Originally Published: December 25, 2002 10 a.m.
We eat too much.
When you walk down a sidewalk or into a group of adult Americans, it is difficult not to notice that a majority are overweight. (Yes, me too – unwanted pounds are hanging over my belt.)
When Dr. David Satcher retired earlier this year as surgeon general of the United States, his last official action was to issue a warning about Americans being overweight. He said that obesity may soon surpass smoking as the nation's principal cause of preventable death. About 400,000 Americans die each year from illnesses related to smoking, while 300,000 die from illnesses related to obesity, such as heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. And obesity is gaining steadily.
Ten years ago only four states had obesity rates of 15 percent or higher; today 37 states do, with the rate increasing in every state and for every race.
We spend billions annually on weight loss programs, yet we keep getting fatter. Sixty percent of adult Americans are either overweight (roughly 25 percent above recommended weight) or obese (more than 50 percent above). Some are morbidly obese.
Why? Obviously various things are involved, but the one I'm going to pick on today relates to eating out. We often order the wrong things and get too much of it. You know, pizza with lots of cheese and sausage, burgers with fries and a shake, fried everything – especially at fast food restaurants.
Over half of all the money we spend for food in the U.S. is in restaurants, and over half of that is in fast food places.
Have you noticed how serving sizes have grown? A large
serving of french fries at McDonald's is three times the size it was 20 years ago. A "regular" size soft drink used to be 8 ounces; today a "small" is usually 12 ounces and they go up to 32 and higher. That's a lot of sugar, which has many calories and no nutritional value.
Children learn young. Ninety percent of American kids
visit a McDonald's every month on average, and that's just one of the many fast food chains.
So-called value meals encourage patrons to buy larger portions. But it is not a bargain to buy and consume extra calories that impair our bodies.
The Arizona Republic recently ran an article about portion sizes in Phoenix restaurants. Some are incredible.
The Euro Cafe serves a calzone which some describe as slightly smaller than a football. La Tolteca has an enchilada style burrito (with beef and chicken, cheese and chiles, veggies and sauce) weighing over three pounds.
Cheesecake Factory serves a Mile High Meatloaf Sandwich that is 10 inches tall, and Claim Jumper serves chocolate cake that is 10 inches tall. Time magazine is also 10 inches tall – just imagine a sandwich that high. Even worse, imagine watching somebody eat it.
Those restaurants say that people believe they get extra value if they are served large portions. It brings the customers back again.
I'm not really blaming the restaurants, and picked on McDonald's only because they're the largest and frequently set the trend. A restaurant does what it must in order to please the customer.
Some jerk recently sued McDonald's because he got fat and sick from years of eating their burgers. Of course it was all McDonald's fault, just like it is the cigarette manufacturer's fault if a smoker keeps on smoking until it kills him.
We don't have to eat everything that's served to us. Bettie and I frequently leave a restaurant with a take-out box in hand, but most people don't. If you look around, a majority of diners eat most of the food on their plates – especially the fat folks.
The Bible equates gluttony with drunkenness. But now I've quit meddling and gone to preaching.
Have a nice holiday!