percent more home-grown South Dakotan for FREE. What a DEAL!

  7. springer

    Personal responsibility, personal responsibility, personal responsinbility!!!!! In case some missed it, personal responsibility!!!!! And that the gov’t is even proposing or the issue is even being raised to take away a person’s child because of obesity is an example of how far the fed gov’t has over-reached its constitutional authority, and the fact that people aren’t screaming about this potential loss of liberty is indicative of how conditioned we are becoming to gov’t abuse of power.

  8. JHS

    The correct answer is C., all of the above. Personal responsibility, yes. Educating the public to make better choices, yes (but since the food companies are going to spend jillions advertising people to buy their unhealthy manufactured crap, it will fall to the gov’t to require labeling and to help pay for putting healthier-eating info out there). Structuring health insurance to incentivize better behavior, yes (again, since the free market hasn’t done it, somebody else needs to). It was the gov’t that did some things that gradually got the public to kick the cigarette habit. Now we need the same thing on corn syrup.

    These folks who think gov’t can do nothing right are hilarious, but the rest of us shouldn’t let their knee-jerk talking points keep us from enacting sane policies and trying to do the best we can with a little common sense effort.

    1. MC Post author

      I don’t believe that the government can’t do anything right, quite the opposite, The government can do a lot of things right.

      Where I run into problems is when the government start getting into areas where they shouldn’t be. I would never ask an accomplished surgeon, to counsel me in legal matters, or ask a computer technician to repair the plumbing in my home. The government has its place in the world, when it goes beyond what it is supposed to do; that is when we start having problems.

  9. grudznick

    I have indeed decided that I am getting fatter, but shorter. I am a bit upset that you have pointed out this trend to me. I blame sausages.


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