A grave situation for sure
Last week, I blogged about a new HBO documentary that will begin airing on May 14. After mentioning in that blog that I didn’t have HBO, one of my readers (who chooses to remain anonymous) kindly sent me the DVD set complete with a discussion guide.
It arrived yesterday and I greatly appreciate it. And last night, I watched Part I – Consequences and the beginning of Part II — Choices. The other two parts are Children in Crisis and Challenges.
This blog is my review before watching the entire documentary. Click here to see my final review.
First impression. They did a great job of describing the problem, but as for the solution…not so much. One particular phrase caught my attention as they described the
Waves of obesity leading to waves of diabetes leading to waves of medical problems—the likes of which we have never seen.
Here’s my take so far. While I didn’t expect much useful information in terms of what can be done to fight obesity, I will say that I was very impressed with the overall description of this unprecedented problem—not only in the United States but throughout the Western world. Lots of new information and statistics; one in particular caught my attention:
There was a list of seven factors that would predict ideal cardiovascular health; less than one percent of adult Americans meet all seven (less than 5% meet six of them):
- Optimal total cholesterol level
- Normal blood pressure
- Don’t have diabetes
- Lean BMI in the healthy range
- Does not smoke
- Exercises regularly
- Eats a healthy diet
As for the last one, I always have my doubts if the experts even have a clue what a healthy diet means. In the special, on the rare occasion when diet is mentioned, they always start talking about those lean cuts of meat, fish, turkey, etc. and that great health food known as low fat dairy.
Lots of pretty scary statistics:
- One in three children born in the year 2000 in the USA will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime.
- If that child is African-American or Latino, that number is one in two.
- Of the ten states with the highest obesity rates, nine of them rank among the nation’s poorest.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was largely undetected in society until recently. Now it’s estimated that as many as 25% of American adults have excess fat in their livers.
- Autopsy studies reveal that 38% of obese children have excess fat in their livers.
- 1 in 4 young Americans do not meet the weight requirement to join the armed forces.
- Autopsy reports for children who died of other causes are showing that heart disease begins very early in childhood.
- 94% of American schools served lunches that exceeded (not-so-healthy) federal guidelines for fat and saturated fat.
Calories and Exercise. So far in the special, I have not heard a single mention of the importance of eating the truly health-promoting foods. All of the emphasis seems to be on counting calories and exercising more. Yet they also point out that diets to lose weight (restricting calories) almost never work and note that the diet industry would be out of business if they did work. I also have not heard my favorite assessment of the primary driver of this grave situation:
We’re eating the wrong food!!!
Will this HBO special help? It certainly can’t hurt; the more we’re aware of this incredible problem, the better. And maybe that increased knowledge will lead to a gradual overhaul of our totally dysfunctional system of food-medicine-pharma-government-academia-media. Eventually, our system of the future must include:
- Schools of nutrition that do not accept money from food suppliers.
- Medical schools that are not controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.
- A medical system that has a financial incentive for us to be healthy.
- Dietary guidelines designed by an organization with an incentive to promote health vs. an incentive to maximize profits of food suppliers.
90-second trailer of the HBO Special
Last week’s blog that mentioned the HBO special. Do you have a “family history” of heavy or obese people?
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation