Daily Archives: April 6, 2012

America Keeps Getting Fatter

The movie WALL-E grasped the current American Health crisis and portrayed their concern via satire. The popular Pixar animation took place well into the future during a time when health standards no longer existed. Today, that depiction seems like a reality. The healthy American is growing bleak amongst the populous of our country. In a recent study published by the PLoS One health journal, it has been found that our 180-year-old formula for determining obesity may be incorrect.

The study used a patient’s ratio of fat to lean muscle mass as the “gold standard” for determining obesity. It is suggested that this could be a better indicator in determining a person’s risk for health problems. The new formula found half of women, and 20% of men who previously thought they were fine to be obese.

It’s like, just when we thought we couldn’t get any fatter we did, and the trend does not look promising to change. As technology increases, so has the percentage of obese Americans. We can play the blame game and point fingers at the reasons America keeps getting chunkier, but one main reason is because of the ever-growing ideal of instant gratification. With the recent increase in health supplements that think short term rather than long term, Americans are losing weight at a drastic speed. Coincidentally, each action has a reaction, and the American’s taking these weight loss supplements normally gain the weight back. In fact, most end up piling on even more pounds than they had before. So how do we fix it?

The obesity problem is a product of our culture, and no one is immune to culture. Not even the counter culture sect of America. The only way to correct this issue is a paradigm shift within thinking. Being healthy is not a matter of taking a weight loss supplement; its not even about being toned, or sculpted. It is about living a healthy lifestyle through exercise, rest, and proper diet. To change the obesity problem, these facts need to be acknowledged and more action needs to be taken by the government.


Shedding Light on the “Pink Slime” Debate


The recent months have given rise to great controversy relating to pink slime, a term given to “lean finely textured beef”, also known as LFTB. While the term carries a vastly negative connotation, some claim there are a number of advantages to this meat product. Others are adamant in their stance that it should be eliminated not only from fast food restaurants, but also from school cafeterias.

Pink slime is produced by warming salvaged portions from carcass trimmings. The fat is removed, and then ammonium hydroxide gas is applied to eliminate pathogens. Finally, it is stored in freezers to be used at a later time. Its practical benefits seem reasonable considering 34 million cattle are killed every year. Only about half their body weight is utilized. However, with pink slime, 10 to 12 pounds from each animal is also used, which ultimately helps 1.5 million animals avoid the slaughterhouse each year.

Pink slime can be more resourceful because the application of ammonia eliminates pathogens, a common problem with “cheap hamburgers.” Specifically, reports from safety officials indicate that ever since LFTB has been used, toxic E. coli is hardly ever found in school hamburgers.

Marion Nestle, a professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, argues that pink slime is a derogatory term for LFTB. The association with the term has contributed to poor public perception. According to Nestle, cultural norms have predominantly shaped the public’s opinion of LFBT.

On the other hand, Bettina Siegel, school food advocate, amassed 230,000 signatures to legally abolish LFBT from school cafeterias, as she likened the use of pink slime to feeding “our children connective tissues and beef scraps that were, in the past…not considered fit for human consumption.” In response to this, Nestle offers possible solutions such as schools buying higher-quality and therefore more expensive meat or simply labeling LFBT as an ingredient to provide greater transparency for the public.

Recent updates on this debate include the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) endorsing the idea of labeling LFBT as an ingredient in ground beef. Also, BPI (Beef Products Inc.) has issued statements that support this plan in hopes of improving public opinion towards this product.

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