Recently in 10: Diet, Health, Body (Nov 12) Category

The Athletic Body Mass Index

After listening to the Health, Body and Diet group talk about Adrian Peterson having a really high Body Mass Index I decided to do some research and see how other top athletes compared to the BMI health standards. To do this I went to the teamusa.org website for the 2010 US Olympic Team. Under many of the player profiles they list height and weight and I recorded this and calculated their BMI in an excel spreadsheet. (Sometimes I had to use Wikipedia to find the height and weight and other times and for many athletes I could not find any data.) The BMI is calculated by dividing the height by the weight squared. I would like to present some of the results and general trends for your consideration:

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Diets Don't Work

As a somebody in the science majors, I am one to look for proof before taking things too seriously. With so many fad diets around the world, which one works? As the Diet, Body, and Health group explained, obesity is a major issue in America. Also as we discussed in class, the BMI scale is not that good of a measure of health, and one of the biggest effects it has if just to scare people into thinking they are more unhealthy than they are. I'm going to give some personal details here: according to the BMI scale I am obese with a BMI of 29. Now, I do admit I'm a little less fit than I used to be, and should be, but looking at me you wouldn't even classify me as obese. For me to even be at the upper edge of "normal" on the BMI scale (25), I'd have to lose over 30 pounds. Basically amputating a leg.
Anyways, enough of my digression. Here's a quick video about the Atkins diet. I don't know if many of you remember the Atkins craze...but it was pretty ridiculous.

Now, this goes back to my question of "Will it work?" In my psychology class we reviewed an article titled "Medicare's Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets are not the Answer." This article went on to talk about diets in which the researchers examined long term effects of dieters. While yes, diets will work in the short term; after about a year most people gain back their weight plus more. The conclusion of the article is that while it is important to eat healthy, diets (especially fad diets) are not effective in long term weight loss. However, exercise is a large factor. Regular exercise (with occasional high-intensity workouts) DO contribute to safe, healthy, effective, and long-term weight loss.

This being said, are we just too lazy to actually exercise? Is changing what we eat as far as we're willing to go?

I want to know if there are any popular diets that do incorporate strenuous physical activity as a primary part of their system. Why do Americans fall victim to these phony diets? And what can we do to change the system so that these diets and crazes are no longer necessary? This is more than an individual problem, it's a systemic problem.

Disney teen queen

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On Friday, the ethics topic of Health, Diet and Body presented topics ranging from H1N1 to eating disorders. It seems like along with that, there have been many reports of eating disorders flooding the news. From Portia De Rossi to now Disney Channel start Demi Lovato being treated for an eating disorder along with other issues. She has a long history of struggling with an eating disorder as well as a history of cutting herself. With all that H,D, & B presented on Friday and with all the information out there available to people, I don't understand why someone could do that.

My next question is really the history of her issues and how much hollywood as played up her problems. Hollywood provides the "guidelines" for girls such as how skinny they should be, what clothes they should wear, and how their hair should be cut. Demi Lovato is a very popular Disney Channel star with the average audience ranging from 8-13 years old. She is considered an idol to these little girls. With her scars being visible and her ultra skinny body being portrayed as and "idol", eating disorders are becoming more and more prevalent among young girls. Which goes to the question DH and Body asking how young is too young to talk about body image? Or more importantly what is considered healthy with all of the media controlling it?

Diets vs. Life Choices

Today, we are constantly bombarded with images of the "perfect body" by the media. For instance, the magazine Cosmopolitan always seems to have a picture of a slim female celebrity on the cover.

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Better yet, they often offer some form of dieting advice to help you obtain a body like the one on the cover. In this instance it's "Lose Weight While You Eat". The point I'm getting at is that this "perfect body" image and all the different diets out there aren't really helping anyone. Diets, especially the quick fix diets that offer massive weight loss in only a few weeks, aren't sustainable and may only help to lose weight, not keep it off. In order to lose weight and, and keep it off, an individual needs to change their lifestyle; otherwise they will just gain the weight back. In an article on Medicinenet.com it talks about a maple syrup diet that Beyonce used to lose 22 pounds in time for the movie Dreamgirls, which even she admits she wouldn't recommend to anyone. This article also mentions all the false promises that diets may try to make in order to get you to try them. One example is that you can "trick your body's metabolism into using up energy". So in reality, it all comes down to making healthy choices and not overindulging. Just for fun I also found a video from the Onion that shows some ridicules quick fixes to hide any excess weight.

My question to the readers is how can individuals motivate themselves to change their eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight? Obviously this may be different for everyone so I'm just looking for some ideas.

She should really eat a sandwich.

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On friday the Health, Body and Diet group were talking about how fat is portrayed in the media and how it is our fault as society that girls want to be thin/healthy. It got me thinking about how often we say to some skinny girl "You really should eat something." I remember a couple of years ago I was watching some television program that was about naturally skinny girls and how they are often mistaken for having eating disorders(maybe it was the TYRA show...I'm not sure) and the girls were saying how they had always felt victimized because people would come up to them and tell them how thin they were and how they should go "eat a sandwich". And I know that I do it too. I have some friends that are just naturally incredibly thin, and I always notice myself thinking that they should eat more, even though I know they can put away more food than my 6'1" boyfriend. On the show they were talking about how easy it is for people to criticize the skinny and tell them to gain weight, but they brought up the good point...how many people would walk up to someone that is over weight and say "go lose weight"? Why is there this double standard? If society wants skinny people instead of fat people, why are the skinny people the ones that are constantly told by their peers and friends that they need to change?

