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We Are Too Fat and It’s Killing Us. Obesity — America’s Number One Health Threat.


evolution of obesityBy Bob Aronson

Obesity may well be the greatest threat to public health ever, at least that’s the conclusion of a good many national and international health agencies ranging from the American Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Too many people see obesity as a cosmetic problem and dismiss it as such.  It isn’t.  bad haircutA bad haircut is a cosmetic problem but a bad haircut never killed anyone.  Obesity can and does with great regularity.  Obesity is not about how you look, it is about slow suicide.

Before we get into the details it is important to define obesity.  According to the medical profession men are obese if fat makes up more than 25% of their body weight. Women are obese at more than 30% body fat.  In order to measure the percentage of body fat health professionals use a formula called the Body Mass Index (BMI).  It is based on height and weight (there is some controversy about the accuracy of BMI in some professional circles but that determination is best made by experts in the field and not by this author.  This link will give you more information http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/26/why-bmi-isnt-the-best-measure-for-weight-or-health/

The obesity epidemic is a fact, though, and will continue to be a problem regardless of how the BMI debate is settled).

  • A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is normal weight.bmi index
  • 25,0 ti 29.9 is overweight
  • 30.0 to 39.9 is obese
  • 40.0 and above is extremely obese

You can determine your BMI in private just by clicking on either of the two links below.

  1. If you want a simple BMI calculator click here. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
  2. If you want a BMI that measures more and is more accurate, click here. http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/body-fat-percentage-calculator

Studies indicate that nearly one in five US deaths is associated with obesity, which is nearly three times higher than previous estimates.  It is now thought that 34% of American adults are obese. Another 34% are overweight.

The preceding information is disturbing enough but even more upsetting is that fact that 17 percent of American children are obese. Another 15% are overweight.  That means that a third of our children have weight problems and you can bet that they will carry those problems into adulthood.

So – why worry about all of this, why is it important?  It is important because obesity kills. It kills just as sure as a 45 caliber bullet can kill, only it usually takes longer and the death can be painful and far more costly.  Bullets are usually mercifully quick.  Death by obesity is slower, much slower.  It creeps up on you, destroys your organs, debilitates, disables, depresses and costs far more than you can afford and then kills you anyway.  It is a long, hard and painful existence, but it can be avoided.  It’s not easy, but it can be avoided.

I am writing about obesity because it is a clear and present danger to everyone.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) we run the risk of contracting any or all of the following when we ignore warnings about overweight and obesity..

Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks

Being overweight or obese isn’t a cosmetic problem. These conditions greatly raise your risk for other health problems (this list has been edited.  To read all of it in detail click on the link above).

Coronary Heart Disease

As your body mass index rises, so does your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart thereby causing a heart attack or heart failure.

High Blood Pressureblood pressure cuff

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.  Your chances of having high blood pressure are greater if you’re overweight or obese.

Stroke

Earlier we talked about a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Well, it can rupture, causing a blood clot to form and if that clot is close to the brain it can cause a stroke. The risk of having a stroke rises as BMI increases.

Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar, level is too high. In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells don’t use insulin properly. Diabetes is a leading cause of early death, CHD, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is made if you have at least three of the following risk factors:

  • A large waistline. This is called “having an apple shape.” Having extra fat in the waist area is a greater risk factor for CHD than having extra fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
  • A higher than normal triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides).
  • A lower than normal HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol).
  • Higher than normal blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure).
  • Higher than normal fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat diabetes).Being overweight or obese raises your risk for colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder cancers.Osteoarthritis is a common joint problem of the knees, hips, and lower back. The condition occurs if the tissue that protects the joints wears away. Extra weight can put more pressure and wear on joints, causing pain or broken bones.Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.Reproductive Problems
  • A person who has sleep apnea may have more fat stored around the neck. This can narrow the airway, making it hard to breathe.
  • Sleep Apneasleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer
  • Obesity can cause menstrual issues and infertility in women.

Dementia

  • Recent studies show that obesity is linked with brain atrophy. This increases the risk of dementia as people get older.

I think we have pretty well established that obesity can cause irreparable physical harm, but it can cause mental and emotional problems that is just as painful.  For example:

  • Obesity makes life more difficult. It is harder to tie your shoes, fit in an airplane seat, or find a mate.
  • Obese people are stigmatized by society. Many normal weight people look down on obese people.
  • Employers discriminate against obese people in hiring, pay increases, and promotions.
  • Obesity is a cause of depression in women.
  • Obese children rate their quality of life as being even lower than do children who have cancer.

Space does not allow for us to delve farther into adolescent or child obesity but it is a significant problem and we will tackle it in another separate blog.

So now we know about obesity and its effects.  Now let’s look into how we get that way and what can be done about it.

