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babybird
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12 Aug 2014, 3:17 pm

Did they eat all the pies?


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12 Aug 2014, 3:29 pm

Many reasons in combination - a) High availability of cheap, fattening foods, b) lack of education on nutrition, c) lack of education about dangers of obesity, d) not ingrained in our culture to exercise, and on and on....



AspE
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12 Aug 2014, 3:49 pm

The American landscape is dominated by automobiles. Also we've been sold an image of prosperity through advertising that has to do with consuming white bread and processed convenience foods.



trollcatman
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12 Aug 2014, 3:51 pm

People in other countries are getting fatter too. I think the Americans are just leading in this trend, let's see if some other country overtakes them in the future.



Janissy
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12 Aug 2014, 4:15 pm

ScrewyWabbit wrote:
Many reasons in combination - a) High availability of cheap, fattening foods


Absolutely agreed. It's not that the U.S. ate all the pies. It's that the U.S. started cranking out crappy, overprocessed pies with too much sugar in great numbers.

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, b) lack of education on nutrition, c) lack of education about dangers of obesity


Here's where I disagree. Education on nutrition is nearly inescapable. A lot of it is misinformation, but that is nothing new. People are bombarded with "eat your vegetables and eat less sugar and processed food". The obesity epidemic is new, it started roughly at the end of the 70's/beginning of the 80's. It's not that people then and prior were fonts of accurate nutritional information. It's that being ignorant of such things just didn't matter. Even if you knew nothing more about food than what tasted good, getting fat took considerably more "work" than not. It wasn't the default that it nearly is now. And that had to do with what food was available and in what quantities.

I think you also would have a hard time finding a fat person in America who doesn't know the dangers. Many will say "ya gotta die of something". Awareness of the dangers of obesity has even entered food slang with things like "death by chocolate".

I do not think lack of knowledge is a factor at all.

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d) not ingrained in our culture to exercise, and on and on....


It isn't. But then it isn't ingrained in anybody else's culture either. In fact "crazy Americans" have long been made fun of for exercising so much. What seems to have happened is that in so many countries, exercise is a default lifestyle- not by design but because there is little in place to remove exercise from the category of necessity the way it has been in the U.S. It isn't that they have a culture of exercise. It's that it's pretty hard not to exercise if you want to go anywhere or do anything. This has been given as an explanation for why U.S. cities have lower obesity rates than suburban and rural areas. Walking is enforced because getting around by car is so aggravational and even if you can drive in the city, getting a parking space next to where you want to go is pretty unlikely. You are going to walk whether you plan to or not. You are also probably going to climb more flights of stairs.


There are many theories as to the timing. As somebody said "food didn't suddenly become tasty in 1980". Some factors I find plausible are increase in processed food and fast food combined with a decrease in home cooking (these things go together). Cooking, like football, seems to have turned into a spectator sport, with more people watching it on TV than doing it themselves.

So that's the diet part. Exercise? The other thing that has been changing since the 80's is the decrease in random, casual outdoor play by children- swapped out for electronics with some kids playing team sports when driven there by parents. Work by adults also has less inherent exercise. I now have to make a conscious decision at work to get up and walk around at work. If left to necessity, I could sit still for nearly 8 hours straight. And so could countless American workers.

As of 2013, Mexico passed the U.S. as having the highest obesity rate. It isn't that we got thinner. They just got even fatter. And other countries are racing to catch up.



pezar
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12 Aug 2014, 4:39 pm

I personally think that fast food plays a huge part. About six months ago the San Francisco Chronicle's website put up a photo montage of photos taken at fast food restaurants in 1973, when fast food was a brand new concept. All the patrons were thin, not grossly obese like they would be today. Menus were limited, the Taco Bell menu in 1973 had a grand total of FIVE (5) items, and no indoor seating, you ate in your car or on concrete benches outside. Now, when one considers that the first great "fitness" craze started about 5-7 years later, well I know that correlation doesn't imply causation, but the "large" soda in 1973 would be a kid's size soda in 2014. Burgers were smaller. Everything has been super sized, and in many places there are no supermarkets, it's fast food or nothing.



sly279
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12 Aug 2014, 4:49 pm

cheap but high in calories and unhealthy food, combined with low incomes. I can only afford the cheap s**t, better to eat then not eat.

I think the wealthy fat people is more a time issue, faster food tends to be less healthy. fast food for example is super super high in calories, a single small hamburger is 500 cal, then add fries, 500-1000, drink, maybe another hamburger or bigger one. fast food is expensive too. it seems to effect the middle class more.

I try to avoid it cause of how high in cal and fat it is and I can't afford it.

still a healthy meal can cost $10 and up per meal, compare that to a tv dinner that cost $2.50 or a hotpocket that cost $0.80
fresh pizza $12-40, while frozen is $1-10.

to be fair this is not a better way I see to feed so many people without doing processed foods. there isn't enough cows or farms to do fresh food to everyone at cheap prices.



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12 Aug 2014, 4:59 pm

Marion Nestle is a good person to read on the subject. But several factors, yeah:

1. Change in manners/eating habits. We eat continuously now. There's always food and it's nearly always appropriate to be eating. Car interiors are designed with eating/drinking in mind. Eating while walking on the street: no longer rude.

