Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The other 33 percent*

Last month, the New York Times article that looked at the cost of junk food as compared with healthy food - pointed out the difference between the two dining options was more often time and convenience than money. The conclusion was dangerous close to "poor fat people are fat because they are lazy."
As Ezra Klein pointed out yesterday, there is a very recent study that amends this slightly. The new study concludes "fat people are lazy because they have poor impulse control and are worse at delaying gratification." It essentially found that the heavyset set has gotten heavier but many of the 67% of Americans that are not obese have stayed trim. This is because the obese crowd relies on foods that can be eaten quickly rather than making meals from scratch.
What struck me about these findings was how a culture so laden with cooking shows was not producing even more at-home cooking. Perhaps we should abandon the "Ace of Cakes" or Paula Dean for a 21st century Julia Child who's focus is more on frugality and DIY meals rather then peddling pre-made foods or indulging in the rich foods for everyday occasions.
Still, as a social worker friend of mine pointed out, often extreme eating problems are related to emotional eating. I think rather then pointing to low self-esteem, our culture's current food problems point to a culture of entitlement. The belief that we each deserve everything we want and we deserve to get it in the quickest, easiest way possible is rampant. It's effected our waistlines, our personal debt and deeply impacted achievement in our school (see: give every child a blue ribbon, since mine deserves to feel like a winner rather than competing for an actual rank).

*According to the CDC in 2011 33.8 % of adult Americans are obese.

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