The problem and the solution to it seem simple.  All you have to do to maintain a healthy weight is to burn up as many calories as you take in. That’s not easy because some people burn calories at a different rate than others. The problem is that few pay any attention to the number or nature of the calories they consume.  Furthermore, even fewer people pay any attention to the trade-off of burning them up.

The secret to maintaining a healthy BMI is to be calorie conscious.  You should know what you are consuming and how much exercise or activity it takes to burn it off.  For example, if you go to a professional football game and eat just one of their hotdogs you will consume about 250 calories.  In order to get rid of 250 calories you would need to walk for about an hour (see calorie/exercise ing caloriescalculator and other calculators here  https://www.fitwatch.com  If this particular link does not satisfy you just Google calorie calculators and you’ll find dozens of free apps for your phone, tablet, PC or Mac).

Obesity does not come on overnight.  No one goes to bed fit and in good shape and awakens as a morbidly obese person.  The process is gradual and can be stopped at any point along the way if you do two things; 1) Eat right and 2)exercise.  That’s all, eat right and exercise.

Most of us live very busy lives and feel as though we don’t have time to cook so “Fast food” becomes a way of life, but there are faster healthy foods that you can prepare for yourself that won’t add inches to your waistline.  Try some of these or google “Healthy nutritious and fast food recipes” and you are bound to find something that appeals to you.  This site, for example, is very helpful. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/quick_healthy_dinner_recipes

Nearly everyone I know has some kind of a sweet tooth. Some have it more than others but almost everyone likes a little “Sweet” now and then and a little might be fine but we just don’t seem to be able to handle just a little.  Well, you’d better learn how.sugar

In September 2013, a bombshell report from Credit Suisse’s Research Institute brought into sharp focus the staggering health consequences of sugar on the health of Americans. The group revealed that approximately “30%–40% of healthcare expenditures in the USA go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar.”  The figures suggest that our national addiction to sugar runs us an incredible $1 trillion in healthcare costs each year. The Credit Suisse report highlighted several health conditions including coronary heart diseases, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which numerous studies have linked to excessive sugar intake.

According to Medicine Net http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56589         Each American consumes one hundred and fifty-six pounds of added sugar.  That’s 31 five pound bags of sugar according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Imagine it: 31 five-pound bags for each of us.

In the U.S. diet, the major source of “added sugar” — not including naturally occurring sugars, like the fructose in fruit — is soft drinks. They account for 33% of all added sugars consumed, says Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, a spokeswoman for the Sugar Association. Clark is also director of sports nutrition in the athletic department of Penn State University.

Anne Alexander, editorial director of Prevention and author of The Sugar Smart Diet provided this explanation of what sugars can do to your body.

 Glucose

  • It seeps through the walls of your small intestine, triggering your pancreas to secrete insulin, a hormone that grabs glucose from your blood and delivers it to your cells to be used as energy.
  • But many sweet treats are loaded with so much glucose that it floods your body, lending you a quick and dirty high. Your brain counters by shooting out serotonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. Cue: sugar crash.
  • Insulin also blocks production of leptin, the “hunger hormone” that tells your brain that you’re full. The higher your insulin levels, the hungrier you will feel (even if you’ve just eaten a lot). Now in a simulated starvation mode, your brain directs your body to start storing glucose as belly fat.
  • Busy-beaver insulin is also surging in your brain, a phenomenon that could eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Out of whack, your brain produces less dopamine, opening the door for cravings and addiction-like neurochemistry.
  • Still munching? Your pancreas has pumped out so much insulin that your cells have become resistant to the stuff; all that glucose is left floating in your bloodstream, causing prediabetes or, eventually, full-force diabetes.

Fructose

  • It, too, seeps through your small intestine into the bloodstream, which delivers fructose straight to your liver.
  • Your liver works to metabolize fructosei.e., turn it into something your body can use. But the organ is easily overwhelmed, especially if you have a raging sweet tooth. Over time, excess fructose can prompt globules of fat to grow throughout the liver, a process called lipogenesis, the precursor to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Too much fructose also lowers HDL, or good cholesterol, and spurs the production of triglycerides, a type of fat that can migrate from the liver to the arteries, raising your risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • Your liver sends an S.O.S. for extra insulin (yep, the multi-tasker also aids liver function). Overwhelmed, your pancreas is now in overdrive, which can result in total-body inflammation that, in turn, puts you at even higher risk for obesity and diabetes Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist from California gained national attention after a lecture he gave titled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” went viral in 2009.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Fruit and Sugar substitutes

There are two questions associated with sugar that must be addressed, one has to do with the safety of sugar substitutes and the 2nd with fruit.

