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Eat Healthy, Keep Your Job: Health Trends in America

Mar 13, 2008
There's a lot of talk about fat in the media today. As the U.S. government heightens its "war on obesity", fat is rapidly becoming a hot topic and more attention is being focused on the role body image plays in society.

The Good News

Americans are becoming more aware of the role of a healthy lifestyle and making healthier choices with food. The food industry seems to be listening too!

In a recent study by Mark Clements Research, Inc., 54% of consumers surveyed said they look for items that are made with 100% whole wheat or whole grains when they shop for baked goods. 50% said they look for items that are low in saturated fats. 57% said they make an effort to add more salads, vegetables and fruits to their daily meals. These are great trends!

Did you know?

New York City has banned trans fat in restaurants there. Many restaurants, seeing this topic gathering steam, have already begun to eliminate trans fats that make many snacks and fried foods dangerous to your heart and health.

But listen to how the National Restaurant Association formally responded to the ban: "We don't think that a municipal health agency has any business banning a product the Food and Drug Administration has already approved," said Dan Fleshler, a spokesman for the association.

However, the fact that the FDA approves trans fats shows you just how little that agency's nod of approval means! The FDA has long been known to put food and drug manufacturers' interests before the public's health.

Chicago is now considering a similar ban. Note, however, that simply because something is low in trans fat, does not mean it's low in fat. There are lots of empty calories in a potato chip, even if it was fried in a healthier oil. Also, even if served in a restaurant, any food that comes packaged from a manufacturer, like a bag of potato chips or a cookie, is exempt from the ban!

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Taco Bell, KFC and Wendy's are already eliminating the trans fats from their menus. Expect to see calorie and nutrient counts on many menus in the coming year too. That's a trend that will empower consumers to make healthier choices.

Did you know?

Spain took the unprecedented action of banning fashion models who fall below an 18 BMI (Body Mass Index) from their runways and fashion photography! Wow! At least part of the world is taking responsibility for the fact that the images we see in the media every day have a powerful, negative effect on women. Super-thin models have enormous impact on young women, who see them as "normal" and their shapes as desirable, often spawning eating disorders. But, don't think that Spain's models are now average sized! 18 is still considered underweight (think 119 lbs. on a 5'8" frame). "Normal" BMI measurements are in the range of 18.5 to 25. Below 18.5 is underweight.

The Spanish decision caused quite a scandal among American designers, who favor models with BMIs way below 18. While it's definitely a move in the right direction, there's room for further change here.

66% of women say they are unhappy with their weight and only 13% say they are happy with their weight. It's hard to say how many are unhappy because they're comparing themselves to the models and actresses in the media. The fact is most people who are unhappy with their weight will diet and studies show the average diet adds pounds because, no matter how much weight is lost while following a strict calorie reduction diet, the dieter eventually gains the weight back plus an average of 10% more.

Talk show host Tyra Banks is proclaiming her right to weigh 162 lbs. At 5'10" tall (a BMI of 23, well within the normal range), her audiences love her looks but fashion industry folks are ragging on her. We might be healthier following her lead rather than dieting ourselves fatter every year.

Did you know?

Many corporations are taking an interest in the health and weight of their employees. Some regularly present programs on health, fitness and weight loss to their employees. Others host weight loss contests or offer health coaches to their workers.

However, Scott's Miracle-Gro has taken "interest" to a new level. They hired medical specialists to scour every aspect of employees' heath, targeting those who needed to reduce their weight, stop smoking, or get their cholesterol in line.

They offer employees various programs to help them reduce the number on the scale or quit smoking. In September of 2006, they went "smoke free" and began firing anyone who smoked when they "failed their drug test."

Time will tell the outcome of the lawsuits that are coming from this policy, but the question is: With the rising cost of medical insurance, will companies hire/fire people who choose unhealthy habits? Will you have to "qualify" for a job with a certain level of health? Can companies refuse to provide health insurance for anyone who can't maintain a healthy weight?

"Big brother" may be alive and well in America's corporations!

Conclusion

Between the big marketing machines of the food industry luring Americans to eat more and more (and spend more and more), and the fashion industry touting size 0 bodies as a norm, it's no wonder Americans are confused.

As more and more evidence mounts that strict diets and new drugs don't work, doctors and healthcare professionals often feel helpless.

One thing is clear: taking personal responsibility for our own health is a positive step. It gives us the power, not the doctor, the media or the company for whom we work.
About the Author
Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC, earned her title "America's Weight Loss Catalyst" by coaching thousands of clients toward permanent weight loss. Her status as an expert is heightened by her own personal weight loss success. Receive her free newsletter "The Catalyst" by visiting
patbarone.com
today!
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