Opinion: Exercise and Weight Loss

This morning, I was reading about the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) new boss Brenda Fitzgerald. She was appointed to this new role by Trump. Previously, Fitzgerald was Georgia’s public-health commissioner and before that Newt Gingrich’s health advisor.

Fitzgerald launched a campaign called SHAPE, which encourages students to move for 30 extra minutes each day and eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no mention about eliminating processed foods and sugar-laden beverages.

This is eerily similar to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which (at first) was aimed towards a move to action to decrease obesity rates among children and adults.  But shortly after, Let’s Move initiative became about getting people to simply move more. She partnered with the American Beverage Association, but did not claim to receive any funding from Big Soda. 

Mrs. Obama did bring a necessary attention to the epidemic that affects 1/3 Americans. Unfortunately, her Let’s Move campaign did little to alter that ratio.

Exercise, despite many of its benefits, has very little impact on weight loss. 

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Similarly, SHAPE’s campaign focuses too much attention on exercise and not enough on diet. Unlike Michelle Obama, Fitzgerald is receiving funding from Big Soda. Coke alone gave $1 million to the program.

From a GrubStreet article (slightly ironic, I know):

“A spokesperson for the CDC told the Washington Post that the agency’s new chief “recognizes that public-private partnerships can be powerful tools that help … save lives, solve problems, and speed innovation,” then completely dodged the actual question about whether Fitzgerald would allow Coke to fund CDC work. (The response was that the CDC values “scientific integrity and a deep commitment to ethical, innovative partnerships that advance the agency’s lifesaving mission.”)

Funnily enough, Coke got a chance to respond, too, and it tells the Post it’s actually changed course in recent years — it now also feels kids should reduce their sugar intake! Its new mini-cans and push to promote “healthier” drinks like “fiber” Coke are both evidence of that shift, it says. That’s a fair point, but the real danger might be above Fitzgerald’s pay grade anyway: President Trump’s budget cuts would slash CDC funding by more than $1 billion. This would reportedly eliminate the agency’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity — the arm tasked with“protect[ing] the health of Americans at every stage of life by encouraging regular physical activity, good nutrition, and preventing adult and childhood obesity.” 

Polls have reported that American’s are so confused by what is okay to eat and what to do for weight loss, and more importantly how to eat to maintain health, that they are not even sure what is healthy or “ok” anymore.

Should I eliminate carbs? Is fat going to make me fat? Artificial sweeteners are calorie free, so they’re okay right?

And the problem is that the government only focuses on general recommendations of how to build a “My Plate’ and exercise more.

I know there are countless Netflix documentaries, articles, and podcasts out there that aim to enlighten others about how to eat to maintain a healthy weight. However, there is not one, honest, authoritative source to look to that provides this information because these processed food and drink companies have so much money and power to sway even so-called scientific studies.

My concluding advice:

  • Eat whole foods. 
  • Maintain portions. 
  • Eliminate processed foods, sugars, artificial ingredients. 
  • Include protein, fiber, and fat for EVERY meal.
  • Try to include greens of some sort with each meal.
  • And finally, experiment on yourself and listen to your OWN body.
    • Try eating a plant-based diet for a week. How do you feel? Asses your energy levels, mood, etc.
    • Eliminate sugar for a month. Any changes? Weight loss? Less bloating?
    • Recognize your motivations for eating certain foods– social pressure, stress, skipping meals, etc.

When in doubt, refer back to Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” 

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