Stay away from sugar but eat more fruit! Huh?  Fruit is loaded with sugar so how can it possible be good for you?  Here is the definitive answer. EAT FRUIT! And here’s why.  While fruit does contain sugar it is digested and burned farfiber filled fruit differently than is the sweetener used in soft drinks, donuts, candy bars and cakes.  I could provide you with thousands of words on why fruit is good for you but you don’t need that.  What you need to know is this: it is almost impossible to over eat fructose by eating fruit.  If you need more details and the research behind the facts click on this link http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/making-the-case-for-eating-fruit/?_r=0 Fruit can also help keep us from overeating according to Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.  He says, “Unlike processed foods, which are usually digested in the first few feet of our intestines, fiber-rich fruit breaks down more slowly so it travels far longer through the digestive tract, triggering the satiety hormones that tend to cluster further down the small intestines.”

That brings us to the issue of artificial sweeteners.  There’s still a lot we don’t know about them and research is still being done but the scientific community generally believes that they are not harmful.  TStevia and other sweetenershey urge caution, though, and say that if you must have something sweet, go with the artificial variety preferably Stevia.  But, the jury is still out and its best to avoid all sweeteners if possible.  You can find more details in the report from CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  http://www.everydayhealth.com/sanjay-gupta/myths-and-facts-about-sugar-substitutes.aspx

While there’s no medical evidence these sugar substitutes are dangerous, a recent study suggests they don’t guarantee weight loss either. Researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine found that eating foods with artificial sweeteners when we’re hungry or tired increases the likelihood of choosing higher-calorie foods later on.

“We still don’t fully understand the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners,” says Alexandra Kaplan Corwin, a registered dietician in the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “Though the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has said they’re safe and the National Cancer Institute says they don’t cause cancer, we still don’t really know if there are long-term health consequences.”

Conclusion

 We’ve discussed obesity, it’s causes, the dangers of sugar and the advantages of eating more fruit.  Now the ultimate question, if you are obese, how do you lose that excess weight? Most experts will tell you that almost any program will help you lose weight.  The real trick, though, is losing it and keeping it off. It would be quite easy to list a number of diets and let you choose, but that would not be helpful because everyone’s condition is different.  We suggest that your very first step is to talk to your primary care physicians about the options he or she believes best suit you. Your physician knows your medical history and is far better able to make wise recommendations that the writer of a blog.  What I can say without fear of contradiction is that before you take on any weight loss program you must first assess your total medical condition. If you do not you could be headed for trouble. Your doctor will either make diet recommendations or direct you to someone who can.

Chances are that if you read this blog you are have more than a passing acquaintance with the Internet and will continue to do some research on your own on how to get rid of those excess pounds.  Well, we anticipated that and found one link in particular that might offer significant help. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/index.html  Clicking here will lead you to scores of sites that can help you achieve the weight loss goals you seek. 

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New heart, new life, new man

Feeling better than ever at age 76

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s over 4,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs. You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org.  And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  You can register to be a donor at http://www.donatelife.net.  It only takes a few minutes.

A Better Way to Combat Obesity


By Dr. Priscilla Diffie-Couch

Introduction by Bob Aronson

Obesity is an equal opportunity disease.  It is no respecter of age, gender, race or religion.  It is deadly and growing so that it now affects more than a third of U.S. adults (nearly 80 million people).  According to the Obesity Society, 69 percent of American adults are either affected by obesity or having excess weight.  http://www.obesity.org/resources-for/what-is-obesity.htm

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says the combination of poor diet and physical inactivity cause about 300.000 deaths a year, the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Obesity puts individuals at risk for more than 30 chronic health conditions including:  type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, gallstones, heart failure, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, GERD, stress incontinence, heart failure, degenerative joint disease, birth defects, miscarriages, asthma, and numerous cancers.

Priscilla Diffie-Couch E.E.D. has been researching and writing about health issues for over two decades.  Her reporting is factual, objective, helpful and frank. She is a frequent contributor to Bob’s Newheart.

A Better Way to Combat Obesity

By Priscilla Diffie-Couch E.E.D

dead 24 hrs

Obesity is more than an abundance of food and a shortage of exercise.  It is more than the substitution of sugar for fat or the easy access to cheap fast foods.  Few would question the ever-increasing obsession with food or need to get to the root of that problem.  But too few treat obesity as a genuine threat.  Yet what good does it do to make the world safe from terrorism while we watch millions of people being held hostage by food until they eat themselves to death?

obese person on airplaneWhat caused Americans to get so fat?  Research is replete with the absolute proof that eating fat does not cause us to get fat   ( www.wnyc.org/story/eatingfatdoesntmakeusfat).    In fact, we have learned that the introduction of low-fat food into our diet was one of the greatest health mistakes ever made.  We have only learned lately that, with the exception of transfat, fat is not a culprit in causing disease.  On the contrary, when we remove fat from our diet, we deprive ourselves of vital nutrients that prevent disease, in particular, vitamin D ( medicinenet.com/ vitamin_d_deficiency/related…/index.htm ).

