Tag Archives: obesity

Fat or Fit Camp?

Teen Fit Camp Contestants. Picture Courtesy of Granada Productions

 

It seems that not only is there an increased health risk associated with obesity, but there is also an increased revenue stream.  From dieting books, DVDs and CDs, there is also pills, programs and food supplements.  But now the focus in on ‘fat camps’ to reduce the bulge in children.

Last year the documentary series, Teen Fit Camp, aired in Australia on Channel Ten and followed six overweight Aussie teenagers to a fitness camp in the US.  Initially the documentary was titled Teen Fat Camp but the marketing team made the change to the more sensitive Teen Fit Camp Ratings were poor and it quickly plummeted from prime-time TV to a Sunday afternoon slot.

Although the show was attempting to promote weight loss and raise awareness about obesity in children, it was slammed for exploitation.

Recently UK based online magazine, Sp!ked, published an article on the increasing number of ‘fat camps’ opening in Britain.  The article titled, The state-sanctioned bullying of fat kids, suggested that the government was lending a hand in isolating overweight children and helping make them feel ashamed.

“This week, officialdom’s war against fat children was stepped up a mark. The government revealed that, starting in the next school term, parents will be sent ‘fat reports’ on their children.”

The authors, Patrick Basham and John Luik, cannot understand why the British government is promoting fat camps when they are hardly succeeding in their parent country, America.

“Why is business so bad in America, the world leader in fat children and obsessive parenting? Because the dirty little secret of fat camps is that they do not work.”  

Despite this fact, the first fat camp for overweight children under five – Too Fat to Toddle, was opened in Britain last year.

Although there are no ‘fat camp’ listings in the Yellow Pages yet, it’s only a matter of time before we see them dipping into Australian pockets.  Ryan Craig, the president of the Wellspring Camp the Teen Fit Camp kids were sent to, told The Sydney Morning Herald that he hopes the show will “raise enough awareness about his camps that it can extend to Australia” as it did in Britain.

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Should Fast-Food be Restricted to the Rich?

 
Rich Fast-Food?  Picture courtesy of mcdonalds.com
Rich Fast-Food? Picture courtesy of mcdonalds.com

In this fast-paced world we live in, more and more people have less spare time on their hands. So rather than getting home at 7.30pm, searching the cupboards and fridge for the last $100 we spent on ingredients to chop and prepare, we opt for the 5 minute detour to the closest McDonald’s for our dinner. “Just tonight”, we say. But what happens to those of us, who not only don’t have the time, but don’t have the money to prepare a healthy, nutrient-rich meal every night?

In the U.S a recent ban on the construction of fast-food restaurants has been approved by the Los Angeles City Council. The one-year moratorium restricts new fast-food restaurants from being built in a low income area, and is hoping to combat the higher levels of obesity in this vicinity.

William Saletan published an article, Food Apartheid: Banning fast food in poor neighborhoods, in Slate Magazine, an online U.S publication, arguing against the decision.

“We’re not talking anymore about preaching diet and exercise, disclosing calorie counts, or restricting sodas in schools. We’re talking about banning the sale of food to adults. Treating French fries like cigarettes or liquor.”

Saletan argues that the ‘poor’ people are being treated like children; vulnerable, dependent and helpless, with the council dictating where and what they can eat.

Fast-food can be healthy too.  Picture courtesy of Subway.com

Fast-food can be healthy too. Picture courtesy of Subway.com

While I’m all for healthier take-away options, restricting certain restaurants to certain income brackets may not be the best way about it.  The recent wave of healthier menu options in most fast-food restaurants and increasing awareness about proper eating habits have so far been the best stepping stones, and cater for long term effects, not just short term restrictions.

Yes, for most of us a Big Mac is a far easier option than sweating it out in the kitchen, but a chicken salad or 6″ Sub ain’t bad either.

The Great Obesity Debate

Healthy eating and exercise are most important when it comes to weight loss

Healthy eating and exercise are most important when it comes to weight loss

 

On Thursday, 31 July 2008, On Line Opinion posted an article titled Fat People Eat too Much… written by Joseph Proietto and Jeffrey Zajac.  It deals with the increasing prevalence of obesity and the contributing factors and proposed solutions to the disease. 

The two Melbourne University professors make a number of valid arguments towards the great obesity debate, 

“Virtually all information in the media on obesity slants blame somewhere…Assigning blame leads nowhere except to reaction or over-reaction by those blamed.”

This idea results in the notion that one person or group of people, such as parents or the government, are not wholly responsible for the bulging Australian waistline, but merely that obesity is an issue that needs to be collectively addressed and not shifted from party to party.

Proietto and Zajac also link the increase in obesity with the increase in more readily available high calorie food in Western countries.  The writers use the phrase “free access to unlimited quantities of high calorie food”, but it could be argued that although unhealthy food is in most cases cheaper than the healthier alternatives, it is by no means ‘free’ with the ever-rising cost of supermarket prices.  However, as ‘Pelican’ points out in the comment section of the article, obesity can be a result of people choosing cheaper, more calorie rich food due to their socio-economic status.

The article also generated a few more comments from readers.  ‘Ozideas’ commented on the absence of depression as a contributing factor to obesity and ‘Arthur N’ dismissed the “assertion of the article that fat people are fat simply because they eat to much”.  

While these two opinions are a fair and just criticism of the article, the fourth comment by ‘Shadow Minister’ picks up on the ‘tablet’ solution discussed in the article, but instead discusses surgery as a cure.  This, along with diets that restrict or focus on certain food groups may work in the short term, but do nothing to educate people for long term results. 

What we need to learn is that all food groups can be eaten, although some more than others, and that we need to balance what we put in, with what we put out through exercising.