Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Now That We Know Better…

I just arrived home from a trip to Starbucks with my “tall daily brew” – no cream or sugar and a teaspoon of my own agave syrup.  As I was waiting on my coffee, I saw an obese woman getting out of her car.  She walked around to the back to do something in the trunk.  As I noticed how lethargically she moved, I saw an advertising deco on the driver’s side door but couldn’t see what it advertised.  As I left, I was able to see that she represents a diet product business.  The bottom of the deco said “as used on Hollywood red carpets”.  At first it made me laugh, but as I drove home, it concerned me more and more.  Don’t we know better by now?  How can we have obese people selling diet products?  How can we as Americans be spending more on diet products than ever before, but still be fatter than ever before?  Haven’t we learned our lesson?  How can we not understand that being healthy is found in lifestyle and not instant pill-popping or juice-drinking?

You can see my Pop Pop's cigarette pack
(filterless Lucky Strike) in his pocket. He
passed away from cancer soon after this photo.
As I have thought this morning about the health and obesity crisis that this country is facing, I thought about the time it requires to reverse a national lifestyle.  Let’s take tobacco use and cigarette smoking for example.  Cigarettes were first sold commercially in American in 1865.  The cigarette-making machine was invented in 1881 and Phillip Morris came out with the Marlboro brand in 1902.  During World Wars I & II, soldiers were given free cigarettes.  After those wars, the popularity of smoking was brought back to the states and into American homes.  Women were smoking, even while pregnant.  Tobacco use was allowed in hospitals – doctors would hold a cigarette in one hand while examining with the other.  It wasn’t until 1964 that the Surgeon General announced that cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.  So, it took nearly 100 years to discover cigarettes may be harmful.  It wasn’t until 1988 that it was discovered nicotine is an addictive drug.  However, big tobacco heads swore until 1997 that nicotine was not addictive.  In 1998, California was the first state to enact a statewide smoking ban.  By 2009, 37 states had some form of a ban on smoking.  Still, tobacco subsidies in the United States totaled $1.1 billion from 1995-2010 and will continue until 2014.  Bottom line, we all now know how harmful tobacco use can be to our health, but it took us nearly a century and a half to reverse the popularity and regular use of tobacco, but the government is still subsiding tobacco. 

You can see my Grandaddy's cigarette pack
(filterless Camel) in his pocket. He passed away
from cardiac arrest several years later.

Let’s now compare this cycle to the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is a highly processed sweetener that has been shown to be harmful to humans and may be partly to blame for affecting Americans’ need for sweetness.  It is sweeter than sugar and has led many children and adults to crave even more sweetness in their diet.  HFCS was introduced into packaged and processed foods beginning in 1975.  By 1984, it was widely used in sodas and packaged foods.  Today, HFCS accounts for about half of the added sugar consumption in the US.  HFCS is easier to blend and transport because it is a liquid and is much cheaper to produce than sugar.  Since the mid 1990s, the US government has subsidized corn growers by $40 billion.  With only about 35 years of marketing, we may have a long road ahead before we can prove to Americans and manufacturers that HFCS is harmful.  But, now that we know better, can’t we make a change now?  We can at least take control of what we put into our (and our families’) bodies.  By eating fresh food straight from the earth, we know exactly what is and is NOT going into our bodies.  Let’s not put it upon our great-grandchildren in the 22nd century to ratify a ban on HFCS. 

And let’s keep in mind that HFCS is not the only nutritional invention that is causing us harm.  I just used this as an example.  Items like diet pills, energy drinks, hormone injections, meal replacements, etc have not been around very long but have all been shown to have harmful effects.  Let’s not wait around for the days when we say “if only I knew then…”  If we are really honest with ourselves, we know better now.  We just want to take the lazy, sugar-coated road.  And that road has only led to 66% of us being overweight or obese.  But, now that we know better, we can reverse this obesity epidemic and live better longer lives. 

If you or someone you knows better but needs help reversing your own trend, I will help you but on the brakes and head in the right direction.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  Also, prevent the trend by signing your kids up for my Camp Champ for Kiddos.  See for July’s flyer.  Obesity is 100% preventable – we know better and we can make the change today! 

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