Obesity Catch-All

Funkenpants wrote:

You could put a fresh vegetable stand on every corner of America, and we'd still have an obesity problem.

We will continue to have an obesity problem as long as the federal government subsidies the sh*t out of the worst kinds of foods and said foods have multi-million dollar advertising campaigns backing them up.

We're biologically wired to crave high fat and sweet foods because, once upon a time, our survival depended on that. Those cravings weren't a problem when we were hunter-gatherers who walked 20 miles a day and maybe got to taste sugar a few times a year. But it's a big problem when we can order that from our couches.

And nobody eats an extra 1,000 calories of sugar a day. That's because real sugar is expensive. But high-fructose corn syrup? That sh*t is cheap thanks to Uncle Sam.

This is just another case of externalizing costs.

Yeah, I've heard the food desert explanation. As though there is no obesity anywhere near a supermarket with vegetables. As i said, you can eat 20 servings of vegetables a day, but if you eat another 1000 calories of sugar and fats while working in a sedentary job, you're going to gain weight.

Alternately, you can eat no vegetables and not gain weight, eating purely out of a can or box. The two have nothing to do with one another.

People are eating high calorie foods because of the pleasure or satisfaction it gives them, not because they don't have alternatives. You could put a fresh vegetable stand on every corner of America, and we'd still have an obesity problem.

Edit: To clear up any confusion, I'm not suggesting the obesity is a moral issue. It is a mind-body issue that can be the result of early emotional training, sensory deprivation, boredom, the failure of the body's normal self-regulating systems, mental compulsions, a sedentary environment, and a bunch of other possible causes. People may overeat for a variety of reasons, of which I'd say a lack of available fruits and vegetables is a very rare one.

Funkenpants wrote:

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you the idiocy of subsidizing these foods. It's like the government went out and subsidized the production of opium, then complained that the streets were flooded with cheap heroin. I just look at the food desert/lack of food education arguments with a skeptical eye, because fats and sugars have addictive qualities.

Food deserts are very real. I've lived in them before.

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you the idiocy of subsidizing these foods. It's like the government went out and subsidized the production of opium, then complained that the streets were flooded with cheap heroin. I just look at the food desert/lack of food education arguments with a skeptical eye, because fats and sugars have addictive qualities and provide pleasure.

OG_slinger wrote:
Funkenpants wrote:

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you the idiocy of subsidizing these foods. It's like the government went out and subsidized the production of opium, then complained that the streets were flooded with cheap heroin. I just look at the food desert/lack of food education arguments with a skeptical eye, because fats and sugars have addictive qualities.

Food deserts are very real. I've lived in them before.

I know they're real. I've lived in them, too. But I'm skeptical that people are eating a high level of calories because they lack fruits and vegetables to eat, rather than because they need or want high calorie foods. If there are a bunch of studies out there proving a cause and effect relationship between the presence of fresh vegetable sections and lower obesity rates, my mind is open to the new info.

It seems like a difficult theory to prove or disprove given the variables involved, and I look forward to arguing about the validity of the statistical methodology used.

Edit (sorry- I'm doing that alot tonight): I also question the motivations of our leaders invoking the food desert line. Encouraging vegetable use in low-income neighborhoods is politically safer than pushing to eliminating agriculture subsidies that reduce the cost of high-calorie foods. The Clintonian-wing of the democratic party doesn't strike me as the group that's going to push for that on capital hill.

Funkenpants wrote:

I know they're real. I've lived in them, too. But I'm skeptical that people are eating a high level of calories because they lack fruits and vegetables to eat, rather than because they need or want high calorie foods. If there are a bunch of studies out there proving a cause and effect relationship between the presence of fresh vegetable sections and lower obesity rates, my mind is open to the new info.

It seems like a difficult theory to prove or disprove given the variables involved, and I look forward to arguing about the validity of the statistical methodology used.

Our ag policies and food science have made the very things we biologically crave the most both plentiful and cheap. And the corporations that make those high fat, high calorie foods spend billions a year advertising said foods to us and creating some 20,000 new processed food produces each and every year.

And there isn't a fresh veggie version of the Fast Food Association of America, Snack Food Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, or the National Corn Growers Association who are going to spend millions on lobbying to get Washington to do the right thing.

But, hey, you can still think that it's all about personal choice (code words for it being a moral weakness or moral failure of someone) rather than accepting that people eat sh*tty foods because there's a vast array of public policy and corporate marketing to ensure they eat sh*tty foods.

It's partly the lack of feedback on the bad behavior. We dont get to see the results of eating too many cakes until months later so we cant easily reconcile it. Feedback needs to be almost immediate to be effective. 1 hour is too long to wait. A month or a year - impossible.