A shocking number of diseases are associated with low levels of vitamin D:  Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, fatty liver, high blood pressure, Chron’s disease, allergy, MS, depression, osteopenia, cancer, rickets, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and obesity itself.  Reliable recent evidence shows that many Americans are short of vitamin D (health.usnews.com/…/many-americans-fall-short-on-their-vitamind).

Making matters worse, obese people do not make as much vitamin D3 in their guts as normal weight people do.  That exacerbates the shortage of vitamin D.  In one study obese subjects had significantly lower basal 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and higher parathyroid hormone concentrations than did age-matched control subjects.  Evaluation of blood vitamin D3 concentrations 24 hours after whole-body irradiation showed that the incremental increase in vitamin D3 was 57% lower in obese than in non-obese subjects (ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/3/690.abstract).

Besides the fact that low levels of vitamin D contribute to obesity and obesity further reduces levels of vitamin D, we are caught in another vicious cycle.  Omitting fat deprives us of the unequalled satiating power of full-fat foods.  That circles us right back into further weight gain.

Another result compounds the problem.  Food without fat loses much of its flavor.  So food manufacturers fill that void with added sugar and

sugarsalt.  But neither the presence of sugar or salt is independently responsible for the fattening of America.  Our bodies have always been able to tolerate salt and sugar in controlled amounts.  It is the unregulated unparalleled quantities of sugar in our foods–not ingested fat–that turns to fat in the human body.

Upon closer observation, it is not just the quantity of sugar that causes our bodies to lose essential metabolic control.  It turns out that simple carbohydrates in any food form are treated the same as sugar when we ingest them.  Table sugar and white bread work equally efficiently to impair our body’s ability to use insulin.  And that causes constant hunger and disease and bulging bodies.  Bulging bodies crave food.

So someone came up with the brilliant idea of replacing sugar in food and drink.  Along came the introduction of sugar substitutes, possibly the second biggest health mistake ever made.  Recent research strongly suggests that sweeteners cause blood sugar spikes.  (See the study published in Nature, September 17, 2014 “Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering Gut Bacteria.”)  The negative consequences are the same–possibly worse.  Drinks sweetened with sugar substitutes have zero calories.  So we happily consume greater quantities of sugar-free food and drink with abandon, never realizing how much this contributes to our weight problem.

That still does not fully explain why we are getting more and more obese as a nation.  Obviously, easy access to abundant food and drink of any whole heaalth sourcekind makes it harder to control our weight.  The super-sizing of everything we eat is now so common that we feel cheated if we are offered what once was a normal sized hamburger or portion of fries.  The original six ounce soda now seems like a drink intended for a small child.  Just as we have readjusted our view of what is overweight because there are so many more overweight people than ever before, we have readjusted our view of portion size.  That results in eating far more calories than ever before.Is quantity then the real culprit in packing on the pounds?  Without a doubt, it is a major contributor to obesity.  A summary reported in April of this year by Whole Health Source charts the rise in calorie intake and its impact on obesity.  “Calorie Intake and the U.S. Obesity Epidemic” points out that Americans increased their total calorie intake by 363 calories a day between 1960 and 2009.  Surprisingly, during this time obesity has trebled yet we have cut our intake of fat from 45% of total calorie to less than 33%.  What is not so surprising is that we now consume mostly simple carbohydrates.  (www.hsph.harvard.educ/nutritionsource/fats-full-story/).

Substituting simple for complex carbohydrates changes the food equation.  What is almosthigh fiber super stars always missing when we eat the wrong foods in any quantity is fiber.  Fiber is a magic agent that prevents sweetened food and drink from causing a sharp insulin spike (www.sharecare.com/health/type-2…/food-and-blood-sugarlevels).  Fiber is the friendly element in food that causes us to detect texture and tricks our stomachs into feeling fuller on less quantity.  We need from 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.  Yet it impossible to find a single meal when we eat out that offers more than two or three grams of fiber, if that.  Even when we eat at home, we fill our plates with everything but fiber.

Eating to stay slim requires daily monitoring of what we put in our bodies.  It is not easy.  Yet, Americans have continued to search for some simple formula for fighting the fat that creeps on to our bodies more readily with each passing year.  Diet pills don’t work.  Diet plans are a dismal failure.

It goes without saying that Americans are less active now than ever before in history.  The sad fact is that, the obesity on wheelsfatter people are, the harder it is to be active.  Slim people tell fat people to walk.  They can’t.  Many rely on riding on special carts to even be able to navigate through the grocery store.  The amount of effort required to lose only a few pounds causes too many of the overweight and obese simply to give up.

So what is the solution to obesity?  No one seems to know.  Individually, however, I feel certain that we could make a discernible dent in the problem by doing something very simple.  Retrain ourselves and our children to abide by the nutrition rules that worked so well back when obesity was a rare burden.  Every meal should consist of single portions on a 10-inch dinner plate (except for salad) consisting of 30% full fat, 30% protein, and 60%  complex carbohydrates, which contain multiple grams of fiber.  Substantial gains in loss of fatness could be achieved if we asked ourselves before every meal or snack, “Where is the fiber?”

