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Oh Minnesota

September 27, 2012



Listening to NPR on the way to school is usually one of my favorite things to do with my kids. Early am stories are unusually controversial and spark sometimes intense and interesting conversations especially with my Chica. The story this morning was about Minnesota’s controversial PSA’s that are trying a new tactic to curb obesity in their state. I suggest you listen to the story but keep in mind the slant they spin as they interview a writer for Jezebel.

As a nurse who just yesterday cared for 5 different patients who chose to have gastric bypass surgery to assist them in losing weight I can tell you that obesity is indeed a huge problem. I agree with the author of the article that food in our country is pretty fucked up but you have choices in our country. Food desserts contribute to the decline in poorer neighbors of good nutrition but also the dying art of actual cooking due to convenience  foods, disposable everything and the idea that everything should be quick and cheap. There is a decline in eating at a table at prescribed meal times. People eat all day, whenever they can grab a bite. In the car, on the couch, at the soccer game and at the mall. No one wants to drink tap water and we consume water in plastic bottles and then toss them out the car window as we drive to some fast food chain.

I remember the first time I walked into my grandmother’s house with a bottle of water. It was probably 1990 and I was just stoked (anorexic that I was at the time) that I didn’t have to buy soda if I was thirsty outside of the house. I walked in and sat the bottle on the table, bent down to give her a kiss and she asked me what the hell was in the bottle. I told her water. She laughed and asked me if I paid for it? Confused I said yes and she told me she was gonna hang a sign on her door and start charging people money for water. Or if you know Baltimore (the town I grew up in), WOODER. She told me to give her a quarter if I was gonna refill my bottle. Instantly I felt like a dumbass holding my water and felt she must not understand. It must be BETTER water if I paid for it. Right?


Back to obesity. We have a predilection to think if it’s packaged its better quality. The whole baby food industry scam promotes itself as the ONLY food for babies and not what it is…convinience food. Not that jarred/boxed/instant baby food is bad-its not, it’s just a convenience food. Food is not poison and babies can just eat food. Like off your plate mashed a little so they don’t choke. Really, I swear. We eat far too much processed food in our country and don’t cook enough.

Food is bigger, saltier, fattier and engineered with whack assed chemicals to make your brain think its delicious and leave your body under nourished so you quickly have to eat more to feel satisfied.

I really feel that the author of the Jezebel article has missed the huge gaping issue that surrounds the problem of obesity in our country. Obese people tend to have excessive co-morbidities related to being overweight, eating foods that are unhealthy and get less exercise contributing to more health problems.

It’s just true.

Its is also true that there are many over weight people who are in terrific health. Its is also true that many thin people are in terrible health. I think that the issue that SIZE is the problem and not eating bad foods that make us sick is a misfortune and undermines the real issues.

Children talk about what their parents do. My children’s classmates brag to my poor depraved children about all the junk food they are allowed to eat everyday. My children do not get crap food in their lunches and they are woefully sad about it. They look longingly at their classmates food of soda, lunchable, candy and a fruit rollup while they eat their sandwich, carrot and drink their water. It’s like a prison meal to them. I know my children brag about our canning our own tomato sauce, having a garden, cooking every meal and eating together. They know that is an important value in our family because we talk about it. I also am sure that the stuff we don’t talk about but do also has an impact on our kids.

Admittedly I am sloppy, save chores, dishes, laundry and cleaning until the last-minute and hate putting my clean laundry away. AND GUESS WHAT? Do do our kids.

It matters what parents do. It matters what we eat and how we show our children what is valuable in our lives. Eating crap food, being obese and not exercising matter. I don’t care if it makes people feel badly to say that being obese is unhealthy because for 90% of people who are obese-they are unhealthy. But it’s not just obese people I think those ads are attempting to target and isolate as unhealthy-its the particular food choices that become staples of our diets that leads to hypertension, diabetes, vascular disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory diseases and heart disease as well as many types of cancer.

So, Minnesota, I like the ads, I think its good to be blatant. I think it’s not helpful to target one of the results of unhealthy eating-obese people-but it might be more helpful to focus on making good choices and unfortunately you can’t guilt people into making them. Jezebel author-oi. Thou dost protest too much.

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