Healthline Connects
Healthline Connects

FDA Fights Obesity

On June 2, 2006 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a report in conjunction with the Keystone Forum on improving consumers' ability to manage calorie intake in food we eat away from home. The report offered recommendations related to:

1) Influencing consumer behavior towards healthy foods and lifestyle through marketing
2) Increasing the availability of lower-calorie menu items and products
3) Providing consumers with nutrition information for menu items

The National Restaurant Association immediately balked. With the cost of determining the calorie content and nutritive value of a single menu item at around $100, the costs for an entire menu could be tens of thousands of dollars. While this wouldn't be a problem for huge chain restaurants, they argued that it'd be too much of a burden on mom-and-pop restaurants.

If we can't have someone else count the calories for us, what options are left?

Years ago, when I was a personal trainer, I had every client make a food diary for a week. The following week, I had them try to re-create that diet as nearly as they could, but this time measuring each item with an inexpensive kitchen scale and a chart showing caloric values of foods. Usually they were shocked with the results. True, having a bowl of cereal as a snack can be a healthy 150 calorie option. But that assumes a 3/4 cup serving. Often, when clients realized that their daily tub of cereal was three times that size, it became easier for them to scale back their portion size. You can't know if you need to modify your diet, or how much to modify it, until you have a good idea of where you're currently at.

It'll be interesting to see how the fight against obesity in the U.S. pans out in the coming years. There's no question it's an epidemic with 64% of Americans overweight, and a full 30% classified as obese, counting for $117 billion in health care costs each year.

Speaking at an American College of Sports Medicine meeting, James Sallis, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, noted that, "Virtually everything American society has done for the past 100 years has made it easier for us to be fatter." He went on to cite contemporary examples of proliferating movie theaters chains and video games, along with unwalkable suburban development as promoters of a sedentary lifestyle.

Is it a bad sign when you can get tired just from typing? I'm gonna have to hit the gym tonight....
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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.

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