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Saturday, July 30, 2011

U.S. is the Fattest Country

McDonald's Happy Meal
U.S. is the fattest of 33 countries. Mexico and New Zealand are runners-up. 70% of Americans are now overweight says the report, a number that will balloon to 75% in 2020. Food researchers indict the couch-and-mouse lifestyle, with people watching more T.V. and clicking online. The media with its ubiquitous commercials for high-calorie foods is partly responsible for the expanding waistlines, especially in kids. But the demise of the family dinner is also a factor says the Star-Tribune. Structured, please-pass-the peas family meals are no longer the norm. We are a fast food culture and don't really take time to enjoy our meals. When people watch TV, they often eat too much or consume the wrong food because they lose track or are not paying attention to their meal.

In fact, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that substance abuse itself is lower in families that eat together 3 times a week, food being many people’s preferred substance. A 2010 study by the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University found 9th graders are fatter when their schools are close to fast-food restaurants. Should we ban those restaurants from opening or operating near our schools? I think it's a matter of supply and demand. If we educate ourselves and the children about healthy eating habits, we won't eat junk food, there will be no demand for fast foods, therefore those restaurants must change or go out of business. I used to love sodas as a kid and was placated or rewarded with junk food like candies by my parents. I believe that parents need to be good role models by eating a healthy diet and refuse give in to kids demands for things that are not good for them. I used to teach grade school in LAUSD where they served lunches that I wouldn't eat even if they were free and the vending machines there are probably still full of junk food. As consumers, we have power with our dollars. Vote for healthy food with your wallets. Go to a Farmers Market near you and buy fresh produce. Patronize a restaurant that serves fresh, healthy, locally grown food. Learn how to make simple dishes with me. I will teach a 30-minute Healthy Cooking Class if there is enough demand for it. Contact me for more information.

Ingrid Cheng
Founder of Fit-Twist and Yoga teacher

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