A large-scale problem

Too few Americans are exercising and eating right

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Several weeks ago we announced our “Sensible Living” initiative – the sharing of a philosophy, really, that we need to return to basic, sensible living practices in order to survive and thrive in an uncertain future.

In decades past, families relied on themselves and their neighbors, even – or, perhaps, especially – in lean times. Since then, we’ve worked, played and lived over an expanding government safety net that is both financial and paternal. In recent years, particularly, the government has been taking on more and more of the responsibility for our lives that we used to take ourselves.

As just one example, there’s the mayor of New York – who thinks it’s his job to protect his constituents from drinking too many soft drinks.

Limiting fatty foods in schools is another matter entirely, of course; schools arguably have a responsibility to offer healthy environments to their captive clientele. And a new study shows, not surprisingly, students in schools where fewer junk foods are available gain less weight than their free-wheeling peers.

In the rest of civil society, however, government edicts are neither effective nor welcome. When San Francisco tried to ban free toys in fast-food children’s meals, the restaurateurs got around the law by simply charging separately for the trinkets.

More problematically, though, when trying to use the nanny state to regulate such a personal decision as what people ingest, you start running out of both government money and individual freedom.

Sensible living requires taking responsibility for our own lives. And nothing is more sensible than taking care of our bodies.

Unfortunately, the trend line is not in that direction. While many of us try to eat more sensibly and exercise, the majority are not.

“More Americans are becoming overweight or obese, exercising less, and eating unhealthy foods,” wrote WebMD Health News in 2010 – noting that 63 percent of Americans were overweight or obese in 2009.

Surely we’ve packed it on since then. A more recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the South, in particular, is dangerously overweight – with obesity rates (30 pounds or more than is considered healthy) at, or over, 30 percent of the population.

All this extra baggage is weighing down an already sagging health care system that is charged with treating diabetes, cardiovascular problems and other weight-related maladies.

There are limits to what the country can do for us. Those limits are being stretched.

The only sensible thing to do is to take responsibility for our health – starting with nutrition and exercise.

The irony is, while all this weight is being packed on, there’s never been more information on or more help with eating right and exercising. The first thing you can exercise is your fingers – by searching the Internet for advice, help and products that can change your life.

You’ll find a lot of tips out there for eating better, but here’s one: If you have to “open” a foodstuff, it’s probably not as healthy as if you have to “peel” it. It’s amazing how much processed junk we consume, when nature all along has provided us with the original “peel-and-eat” foods that just happen to fit our bodies’ needs perfectly.

There’s definitely a role for government in all this, most importantly in regulating what’s in those boxes we open and what information there is on the outside. But in truth, no amount of government red tape can cover our mouths.

The main person responsible for your health can be found down the hall and to the right – in the bathroom mirror.

Comments (8) Add comment
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burninater 08/25/12 - 11:08 pm
Seriously? Y'all can't even

Seriously? Y'all can't even have a healthy living series without politicizing it?

Riverman1 08/25/12 - 11:38 pm
Differences in Scientific Community

The type food we should eat is not unanimously held to be low fat, yada, yada, yada by physicians. Some say carbohydrates are the problem and not fats. Government can't decide what's the best nutrition for kids and others when it's not even agreed upon by science.

Jane18 08/26/12 - 07:35 am
Doctor's advice

This is what my doctor told me-----if it crunches-don't munch it, if sweet-don't eat, and if white-don't bite! Works for me!

omnomnom 08/26/12 - 09:40 am
the skinny (my obesity opinion)

the government should stop corn subsidies... most of it ends up in our gas tank or in processed foods or as meat feed.

subsidize vegetables and fruits instead.. it IS more expensive to eat fresh foods.

also the SNAP programs should be changed to prevent users from buying junk food and rich foods on a steady basis... maybe buy creating a "health factor" for everything you can buy with SNAP.

on second thought since ketchup and pizza have been labeled vegetables by some govt agencies that probably won't work.

at any rate food inflation (which isn't factored into the govt's inflation report) will help curb the obesity epidemic.

TParty 08/26/12 - 10:03 am
Care to expand on this?

Care to expand on this? "There’s definitely a role for government in all this, most importantly in regulating what’s in those boxes we open"

And I agree with the poster above about the corn subsidies. They need to stop, like yesterday.

And I wonder if ACES is against the war on drugs, with wonderful philosophy as "More problematically, though, when trying to use the nanny state to regulate such a personal decision as what people ingest, you start running out of both government money and individual freedom."

Anyways- portion control is a huge problem. No need to gorge every time we sit down to eat, while snacking all day.

Jake 08/26/12 - 11:38 am

TParty's comment ends with an admonishment about portion control. That is fairly easy to do when you are eating at home but not if you eat out.
We, as a family, don't eat out very often but last week while on vacation we did. Serving portions are just too large leaving you with the choice to box it up or throw it away. This results in a tremendous amount of food ending up in the trash while there are people in this country who could sure use a meal. And of course you have the "All you can eat" buffets which in many cases looks like hogs at the trough.

TParty 08/26/12 - 12:17 pm
There are things you can

There are things you can still do while eating out. I only eat appetizers, they are meals in themselves. If you want a meal, like the steak, there is no shame in ordering the smallest size, instead of 20 oz. We dont' always have to go large!

And as you said earlier, you can just box it up like you said- save it for later.

fedex227 08/26/12 - 08:24 pm
I look forward to your follow-on editorial ...

"Drugs, they're bad for you- don't take them."

Seriously, of course individual responsibility matters. But it doesn't mean that we as a nation (and by the way, 'we' are the government) should not do everything we can to promote efforts to become a healthier nation as well identify the need for individual responsibility (they're not mutually exclusive). As much as we might not like to admit it, we're all in this together.

KSL 08/26/12 - 10:13 pm
While traveling home from

While traveling home from working today, I heard Clark Howard speak of the fact that Americans throw away half of the food purchased. Well we don't.

Tparty is right.

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