Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lose the Blame and Shame and Take Action

By now you have heard about the Institute of Medicine's report, released this week, identifying key obesity-prevention strategies to help this country stop becoming more and more obese. I have not purchased the $49.00, 462 page report. If anyone has a free copy, please pass it on and direct me to the well. Right now I am going to write about only a tiny bit of the report. 

What I have surmised in the limited parts others have shared, the study suggests we must shift from personal blame when assessing obese individuals. It details how hard it is to live in our current society and maintain a healthy weight loss after obesity. I would like to share briefly on my recent experience in this area. 

I didn't take this photo. I found in
on google. Picture an additional
8 pizza boxes and you will see what
I saw in NYC. 
It is getting harder to find environments where there isn’t an array of unhealthy food choices available. When I was in NYC I found a commercial fitness gym near my mom’s apartment where every trash day there would be stacks of pizza boxes in their trash pick up. I wondered who is eating all that pizza and how it could be disadvantageous to the brand the commercial center is trying to promote. I am not trashing pizza as good food. Pizza can be healthy food, depending on how it is made and an individual body's tolerance for wheat, cheese and other toppings. It just seemed to me to be out of place at a fitness gym. This was not a large facility but there were a lot of pizza boxes. 

Then there is the office supply stores. Office Depot, Office Max - they now have candy and snack foods at the purchase point. When did a trip to pick up paper, pens and paper clips become a chance to pack on a few pounds? 

In New Hampshire they have 'State Run Liquor Stores.' We stopped at one. Guess what? They sell alcohol, they sell lottery tickets, they sell cigarettes, they sell an array of chocolates and other candies - and they were doing a brisk business of selling candy that day. Gives me a new image when I think of their state motto: Live Free or Die.

My OB-GYN (who is a friend), sometimes promotes new (decidedly non-gynecological) cosmetic/spa services he is adding to his practice. On those days you walk in for an appointment and the office staff invites you to sample the cheese tray and dessert cookies and even some candies. In past times, did our mothers and grandmothers ever get snacks in their doctor's offices? A few months ago I posted that an appointment with my dentist included an invite to sample chocolate muffins. When I was a kid, all my dentist ever gave me was a tooth brush. . . .  

When I was growing up in New York, funeral homes where restricted by law from offering any foods or beverages in their establishments. (water fountains were permitted). I do not know the current law and in New York but in Florida, a major local funeral home here in Orlando has a snack vending machine. Someone in a food industry has figured out that death and stress can ignite appetites. Is any place 'safe' from the influence of food marketing? 

I agree that it must shift from personal blame when talking about the cause of obesity. I think it is equally important to accept that personal action is a must for each of us, if there is to be recovery from it. Take away blame - please. No one should ever be shamed for being obese but encourage personal action as the only thing that will lead to the path away from it. But without personal action, you will have millions of obese people whining about how it is our their fault while simultaneously reaching into the cookie jar for another cookie when one is already in their mouths. We have to be willing to change our actions and re-actions to be free of the negative results. There are very few voices out there working to change the environment to help us. It is still up to each of us to help ourselves. 

Action remains the magic word. 

Your turn: name some places that sell or offer foods today that didn't offer foods 10 or more years ago? 



Unknown said...

Hi Jane! The ONLY time I ever started losing weight was when I realized it was up to me.

Even then, I wanted to blame metabolism. Also, I thought I should be able to eat like a guy! Maybe calories don't matter if it's just healthy food.<<Silly me!

Then one day, I read a article by a guy who said that if a person is overweight, then they are eating too much--as simple as that. While the mental mind games are more complicated, I know that in the past I ate far too much, as analyzed upon my weight.

I've talked about this issue with friends who weigh a lot more than I do, and I did not offend. There's no reason to get mean about such things, we've been there. However, friends we care about should be aware that they are making their own weight destiny happen, just as we are, no matter how many places we can eat food.

:-) Marion

Doug said...

I was surprised a few months ago to discover racks of candy bars lining the checkout lanes at a Home Depot.

Norma said...

