Size matters

Members of Table Talk weigh in


Salon Staff
August 17, 2009 6:18PM (UTC)

Issues and News

money, food, and the "obesity epidemic" 

Caitlin Griswold - 08:26 pm Pacific Time - Aug 1, 2009 - #3199 of 3229

Since when is the Surgeon General supposed to be eye candy? And what does any of that have to do with her fitness for the job?

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A person could be an addicted smoker and still know the health risks. I wouldn't want to see a prospective office holder hounded on that account, either.

Parenthetically, Spousal Unit thinks she's hot, not so much she has a cute face, but the body lines up nicely with cute. We don't see "overweight" here except the screeching from fitness nazis who evidently need a life.

Chronica - 08:32 pm Pacific Time - Aug 1, 2009 - #3200 of 3229

I like her. She seems down-to-earth while being extremely bright, talented and committed. That some yahoos would seek to ban her from the post because of her BMI is crazy-making.

Helen Wheels - 09:05 pm Pacific Time - Aug 1, 2009 - #3201 of 3229

Yeah, you sure couldn't call Koop eye candy!

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Caitlin Griswold - 11:38 am Pacific Time - Aug 2, 2009 - #3203 of 3229

Something about the whole deal smells of astroturf.

I mean, how many real people even know who the surgeon general is?

On top of the usual cabinet vetting now we're to have a weigh-in, like a jockey? This world gets more surreal by the day.

Anglophile - 01:34 pm Pacific Time - Aug 2, 2009 - #3204 of 3229

BMI isn't even remotely the most accurate indicator of health and fitness, and in fact it may be completely bogus. It does not take into account one's body composition, which is a far better indicator of fitness vs. "fatness."

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Furthermore, wasn't there some study out recently that says that people with a few extra pounds on them -- not obese or overweight, but on the higher end of a "normal" weight range for one's height and body frame -- were actually healthier than skinny people? Yeah, I thought so.

Helen Wheels - 12:24 pm Pacific Time - Aug 3, 2009 - #3209 of 3229

Obesity is going to kill all of us? I thought it was the Obama healthcare plan.

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</sarcasm>

I think room for the biggest margin of error in all of this is in what constitutes a healthy weight. I think it's more a matter of fitness level than body fat percentage or weight on the scale.

Tessie - 02:34 pm Pacific Time - Aug 3, 2009 - #3210 of 3229

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I know we discussed on another thread how much calorie consumption has gone up over the years, and while portion sizes have increased, I suspect a large part of it is what we're eating, rather than the volume of food. For example, before we started jamming our cattle with so much corn, a grass-fed steak contained considerably less fat, and considerably fewer calories. If you prepared iced tea or lemonade at home, would you ever even imagine using 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving? Our grandmothers probably served plain white rice at 120 calories a serving rather than Rice-A-Roni, at 250 calories a serving.

Chronica - 02:40 pm Pacific Time - Aug 3, 2009 - #3211 of 3229

One thing I will say. I have no doubt that I and many, many other people would lose substantial amounts of weight if our days consisted of roaming the countryside for herbs, fruits, nuts and roots. Now if only I could get someone to pay me to do it, dammit!

If the gummint is so all-fired worked up about how fat we are, how about cutting an hour off of each work day and paying us to exercise in that hour? Maybe this will happen when we get single payer a century from now.

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Andrea Doria - 04:03 pm Pacific Time - Aug 3, 2009 - #3214 of 3229

There was an interesting article in the NYT magazine yesterday by Michael Pollan. It wasn't about obesity per se, but touch on the topic (and maybe more, since I haven't quite finished the article). The cover read: We Don't Cook Here Anymore: What takeout and Top Chef are doing to our lifestyles, our health and maybe our essence. It's mostly about cooking shows (touches on Julie Child and Julie and Julia) and how American cooking has "become a spectator sport".

Anglophile - 12:32 pm Pacific Time - Aug 5, 2009 - #3217 of 3229

The farm subsidies program, which has turned into one of the biggest corporate welfare scams ever. I'm amazed there isn't more attention paid to this, because if people really knew just what's going on, maybe there would be some serious outrage.

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The farm subsidies program has allowed Monsanto to develop a near-monopoly on soybean seeds, to the extent that they are driving small farmers out of business. For every dollar spent on farm subsidies, that dollar pays for over 1,800 calories worth of nutritionally bankrupt refined crops--mostly corn, soy and wheat. Small family farmers are not benefitting from government price supports at all--it's the big agribusinesses with their "cooperative" farms who engage in industrialized agriculture that abuses the shit out of animals, pollutes the hell out of the soil and water, and turns out "food products" that are high in calories, high in sugar, high in fat and more often than not, empty or near-empty of actual nutrients.

If the farm program were changed and subsidies went to farmers who farmed crops using sustainable methods, and said crops were things like leaves, cruciferous veggies, root veggies and fruits--if we stopped subsidizing Kraft and ADM and ConAgra with our tax dollars, because they sure as shit don't need any more of our money given the profits they're raking in--maybe we could address all the social problems of not just obesity but of malnutrition. We are an overfed, undernourished nation and it is precisely because we allowed Congress and the industrial food lobby to pervert the farm subsides program into corporate welfare for the people manufacturing, marketing and selling junk at the corner convenience store, instead of trying to prop up small local farmers who are growing the kinds of nutritious foods we should be eating more of.

At this point I would argue that weight is almost beside the point. We are being robbed of the nutrients that can only be found in real food, food that Kraft and Nabisco haven't had a chance to fuck around with. If everyone had access to better food, there's of course no guarantee everyone would choose it, but in many cases, people don't have a choice, and that's flat out wrong.

Michael Pollan was interviewed on Fresh Air the other day and he mentioned someone he knew--a food writer, can't recall the guy's name--saying that when our grandkids are grown up, cooking will have completely gone out of existence, or at least to the point where people cooking will be seen as strange and foreign as somebody today going out, finding, killing, plucking, skinning and cooking their own chicken.

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That kind of future scares me. I think cooking is such a fundamentally human act--the act of taking raw ingredients and turning them into something delicious and nourishing. 

Best of Table Talk is an ongoing feature of Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up  here.


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