Weight of A Nation Obesity Epidemic Puts a Weight on My Conscience

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, side view.Self Made Picture of an Obese Teenager (Myself) (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, Front View. Feel Free to use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weight of A Nation Obesity Epidemic Is Weighing On My Behavior

I am stating to freak out. Really. This series of documentaries from HBO on the state of obesity in America is really weighing on my conscience. Have you seen it? Has it changed any of your personal behaviors or those towards your children? It has for me and I don’t like it. It is making me paranoid. Turning me into a food dictator and physical activity general. Plus, it is making me too scared about the health future of Americans. The future of Americans and of other nations who are experiencing epidemic levels of overweight and obesity with their citizens (including France, where we live). I can’t stop thinking about it, watching the films. Yet, that was what the goal was, right? The message to send to all of us?  That we need to wake up and smell the coffee on our obesity issue. This obesity health issue that is already devastating and it will be catastrophic in the near future.

Why am I so paranoid? I have worked very hard with my family to fight the environmental aspects that contribute towards obesity. And I feel very lucky because it has worked: 4 lean and healthy kids. We practice what I call meal discipline. Easier to do here in France, many French are strict with their eating. I really shouldn’t worry so much how things will turn out for my kids, they are on the right path. My children have had good taste education, they eat everything that is put down in front of them, they have high amounts of physical activity. Yet, these 4  films “Weight of the Nation” are filled with heart-breaking statistics, stories and struggles. Watching them has made me on edge. Instead of practicing good meal discipline, I have turned into a madwoman:

  • Hating the food industry for marketing unhealthy foods for kids
  • Upset of the lack of physical education classes for kids in schools
  • Mad at Congress for cutting down the Child Food Act and allowing french fries to be served daily on school lunch menus (instead of twice a week), and pizza being looked at as a vegetable
  • Frustrated at the lack of healthy foods served to children in school
  • Sadness for the children who suffer low self-esteem and ridicule for being obese
  • Scared for the health future of our children who will have heart attacks, stroke and cancer starting in their young adult life

Other personal examples of madwoman mommy “me” today:

  • Yelling at my teenager daughter for hanging out playing on her DS this morning and missing breakfast
  • Rationing the pieces of baguette the kids were allowed to eat during lunch (we had a big Sunday lunch, 5 courses-1 piece of bread allowed each course)
  • Encouraging them to slow down on the heavy cream on the strawberries for dessert
  • Pushing them outside to play, even with the weather not being good because they were all spending too much time on screens
  • Screaming “No! no soda at 6 pm! Even if we had guests over and it was fun time.

My friend, our guest this afternoon, looked at me and said

“Are you okay? You seem really enervé (stressed out)!”

Yes I am. And I don’t like it.

I have decided to write some articles on the Weight of the Nation documentary, as I see it; as a dietitian living here in France. I am really worried about the state of obesity in America. Things haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Maybe writing about it will help me return to normal. Writing and sharing with readers, almost like getting my emotions out of my system and on “paper.”  I don’t want my kids being around a mad-woman mommy-me, overly concerned for every bite or drink they put in their mouth. Eating is a necessity, but it also a pleasure and practiced in a relaxed state. Oh la la…!

If you haven’t seen the documentary from HBO called “Weight of the Nation” you can click here to get access to the films.

Weight of The Nation, The Films.

If you are an international viewer and are having problems getting access to the Weight of The Nation films via the link above, they are available here on You Tube:
Part 1: Consequences
Part 2: Choices
Part 3: Children In Crises
Part 4: Challenges

Maybe we all need a wake up call. Our children are our future, we must do whatever possible to keep them healthy, both in mind and body. A wake up call to move together, as a nation. We can all do our efforts, but it will take more than that. We need to come together as a community, school, state and nation. Our children need to know we are behind them, we care about them. And if we are strict with their eating and push them to move and exercise more and use screens less, it is because we are looking towards their best interests, not because we are punishing them.  But as for now, I need to calm down return to being food balanced mommy because normal eating is also enjoying and stressed out mommy is no fun!

If you have any feedback, shout it out in the comment section or via private email to me at: mbrighton@brightonyourhealth.com

Have you seen the films “Weight of the Nation?” Let me know your thoughts on the documentary.

 

 




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3 Responses to “Weight of A Nation Obesity Epidemic Puts a Weight on My Conscience”

  1. a reader emailed me with the following comment which is here (posted with her agreement):
    ” Comments: Having trouble viewing the HBO documentary; although have
    been well aware of the obesity problem in the U.S. for some time. Did
    you read the NYTimes article about obesity and food insecurity? This
    was an issue I observed first hand working in Cleveland public
    schools. My students were often very heavy and ironically, from very
    poor economic conditions.