Because I just watched this episode this afternoon:

OG_slinger wrote:

But, hey, you can still think that it's all about personal choice (code words for it being a moral weakness or moral failure of someone) rather than accepting that people eat sh*tty foods because there's a vast array of public policy and corporate marketing to ensure they eat sh*tty foods.

Wait- you're saying I think it's just personal choice? I'm not making that argument, unless personal choice encompasses all kinds of incentives, emotional forces, compulsions, etc.

Interesting article proposing that it really isn't just a willpower thing.

I know I've read/heard some of the points before.

There's a rather long introductory section before the article gets to its main point:

And so we appear to have a public consensus that excess body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or above) and obesity (BMI of 30 or above) are consequences of individual choice. [...] What we don’t know is whether the theory is actually correct.

And presents some supporting evidence:
* over the past 20 years or more, animals such as laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats have also been getting fatter.
* scientists are starting to think all calories are not equal; the biochemical response to food can affect fat storage
* other things like sleep patterns and stress can affect fat metabolism
* industrial chemicals like BPA can affect fat regulation
* prenatal environment can affect a child's metabolism
* more on the fringe... there may be an affect from increased temperature/light regulation

I took a food anthropology class at uni a couple years ago, and an interesting point that came up that eating large quantities of carbs at a sitting produces an opiate-like effect. So if you're not that well-off financially, and need an escape mechanism, and have a lot of responsibilities and probably need to get up for work in the morning, a dollar for a box or two of mac and cheese or whatever looks pretty attractive, if only on a subconscious level.

clover wrote:

So if you're not that well-off financially, and need an escape mechanism, and have a lot of responsibilities and probably need to get up for work in the morning, a dollar for a box or two of mac and cheese or whatever looks pretty attractive, if only on a subconscious level.

That's one of the aspects of eating that I was trying to list earlier. People can also be trained to overeat as children. For example, my wife's mother used to give her sweets when she was downhearted as a kid "to make her feel better," conditioning her to eat more when she's under stress.

I've tried to read what science has to say about weight control and fitness, but there is a lot of disagreement on the topic. We know that some people are able to maintain moderate body fat levels in the presence of abundant food, and others aren't. Why one individual can do it and another can't isn't clear.

There's a really compelling lecture (an MD, for made for laymen to understand) about the deleterious metabolic effects of sugar, mainly because of its fructose component (which is also found in High Fructose Corn Syrup).

I won't agree 100% with Dr. Lustig that this is THE factor to consider, and honestly I think he pushes it harder than the evidence he's got, but only just by a smidge. What he's got is very persuasive.

There are also metabolic idiosyncrasies to consider. Many Filipinos are classed as "fast acetylators" meaning that they have an enzyme variant in the liver that processes toxins faster than normal, meaning that they're harder to get drunk, but also require more anesthesia to put under. I had a 12 year old boy once I gave enough midaz to completely knock out two grown men by textbook standards, but all he got was a mild buzz.

It's possible that people also have variants that alter fat or sugar biochemistry.

I found this a rather interesting (albeit a bit long and not particularly revolutionary) read:
Obesity Drugs and Weight Loss: How We Fail Fat People @ New Republic

“This is one of the larger trends in the history of medicine,” said Rudolph Leibel, a pioneer in obesity research at Columbia University. “First we blame it on the patient.”
Eleima wrote:

I found this a rather interesting (albeit a bit long and not particularly revolutionary) read:
Obesity Drugs and Weight Loss: How We Fail Fat People @ New Republic

“This is one of the larger trends in the history of medicine,” said Rudolph Leibel, a pioneer in obesity research at Columbia University. “First we blame it on the patient.”

Heh, and the line right before that is: Our knee-jerk irritation at the overweight, it turns out, may be the twenty-first-century equivalent of the nineteenth-century sniff at the tubercular (too neurasthenic to live) and the 1980s view of the HIV-positive (obviously depraved).

IMAGE(http://i1094.photobucket.com/albums/i453/czpv/NMB_zpscc18dcdf.jpg)

Funkenpants wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Between cheap, high-calorie foods, lack of available resources for fresh produce, and active attempts by government to further weaken access to education and resources that could help stem obesity, the poor are f*cked.

The poor are f*cked for a lot of reasons, but the idea that they are too ignorant to link excessive food intake or certain types of food to higher obesity rates is like suggesting that poor people smoke only because they don't understand that smoking is dangerous to their health.

Most obese people, poor or rich, know why they get fat. What they lack is the mental state necessary to stay thin. It's not a fault issue so much as a cause and effect. If people feel the need to eat excessively or to eat certain foods, they will eat those foods whether or not they are educated in food science or have access to fresh vegetables. You can eat 5 servings of fresh vegetables a day and eat only lean meats, but if you are also eating 3 cakes a day you are still going to end up obese absent vigorous physical labor or exercise.

