News   Sep 18, 2020
 1.1K     2 
News   Sep 18, 2020
 905     0 
News   Sep 18, 2020
 10K     6 

The challenge of obesity

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
As a society, we face a real issue around obesity. I say this as someone carrying excess weight myself!

For some/many it is and always has been, at least in part, a genetic issue.

But its clearly one that has been exacerbated by diet choices (what we eat, and how much); and by the amount of exercise we routinely get in our lives.

I'm not a fan of heavy-handed action; nor non-action.

With rare exception, I don't think banning certain foods or mandating exercise are the right answers.

i also think 'encouragement and information' have largely proven to be ineffective.

If you get to the counter at a fast food place, and you see the calorie counts, it does little to change your order, or to make you leave an find a better option.

Likewise, being told to bike or walk to a store or work, if this is unsafe, inconvenient or unpleasant vs driving being cheaper or faster, most will make w/e choice works w/o considering a benefit to fitness.

All of that preamble is to set up this.

1596716127984.png



I don't mind this, as an emergency measure ( About 73% of the Mexican population is overweight, compared to one-fifth of the population in 1996).

But I don't think its the right answer in the medium term.

It doesn't affect the adult population, kids can still be given sugary drinks/junk food by parents, it doesn't really tackle the fundamentals; or address that kids were having cola in the 1970s with much lesser rates of obesity.

I would argue there are 2 chief culprits.

Portion size (including sugary beverages), and less exercise subtly built into everyday life.

On the former, I note that when I was a child in the 1970s; a personal sized can of coke was 284ml, not today's 355ml. Today, a 'personal' bottle of pop can be upwards of 591m, that simply didn't exist.

Likewise, in fast food, today's medium (default sized soft drink with a combo) was the large, what is now 'small' used to be the default size.

Combos also didn't really become a big thing for adults until the 80s.

The latter served to automatically add a side (usually fries) to every meal.

The portion size issue also extends to home consumption.

In the 70's a family-sized bottle of pop was 750ml. It was also glass and weighed a fair bit, and there was a deposit-return system.

That limited by portion size, but also weight and price what a family would stock.

There usually wasn't more than 750ml of cold pop in someone's fridge, never over 1.5L.

There wasn't a pantry full of it either.

Servings were smaller.

****

I don't think the exercise portion of the equation is any different.

Its about what's built in to your day.

The simple notion of having supermarket that's easy walking distance, and a pleasant walk, does wonders for shifting that 4-block walk into an every 2nd day habit.

But that's another post/rant.
 

Johnny Au

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
6,579
Reaction score
1,571
Location
Near the North York, York, & Old Toronto tripoint
Don't forget about the allure of fast food advertising, coupons, and promotions. Some major pizza parlours have the "buy X pizzas at a certain price point, get one pizza free" loyalty program.

Many fast food companies target children since they haven't developed critical thinking skills yet, because children are susceptible to peer pressure, and because loyal customers have to begin somewhere (some of these companies give out toys or books upon purchasing a children's meal). Even schools have activity plans sponsored by various major fast food companies. Phys-ed activity plans sponsored by fast food companies do exist and they are extremely ironic.

Quebec banned all advertising to children under 12. It would be great if that ban were extended to the rest of the country.

Oh, and pop is now commonly sold in 2L plastic bottles. Many fast food restaurants have unlimited pop refills from machines customers can use themselves, especially those with customer-facing Coke Freestyle or Pepsi Spire (depending on the restaurant's supplier of course) machines, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practically all sports organizations are sponsored by fast food companies from Little League all the way to the majors and including high school and collegiate sports along the way. Tim Hortons (yes, it's officially considered a fast food chain) sponsors the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and Chick-fil-A sponsors the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
 
Last edited:

TorPronto

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 25, 2017
Messages
148
Reaction score
117
Weight loss is mostly about intake. You are right about portion sizes. Do you think the government should lower portion sizes? Maybe at least for soda. The worst things are sugary drinks. If they were a max for those maybe that would help?
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
Weight loss is mostly about intake. You are right about portion sizes. Do you think the government should lower portion sizes? Maybe at least for soda. The worst things are sugary drinks. If they were a max for those maybe that would help?
I rather which manufacturers would do the right thing on their own (and retailers); I'm loathe to have government micro-manage, it tends not to go well.

Yet, I must confess, I lack faith they (private sector players) will act on their own w/o impetus.

So I think at least the threat of same; "do it yourself or we'll make you" may be needed.

I think on consumption.

There are 3 broad aspects to what drives it (beyond genetic considerations); one is what's available at all; two is what's convenient, three is price.