Portia de Rossi/de Generes was just on the Ellen show talking about her new book where she talks about her various eating disorders she went through as a model and young actress. She talks about how she would be 85 pounds going onto the red carpet, and she would wear something to hide her arms because she knew that is what showed how skinny she was the most...yet, she would still win best dressed. That shows how set on thinness society is. This girl was literally killing herself to be thin, and the media showered her with praises. She also said that the one thing that could have been said to her to get her to stop would have been "That I look unhealthy." Telling someone they are too thin is a compliment. "How could someone be TOO thin?" she said. She said the way to get someone to stop is to play the health card.

I am wondering, all of you out there in feminist studies land, how thin is too thin? Can there be too thin? Can there be too fat? Is there actually a value to this? Or will it always be outside people telling you what is healthy? Can Health even be determined if doctors and such can't determine it?

My main question asks for alternatives. We talked in class a lot about how this system is jaded, and I agree. But, what can we do to fix it? Any ideas?

Babying the Obese

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First off there is one thing that you all need to know that was not said during the presentation by the Diet, Health, Body group. The BMI index is not used to determine the amount of fat a person has. At first it was but with new technology we have found better ways to determine this. The BMI index is primarily used to determine a person's risk of disease due to their weight. If you remember the picture they had of the fat person and the muscular person side by side and how they had the same BMI. It is true that we see the muscular person as healthier but he is still at an elevated rate of potential disease due to his weight. A bodybuilder is very susceptible to heart disease. If all you do for physical activity is lift heavy weights, you actually use the left side of your heart more. Over time with the left side of your heart bigger than the right, you are more susceptible to heart arrhythmia, attack or stoke. Also body builder seem to have much higher blood pressure than a normal person. Lastly an question that was not answered during the presentation was how do they determine what is overweight, obese, ect. for the BMI. The way they did this was by looking at premature morbidity and mortality due to their BMI. They found that at 19, 25, and 30 there were significantly higher rates. All of this information came from text book "Fitness & Wellness" by Werner and Sharon Hoeger.

Now on to what I wanted to talk about. In our society obesity is a server problem. The United States is the only industrialized nation where over 10% of the population is obese. This come with a price, a price which we all must pay.

In this video we hear about a person story with obesity. Tim, was obese adn when he went to his doctor he got the response most people would get. We need to get you on some sort of prescription. I give a lot of credit to Tim for losing weight the right way through diet and exercise. Our society has become so lazy that even with a health problem due to lack of exercise or diet, we just want something that will help so we can continue living the same life style.

As much as some people may hate me for saying this, I really do not care. I am a major supporter on discriminating of those who are obese. Think about it! People who are overweight who have been told you are at risk of having heart, liver, diabetes problems due that are just babied through it because we are scared we may hurt their feelings. We give people who need to increase there physical activity handicap parking spaces so they won't have to walk so far to get to the store. Or we give the mobile scooter so they won't have to walk because their knees won't be able to handle their weight. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hopefully you can see that all we are doing is perpetuating the problem.

At the rate were going, Obesity is going to become the number one health care problem. Whether this is due to all the fast food or processed food we eat, or our sedentary lifestyle. We cannot just tell people we know need to lose weight to take a pill to help them and just keep living the same way they have been which got them to this point in their life. Because we are all paying for it, and with an economy which is not doing well and the new health care reform, this is something that needs to end and quickly.

If someone for the Diet, Health, Body group could comment on here and tell me which article they read and where it was in the article about how fat people tend to live longer that would be great. I do not believe this statement or study one bit. Especially since President Clinton during his term gave a congressional speech about how we are the first generation that will not outlive our parents. This study came straight from the surgeon general so I more inclined to believe this study than the one in the article. I am willing to beat a lot of money that the study in the article was funded by either a fast food restaurant or a company which makes processed foods.

Target: Women -- Diets

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It is my sincere belief that anyone interested in feminism or anyone interested in debunking the "feminine mystique" should watch episodes of Target: Women. Target: Women is a miniseries hosted by Sarah Haskins that aired on Current TV (but the episodes can all be found on YouTube). The show takes things from pop culture (from birth control to wedding shows to Twilight and more) and examines the sexism hidden within them using satire and parody. Here, I show an episode relevant to today's discussion about health and dieting.

I think this video points out one of the parts of our discussion: that there is a lot of pressure to diet and lose weight (especially around the New Year). Information about dieting and losing weight is everywhere, constantly barraging us. However, what the video shows that I don't think we discussed in class, is the kind of information that's thrown at us.

