04w22:2 Fat

by timothy. 0 Comments

Highly recommended code red.

The first one’s title is coloured red today because I’m trying out a new rating system. I’ll admit that some of these good reads have only really been interesting, while others are “must reads” since they’re so educational and enlightening. How do I distinguish them from the rest? Well, today I’ll try colouring their titles red. The first article to be so endowed comes to us from Harvard magazine; so we know that it’s intellectually nutritious, beyond it’s subject matter, tracing America’s – and humanity’s – relationship to food and the current obesity issue. This one had a startling breadth of coverage, explaining not only why the waistlines are expanding but why our wisdom teeth are impacting and I can’t recommend it highly enough. In keeping with the concept of this posting and it’s amazing bites, it is quoted a bit more heavily that usual. – Timothy


The Way We Eat Now | Craig Lambert
“Many foreigners already view Americans as rich, greedy over-consumers, stuffing themselves with far more than their share of the planet’s resources, and obese American travelers waddling through international airports and hotel lobbies only reinforce that image. Yet our fat problem is becoming a global one as food corporations export our sugary, salty, fatty diet: Beijing has more than a hundred McDonald’s franchises […] Personal responsibility surely does play a role, but we also live in a ‘toxic environment’ that in many ways discourages healthy eating […] you’d want to make healthful foods widely available, inexpensive, and convenient, and unhealthful foods relatively less so. Instead, we’ve done the opposite.’ Never in human experience has food been available in the staggering profusion seen in North America today. We are awash in edibles shipped in from around the planet; seasonality has largely disappeared. Food obtrudes itself constantly, seductively, into our lives?on sidewalks, in airplanes, at gas stations and movie theaters. ‘Caloric intake is directly related to gross national product per capita,’ says Moore professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham. […] This represents a drastic change from the 1950s, when people ate far more of their meals at home, with their families, and at a leisurely pace. The 1950s were also an era in which the kitchen?not the television room?was the heart of the home. […] The old order Amish of Ontario, Canada, have escaped much of that advertising, and the TV viewing as well. They have an obesity rate of 4 percent, less than one-seventh the U.S. norm. Yet the Amish eat heartily, and not all health food: pancakes, ham, cake, and milk?but also ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. It seems that the secret to the ‘Amish paradox’ is their low-technology lifestyle, which entails vastly more physical activity than its modern correlate. […] ‘The Amish are not freaks,’ says professor of anthropology Daniel Lieberman, a skeletal biologist. ‘They are just anachronisms. Human beings are adapted for endurance exercise. We evolved to be long-distance runners?running a marathon is not a freak activity. We can outrun just about any other creature.’ “

The Starving Criminal | Theodore Dalrymple
“From the dietary point of view, freedom has the same effect upon them as a concentration camp; incarceration restores them to nutritional health. This is a new phenomenon, at least on the scale on which I now see it. Last week, for example, I treated in my hospital a skeletal man who had been released from prison only two months before and had in that short time lost 44 pounds. A recidivist, he had served many short sentences for theft, and his weight went up and down according to whether he was in prison or at liberty. This is a common enough pattern of weight gain and weight loss among the males of my city?s underclass. It has a meaning quite alien to those who believe that modern malnutrition is merely a symptom of poverty and inequality. […] Not all the malnourished are drug-takers, however. It is when you inquire into eating habits, not just recent but throughout entire lifetimes, that all this malnutrition begins to make sense. The trail is a short one between modern malnutrition and modern family […] In fact, he told me that he had never once eaten at a table with others in the last 15 years. Eating was for him a solitary vice, something done almost furtively, with no pleasure attached to it and certainly not as a social event. The street was his principal dining room, as well as his trash can: and as far as food was concerned, he was more a hunter-gatherer than a man living in a highly evolved society.”

When Real Food Isn’t an Option | Donald G. McNeil Jr.
“In a world where the rich spend millions on ways to avoid carbohydrates and the United Nations declares obesity a global health threat, the cruel reality is that far more people struggle each day just to get enough calories. In Malawi, children stand on the roadsides selling skewers of roasted mice. In Mozambique, when grasshoppers eat the crops, people turn the tables and eat them, calling the fishy-tasting bugs ‘flying shrimp.’ In Liberia during the 1989 civil war, every animal in the national zoo was devoured but a one-eyed lion. Dogs and cats disappeared from the streets of the capital. ” NOTE: The New York Times requires registration; but if you’ve looked at NYT content before and haven’t deleted your cookies, that may not be necessary. However if prompted, use the following username: goodreader100 and password: goodreads (courtesy of goodreads.ca).

The big fat con story | Paul Campos
“In 1853, an upper-class Englishman could be quite unselfconscious about the fact that the mere sight of the urban proletariat disgusted him. In 2003, any upper-class white American liberal would be horrified to imagine that the sight of, say, a lower-class Mexican-American woman going into a Wal-Mart might somehow elicit feelings of disgust in his otherwise properly sensitised soul. But the sight of a fat woman – make that an ‘obese’ – better yet a ‘morbidly [sic] obese’ woman going into Wal-Mart… ah, that is something else again. ”

‘Soft flesh feels very, very good’ | R.M. Vaughan
“Anti-fat hysteria is everywhere. A Canadian chain of health clubs has a catchy radio jingle that features the mean-spirited lyrics, ‘Don’t wanna be a fat guy, a fat guy — jiggly, wiggly, Jello-y fat guy!’ Even more staid institutions, such as the Canadian Paediatric Society, have joined the anti-feeding frenzy, releasing a shrill, overwrought report last fall that called childhood obesity an ‘epidemic.’ The report was endorsed, not surprisingly, by various physical-education lobby groups — the same folks who tortured you with chin-ups and ‘shirts v. skins’ games in Grade 7. Large folks looking for relief from the ostensibly more open-minded art world have found little to comfort them on the gallery walls. When not presenting fat people as grotesques, the Western art world tends to represent body fat as a metaphor for all that is wrong and decadent in our affluent society. ”

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emailed by Timothy on Thursday 27 May 2004 @ 2:26 PM

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