September 28th, 2006
|10:34 am - Childhood obesity (aka weird things you hear on the radio)|
This post isn't going to be funny, probably; it's basically just that I heard something on the radio today that made no sense whatsoever to me, and that I disagree with, "science" or no "science."
Feel free to leave this one alone (oh, and no flaming; I will delete such comments).
There was a family-related medical spot on the radio as I was driving to work this morning. As a response to the so-called epidemic (I'm still not sure that's an accurate term--though it is an effective one in terms of creative imagery) of childhood obesity, a medical doctor gave as her medical opinion that portion control should be practiced very young. So far I'm with her; that only makes sense. Kids shouldn't be able to just eat what they want when they want, and how much they want.
Then she said, "A good way to measure the portion is a tablespoon per year of age."
Now, maybe, just maybe, she meant that to be of more than one type of food, not a total for the meal. But there was no clarification made. It sounded like she was saying that's a good meal size.
That's just illogical. I know that I ate probably four to six times that much per meal when I was a kid, and I was as thin as a rake until I hit 15 and started filling out. Ditto most of my siblings.
It's true that my mom is into eating healthy: whole grains (white bread? what's that?), fruits and veggies, very little sugar and candy only on holidays. Lots of dairy to make up for the meat we couldn't always afford.
But I always figured that if you wanted to make sure your kids didn't become obese, the best thing to do is what my parents did: three regular sitdown meals and two snacks inbetween (3 if you could a snack at bedtime), healthy food in healthy variety, and not allowing eating to simply become a habit. To enjoy eating, but not let it rule you.
"A tablespoon per year of age" seems like one of those quick-fix attempts to solve a situation that was created more by lack of family rules and good habits than by a desire to eat to a feeling of satisfaction.
It's too little too late, if it's not blatantly unhealthy (depending on the kid's metabolism--I guess mine must have been pretty darn high).
I just don't like it when people tout something like that, which flies (to me) in the face of reason. Not in the basic idea, but in the ridiculous boundaries it tries to set.
Current Mood: annoyed
I'm pretty sure she would have meant serving size: like when they tell you to estimate one serving of meat as a pack of cards, etc. So it would be 5-11 servings of grains, 4-5 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of meats, and so on; you just can't give your five-year-old the same "serving size" as your twelve-year-old. Except for dessert, because then the five-year-old will whine about getting less.
|Date:||September 28th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Then I revise my complaint to "people should say what they mean," because if *I* could misinterpret that, then just as surely could other people. Possibly with unpleasant consquences for the kids.
And as I said, the basic idea of serving size is very sound...people like this doctor just need to be careful how they phrase it, because listeners assume they have the authority of science behind them.
I'm with you, here. I'm all for people really looking at their serving sizes. I believe that unthinkingly huge servings are part of the general American weight problem. That's why the Jenny Craig system is one of the few diets I'm really in favor of, because it's not a single, implacable rule applied to everyone, it's a system of making you actually look at how much food you're eating versus how much you actually need and so forth. But the rule you quoted above did sound like a stupid implacable rule that failed to account for people actually being different, just like the "carbs are eeevil" craze. (When did carbs become evil? How are we all still walking around if carbs are this insidious force of darkness that is going to turn us all into balloons?)
It's also silly at the other end of the spectrum: by that standard, my 82-year-old diabetic grandmother's serving sizes should be what, five pounds? Ew.
|Date:||September 28th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)|| |
Hee! I didn't even think of it that way! Wow, that's an image. *chortles*
That just doesn't make sense, the way it was said. And if you heard this on the radio, then the host didn't do his/her job and ask what on earth s/he meant by that...
|Date:||September 28th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)|| |
My point precisely. :-P
Radio health advice is worth what you pay for it.
The "obesity epidemic" I figure has some multi-factored causes, which nobody seems to be actually doing anything about:
- lack of exersize
- in the US, huge portion size probably has something to do with it too (I was astonished by how huge the portion size of US fast food is)
- over-refined foods with too much fat and sugar
- for women, an obsession with models that look like famine-victims, leading to unhealthy dieting which leads to a reduced metabolism which makes people fatter (yes, it's paradoxical, but that's one reason why 95% of diets don't work in the long term -- the diet causes the body to think that one is in the midst of a famine, so it reduces the metabolism, and keeps it reduced to get ready for the next famine)
|Date:||September 28th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)|| |
All true. Sadly true.