Allowing ourselves and our children dessert only if we followed the rules for healthy eating spelled out above would provide a bonus for maintaining a healthy weight.

But most of us know what we should do individually to avoid getting fat. Having that knowledge has yet to solve the obesity problem.  We have been left alone too long.  Sporadic solutions are not the answer.  Companies that have independently created incentive programs that reward people who lose weight find themselves subject to discrimination lawsuits.

I cringe as I write these words but I have come to believe that we have no choice but to get the government of every nation with an obesity problem directly involved.  Independent drug researchers are never going to discover the magic fat-dissolving pill.  National research agencies must be fully funded to seek causes and solutions for the world-wide obesity malady.  New standards for defining obesity must be based on actual medical outcomes.  Validity of using Body Mass Index or waist circumference for predicting negative health effects must be re-examined and adjusted for age.  Meanwhile, steps need to be taken to implement workable plans to gain a foothold in arresting obesity.  I have never been an advocate of total government intervention.  But, when every possible private option has been exhausted, imposing universal programs may be the only answer.

The government must step up to reduce the burden of being fat.  There are at least 300,000 reasons why.  That is the number of deaths per year in the US estimated to be associated with obesity.  More than 78 million Americans can now be classified as obese.  That is more than the combined populations of California, Texas and New York.  If the current trend continues, by 2030 that number will increase to a shocking 45 to 51% of the population.

Obesity is now the second leading preventable cause of death in our country.  It is linked to sixtydeaths from obesity chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and others.  It is now safer to smoke, drink to excess, or be impoverished than it is to be obese.

The fatter we get, the less active we are.  The less active we are, the sicker we get.  The sicker we get, the greater the demand for costly drugs and hospital care and doctor visits. The more we spend on medical care, the more stress we feel.  The more stress we feel, the more we turn to food.  Clearly, the problem of obesity has ballooned into a never-ending cycle.

This cycle is not easily broken.  Sadly, in a routine trip to the grocery store, we can see a disturbing number of people so obese that they could have been found only in “freak” shows fifty years ago.  We are no longer surprised to see a rack of size 5X clothing on display at Wal-Mart.  Ironically, the fatter we get, the fewer of us see ourselves as fat.  By current definition, an ordinary person six foot tall who weighs 221 pounds is classified as obese.  But because one in three Americans is now overweight, our perception of “fatness” has changed.  Fat people look at fatter people with disgust.  Other people are fat.  We just need to lose a few pounds. 

Losing pounds is not easy.  Studies show that most of us underestimate our calorie intake and overestimate our level of activity. Fat people sit on the sidelines while others ride bikes, hit obese chldrentennis balls and swim.  Fat kids watch TV and sit in front of computers while their slimmer counterparts run and play.  The multi-billion dollar diet industry has failed.  The misguided low-fat diet craze has failed.  The only success story we can point to is the supersizing of America.

What will it take to break this supersizing cycle?  Thirteen years later, we are still aware of the changes in our lives prompted by the attack on 9-11-2001.  If terrorists had killed 300,000 Americans that day—as obesity does each year–it is hard to imagine the extent of government intervention in our lives aimed at protecting our safety and well-being.

What will it take to wake us up?  Obesity now claims more lives than illicit drug use, car and plane wrecks combined.  In 2009 alone, obesity cost our nation $152 billion.  These enormous costs are borne by us all. They show no signs of abating.  Individual efforts to curb obesity have failed.  That leaves little choice but to turn to the government for solutions.

The specific role of government should take the form of incentives, not mandates like those used in national security.  Medical research needs to be funded to provide clear guidance for designing programs that can break the cycle of disease and disorders resulting from being fat.  Government must first focus on finding out why we are fat and then on prevention.  Providing specific incentives associated with being fit not fat must be incorporated into the infrastructure of our lives.  A massive campaign must be mounted to make the public aware of these new programs.

Such government programs should begin early in our public schools.  Required physical education classes should be reinstated from primary through the twelfth grade.  Physical fitness should be given prestigious treatment among honors awarded to students of all ages.  Teachers in every field of study should be rewarded for creating curricula that require students to get up move around the classroom.  School systems should receive monetary incentives for the number of students they graduate that are not fat.  Government recognition of healthy fit kids should once again become a central concern of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Nutrition courses should be required at all grade levels.  Schools should be rewarded for increasing the number of students who stay on campus and eat nutritious meals.  Healthy snack breaks should be a part of daily school ritual at every level so that teachers can verbally reward students who actually eat their fruit.  Tax payer money should not be spent on school lunch programs that compete with fast-food fare.  Advertisements of non-nutritious foods—as has been done with alcoholic beverages and cigarettes–must be banned from television and certainly in the schools.  Deals between schools and the soft drink industry must be ended.

