Fighting obesity

first_imgBy Stephanie SchupskaUniversity ofGeorgiaEvery four days, 3,200 people die due to obesity. And behind the deaths are the individuals dealing with the disease, said Judith Stern, a University of California-Davis professor of nutrition and internal medicine.That’s how Stern opened her 2005 D.W. Brooks Lecture, “Can We Fight Obesity without Fighting the Obese?” She delivered the annual University of Georgia lecture Oct. 3 in Athens.”It’s time for all of us to ‘step up to the plate’ about obesity,” she said after noting she’s an Oakland A’s fan. “We can’t do it alone. We absolutely can’t.”The “us” she discussed isn’t just consumers or fast food restaurants. She includes the National Institutes of Health, the healthcare system, food industry, Department of Transportation (for promoting inactivity and forgetting sidewalks) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (for abnormally high standards for obesity drugs).”Obesity is a chronic disease,” she said. “It requires chronic treatment.”Insurance companies cover healthcare costs for people who spent too much time in the sun and develop melanoma, Stern said. They pay for liver disease treatment for those who drank too much and for lung cancer treatment for smokers. But they don’t recognize obesity as a disease.”It’s the last area that’s seen as OK to discriminate,” Stern said. “Blaming the obese doesn’t work.”Stern referred to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary before pronouncing obesity a disease. To be listed as a disease, a condition must meet two of three criteria: recognized agents, identifiable signs and symptoms and consistent anatomical alterations.Obesity meets all three. “The health care system is the house, and obesity is the hole in the roof,” Stern said. “If you don’t fix the hole, every time it rains, the furniture and rugs are going to get damaged. … We spend billions each year on heart disease, asthma and other illnesses that have been proven to get better as obesity goes down.”Stern looked at the institutes and centers under the National Institute of Health umbrella. Of the 27, not one focuses solely on obesity. In 2004, she said, the NIH scheduled $2.87 billion for AIDS research. Money funneled toward obesity was $442 million.But research and health care don’t address obesity’s “why,” Stern said.The numbers of obese people are growing because people eat too much. In 1970, the average person ate 2,220 calories a day. Now, the average is 2,680.Portion sizes have increased. When Stern married in 1964, she received the “Joy of Cooking” cookbook. She recently opened the new edition and checked the yellow rice recipe. The ingredients are the same, but now it serves four people. In 1964, the same amount served six.”We suffer from portion distortion,” Stern said.She uses megamuffins, french fries and soft drinks as examples. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says one serving of muffin is 100 calories. The megamuffin has 800 calories.”Who cuts it into eight and shares it with seven other people?” Stern asked. “I don’t.”One serving of fries is 1 ounce, or 10 fries. The original McDonald’s container held 2 ounces. Now, they serve a super with 610 calories, or just over six servings.”To the consumer, they’re all the same size because they consume size,” she said.One serving of a soft drink is 6 ounces and 75 calories. Her son recently bought a 52-ounce, 650-calorie “X-treme Gulp” from a convenience store. “I told him, ‘Daniel, you have to share that drink with five-and-a-half other people,’ ” she said.Perceived savings factors in, too. In June 2004, a store advertised a 32-ounce beverage special for 49 cents. The 12-ounce size cost 79 cents.”I saved 30 cents, but gained 250 calories,” she said. “In two weeks, I’ll have gained an extra pound for only $4.20.”(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University ofGeorgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

Made in the shade

first_imgUniversity of GeorgiaShade-tolerant grasses, ornamental sweet potatoes, irises and green manure highlight “Gardening in Georgia,” the week of May 10.”Gardening in Georgia” airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations across Georgia each Thursday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.Georgia gardening guru and retired University of Georgia Extension agent Walter Reeves is the host. Each show features information specific to Georgia soils, climate and growing conditions.In this episode, Reeves talks to UGA turf expert Clint Waltz. Waltz shows how to grow grasses in the shade. Waltz reveals results from his shade-tolerant turf trials that may surprise Georgia gardeners.Find out how knowing which way is up can lead to success in propagating ornamental sweet potatoes. Just look at the knobby potato left behind in the soil when you remove spent vines.Irises are a mainstay in many Georgia landscapes. Hank Bruno at Callaway Gardens brings a bucketful of beauties and describes how each one grows.Finally, learn how using cover crops as “green manure” can help replenish your soil with valuable nutrients for spring planting.”Gardening in Georgia” is a coproduction of GPB and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The 2007 season is made possible through an underwriting gift from McCorkle Nurseries and support from the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association.You can find more on “Gardening in Georgia” at read more