The question to ask is, why do people feel the need to eat so many cakes? Or whether it's possible to redirect those mental needs into an activity that's less glucose-oriented.

I wonder if the need is things like this: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. Junk food is designed very carefully to be extremely appealing and easy to eat. It's designed to make you go back for more - and that's very much on purpose because it brings in a crap load of money. I was really surprised at just how much goes into making something have exactly the right crunch, texture, and flavour etc. Making it cheap is just the final nail in the coffin.

Over the last few months I've been experiencing the sticker shock of buying healthy food, as I enrolled in a fitness program and am adhering to their recommended nutrition plan.

My grocery bill has easily doubled versus buying the moderately "healthy" food I used to get (which was based on the food I grew up on).

I am quite certain that a significant part of this nation's obesity epidemic is based upon the economic reality of grocery costs and the budget of the average family.

Farscry wrote:

I am quite certain that a significant part of this nation's obesity epidemic is based upon the economic reality of grocery costs and the budget of the average family.

I think the answer is both yes or no. The thing is, sodas and highly processed packaged snacks (arguably two biggest single components in that "signinficant part") are NOT grocery items per se. They are not cheaper substitutes of some healthier foods, because they do not delivery any nutritional value. They are for pure indulgence.

In a classic slap fight of "my anecdote doesn't fit to yours," id honestly be curious to see the breakdown of that grocery bill.

Eating healthier saves me a ton of money vs not doing so. It's much more time consuming in the procurement and preparation stage (which can be mitigated somewhat by cooking a few days' worth at once), but in terms of cost end up being cheaper in my personal experience.

Regarding eating at restaurants, this is more predicated in where someone eats.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:
Farscry wrote:

I am quite certain that a significant part of this nation's obesity epidemic is based upon the economic reality of grocery costs and the budget of the average family.

I think the answer is both yes or no. The thing is, sodas and highly processed packaged snacks (arguably two biggest single components in that "signinficant part") are NOT grocery items per se. They are not cheaper substitutes of some healthier foods, because they do not delivery any nutritional value. They are for pure indulgence.

That is very true, I wasn't thinking about those items (I already avoided those two items mostly, aside from my diet pop addiction, prior to my nutrition changes).

Seth wrote:

In a classic slap fight of "my anecdote doesn't fit to yours," id honestly be curious to see the breakdown of that grocery bill.

I don't take it as a slap fight. I've heard the same thing from several friends & family, so in the absence of actual research, I allowed myself to resort to anecdotal "evidence", which I should know better than to do.

I wish I'd kept old grocery bills to compare, because I was honestly taken aback at how much larger a portion of my budget is taken by food expenses now.

Seth wrote:

In a classic slap fight of "my anecdote doesn't fit to yours," id honestly be curious to see the breakdown of that grocery bill.

Eating healthier saves me a ton of money vs not doing so. It's much more time consuming in the procurement and preparation stage (which can be mitigated somewhat by cooking a few days' worth at once), but in terms of cost end up being cheaper in my personal experience.

Regarding eating at restaurants, this is more predicated in where someone eats.

I find that that is the case only if you drastically limit or even eliminate your animal based proteins.

I can very easily keep my grocery bill below $40/week if I stick to fresh fruit and veggies and get my proteins from tofu, almond milk, and nuts. But the moment I start adding beef, chicken, and/or fish, I start getting into very expensive territory.

Yup. Exactly, paleo. Add in beans to your list, and that closely describes my grocery bill.

The meats we buy are cheap cuts that take time and some know-how to properly serve - hence the increase in preparation.

Edit - weird derail, but what brand of almond milk are you buying with protein? My brand only has 1g per serving, vs about 9g for cow milk.

Seth wrote:

Yup. Exactly, paleo. Add in beans to your list, and that closely describes my grocery bill.

The meats we buy are cheap cuts that take time and some know-how to properly serve - hence the increase in preparation.

Edit - weird derail, but what brand of almond milk are you buying with protein? My brand only has 1g per serving, vs about 9g for cow milk.

I get the Blue Diamond and tend to hit it with some soy protein powder.

I am, however, not as convinced as I used to be that I need a ton of protein anyway. I seem to do just fine on around 100g per day.

Paleocon wrote:

I find that that is the case only if you drastically limit or even eliminate your animal based proteins.

I can very easily keep my grocery bill below $40/week if I stick to fresh fruit and veggies and get my proteins from tofu, almond milk, and nuts. But the moment I start adding beef, chicken, and/or fish, I start getting into very expensive territory.

True that.

On our grocery bill, two most expensive things are meats... and laundry detergents.

Seth wrote:

Eating healthier saves me a ton of money vs not doing so. It's much more time consuming in the procurement and preparation stage (which can be mitigated somewhat by cooking a few days' worth at once), but in terms of cost end up being cheaper in my personal experience.