Programs for adults must also be designed to provide incentives for not being fat.  Providing discounts for drugs required because of conditions caused by obesity is counterproductive.  Doing so not only fails to discourage weight gain, but it also ignores what studies show to be the number one medicine to prevent and treat common diseases.  It does not come in a bottle.  It is called exercise.  Exercise, we now know, is superior tTop 20 exercise benefitso Prozac for treating mild to moderate depression.  Exercise can reverse certain kinds of heart disease and do away with the need for medicine to control blood sugar.  Abundant research shows that even light weight-lifting can enable elderly people to get up out of their wheel chairs and walk after only few weeks.   A proper diet and exercise can free many people with high blood pressure from medication.  Something as simple as daily brisk walks can produce far more dramatic results than drugs in how fat and fit we are.

Ways for identifying people eligible for health discounts can be established.  People who get a driver’s license must pass written and driving tests.  Safe drivers and home owners get discounts on insurance.  Similar systems can be set up to reward fit people when they apply for health insurance.  A certificate from a doctor can show the results of blood tests, blood pressure readings and other health measures that indicate fitness.  Scales can easily give readings on site.  Just as cars are given a sticker showing they have passed inspection, centers of fitness and nutrition can be certified to provide evidence of completion of nutrition tests and other requirements that must be met for various levels of discount entitlement.  Discounts for proven health supplements, as opposed to drugs to treat the maladies associated with obesity, can be awarded as part of the fitness incentive program. Obviously, such programs would demand universal fitness standards based on valid current research and updated upon discoveries in medical science.   For example, safe limits for cholesterol need to be reviewed just as blood pressure limits have recently been changed for older folks.

Goals and measurements must be stated in language that confronts the negative consequences of our present behavior.  As a communication specialist, I know that words influence behavior.  We have to stop beating around the verbal bush.  “Fat” and “obese” must be clearly defined and used openly to denote where we are and what we need to change.  We must stop fooling ourselves and our children.  Fat is not fun or funny or beautiful.  Fat is costly and risky.  And too often deadly.

The failure rate in managing our fatness and fitness has remained too high for too long.  We don’t need to spend more tax dollars on helping people buy more drugs or use more health care.  We should not be handing out tickets to help people end up in an early grave.  Exercise is free and eating right can be done without extra cost.  Doing both will save us all billions of health care dollars each year.

Federal intervention sounds like a nasty solution to some.  To the contrary, it can be accomplished by built-in rewards for those of us who successfully assume greater personal responsibility for our health, nutrition, and fitness.  And those of us who are already fit and healthy reap our rewards by not being forced to subsidize those who are not.

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An award winning high school speech and English teacher, Priscilla Diffie-Couch went on to get her ED.D. from Oklahoma State University, priscilla picturewhere she taught speech followed by two years with the faculty of communication at the University of Tulsa.  In her consulting business later in Dallas, she designed and conducted seminars in organizational and group communication.

An avid tennis player, she has spent the last twenty years researching and reporting on health for family and friends.  She has two children, four grandchildren and lives with her husband Mickey in The Woodlands, Texas.

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A message from Bob Aronson.bob half of bob and jay photoBob’s Newheart was established to support and help everyone, but particularly those who need or have had organ transplants.  Some of our blogs are specifically related to donation/transplantation issues while others are more general, but they are all related.  Because anti-rejection drugs compromise immune systems, transplant recipients are more susceptible to a variety of diseases.  We provide general health and medical information to help them protect themselves while at the same time, helping others live healthier lives and avoid organ failure.

Bob’s Newheart mission is three-fold; 1) to provide news and information that promotes healthier living so people won’t need transplants; 2) To help recipients protect their new organs and; 3) to do what we can to ensure that anyone who needs an organ can get one.   About 7,000 Americans die every year while waiting for a life-saving organ.  I am sure you will agree that should not happen.

In the U.S. the great majority of people support organ donation, but only about 40% of us officially become organ donors.  Many have good intentions but just don’t get around to it.  It is hard to accept, but no one knows how long they will live.  My transplanted heart came from a 30 year old man.  I’m sure he had no intention of being a donor at that age.  If you are not yet a donor, please register at www.donatelife.net it only takes a few seconds. Then, tell your family so there is no confusion when the time comes to donate.  One organ donor can save or positively affect the lives of up to 60 people.  There is no nobler thing you can do than becoming an organ donor.

Bob Aronson Founder of Bob’s Newheart Established November 3, 2007

Stop Eating What’s Killing You! Great Tasting Food Ideas ~ Less Salt and Sugar


By Bob Aronson

ambulance

Tired of paying for expensive prescription drugs?   Sick to death of the high cost of health care?  Frustrated with trying to find affordable insurance that actually covers something? Upset because your employer doesn’t offer insurance?