Dick's Sporting Goods has a full candy bar/chips/crap display at every cash register. I posted a photo the other day from Planet Fitness about their "member appreciation" weekly pizza night and bagel breakfast -- it *is* the "judgment free zone," after all. You're right -- junk food is everywhere, oftentimes free for the taking. Don't even get me started on what is offered to the kids at school on a near-daily basis.

Vickie said...

Joanne's Fabric stores have a huge candy (wall) that is part of their cattle chute, check out process.

I flipped the question around - can I think of any stores which do NOT have food stuff?

The check out counters at Macy's have chocolate (small display, right by one's nose at most of the counters). But other than that I can't think of any food in the (non-food) stores at the mall. Sears, JCP, and all the little stores do not have any food/nonfood items to my knowledge. And the food stores are pretty much kept all together in the food court area. There are a sprinkling of pretzel places and one store devoted to nothing but candy, but no surprise places.

Leslie said...

Yeah - junk food is everywhere, as is just neutral food. Affection For Fitness got it right in saying that until she owned her own responsibility for weight loss and fitness, the results were marginal at best. (I rather embellished what she said!)

That damn Godiva chocolate at Macy's drives me crazy, because when I'm feeling like crap over having to buy size 16s or 18s, a chocolate fix can seem like just the thing to make me "feel" better. I've never succumbed at Macy's, but obviously have in other places, like Staples.

Sandrelle said...

Wow, great post Jane! Yep, the junk is everywhere and it really is paying attention, vigilance and personal responsibility and action to not fall into temptation (and addiction).

I was thinking the same thing the last time I went into Office Depot. Why do they need to sell candy here?

I find it disturbing that in the hospital where I work they sell tons of junk. A place of supposed healing and wellness also promotes obesity, diabetes, etc.

I passed by a Kneaders (soup, sandwiches, pastries) store yesterday and their sign read: "Ditch your diet, checkout our half prices pastries!"

Joan said...

As long as people continue to consIder eating as a recreational activity, it'll only get worse...

Maren said...

Some of the nation wide grocery store chains here have banned unhealthy foods/items by the check out! Instead they have refrigerators with berries, juices etc. Water bottles and such too.

Anonymous said...

I was horrified a few years back when I went to get a tour of the Winchester Mystery House - a museum! - and found that the outdoor area where you wait for your tour to start had a snack bar selling hot dogs, fries, ice cream. I was appalled. Could we not all, collectively, consider trying to get through a tour of a house without shoving some junk down our throats??

Norma said...

Joan really nailed this one: eating is mindless entertainment for us. we might have to stand in line at these stores for...what? Five minutes at the most. Aren't the trashy magazines and people-watching enough to occupy us? Of course, if you happen to be at a store with a tired or restless kid, how handy to distract them with a candy bar while you're in line and teach them to associate junk food with boredom or soothing and start forming their emotional/mindless eating habits! But hey, those candy bars are 59 cents OR two for a dollar, so get two, save nine cents, and you have one to cure your boredom in line, too! Somewhere out there, PT Barnum is having a laugh....

Karen said...

I've found chocolate and sweets in work places that are related to health care.

In even more twisted events, there are bake sales to fund breast cancer research in a health care environment ! Wow. That's kind of cray-cray if you ask me. Fund your own research! Hmmmm...

Sweets are tossed out at meetings like dogs catching treats. "Join this team because we have cupcakes for snacks".

Not helpful and I would say it's harmful. Great Post, Jane.

Have to walk the talk and take action. Karen P

The Paris Chronicles said...

Thankfully this is not the situation in Paris. Even at a supermarket, the only items allowed at checkout are TV guide-like magazines, throat lozanges and sometimes gum.

I remember a comment my (French) husband made years ago when we visited Yosemite. We had hiked up to (I think I'm remembering this correctly) Half Dome to find a snack bar/souvenir shop there. My husband said "In America, you are never more than 2 seconds away from a hot dog." We still say this today each time we go to the States, especially as we exit immigration. At any point of entry, the FIRST thing travelers see are food stands. (We always take pictures of this as it cracks the kids up). "Welcome to America. Land of the free, home of the junk food."