Setting The Example

Setting the example of a balanced and healthy lifestyle

NY Times article review: Small Steps=Big Changes in Obesity

Posted by fsumeg1884 on December 26, 2012

Opinionator: Stop Subsidizing Obesity
B: Mark Bittman

I came across this article today and I wanted to share it with you all, review it, talk about, etc etc.

As well all know childhood obesity is a huge problem and epidemic in our country. I myself know all to well about the disadvantages and harm of being an overweight child and eventually obese teenager can do to you. According to the article, Type 2 Diabetes which was once called “adult-onset” and was unheard of 20 years ago in children is now taking up a quarter of all new diabetes cases. Around 17% of children are currently obese, not overweight, but obese which is considered to be a BMI of >30. Food-insecure is defined as having inconsistent access to food is at 16% for children.

Those statistics alone are proof enough that our country has a problem but as quoted by the author Mr. Bittman, “Seven times as many poor children are obese as those who are underweight, an indication  that government aid in the form of food stamps, now officially called SNAP, does a good job of addressing hunger but encourages the consumption of unhealthy calories.” Exactly and I couldn’t agree more Mr. Bittman. As many as there on food stamps in this country, especially in the last 5 years with economic changes, I believe our country has the possibility of seeing a dramatic change if we can change some of the SNAP regulations to focus not just on the quantity of food but also the quality.

Another major point addressed in the article is the double cost that taxpayers are seeing. Pediatrician and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center in Boston David Ludwig states, “It’s shocking, “how little we consider food quality in the management of chronic diseases. And in the case of SNAP that failure costs taxpayers twice: We pay once when low-income families buy junk foods and sugary beverages with SNAP benefits, and we pay a second time when poor diet quality inevitably increases the costs of health care in general, and Medicaid and Medicare in particular.”

I believe that just as  alcohol and tobacco are ineligible to be used by food stamps so should high sugary sodas and juices as well as other grocery store items pretending to be food. Every year billions of snap dollars are spent on soda, a non-nutritious substances that does the body no benefit. As the authors discusses, there were those against using food stamps for soda when they were first created but the more pressing issue at hand was caloric deficiency.

“It’s time,” says Ludwig, “for us to realize that the goals of anti-hunger and obesity prevention are not at cross purposes. In fact poor quality foods can actually increase hunger because they are inherently less filling.” As with children and adults one will become hungrier, sooner, after consuming 200 calories from a sugary beverage, compared to an apple & peanut butter with the same calories. One way to help make these changes occur as discussed by Bittman would be to make it easier to by real food. Some cities, like NYC, have created programs that double the value of food stamps when used for purchases at farmers markets. Another huge step would be to increase the spending power of food stamps when used to buy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in any grocery store, not just farmers markets.

Over 50 million participants are currently using SNAP and with a few small but profound changes we have the ability to see a dramatic change and improvement in the American diet.

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