There is a solution…at least a partial solution and that is to take better care of yourself.  Mos of our ills are brought on  by our lifestyles by the fact that we eat wrong, don’t exercise and abuse our bodies in a million other ways.

Sugar is not healthy. We know that products loaded with sugar are not healthy and we know that foods with saturated fat are not healthy but we eat them anyway.  Why is that?  Simple answer.  They are fast, easy and they really taste good!

hands holding a big mac

The rap on eating healthy is that really healthy stuff usually doesn’t taste very good.  Let’s face it, when you take away the salt, fat and sugar food can be pretty bland.  The taste buds send frantic messages to the brain pleading for relief, “C’mon…just a little more salt…blechhh this tastes awful.”

What we are really saying is that compared to what we have been eating a healthier diet has no taste at all.  The fact is the taste of healthier foods is quite distinct, it’s just that all that salt, sugar and fat have masked it and your taste buds need some retraining.

Years ago when I was first told that I might need a heart transplant some day and that I had to change my diet if I wanted to live long enough to get one I was advised to severely limit the amount of sodium in my diet.  At the most I could have 2,000  milligrams (2 grams} of sodium per day.  When you consider that a Papa John’s 14 inch Pepperoni Pizza with original crust has 825 mgs of sodium per slice and you rarely eat just one slice, you could easily consume your entire day’s allocation of sodium at one sitting.papa johns pizza 2

I used to love salt and still do but I have learned to restrain myself.  I was one of those guys who salted everything even before I tasted it.  I would put salt on a sausage, pepperoni and extra cheese pizza as soon as it arrived at the table.  I used to put salt in my beer, too, so when I could no longer do that all my favorite foods suddenly tasted terrible.  That’s when a huge neon sign appeared over my head flashing the message, “It wasn’t the pIzza you loved, it was the salt!”salt shakerWanting to live a little longer I took the advice of my physicians and I cut salt intake in two ways.  First I did not add salt to anything.  Secondly I began to study the labels on food in the grocery store. food label Limiting yourself to 2 grams of sodium a day is very difficult and for a while you will not like what you are eating – it tastes bland.  your taste buds will scream for salt as loudly as a heroin addicts brain screams for narcotic relief.  Slowly, though, your taste buds recover from a decades long carpet bombing of sodium … and the real taste of food begins to emerge.  Green beans have a distinct taste; pasta, has a taste of its own; even a good lean steak has a unique taste when you remove the salt and the steak sauce and the ketchup, too…sorry.

Don’t get me wrong, we need salt to keep our bodies functioning properly but, we don’t need much (e.g., between about 180 mg and 500 mg per day).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) The Institute of Medicine recommends 1500 mg of sodium per day as the Adequate Intake level for most Americans and advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, the Tolerable Upper Limit.sodium facts for the U.S.

Once you overcome the taste issue you will begin to enjoy food again. But you don’t have to do it cold turkey.  There are plenty of good substitutes for salt that add a dash of extra flavor without being a threat to your health.  For example

Here’s some advice from the famed Cleveland Clinic

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/askdietician/ask1_02.aspx

Ideally, the best way to go is completely “Salt Free.” Instead of mimicking the taste of sodium with salt substitutes, start experimenting with other more flavorful herbs and spices to add zest to your meals. Try fresh garlic or garlic powder, lemon juice, flavored vinegar, salt-free herb blends, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper, tarragon, oregano and many others to unleash the powerful flavors these salt-free herbs and spices have to offer.

Remember that a 2 gram sodium restriction includes the total sodium in your day – this includes the foods that you eat, not just the seasoning that you add. Be cautious of nutrition labels and keep foods under 140 mg or less which is considered a “low sodium food”.

Another reason for our poor eating habits is lack of time.  Everyone seems rushed with no time to be considering sodium, saturated fat or sugar content.  We just need something fast – but fast doesn’t have to mean unhealthy.

“Sometimes cooking takes a lot of time in our life, but we got some good news for you. We gathered an excellent list of cooking recipes which are easy to prepare. There are categories of receipts like Breakfast, Salad Entrees, Soups, Fish, Chicken and Turkey, Lean Meat, Vegetarian Entrees, Side Salad/Dressings, Side Vegetables, and Desserts. All easy healthy foods so you don’t even need to think about what to cook tonight!”

