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Daze of My Life/An Issue of Considerable Weight

by Kenneth B. Lourie

I heard a health-and-fitness-type report on radio station WTOP recently citing a report advising that if ďobese people would walk brisklyĒ (what does that mean, exactly, while drinking iced tea?), ďfor only 30 minutes a day,Ē any potential weight gain could be minimized, and furthermore, that the exercise might actually lead to a weight reduction.

WOW! Stop the presses! The secret to weight loss has been revealed. Moderate exercise, even for an overweight, underactive individual, could lead to weight loss. The next revelation weíre likely to hear is that diet - reducing your calories and/or controlling your fat, sugar and carbohydrate consumption - might also help whittle away a few pounds. Who knew? Exercise, in conjunction with a healthier diet, could effectively shrink the overweight population.

If only I had known - 40 pounds ago. Why didnít someone tell me? Why arenít there warnings from the surgeon general printed on boxes of Entenmannís baked goods or on cartons of Hostess, Drakeís and Tastykake snack cakes, or on any and all bags of cookies made by Nabisco or Keebler, or on candy bars mass-produced by M&M Mars, advising that consuming such delicacies in any great frequency might have a harmful effect on your health? Maybe if the schools taught food-ed as much as they taught sex-ed, abstinence might make the heart grow not only fonder but healthier, too. If children can be taught to say no to premarital sex - and to say no to drugs as well - certainly these same children can be educated about obesity and its long-term consequences, and learn to say no to high-fat, low-nutritional-value, more often than not, fast food.

As for my own experience, if I had spent less time playing dodge ball and/or bombardment in gym class, and spent an equivalent amount of time studying the food chain, itís likely Iíd have less weight on my shoulders, and around my waist, too. But I didnít. Food was for eating, not for studying, or balancing according to some triangle. I ate what few things I liked, and my mother was happy I did. I was a growing boy with active glands, and I needed fuel for my fire. I played sports all year round, but other than team pursuits, I exercised rarely and concerned myself with fruits and vegetables even less. I was hardly undernourished, thatís for sure, but unbeknownst to me, I was developing some poor nutritional habits that have continued to this day.

But I am not alone. I am one of millions of Americans who eat first and donít ask questions later. As a result, America is fat! And getting fatter by the meal. Iím living proof. The older I get, the smaller (narrower) everything seems to be: towels, belts, pants, doorways, movie theater seats, etc., but not candy bars, snack cakes and cookies. Manufacturers are making them bigger and bigger - like the population - and supersizing multipacks that in effect eliminate the need for some (present company not excluded) to even have to get up off the couch, except to waddle into the kitchen. The incentive seems to be to buy large and buy in quantity and thereby reduce those arduous trips to the supermarket. Convenience has a price, but it isnít measured in dollars and cents anymore. Now itís measured in pounds - of the consumer, that is.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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