    I have a hard time visiting family in the mid west–the average
    eating and dietary habits are terrible. People constantly snack on
    processed foods and eat fast food. Menus, even in nicer restaurants,
    list items loaded with fatty additives like cheese, bacon and sour
    cream and portions are too much. Taste buds are diluted and the
    pleasure of eating is missed.

    I also struggle with being too strict about eating; my kids have
    coomplained that I don’t pack Oreos in their lunch boxes. So we
    compromised and have ‘Friday Surprise’ in which I pack a cookie or a
    pastry. What has also worked is having days in which they have
    “celebration food”, like ice cream and donuts for a sleep over;) One
    non-negotiable for me is fast food–I simply won’t take them. I have
    explained that it is not real food and to drive the point home I
    explained in detail the contents of a chicken nugget!

    I am encouraged by the awareness being raised via HBO documentary and
    other sources advocating plant based diets (Forks over Knives being
    one). A shift is beginning, although change is slow. Providing access
    to healthy foods, changing habits, learning the art of enjoying a meal
    will take time. I am pleased to be in France where moderation is the
    key. Mangez, bougez!

    Thanks to this informative reader and her great tip on “Special Fridays!”

  2. I think the biggest contributor to the American obesity epidemic is a compromised and weak digestion with poor gut health. I firmly believe Americans have a different gut health than their European counterparts.

    This stems from many factors:
    1) Diet of mother while in utero and the lack of healthy flora inherited from mother while passing through birth canal or by passing birth canal all together and being delivered via C-section
    2) Mothers not nursing their babies at all or for too short of a time too many babies fed infant formula, so again no healthy bacteria is being established in the gut
    3) Onslaught of infant vaccines for “immune protection” rather than being breastfed – vaccines are toxic and wreak havoc on the digestive system and gut health
    4) So too do all of the antibiotics doctors like to administer — they destroy all the good bacteria
    5) The lack of raw fermented foods in diet namely, the replacement of raw grass fed milk with highly pasteurized factory farmed milk and dairy products and the disappearance of traditionally prepared cultured vegetables such as pickles and sauerkraut replaced with processed version of
    6) Americans consume bread and grains that are highly processed and no longer tradionally prepared with sourdough and the soaking and spouting of grains. Now canola oil (a GMO product) is ubiquitous in nearly every processed grain and bread product in the stores including Whole Foods
    7) Because the of dangers of consuming factory farmed meat, the meat must be overcooked to ensure there are no contaminant, so American do not consume easy to digest meats
    8) And no longer to Americans consumed fresh bone broths to ensure proper digestion, but instead consume MSG laden soups.
    9) Poor digestion leads to inflammation which is a result of toxic overload. No longer to Americans regularly cleanse and detox with at home enemas, bone broths, etc….
    10) It is proven that time spent outdoors helps to encourage healthy digestion by decreasing stress/cortisol as high cortisol levels from stress also contribute towards weakened digestion. Children no longer just ‘play’ in the grass or woods as they are no longer easily accessible but instead: outdoor time consists of playing competitive sports in a treeless field or climbing plastic playground equipment with rubber tires instead of green grass.

    It is also very hard to absorb nutrients when the digestion is so poor; so many Americans are actually undernourished and ‘starving’ for proper nutrients.

    All processed foods are laden with GMO derivatives from corn or soy: canola oil, soy lecithin, etc

    Most women work today so many families are now dual income and do not have time to ensure children are eating proper breakfasts rather than a toxic boxed cereal with toxic milk (yes even ‘organic’ milk and cereal are toxic) or that food is properly prepared to include soaking of nuts, legumes, grains, making bone broths regularly, procuring raw dairy products, and culturing vegetables…. This is a full time job in and of itself. I would never have the time to do all this if I worked outside of my home. Also: let’s try nursing our children for two years instead of giving them vaccines and antibiotics. These two things will do wonders to help prevent the growing ‘obesity’ epidemic, AKA “growing inflammation from toxic overload” epidemic

    • Dear lg, you made some very valid points. Are you European? I think the gut digestion and intestinal flora is underrated as to its aspects on our health. I hope to write some ideas on an European point of view on the obesity epidemic in America. In Europe there is much more ‘back to basics’ lifestyle. This is critical towards good health. Unfortunately, the obesity problem is hitting Europe too, especially in countries such as the UK. Here is France we are still ‘protected’ but obesity is creeping up on adults and children. We have a long way to go to understanding all the issues-but your comments are right on track. Thank you very much for your feedback. Please keep it coming!

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