[Update: Try this lifehack article for an updated List of 100 healthy recipes that you can learn in 15 minutes
I edited the list so if you want the complete story click on this link: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/over-100-quick-and-easy-healthy-foods.html

Or…for great and flavorful healthy food ideas go directly to Recipesia dot com.  http://www.recipesia.com/

Breakfast

Grape Nuts Breakfast Bars

Foolproof Scrambled Eggs

Guacamole Omelet

Huevos Rancheros

Mission Fritada With Wine Syrup

Nest Eggs

Prickly Pear Eggs

Santa Fe Eggs

Scrambled Eggs With Shrimp And Sherry

Southwestern Eggs

Salad Entrees

Egg Jigglers

Easter Egg Salad

Minted Pea Salad

Dazzling Easter Eggs

Easter Bunny Salad

Easter Bunny Salad

Lemon Marshmallow Fluff

Lemon Lime Jell O Salad

Peach Jell O Salad

Pina Colada Salad

Soups

Polish Easter Soup

Sicilian Easter Soup

Majeiritsa (easter Lamb Soup)

Cream Of Mango Soup

Iced Papaya Soup

Raspberry Fuchsia Soup

Strawberry Peach Soup

Sweet Red Pepper And Crab Bisque

Creamed Tomato Bisque

Fish

Anchorage Baked Salmon

Cajun Style Baked Fish

Ranch Fish Fillets

Scalloped Salmon

Codfish Cakes

Colorado Deep Fry Fish Batter

Country Fried Catfish

Crispy Oven Fried Fish

Door County Fish Boil

Chicken and Turkey

Grilling

Grilling

Chicken With White Wine And Mushrooms

Cinnamon Garlic Roast Chicken

Roasted Chicken Oreganato

Lemon Chicken

Herbed Chicken Piccata

Barbecued Bundles

Barbecued Chicken

Lean Meat

Till We Meat Again

Meat Balls

Canadian Meat Pie

Meat Loaf Ricotta

Nalley Chili Meat Loaf

Stuffed Meat Loaf

Tropical Meat Loaf

Garden Meat Loaf

Italian Stuffed Meat Loaf

Mom’s Meat Loaf

Vegetarian Entrees

All Bean Chili

Deep Fried Masa Turnovers With Cheese

Green Chile Avocado Enchiladas

African Style Vegetarian Stew

Aztec Platter

Bean And Mushroom Stroganoff

Black Eyed Pea And Vegetable Stew

Bulghur Wheat “sausage” Patties

Carrot Rice Nut Burger

Cheese And Nut Loaf

Chile And Cheese Enchiladas

Side Salad/Dressings

Chinese Cabbage Salad

Creamy Romaine Salad – non-dairy

Cucumber, Seaweed Salad

Fresh Minted Garbanzo Salad

Great Antipasti Salad

Romaine & Avocado Salad

Tomato Dandelion Salad

Side Vegetables

Asian Mushroom Sauté

Calabacitas – Mexican flavored vegetable side dish

Cranberry Sauce

Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes – no dairy

Marinated Beets

Mediterranean Collard Greens

Mediterranean Kale

Mediterranean Spinach

Desserts

Almond Filled Cheesecake

Bailey’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Apple Normandy Cheesecake

Applesauce Cheesecake

Autumn Cheesecake

Avocado Cheesecake

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake

Banana Cream Cheesecake

Banana Peanut Cheesecake

Apricot Cheesecake

Baklava Cheesecake

Got some ideas for healthier living?  We’d like to hear them.  Please add your comments here or write to me directly bob@baronson.org if you have a blog idea or if you’d like to submit a guest blog.  Stay tuned for more on living healthy.  One way of solving the transplantable organ shortage is by reducing the demand.  By living healthy you do just that.

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bobBob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our new music video “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs.  This video is free to anyone who wants to use it and no permission is needed. 

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

En Espanol

Puede comentar en el espacio proporcionado o por correo electrónico sus pensamientos a mí en bob@baronson.org. Y – por favor, difundir la palabra acerca de la necesidad inmediata de más donantes de órganos. No hay nada que puedas hacer lo que es de mayor importancia. Si usted convence a una persona de ser donante de órganos y tejidos puede salvar o afectar positivamente a más de 60 vidas. Algunas de esas vidas pueden ser personas que conoces y amas.

Por favor, consulte nuestro nuevo video musical “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs YouTube. Este video es libre para cualquier persona que quiera usarlo y no se necesita permiso.

Si quieres correr la voz acerca de la donación de órganos personalmente, tenemos otra presentación de PowerPoint para su uso libre y sin permiso. Sólo tienes que ir a http://www.organti.org y haga clic en “Life Pass It On” en el lado izquierdo de la pantalla y luego sólo tienes que seguir las instrucciones. Esto no es un espectáculo independiente, sino que necesita un presentador pero es profesionalmente producida y sonido hechos. Si usted decide usar el programa le enviaré una copia gratuita de mi libro electrónico, “Cómo obtener un pie” O “que le ayudará con habilidades de presentación. Sólo tiene que escribir a bob@baronson.org y por lo general usted recibirá una copia del mismo día.

Además … hay más información sobre este sitio de blogs sobre otros donación / trasplante temas. Además nos encantaría que te unas a nuestro grupo de Facebook, la Iniciativa de Trasplante de Órganos Cuantos más miembros que obtenemos mayor será nuestra influencia con los tomadores de decisiones.

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