On any given day, reading the newspaper can lead one to believe that the fate of humankind is doomed. With the advent of global communications, we learn instantly of bad news anywhere on the planet on a 24/7 basis. This unending stream of threatening bulletins makes it important to note positive trends. Here are five positive developments in fitness and weight loss to counter the otherwise negative stream of news:
Obesity Is the New Smoking: According to recent studies, the number of smokers declined in 2011, while the number of obese individuals rose by an equivalent number. If obesity is the new smoking, then we may see the development of anti-obesity comparable to the anti-smoking campaigns. The anti-smoking campaigns steadily reduced the number of smokers and demonstrated that concentrated efforts have the ability to change societal perspective and perception.
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Anti-obesity advocates are taking their cue from anti-smoking campaigns and utilizing similar tactics. For example, debates have begun on whether to tax sugary sodas, and regulations that would limit the advertising of sugary cereal to children are being promoted. With continued efforts, we may soon see a declining number of overweight adults, just as we saw a declining number of cigarette smokers.
A Tax on Soda Can Help Fight Obesity: Americans are drinking 13 billion gallons of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks each year. Experts argue that sugary drinks are the largest contributor to the growing obesity epidemic. In response to these statistics, researchers have conducted studies on the effect a modest tax would have on reducing soda consumption. Their findings were impressive. With the implementation of a penny-per-ounce tax, consumption would be cut by an estimated 15 percent. This decrease would reduce the number of new diabetics by 2.6 percent. The reduction would also prevent an estimated 95,000 coronary heart events, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths. Is a penny-per-ounce tax a reasonable price to pay for these health benefits?
University of Georgia Looks for Creative Ways to Address Obesity: University researchers have set out to find creative solutions to address the problem of obesity. To tackle the issue, the university has partnered with Athens Regional Medical Center. The university’s creative approach focuses on four key areas of interest: community, communication, research and instruction. These efforts come at a crucial time for Georgia—a state where 65 percent of the adult population is obese and 40 percent of children are either overweight or obese.
Clifton A. Baile, a Georgia Research Alliance professor, emphasized this unique approach, one that aims to make the programs fun and creative: “There are interesting new teaching tools to be used by school systems and 4H by extension that will make learning about obesity issues fun—some are game-based, some are virtual reality.” With each new initiative, we come closer to turning the tide in the battle against obesity.
Healthy Menu Items Take Off in Airport Restaurants: As awareness about health and obesity issues has continued to rise, consumers have indicated their interest in adopting healthier eating habits. To appeal to consumers, restaurants have increased offerings of low-fat, nonfat and low-calorie menu items. Airport restaurant, which traditionally have been known for their unhealthy fare, have hopped on the fitness bandwagon and are offering menu items whose descriptions like no fat, fat free and sugar free. Overall, healthy menu items at airport restaurants are up 86 percent.
Walmart Introduces “Great for You” Food Labels: Walmart has introduced “Great for You” labels in an effort to improve the nutritional quality of the food it sells. The labels currently appear on Walmart’s brands (Great Value and Marketside) and on fresh produce displays. Company executives report plans, however, to encourage other brands to use the label. Walmart has also taken a lead with suppliers to reduce sodium, added sugar and trans-fats in some 165 products it sells.
Gloria Borger, the chief political analyst at CNN, said that “for most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.” At least with these five newsworthy items, we’ve turned her philosophy upside down. The news about progress in dealing with obesity issues is good news.
- Carole Carson