Monday, 05 January, 2004
Notes on the fat front
A few notes on the fat front:
- In a policy statement published in the January issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges administrators to remove soft drinks from schools. This one sounds like a no-brainer to me. I can't fathom why students should need a soft drink in the middle of the day. Some schools are fighting the move because they use the money from soft drinks contracts to pay for student activities. Soft drink vendors also are fighting the move. According to the AP story, the National Soft Drink Association says that the new policy is misguided and goes too far. But then, the Association's executive director says "Soft drinks can be part of a balanced lifestyle and are a nice treat." That's exactly the point. They should be a treat, not a staple. I'm speaking from experience on this one.
- The National Soft Drink Association has a statement in response to the AAP's policy statement. They make some interesting points, the major one being that although childhood obesity has increased 10 percent since 1980, daily calorie consumption has increased only one percent and physical activity decreased by 13 percent. I was surprised to learn that only about 25 percent of students take part in daily physical education classes or other organized physical activity. When I was in grade school, everybody went to gym class.
- Also reported in this month's issue of Pediatrics is the study "Effects of Fast-Food Consumption on Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among Children in a National Household Survey," in which researchers found that 30 percent of the 6,212 children and adolescents surveyed ate fast food on a given day. Those who ate fast food consumed more sugar, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, and total calories than those who didn't eat fast food. The average was about 190 calories more per day, which researchers estimate to result in roughly six pounds of weight gain in a year. Not surprisingly, the study is consistent with other studies that showed a correlation between fast food consumption and poor diet quality. It goes too far, though, in suggesting that measures be instituted to limiting marketing of fast food to children. My standard comment applies: where are the parents?
- Fitness clubs are changing their advertising to appeal to a less-fit public. There's a perception among the majority of the population (60 percent overweight, 30 percent obese) that fitness clubs are only for young, fit people. Remarks like "I want to get in shape before I join a health club" are apparently common. So fitness clubs are mixing some larger and older people in with the improbably constructed models and body builder types normally seen in the advertisements. Note that this isn't an altruistic effort to make everybody healthier. The fitness industry has a problem: most people who exercise regularly already belong to a club. The only way to increase their memberships is to appeal to a wider (double entendre not originally intended, but quite appropriate nonetheless) audience.
- On a more personal note, my weight this morning was 4 lbs less than what I weighed on Friday, putting me under 180 lbs for the first time in over a year. I suspect that's mostly due to some dehydration from Saturday's ride and I'll put a couple of pounds back in the next day or two. Still, I'm slowly losing weight and slimming down noticeably. I don't know that I can get to my goal of 165 lbs by the end of March, but the most important part is losing the fat. If I build muscle that negates the weight loss due to fat reduction, I'm okay with that.