2. Portion size hypertrophy, combined with plate/bowl/mug hypertrophy. I almost never use the "dinner plates" that come with sets of dishes, because they're for giants. The salad plates are nearly as big as dinner plates used to be.

3. Normalization of obesity. Someone who would've been startlingly fat in 1975 is now "thick".

4. Widespread psychoactive drug use. Nearly all those things induce metabolic weirdness and cause weight gain.

5. The death of cooking. People do it a lot less (for many reasons), which means they have a lot less control over what they're eating.

6. The relative expense of produce. Calorie-dense food is cheap.

While there's a lot of nutrition ed out there, it's pretty lousy. Portion control is not only not taught well, it's specifically undermined in schools, where they give kindergartners 700-calorie lunches and cinammon rolls for the free breakfast. When you talk about childhood obesity, you also have to consider that a vast number of kids have divorced parents, meaning (often) that they've got an overworked poor mom who's just slinging whatever she can on the table, and a dad who doesn't really cook and takes the kids to restaurants and buries them in treats -- and they're spending a lot of time in the car driving back/forth to parents' houses. So yeah -- many problems.



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12 Aug 2014, 5:05 pm

sly279 wrote:
to be fair this is not a better way I see to feed so many people without doing processed foods. there isn't enough cows or farms to do fresh food to everyone at cheap prices.


I have a terrible feeling you are right. Farm fresh, healthy food for 7 billion people is probably not possible. But still, I think we can do better than we are doing right now. One thing the U.S. could do right now is to take a tip from WWII and promote rather than punish front yard gardens.

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(wiki)Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany[1] during World War I and World War II. They were used along with food stamps to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Around one-third of the vegetables produced by the United States came from victory gardens.[2] Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.


How awesome is that? Home food gardens were encouraged and almost a civic duty. Of course time strapped people who can barely find time to cook won't be able to find time for the more labor intensive effort of growing it too.

However, some people manage to do it. And they get punished for it.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/vegetable-gard ... d=14047214
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The officials in Bass' hometown of Oak Park, Mich., have charged her with growing "vegetable garden in front yard space." If convicted, she could spend up to 93 days in jail.


That nonsense needs to stop if we are going to recover from self-destruction with processed food.



naturalplastic
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12 Aug 2014, 5:33 pm

Americans drive everywhere. The fit and trim ones drive three miles to their gyms everday so that they can walk three miles on nordic tracks. The rest cant afford to go to a gym so they just drive everyplace else.



tarantella64
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12 Aug 2014, 5:36 pm

There really is not any good reason for everyone to be growing victory gardens in the US. Industrial ag is far more efficient, and home gardeners use much higher concentrations of pesticides than industrial farmers do. The real problem is that people don't have time to spend half their lives on food growing, food cooking, food preservation. Beyond that, the problem is supermarket-chain economics. They won't put stores in very poor areas, meaning the produce choices there are pretty terrible. That can be taken care of with subsidies as a public-health measure.

If you live anywhere near farmland and have educated types nearby -- meaning major city suburbs and university towns, which is a good chunk of the population -- the odds are pretty good that you don't have to garden in order to get fresh local organic produce. You can get a share of a CSA from a local farm, meaning you'll have a hamper delivered weekly brimming with whatever veg/fruit's being harvested that week. $200-300 will take care of you in style for 10-16 weeks, depending on the arrangement. Then you just have to have time to cook the stuff.

People often underestimate how expensive and labor-intensive serious "we're going to live off this" gardening is. I've got two apple trees heavy with fruit right now, and to pick and sort and peel and core and slice the apples and preserve them as applesauce (I don't make jelly anymore) ...this takes many hours, and I don't have that many hours in a row for playing with food. Which means the apples sit a few days and there are bugs in the house, and the whole thing's pretty exhausting for what'll wind up being several gallons of applesauce. I can buy that in the store for, oh, less than $30. Granted, these apples are particularly delicious and it's pretty awesome applesauce, and they aren't full of pesticides, but even so -- as an economic thing, it's a ridiculous misallocation of time. (And money. I have the trees sprayed for rust in the spring, and that costs about $40/yr.)



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12 Aug 2014, 5:42 pm

My opinion:

1. U.s. Americans are addicted to convenience.

2. Over-eating is part of our culture (every major holiday is celebrated by stuffing your face).

3. Healthy food costs more than unhealthy food. I'm currently on food stamps and I can personally attest that my intake of fresh vegetables has gone down.


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Kurgan
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12 Aug 2014, 5:50 pm

Two things I've noticed:

- The entire Western-World seems to embrace hedonism and overindulgence
- Americans have a higher disposable income than anyone else


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12 Aug 2014, 7:25 pm

XFilesGeek wrote:
Over-eating is part of our culture (every major holiday is celebrated by stuffing your face).


Yeah!

And it may be considered rude not to stuff your face. :P



luanqibazao
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12 Aug 2014, 8:15 pm

Delicious, fattening Mexicans. You thought we put them all to work? :P