It's the Calories, Stupid!

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As one might have expected, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is taking a wrong-headed approach to solving the problem of the increasing obesity of American youth. According to their latest press release, CSPI thinks that "Replacing soda and junk foods with healthful drinks and snacks...can help combat the skyrocketing rates of obesity in children and teens." Would that it were true.

In their continuing attack on foods of which they disapprove (sodas, candy, chips, and pretty much anything else made by a large food company), CSPI once again is misleading the public. The basic cause of obesity is consuming more calories from any food than one burns up. But if one listens to CSPI, one might be led to think that calories from soda are intrinsically more fattening than those from orange juice, and it just isn't so.

Mainstream nutrition organizations have been trying to educate consumers for years about the fact that it is the overall diet that is important in weight control and healthy eating. But CSPI and like-minded groups counter this realistic position by attacking individual foods, and now they're doing it again on an issue that's extremely important for children's health. No matter how nutritious the foods that CSPI recommends, it's still the calories that count when trying to address the problem of the increasing prevalence of obesity in American children.

Responses:

September 17, 2003

All calories are not created equal, as Dr. Kava seems to imply. Calories are determined merely by completely burning a food sample in a bomb calorimeter to determine the effect on water temperature. The food's effect on blood sugar, however, is far more relevant to weight gain the good Dr. Atkins showed that weight gain is caused by excess blood glucose in the presence of high blood insulin. Therefore, two foods with equal calories can indeed have a different effect on weight gain.

Does "R.D." stand for "Registered Dietitian"?

David L. McDonald, B.S.E.


September 18, 2003

Yes, calories do count, and the best way to counteract excess calories is exercise. But there are good foods and bad foods, and that fact should not be overlooked in our zeal to arrive at an easy cure.

The result of "bad foods" shows up in later years: an accumulation of improper eating causes many chronic diseases which cannot be cured easily, if at all, and certainly not without much physical and financial distress. It is the reason we now have so many nursing home patients waiting for time (read: death) to resolve their bad habits. It is the reason we (increasingly) have so many young people exhibiting chronic symptoms that until fifty years ago only showed up in people over fifty years old. The convenience of packaged and "fast" foods is now being outweighed (no pun intended) by their results!

I should add that part of the reason for overweight, too, is the wrong information that has been fed to us for years by the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the FDA pyramid. High-carb, low-fat diets are not healthy, are not the proper diet for a human being, and will not help you lose weight. And calories and will-power are not the proper emphasis for weight control.

Pat Taylor, (semi-retired) R.N.


January 5, 2004

The statement that there are no bad foods, just bad diets is wrong and should be removed. You must know that foods such as Oreos have no value and contain trans fats. They are a bad food. You damage your credibility when such statements are allowed to be included in your literature.

Regards,

Carl Bradford
Anchorage