Fighting Two of Seven Deadliest Sins: Gluttony and Sloth

Cook Jamie OliverBy Andrea Frascione, staff-writer

Obesity expert Celia Kibler and Chef Jamie Cook Tackle the obesity problem

Baltimore, MD (RPRN)7/13/2009 – Obesity is one of the most serious, misunderstood and misdiagnosed problems today, a direct result of our sedentary modern lifestyle. To be considered obese, one must be more than 20% overweight – with more and more working hours being spent cooped up at office desks and fast food readily available at every street corner in America, it isn’t such a great feat nowadays.  ‘‘America has become a country of materialistic gain, regardless of the effects it has on our kids and our home-lives,’’ Celia Kibler, a childhood obesity expert told RushPRnews, ‘‘With (their) rush to the top, kids get left sitting around waiting for parents to get home, and are left to their own resources.’’

Obesity is determined by using the Body Mass Index (or BMI), a simple equation that calculates the body’s fat percentage as compared to one’s weight, age and height.Though some diseases – such as Prader-Willi Syndrome, a malfunction stemming from the area of the brain responsible for controlling hunger – can be blamed for a certain percentage of the population suffering from obesity today, most cases can be attributed to two simple causes: poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

Kibler is the founder and president of Funfit,  nationwide family fitness centers focusing on exercise and good nutrition. A variety of classes, taught by professional trainers, offered to both children and their parents include: parent/toddler fitness, yoga, ballet, martial arts, and even organic cooking! Weight issues are addressed in a challenging yet positive manner at Funfit, giving overweight children a boost in self-esteem – in stark contrast to the often-negative comments they must confront on a daily basis at school.

‘‘Increased sedentary lifestyles…with the impact of computers and video games, is a huge factor leading to obesity,’’ says Kibler to RushPRNews, ‘‘Families tend to eat out a lot or catch a bite on the run instead of eating a nourishing home-cooked meal and sitting down at the table as a family.’’

Similarly, with steadily increasing rates of obesity in the U.K., top chef Jamie Oliver has taken it upon himself to get people cooking again, one city at a time. His Ministry of Food is a throwback to the wartime era, when it was first employed by the British government to give people advice on cooking healthily on skimpy budgets. This time around, he has looked to the corporate world, inciting office managers and factory foremen to integrate a cookery course into their daily schedules.

‘‘Obesity already costs the National Health Service (almost twice as much as) smoking,’’ states Oliver’s manifesto, ‘‘Over 9000 people (in the U.K.) already die prematurely each year due to health conditions caused by being overweight; cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.’’

Pass it On is a clever and highly effective way of ‘teaching people to fish’. The idea is that Oliver selects a few leaders of cooking teams to pass on his methods and at least one recipe to a few people at a time. In turn, each of those students must pass on what they learned to someone else. The sheer numbers, when multiplied – if carried on properly by each set of ‘students/teachers’ – are staggering.

This pyramid system is the first-ever tangible, direct results method used to combat obesity in the world today. No government program, drug dispensation, diet or therapy can compare to what Oliver has done in such a short period of time with his School Dinners program first integrated into the UK’s education system in 2005, and now with his Ministry of Food. His tried, tested and true belief that in order to truly change your eating-habits and overall health, you must first change the whole way you approach food – including how it is grown, cultivated, prepared and consumed. That is: you must know where it came from and what ingredients were used in its cooking. What better way to ensure a consistency of quality in what you consume than to make the food yourself? In a few short months, Oliver has got people in Rotherham, England shouting ‘No more take-away!’

According to the results of a study on menu labeling by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans spend nearly half of their food budget on takeout. Annual restaurant sales are projected to top $395 billion by the end of this year, in strong comparison to the $42.8 billion figure recorded in 1970.

High-caloric drinks are a major contributing factor to needless weight gain and poor nutrition, not solely due to the great amount of sugar, but also because of all the added chemicals and sodium we don’t realize we are ingesting every time we refill our 16 ounce cup at the dispenser. Even fruit juices marketed specifically to children are sometimes ridden with high-fructose corn syrup, or some other additive difficult for the body to break down and digest. Kibler suggests buying seltzer and adding some 100% natural fruit juice to it instead, giving you the fizz and the flavor together. For those busy moms and dads who think they have no time to prepare healthy meals for their family, Kibler insists that it’s as easy as 1-2-3: protein, grain, fruit/veggie. Snacks should be smaller versions of regular meal portions, not an excuse to opt for something salty or sweet. Protein is really what gives us the energy we need to get through our day – and, contrary to popular belief, isn’t limited to meat. Nuts, tofu, tuna fish, eggs and legumes such as Edamame beans, are among the highest sources of easy-to-prepare dietary protein.

Even today, the Mediterranean diet is still one of the best methods to weight control out there, proven to aid in living longer, healthier lives. It consists of most of the same foods listed above, plus alcohol, such as red wine, in moderation (for grown-ups only, of course): whole grains, olive oil, nuts (especially pistachios and almonds), fruit, vegetables, fish and cheese. By sticking to reasonable portions of these food combinations, your body is getting enough fiber, vitamins, nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium as well as protein which helps you to feel fuller longer. Feeling full is important when you’re trying to lose weight, because the endorphins released by the brain while eating give you such a euphoric feeling, that it’s hard to stop once you’ve started. Certain foods found even in nature are ‘designed’ to give you just that feeling – chocolate is one of them. But, you can have your chocolate and eat it too, just go for the dark kind (70% cocoa or more). In moderation, dark chocolate has been known to improve circulation and relieve certain physical ailments as well, not to mention its aphrodisiac effects.

The most remarkable observation about world health in 2009 is the huge dichotomy between the fast food junkies, virtually oblivious to the adverse effects of what they are putting into their bodies, and the super-health fanatics with their organic, grain-fed, gluten-free, all-natural, homegrown diets. Never before has there been so much variety in supermarkets, restaurants and other food sources: no wonder our heads are spinning! Is it non-fat this? Sugar-free that? Low carb here? ‘Good’ fats there? And what’s all this pre-biotic/pro-biotic mumbo jumbo their putting into yogurt that’s supposed to be good for us? FYI: yogurt is already chock full of bacteria, since by definition, it is fermented milk.

Essentially, old adages and simple philosophies ring true and author Michael Pollan said it best, ‘‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’’ In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dillemma: A Natural History of Four Meals are two of Pollan’s acclaimed works, and recommended reading for food-lovers both great and small!

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