I find that surprising. The easier a food item is to produce, ship, and store the cheaper it is. And this excludes pretty much all produce and fresh foods. And as much as I'd like to attribute everything to sugar consumption, it isn't clear that that's the problem either. If there's a single straightforward cause of obesity, I don't think we've found it yet. Proper diet and exercise is about the best we can do so far, and even that doesn't guarantee success.

Counterpoint is a feature in Philippine cuisine which normally comes in a pairing of something sweet with something salty, and results in surprisingly pleasing combinations. Examples include: champorado (a sweet cocoa rice porridge), being paired with tuyo (salted, sun-dried fish); dinuguan (a savory stew made of pig's blood and innards), paired with puto (sweet, steamed rice cakes); unripe fruits such as mangoes (which are only slightly sweet but very sour), are eaten dipped in salt or bagoong; the use of cheese (which is salty) in sweetcakes (such as bibingka and puto), as well as an ice cream flavoring.

Counterpoint is a common (and acknowledged) feature of the Filipino eating experience - knowingly applied in the kitchen and at the table and also acknowledged and savored in food. We look for it, in other words. This stands in contrast to the concept of "uyam" or "suya" in food which refers to the characteristic of the food to satisfy or annoy, both end states that are more or less desirable. A food is "annoying" in the sense that its flavor, while initially flavorful and enjoyable, wears out its welcome quickly. It does this either by "exhausting" one's tolerance for the flavor, or "satisfying" in the sense that it gives the eater a feeling of gustatory fulfillment or positive satisfaction.

This concept is also loosely translated as "cutting" in the sense that you "cut" the flavor of oily and meaty foods with vinegar or sugar - by adding these flavors in cooking, or by providing dips that feature these flavors. Sugary or sweet foods are "cut" with salty food or savory flavors like coffee. It is notable that soda such as Coke is both sharp and sweet - it is a very powerful "cutting" drink that itself has very low "uyam" and "satiety" factor.

So...

It is possible to cut down on both calorie count and food expenses by filling your weekly menu with foods that are high in satiety factor or "annoyance" factor. In general, highly processed and designed food are very low in these factors by design - so that you eat lots of it without satisfying your appetite or triggering your flavor overloads. Healthful foods can be cooked in a manner that satisfies hunger and appetite with small amounts, so long as one takes care to preserve and feature the "natural" flavor of the food items and minimizing "cutting" combinations.

complexmath wrote:
Seth wrote:

Eating healthier saves me a ton of money vs not doing so. It's much more time consuming in the procurement and preparation stage (which can be mitigated somewhat by cooking a few days' worth at once), but in terms of cost end up being cheaper in my personal experience.

I find that surprising. The easier a food item is to produce, ship, and store the cheaper it is. And this excludes pretty much all produce and fresh foods. And as much as I'd like to attribute everything to sugar consumption, it isn't clear that that's the problem either. If there's a single straightforward cause of obesity, I don't think we've found it yet. Proper diet and exercise is about the best we can do so far, and even that doesn't guarantee success.

My location helps. I can feasibly buy all local produce, even in big box stores, if I wanted. I just need to skip bananas, avocados, artichokes, and citrus. Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, after California.

I'd be interested to see the cost of staples - things like eggs, beans (soy, black, northern, pinto), tomatoes, squash, corn, etc, on a state by state graph.

Seth wrote:
complexmath wrote:
Seth wrote:

Eating healthier saves me a ton of money vs not doing so. It's much more time consuming in the procurement and preparation stage (which can be mitigated somewhat by cooking a few days' worth at once), but in terms of cost end up being cheaper in my personal experience.

I find that surprising. The easier a food item is to produce, ship, and store the cheaper it is. And this excludes pretty much all produce and fresh foods. And as much as I'd like to attribute everything to sugar consumption, it isn't clear that that's the problem either. If there's a single straightforward cause of obesity, I don't think we've found it yet. Proper diet and exercise is about the best we can do so far, and even that doesn't guarantee success.

My location helps. I can feasibly buy all local produce, even in big box stores, if I wanted. I just need to skip bananas, avocados, artichokes, and citrus. Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, after California.

I'd be interested to see the cost of staples - things like eggs, beans (soy, black, northern, pinto), tomatoes, squash, corn, etc, on a state by state graph.

I was actually concerned that I would have difficulty finding fresh produce here in NC because just about none of my coworkers actually eat anything that didn't at one point have a face. That said, the local produce markets in and around RTP are actually VERY good and very reasonably priced.

Oh, and for your morning viewing.

I'm reminded of the story I read some time ago about a mother on food stamps and the looks of disgust she would get when she bought things like fresh strawberries as opposed to Twinkies. The thought process (I guess) was that people on welfare don't deserve luxury foods like fresh fruit. That's a really f*cked up mentality.