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Okay, so this is really just an add-on to my previous post regarding the new health care reform bill and having calories posted on all menu boards.  I believe that the makers of the new health bill believe that having calorie information in everyone’s face in every restaurant venue will insight people to choose differently, and hopefully, healthier.   I understand their good intentions.  But, hasn’t this information been around a long time?  Now, I realize that not having knowledge about food puts one at a disadvantage for making the best choices, but having that knowledge does not necessarily mean that one will make a alternative choice, or better one, for that matter.  This is the case in many areas of our lives, but food is what I am here to discuss today.

Let’s look at Oprah, for instance.  I don’t like to pick on people, well only in private, but we have all witnessed her enormous fluctuations in weight over the years.  And, those that watch her show, probably heard all about her current diet choices and exercise regimes.    She is the epitome of a yo-yo dieter, or what my department likes to call a “dieting casualty.”  Oprah is one of the wealthiest women in the world, has a great deal of power, and an educated woman….she did graduate from college, I had to check.  But, somehow, with all this education, wealth and power, even Oprah cannot seem to get it together when it comes to weight and health. Now, I think she has learned some things over the years and just like anyone is figuring out what is right for her.  But, even someone that can pay a personal chef, a private trainer, and a private food purchaser, she can’t maintain a consistent and healthy weight.  I am not in any way making fun of Oprah here, it is a struggle than many share.  I am just making the point that even with all the knowledge and resources, people don’t necessarily make the best decisions.

I am a dietitian and have struggled with weight over the years, not quite as wildly as Oprah considering my highest weight ever was 135lbs, but that is not a good look for me, and I have tons of knowledge about nutrition and diet.  I have seen and worked with numerous dietitians that were obese.  I even did crazy diets in hopes of losing weight and even resorted to bulimia for years.  I “knew” this was very bad for me, but I always thought I would stop after just 5 more pounds….apparently, eating disorders don’t work that way.  We, dietitians, are just like everyone else, knowledge does not mean action.

Obesity is not discriminatory, it preys on all humans, and some pets.  It is sitting there waiting for us to overeat the French fries dipped in garlic aioli, chicken wings, and M&M’s.  It doesn’t care who we are.  White or Black.  Low income or high income.  Educated or uneducated.  Rural or urban.  It doesn’t seem to matter.  Obesity doesn’t seem to be a disease that we can blank out with more education, although we are certainly trying, aren’t we?

So, will putting calorie amounts on menus really help our nation get healthier?  I suppose it will help some make better choices, but still they have a choice, which if there wasn’t a choice, it wouldn’t be America.  People need to take personal responsibility for their behaviors and I suppose being more educated will enable them to do this, but again, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will.

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