I think if we were to pick the worst caloric offenders, sugary drinks top the list but fast food combos, and junk food portions also matter.

In that regard, here would be my thoughts:

Personal portion sizes for soft drinks should not exceed 284ml, either in cans/bottles or as the serving for fast food establishments. (I'm willing to make some allowances for movies/sports/events where you don't want to go back to the concession stand repeatedly).

Fast Food Combos should be banned, period. All of them. You should just order as you would at a restaurant, those items which you want. Right now, you might well find, that if you ordered a burger and a medium pop w/o the fries, that it would cost more than the combo. That's nuts, and it persuades people to buy more food than they really want.

Failing the above, I would cap the number of calories permitted in a combo to be in line with the dietary needs of an average sized woman, not an athletic teenage boy.

On junk food, my observation would be that a) Family-size portions have grown over the years from 160 grams to 200 grams on average.

We all know the tendency if one opens a bag to just keep eating; while a reasonable portion would no more than 75 grams, I think a bit of indulgence is fine.... (on occasion, not daily or even twice a week)

But a further problem is that even those willing and desirous of getting more reasonable portions will find that most grocery stores do not sell any personal sized bags of chips/snacks, and if they do, its a much reduced selection.

I would be inclined to limit personal sizes of junk food to 75 grams, family portions (so labelled) to 150 grams, and (maybe just stop there), or party-sizes of 300 grams.

I would also require that a retailer cannot carry any larger size of a product unless it also has the smaller sizes first.

****

Having addressed portion, I would further address convenience by outlawing drive-thrus.

****

Finally, I would tackle price.

Rather than focus on taxes. I'd be inclined to raise employment standards (higher minimum wage, no teen-wage), higher paid vacation, etc.) raising the cost of fast-food.

I'd also be inclined to ban artificial flavours and colours in foods.

As well as ban high-fructose corn syrup and glucose as sweeteners.

(real sugar is likely a bit less bad for you, but more importantly, its more expensive).

I would hope that would help moderate consumption issues.

But I'd rather the industry did it on their own that compel government to intervene.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
I also think we need to make exercise more a part of daily life, in the background (not going to the gym, just how you get around).

We're finally beginning to tackle that with cycling; I think we need to do a lot more on that file; along with making walking more pleasant, transit more pleasant (as this leads to walking too); and we need to make stairs easier and more desirable to take.

They need to be glassed in, not dark and cut-off, they need to be inviting, warm, and accessible (not locked), so that people will consider taking the stairs, especially for short trips (1-2 floors) .
 

gabe

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,331
Reaction score
575
It's not the government or manufacturers problem. We are the problem. We eat too much of everything. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is our personal responsibility. Stop eating so much, start exercising more, and you will lose weight. I gave up so many foods i loved, to lose my weight. I had to! My blood pressure was too high. I gave up refined sugar in drinks, snacks and processed foods and also cut down on portion sizes. I also try to walk everywhere, if it's too far i take transit or cycle. I find walking therapeutic compared to driving in gridlock. Even on a cold winter day i love a good walk. I just wear a parka.

I have cheat days now and then. Usually once or twice a month i will pig out on fast food. Everything is fine in moderation. It’s all about balance and self-discipline.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
It's not the government or manufacturers problem. We are the problem. We eat too much of everything. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is our personal responsibility. Stop eating so much, start exercising more, and you will lose weight. I gave up so many foods i loved, to lose my weight. I had to! My blood pressure was too high. I gave up refined sugar in drinks, snacks and processed foods and also cut down on portion sizes. I also try to walk everywhere, if it's too far i take transit or cycle. I find walking therapeutic compared to driving in gridlock. Even on a cold winter day i love a good walk. I just wear a parka.

I have cheat days now and then. Usually once or twice a month i will pig out on fast food. Everything is fine in moderation. It’s all about balance and self-discipline.
That's fine, but it would be like me telling everyone to study harder so they could graduate with super high marks get scholarship offers and go onto to U of T etc etc.

That would be very obnoxious on my part.

Sure hard work and self-discipline are elements of this.

But just like smarts, genetics does play a role, some win the lottery more than others.

Some have better role models than others.

Some have the emotional support, some have ease of choice by way of money.

Let me relate personally. I've always found academics pretty easy; I was always ambitious on top of that.

I've also been very self-confident and known I could just do it.

But I was also a chubby kid, even when I rode my bike every day and walked home from school.

I largely ate scratch home-made food, and chips/candy were only allowed on weekends.

But still, I carried extra weight.

