This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More on weight, with a legal/political slant

Last night, I took Cora to Chick Fil A for dinner, as we usually do on Monday nights, so that she could run around the indoor playground afterwards. Indoor playgrounds full of other people's screaming children are my personal hell, but Cora loves it, so there we are. It's important that she gets the chance to run around as much as possible, instead of being stuck indoors all winter. Part of my plan for her not battling her weight as an adult. We are making good choices when we go out (grilled chicken and fruit cup), and she gets some exercise too.

Of course, I couldn't help but notice how many of the kids there were overweight. Back a billion years ago when I was in school, there was always "the fat kid." Like, one. You noticed "the fat kid," because it wasn't the norm. Now it seems like there's just "the skinny kid." In our region, it's been well-discussed (by folks such as Diane Sawyer) that Mountain Dew is quite popular here. You'll see kids carrying around 20 oz bottles of it. Younger kids, not just teenagers. Obesity and tooth decay, swell. Couple that with all the fast food restaurants, donut joints, and a lack of healthy options, and you have a health crisis. No wonder we've got a prominent hospital here specializing in cardiology.

So, I think it's excellent the First Lady is launching an initiative to fight childhood obesity. It's hard enough trying to not be fat as an adult, without starting out as a fat kid. Schools aren't helping, with no healthy food options, vending machines, and a sad lack of physical education. When I had gym class in high school, all we did was walk around the bleachers for an hour one or two days a week, and went bowling once a week, where we had the option of buying nachos from the concession stand. That was only freshman year, and there was nothing the rest of high school. Middle school wasn't much better. I can't imagine how it is now.

But it's also apparent our culture has changed, as well as our economy. I'm pretty sure people did not eat out so much 30 years ago. We're constantly busy, on the go, and too tired to cook. Eating out is no longer a luxury, it's the norm. Too many people don't know how to cook, or at least not well enough that they'd rather eat what they prepare than go out. So, when states like Tennessee want to pave the way for requiring restaurants to post nutrition information on menus, I think that's an excellent idea. It's not like you don't know a Big Mac is fattening, but other foods aren't so obvious. For instance, if you go to a restaurant and you order a side of vegetables, you think that's healthy, right? Well, it's not so healthy if they've buttered them up, or oiled them down. And you don't know that until you get them, and they're doused in butter. By that time, you might as well have gotten a side of fries instead. Sometimes the calorie content is very surprising. Marketfresh Arby's sandwiches? Holy crap. Get the cheeseburger instead. Or for instance, last week I got the carrot and raisin salad side dish at Chick Fil A, thinking it would be low calorie. It's almost as high in WW's Points as a small fry.

But, of course, some people hate government intervention. (People like those standing around city hall and teabagging each other, and paying a lot of money to see Sarah Palin read off her hand. Classy.) I personally really like government intervention. I like government telling banks they can't rip people off, and I like government telling people they can't commit crimes. I like government checking to make sure our food doesn't have mad cow disease or some flesh-eating bacteria. I like the government requiring the food I buy in the store have nutritional information on it, so I can make good choices. And I'd like the government to require nutritional information in restaurants, since I didn't get to see the label on the packages they opened to make my meal. It's not like it's that costly or time-consuming. It means that I have the ability to make an informed choice of what I eat. It means I'll know if my side of vegetables will arrive smothered in butter, even though the waiter assures me it won't.

Lower the obesity rate, you dramatically lower health care costs across the board. February is American Heart Month, to raise awareness about heart disease. Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in America. But I guess that's not the government's problem either, right?


Cee said...

I like the idea of requiring restaurants to post nutritional info. When we go out I sometimes try to look up the restaurant's info and try to choose a healthy option before we leave the house- but some places don't have info at all- not even on their websites. and salads can be so deceiving! add some extra cheese, 2 tablespoons of dressing and you got a 1000 calorie salad! (red robin's salads are ridiculous!).

I also noticed that when I grew up there was a "fat kid" and now there is the "skinny kid." You would think with al of our technology and stuff we'd be healthier but kids just sit in front of TVs and computers and games. I personally want to blame computers.... I'm going to make it a point in my house not to let my kids just blop in front of a computer when they get home-my husband and I do it and it's so horrible!

Tree Hugging 2L said...

I am irritated that Heart Disease, in general, doesn't receive much attention. Sure - February is "Awareness Month" - but it's the NUMBER ONE killer of women. I wish people would put as much effort into it as they do for breast cancer. Both are worthy causes - and need more awareness.

LEO said...

Even though I hate government intervention and don't like the idea of them telling me or anyone else what to do, I fully support making this information available for people to do what they will with it.

Usually "cultural change" is so slow and I see it and wonder how things got to the point they're at. But with the whole eating out thing, I see it in my own life. Growing up, we ate out rarely, and places like Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Changs were for special occasions like birthdays or graduations. Now my own little family eats out all the time, even though PJO and I both like cooking. Chain restaurants are more every day than special now. I hold out hope we'll change that by the time my kids are old enough to remember, but that seems doubtful now.

Allison said...

Love this post. I hate it when people say "but I don't want to know how bad my food is that I'm eating ..." (usually a really fit guy who never had to watch what he ate once in his life). I don't think we should be making policy decisions to accommodate those who want to be the opposite of responsible -- particularly in an age where if we don't take control of our personal health, we'll never be able to control health costs in the aggregate.

20123 said...


Googie Baba said...

I struggle a lot with this. I have really hard time keeping my weight down. I am trying to instill better habits in my kids. But honestly, I feel assaulted sometimes. I send off to grandma's and she gives him cookies all day. I go get a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, they think he's cute and hand him a munchkin. I send him to preschool, they give him ice cream. I start feeling like the wicked witch because I am all spoiling his fun. But we really need to change our attitude about food.