We are past talking about plus sizes. We are past talking about “weight gain.” The most recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents how much weight we have gained since 1994. On average, white, non-Hispanic women have added almost 18 pounds while, African American women have added 22 pounds. White, non-Hispanic men have added approximately 16 pounds, and African American men have added 18 pounds. An 11-year-old boy is over 13 pounds heavier than in 1994, and an 11-year-old girl is more than 7 pounds heavier.
This latest CDC study further documents that we are in a national weight crisis, most especially among the boomer generation: 72 percent of this generation’s men and 67 percent of its women are overweight or obese. The health care costs tied to our weight is crushing us, and our nation, with a financial burden we cannot afford.
How our food and beverage industry made us fat
Twenty grams of saturated fat is the recommended daily intake based on a recommended 2,000 calories per day diet. Here are some of the best-selling food items offered by our favorite restaurants in terms of their fat content:
- The Big Mac has 29 grams of fat and 550 calories
- Burger King’s Double Whopper with cheese has 65 grams of fat and almost a thousand calories
- Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Personal 6-inch Pan Pizza has 46 grams of fat and 830 calories
- Hardee’s 1/3-pound Original Thickburger has 52 grams of fat and 810 calories
- Wendy’s Banconator has 63 grams of fat, 970 calories and a stunning 2,020 milligrams of sodium.
The food industry helped us wash down all that fat with promotionally-sized sodas. In 1955 the largest serving of Coca-Cola offered by McDonald’s was 7 ounces. Today, the fast-food chain offers a serving of Coke that’s six times larger! This was Coca-Cola’s plan all along. In 1955, the company first introduced king-sized sodas up to 26 ounces. Forty years later, McDonald’s had made “super sized” portions a permanent feature on their menus.
We were sold on these foods through ever-increasing numbers of TV commercials. In 1952 only four minutes of commercials were allowed per hour! Today, about a third of our time in front of the TV is spent watching commercials. Commercial after commercial, day after day, decade after decade, has convinced us that “having it our way” or “supersize me” was good eating.
Our court system, which should be protecting us from promotional practices that are harmful to human health, have turned a blind eye to the food industry’s promotion of fattening food. The legal system has ruled that, if we are fat, then it is our fault for eating the fattening food. At last report, about 20 states have laws banning customers from suing restaurants that purposefully promote the sale of food tied to obesity and diabetes.
Three keys to losing weight, having fun and living more+
I was fat. I was so fat that I had to have a handicap parking sticker because it hurt to walk. I tried all the name diets, and none worked for me. That pushed me to look outside the nutrition and diet box for why I was fat. It pushed me to find proven solutions for achieving a healthy weight. Here are three key research findings that enabled me to lose more than 30 pounds and feel great:
- Listen to the millennial-generation influence leaders. They have a clear and simple message. No McDonalds. No Coca-Cola, including diet sodas. None of those sugar-, salt- and fat-filled packages of chips, cookies, “fruit” juices and cereals that line our grocery stores’ interior aisles. Millennial influencers eat great-tasting food at fun restaurants. But the difference is that the food they eat is also good-for-you food.
- Reduce your stress by learning to play. I gained weight from pushing myself in my career and from raising teenagers. The good news is that I had a great career and my kids turned out fantastic. The bad news is all that stress caused significant weight gain. Research is conclusive that stress adds weight. The solution is to learn how to reduce stress by relearning how to play. Play is a natural stress reducer. It is not exercise. Exercise that we measure, and feel guilty about if we skip, creates stress. Ride a mountain bike or join a dance class, because this feels like fun, reduces stress and helps shed weight.
- Use best practices to defeat impulse purchases. What we buy in too many ways ties to our stress. We shop today not because we need something. We shop because it feels great. We are stimulated with an endless stream of discounted price promotions. We shop to be able to engage socially. We shop because we are bombarded with continuous commercials on our all our screens. I dedicate an entire chapter in my “Boomer Generation Diet” book on shopping best practices that promote weight loss. It also saves money! And you feel great about shopping in a new way. You feel great knowing you truly beat the food industry’s promotional system that has made us fat.
If we all did these types of best practices, then the next CDC report may find that we weigh less and have solved America’s weight crisis.