Consider cutting health care costs by cutting calories. Perhaps the culprit also the quality of the food we eat. Films such as Food Inc and Supersize Me have been eye opening shedding some light on how our foods are processed and the effect it has on our health. Hefty headlines speak loudly about this serious epidemic – Obesity. Yes, obesity is an epidemic that is killing us – sometimes swiftly through heart attacks and stroke and sometimes slowly with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and inflammatory and other diseases. It’s also costing us. According to a study of national costs attributed to both overweight (BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), medical expenses ranged from $78.5 -$26.8 billion dollars in 1998 and is on the rise. That amount can add up over time.
The CDC states, “American society has become ‘obesogenic,’ characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, non-healthful foods, and physical inactivity. Policy and environmental change initiatives that make healthy choices in nutrition and physical activity available, affordable, and easy will likely prove most effective in combating obesity.” This epidemic is a major concern in Europe as well. The International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) briefing paper stated “Surveys show overweight and obesity levels among children in Southern Europe to be higher than their Northern European counterparts as the traditional Mediterranean diet gives way to more processed foods rich in fat, sugar and salt.
So who is taking on the challenge? Jamie Oliver, a British chef, has made a new series for the ABC American TV network about food – how families eat, what kids get at school and why, like the UK, the diet of processed food and snacks is causing so many health and obesity problems. The series is set in Huntington, West Virginia, the city with the highest obesity rate and rate of death in the US.
Jamie’s challenge is to see if he can get a whole community cooking again. He works with the school lunch ladies and local families to get everyone back in the kitchen making tasty meals with fresh ingredients – no packaged foods, no cheating. He’s started a Food Revolution: to get people all over America to reconnect with their food and change the way they eat.
I’ll be watching while I cook healthy, nutritious meals and wasting my waistline. How about you? Are you up to the challenge of waist management?