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 Ask Dr Moore - Obesity, Diet and the American Way

ASK DR.MOORE March 01, 2006

Dr. Mark Moore, author of the gender selection book Baby Girl or Baby Boy--Choose the Sex of Your Child, answers readers' questions on pregnancy and pediatrics.

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Obesity, Diet and the American Way
Forget the Avian Flu, an epidemic is already raging in America: The Obesity Epidemic. Not to belabor the statistics but it is estimated that 58 million Americans are overweight. And since adults are the ones feeding our kids, 35% of our children are overweight, too. The majority of heart disease and diabetes are related to obesity, as well as a significant percentage of hypertension, colon and breast cancers, gallbladder disease and many other aliments. It has been suggested that our fat-filled diets are killing us more than smoking and heart disease. New studies have shown more ‘relaxed’ attitudes towards body image of overweight people.

Everyone asks: Why have I gained weight? How can I lose weight and keep it off? What is the best diet to be on? While in the grocery store, we pick up an item, read the label and wonder is this food healthy for my family?

Why, then, is America so fat? Most overweight people will tell you they "eat healthy". And they do try. It is becoming more apparent, that our Food Companies do not make it easy for us. Ten years after the Nutritional Facts labeling laws were passed, we are only slightly better off. The problem is companies use methods to disguise the lack of nutritional value of many of the products we consume on a daily basis.

I believe in freewill and responsibility of choices but we are being killed by a system that allows advertisers to prey on our children, and sell the parents (and grandparents) the line that if you buy them candy, your children will love you and you're a good parent.

We bought a gingerbread house kit for the holidays. It stated a mere "120 calories". Harmless, it seemed until one notes there are "80 servings per container". Thus, were the gingerbread house and its piles of icing to be nibbled away over the weeks, we would have consumed an extra 9600 calories (mostly pure sugar with no nutritional value).

You would think yogurt is good for kids. We encourage our children to eat it for breakfast. Recently, we tried a new yogurt, you know, the one with cartoon pictures on the labels. Again, at first glance, it appeared be similar to the low-fat yogurt we had been using previously. Upon comparison, and unifying the serving sizes, the results were surprising.

Standard Low-fat Yogurt (Publix): Calories 130, Fat <1g., Sugar 15g, Protein 10g.
Kids brand yogurt: Calories 320, Fat 8g, Sugar 44g, Protein 8g.

You must apply algebraic ratios to solve this problem! First, to equalize the playing field, you must standardize the SERVING SIZES. Don't know the value of a "gram", usually written as a "g"? It’s metric. The key is to equalize the serving sizes and then use that "multiplier" to equalize the other values. For example because the serving size of the kids yogurt is only 80g, it is multiplied by 3 to be equivalent to the 240g serving size of the standard lo-fat yogurt.

Final comparison results show the Kids yogurt had 300% more sugar, 800% more fat, almost 300% more calories and less protein than the standard adult brand. Oh, you paid twice as much for the kids yogurt as a similar amount of the regular yogurt.
A quick glance at kids "snack" crackers shows many to have 150 calories and 6g Fat in a tiny one ounce serving (30g.). Please do not believe anyone that tells you that you may eat ‘dark chocolate’ because it’s "healthy".

Even the former president Bill Clinton has gotten on the bandwagon. He had a near miss with the grim reaper when rushed into surgery for multiple coronary artery bypass. Now he plugs the food pyramid and an anti-obesity pledge with the American Heart Association.

I’m a heretic. We avoid buying food with TV/movie characters on the box, we don’t give our kids juice and we’re even phasing out those tiny fish crackers. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

If big food companies don't start policing themselves, I believe the government will do it for them. We need standards. We need truth in labeling. We need Total Calorie Counts for entire packages and maybe limits on valueless food products and serving sizes.

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Readers may send questions to our email address. This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

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