Haskins reveals that there are many contradictory types of advice, which leave us confused. Which diets actually work? How do they work? Which one will work for me and my individual body type and size? These questions are not addressed, and diets are presented as catch-all solutions that will work for anyone. Sometimes, the information is over-simplified, like with the segments on cutting back on soda. The information presented suggests that one doesn't actually have to do anything to lose weight, besides cutting back on soda. But, it seems doubtful that this is the case, since losing weight takes more than just cutting back one soda a day.

I think this reflects another point we brought up in class: that we (as Americans) live a fast-paced life, and consequently we want fast (and easy) results from their dieting. But the reality is that even if you manage to lose weight on a diet pill or on a specific diet, once you stop using the pills or stop the diet, you're likely to regain weight. The diet books/programs/foods/pills present temporary solutions (meaning you'll probably have to buy their products again) in order to make it seem easy. But, in fact, losing and maintaining weight is a long-term commitment that requires eating healthy and exercise, and self control. But, consumers don't want to hear that (and retailers want to keep you buying their stuff) so real solutions aren't really given.

I also think the video reveals another problem, which is that we don't really know what is healthy. I think this becomes most clear in the example of "the Swap." Why are "regular noodles" any better than Mac'n'cheese? Why is pumpkin pie better than pecan pie? (I think Haskins effectively parodies this with her version of "the Swap," which gets me every time.) The only information about what's "actually healthy" is provided to us by these companies/individuals trying to sell their diet/foods/programs, in which case it's pretty likely this stuff isn't really healthy, and it's just a ploy to make you buy certain things.

Ultimately, I think that's the problem with dieting and health right now: the information. There's too much "noise" about diets and health that are contradictory, confusing, and (in all likelihood) not even true. Meanwhile, accurate information about how to lose weight in a healthy and effective way, which foods are healthy, and about exercise, is sadly absent from mass media and education programs

Junk Food - The Booming Market

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I really enjoyed the presentation today on Diet, Health, Body, and especially the segment on how so much money was spent on junk food advertising. When I thought about this more, I realized just how much it was true. Without being in front of the television right now, all I can think about is car and junk food commercials that I regularly see. The first thing I thought of being the Simpsons buff that I am was the episode where junk food took over their school and, in turn, turned Bart into an obese Bart. This was all done with advertising that any kid, except Lisa, would "eat up" in a second.n5ufmkc-bartsimpsongetsfat.jpgI fear the episode I am talking about isn't too far off from the actual truth in schools. I know that when I was in high school there were vending machines with all sorts of terrible things that any kid had easy access to whenever they felt like it. I remember also that there were discussions of how to change this when I was in school so I am not sure if anything has changed. One thing that I really thought was effective was how they made the more healthy choices in the vending machines cheaper than the typical junk foods. In turn, more kids would think twice about the more healthy options because of the cost. I still see this being done around campus as well where, if you look, the healthy choices are marked with little stickers inside the actual vending machines. So, I was wondering, can you think of more effective ways to limit how much junk food a kid eats? Of course, there is no possibly of completely wiping out the market, so what are some other good options?

*Important Feedback Re: First Week of Presentations*

After completing our first week of ethics presentations, I want to make sure our class keeps a few things in mind, in order to move forward more productively:

All of the topics selected are contentious, and this is precisely the point: from day one of this course, we've discussed how science is an ever-evolving dialogue, an imperfect process in a quest for greater understandings of our shared world.

These presentations discuss a wide range of topics from many perspectives. While some of you have chosen to present "pros," "cons," and "neutrals" of a subject, we have to remember that the benefits and drawbacks of a particular topic should not be conflated with whether you're "for" or "against" it. When we make simplistic conclusions about an issue, we not only create unnecessary polarization, but we also foreclose the possibility for other insights to be revealed. The truth is, there are positives and negatives to most things in life, but ethical concerns are raised in science when we weigh questions of power:
...Who has the ability to control a scientific process and why? Who will benefit and who won't?
...What, exactly, makes this topic so contentious to some? What fears, anxieties, traditions, ideologies, does it uphold or threaten?
...What kinds of relationships should we demand between science and academies, industries, and governments?
...And though it will always be imperfect, impartial, and finite, how can we create BETTER ways of practicing science, science that promotes more livable ways of relating across the spectrum of races, genders, species, etc. for generations to come?

Finally, a note of caution on creating a classroom climate conducive to healthy debate, for there have been moments when productive questions have been shut down. Once we understand that:
...no topic presented is "bad" or "good,"
...that the point of these exercises is NOT to reach a final conclusion or resolve the debate,
...and that multiple considerations, in multiple contexts, must be weighed in order to grasp these complex issues,
we can move forward as a class asking more questions, becoming more aware and critical knowers, consumers, voters, and researchers, and creating a space where varying viewpoints can be aired. Remember, if critiques are raised, they can be harnessed to develop better ways of employing whatever scientific development we're considering, making it more effective, more sustainable, and more liberatory.

These presentations are meant to inform our class on important topics that may be brand new to some. But more importantly, they are meant to showcase ethical dilemmas. Keep this in mind, whether you present in the upcoming classes or listen as an active audience member. What larger concerns do these topics raise, especially within a context of feminist science?

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