Dr Mark Moore

Mark Moore, MD
Tallahassee Anesthesiology, PA

Articles of Interest

Obesity, Diet and the American Way

Forget the Avian Flu, a different kind of epidemic is raging in America: Obesity. Not to belabor the statistics but it is estimated that over half the American population is overweight. And since adults are the ones feeding our kids, 40% of our children are overweight, too. The majority of heart disease and diabetes are related to obesity, as well as a significant percentage of hypertension, colon and breast cancers, gallbladder disease and many other aliments. It has been suggested that our fat-filled diets are killing us more than smoking and heart disease. New studies have shown more ‘relaxed’ attitudes towards body image of overweight people.

Everyone asks: Why have I gained weight? How can I lose weight and keep it off? What is the best diet? While in the grocery store, we pick up an item, read the label and wonder:
is this food healthy for my family?

Why, then, is America so fat? It is becoming more apparent, that our Food Companies do not make it easy for us. Ten years after the Nutritional Facts labeling laws were passed, we are only slightly better off. Part of the problem is bigt companies use methods to disguise the lack of nutritional value of many of the products we consume on a daily basis.

While I believe in freewill and responsibility of choices, we are being killed by a system that allows advertisers to prey on our children, and sell the parents (and grandparents) the line that if you buy them candy, your children will love you and you're a good parent. 

We bought a gingerbread house kit for the holidays. It stated a mere "120 calories". Harmless, it seemed until one notes there are "80 servings per container". Thus, were the gingerbread house and its piles of icing to be eaten away over the weeks, we would have consumed an extra 9600 calories (mostly pure sugar with no nutritional value).

One would think yogurt is good for kids. We eat it for breakfast. Recently, we tried a new yogurt, the one with cartoon pictures on the labels. Again, at first glance, it appeared be similar to the low-fat yogurt we had been using previously. Upon comparison, and unifying the serving sizes, the results were surprising.

Standard Low-fat Yogurt (Publix): Calories 130, Fat <1g., Sugar 15g, Protein 10g.
Kids brand yogurt: Calories 320, Fat 8g, Sugar 44g, Protein 8g.

You must apply algebraic ratios to solve this problem! First, to equalize the playing field, you must standardize the SERVING SIZES. Don't know the value of a "gram", usually written as a "g"? It’s metric. The key is to equalize the serving sizes and then use that "multiplier" to equalize the other values. For example because the serving size of the kids yogurt is only 80g, it is multiplied by 3 to be equivalent to the 240g serving size of the standard lo-fat yogurt.

Final comparison results show the Kids yogurt had 300% more sugar, 800% more fat, and 300% more calories (and less protein) than the standard adult brand. And you paid twice as much for the kids yogurt as a similar amount of the regular yogurt. A quick glance at kids "snack" crackers shows them to have 150 calories and 6g Fat in a tiny one ounce serving (30g.).

Former president Bill Clinton is on the bandwagon after a near miss when rushed into surgery for multiple coronary artery bypass. Now he plugs the food pyramid and an anti-obesity pledge with the American Heart Association.

I am a heretic. We do not buy candy bars or food with TV/movie characters on the box, nor give our kids juice boxes or even juice.  We’ve even phased out those tiny fish crackers.

Big food companies have shown us they will not police themselves, so we must do it for them. We need most of the sugar, salt, fat and additives removed from food.  We need truth in labeling--and printed large enough so it can be read (font size greater than 12 please).  We need Total Calorie Counts for packages and maybe limits on valueless food products and serving sizes.  We need to eliminate the gimmicks in food sales and advertising and level the playing field for parents and children of this great country.

* * *

Readers may send questions to this email address. This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

* * *