Okay, I'm going to say up front that obesity misinformation is one of my hot buttons, so I'll try to keep this short. But the doctor's suggestion is misleading, if not entirely wrong. There are studies which pretty clearly indicate that dieting before puberty is the fast track to intractable adult obesity. So while everybody should eat reasonable portions of healthy foods, I fear the way she's phrased that may actually hurt some people.
There is a problem with the way in which the medical community addresses obesity. Not only is it many years behind the research community, but the results of the research, when known, are being misunderstood and misapplied. We know that a fairly simple formula controls weight: eat more calories than you burn, and you gain. Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you lose. The problem is that we take that simple formula and apply a simple, intuitive approach--eat less, or burn more (via exercise), or both--and assume that approach will work for everyone. Unfortunately, it only works for a person with a healthy metabolism, and the overwhelming majority of people who are obese (as opposed to ten or fifteen pounds overweight) simply don't have one. Telling people to eat less and exercise more is great for the pharmaceutical companies and diet and exercise industry, but it doesn't work for the portion of the population who needs the help most.
As for the 'epidemic' of obesity, my opinion is that it's caused by too much emphasis on slenderness which leads to inappropriate dieting and metabolic slowing; inactivity; and a food supply that's been badly damaged since WWII in an effort to increase market appeal and profitability (the sugar content of our fruits and veggies has skyrocketed, our meat and dairy are laced with growth hormones, and our processed foods are downright dangerous).
|Date:||September 29th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC)|| |
Unfortunately, it only works for a person with a healthy metabolism, and the overwhelming majority of people who are obese (as opposed to ten or fifteen pounds overweight) simply don't have one. Telling people to eat less and exercise more is great for the pharmaceutical companies and diet and exercise industry, but it doesn't work for the portion of the population who needs the help most.
Yes, but excercise definitely does increase the metabolism, and enough to make a diet effective. Or are you talking about people too obese to properly excercise?
Well, I know that with me, I'm in a sort of catch-22 situation, since besides being obese, I have a tendency towards plantar fasciitis, which basically means ones tendons are stretched too tight from the bottom of the foot to the calf, which makes it painful to walk. Which makes it harder to exersize, which makes it harder to lose weight. And the weight itself aggravates the things which make it harder to exersize. I feel as if I'm running towards an ever-retreating goal, a chimera that I'll never reach.
Actually, almost nobody is too obese to exercise. Even somebody obese enough to be bedridden could exercise by moving their arms and legs around, and it would be simultaneously aerobic and anaerobic, both elevating the heart and breathing rates and building muscle.
And yes, exercise will increase the metabolism (though there appears to be a point of too much exercise, where it kicks in the same starvation response as too few calories does). But how much it assists in making a diet effective (and BTW, a diet isn't considered effective unless the weight stays off for over a year; losing and gaining weight is more dangerous than not losing it in the first place) depends to a great extent on whether or not the metabolism is still functioning somewhat normally.
When I say that obese people don't usually have healthy metabolisms, what I mean is that by the time a person has progressed from 'a little chubby' to 'clinically obese', there's almost always damage to the energy storage and burning process, whether it be insulin resistance, diabetes, or a number of other things (some of which we likely haven't even discovered yet). Not just a slow metabolism, but diseases; things that exercise may assist in managing, but won't cure. That's one reason why it's so important to prevent obesity--because prevention is easier than reversing it.
|Date:||September 29th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)|| |
There are studies which pretty clearly indicate that dieting before puberty is the fast track to intractable adult obesity. So while everybody should eat reasonable portions of healthy foods, I fear the way she's phrased that may actually hurt some people.
Thank you! I knew I'd read something somewhere that directly contradicted what this woman was saying (or what I was hearing her say), but I couldn't remember exactly how to phrase it.
Huh. I wonder--I have a pretty healthy metabolism (actually, a pretty fast one, it runs in the genes, I think), but now I'm wondering if the fact that I've never dieted except for refraining from refined sugar may have *kept* it that way. That would be cool. Kinda like my hair being strong because I've never bleached it.
I think it's a good bet that not dieting has supported your having a good metabolism. And the whole-grain bread is probably even more important than the sugar; white flour elevates blood sugar much faster than table sugar does. The best diet I know is nothing white--no white flour, white potatoes, white rice, refined sugars. Somebody ought to tell Larry. :(