To get into what most people would call good shape, I had to stop eating lunch all together one year in High School.

On top of going to the gym every single day, (or working out at home).

An hour a day, six days a week, and a 10km walk on Sunday.

Not exactly feasible for most people even if they have the drive.

I could also afford a bike, the gym, weights, etc.

(I also couldn't sustain it)

So its really not that easy.............on top of which some people, as we all know, aren't driven.

They can't work hard at anything for 12-hours a day.

They can't come home from school or work and work out.

They can't walk home, because they lack the time, its 15km away etc.

The object here is not to diminish personal responsibility, its meant to make making the right choice easier.

Your assumption that people can/will be responsible is not born out by the obesity crisis we face today.

There really isn't an alternative but to help people make the right choices.

We know that works, because we know when portion sizes were smaller, and kids walked to school, and there was at most 1 car per household etc. that people were healthier (at least in respect of body weight; they were probably smoking though, as adults)

Which is another issue, people when smoking was easy were doing it, widely.

When it was cheap, and ubiquitous, well over 1/2 the population smoked.

That behavior didn't change because we found out it was harmful, even deadly.

It changed, because we jacked the hell out of the price, banned marketing, put it behind the counter etc.

It is what it is; people need help.
 
Last edited:

TorPronto

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 25, 2017
Messages
148
Reaction score
117
I don't like government interference but something along the lines of your thinking is overdue. Personal responsibility doesn't work well when the system is stacked against you. Everyone knows what needs to be done to be a millionaire with a six pack, doing it is a different thing.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
True I think our society tolerates very unhealthy behaviour.
'Tolerates' is fine.

Its 'Facilitates' and 'Encourages' that concern me more.

Along with failing to do the same for healthier behaviors.

I don't want to bash someone for driving; I do want to make walking and cycling more pleasant, and safe.

I don't want to bash someone for taking the elevator; I want to make the stairs a safe, highly visible, pleasant choice.

I don't want to bash someone for a large appetite, I want to offer them a smaller portion, and let them choose.

I don't want to bash someone for eating chips; I want to make fresh fruit as easy to find at the corner store; offer them a smaller bag of chips as an option too.
 

picard102

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 21, 2009
Messages
1,515
Reaction score
418
Location
Wilson Heights
Obesity is here to stay. None of these piecemeal efforts are going to turn the tide of a society that is increasingly accepting of obesity.
Doctors can't even discuss weight with patients without it being fat shaming.
 

gabe

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,331
Reaction score
575
Actually, fat shaming is what helped me lose weight.. If we shame smokers, people who don't wear masks, alcoholics and drug addicts for ruining their health, why not those who willingly eat junk and avoid exercise?
Obesity is a leading cause of death in many western countries. These numbers are going to sky rocket with Covid.
 

Northern Light

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
7,385
Reaction score
8,488
Location
Toronto/EY
Actually, fat shaming is what helped me lose weight.. If we shame smokers, people who don't wear masks, alcoholics and drug addicts for ruining their health, why not those who willingly eat junk and avoid exercise?
Obesity is a leading cause of death in many western countries. These numbers are going to sky rocket with Covid.
Sigh.

I really don't like this type of argument.

People were mean to me; I changed for the better, so being mean to people is good.

That's not an argument I can sponsor.

But we've been over this............you and I clearly don't see eye to eye on this at all.
 

Johnny Au

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
6,579
Reaction score
1,571
Location
Near the North York, York, & Old Toronto tripoint
Though I often consume fast food, I am strongly in favour of a fast food advertising tax. The money collected from that tax can be used to lower the price of fruits and vegetables.

A general fast food tax would only lead to travelling to jurisdictions without a general fast food tax. Taxing advertising of fast food would lead to more billboards just outside of jurisdictions with fast food advertising taxes, which is less of a problem than general fast food taxes.

Never forget the allure of fast food and that allure begins at childhood. We already have a generation or two of little sumo wrestlers.
 

Admiral Beez

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
8,765
Reaction score
2,628
Weight loss is mostly about intake. You are right about portion sizes. Do you think the government should lower portion sizes? Maybe at least for soda. The worst things are sugary drinks. If they were a max for those maybe that would help?
It’s true, we try to exercise away our fat, when it’s intake that we need to manage. I regularly go on 25 km bicycle rides, where I might burn 700 calories, which I can put pack on with a trio of cookies or a burger.

So, instead I use an app called DropIt! to track my calories, no more than 1,650 a day. If I go over, I must burn it off. So far I’m down to 197 from 214 lbs.
 
Last edited:

Top