The New England Journal of Medicine just came out with a study finding that eating potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats can lead to weight gain. As does alcohol use, smoking, inadequate amounts of sleep, and watching tv. But exercise, eatin vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt will decrease your weight.
This seems like an obvious study to me – particularly after my post on Food and Health I wrote last month. Yet ALL of the news media outlets (like the Today show and the LA times and so many more I cannot count – just do a google search) are reporting this study as if it’s revolutionary… In fact, a news lead in last night introduced their report of the study with “you are responsible for your own weight gain.” Really? Does this need to be said? How is this news?!
Seriously? We’ve known that eating healthy and exercise are good for us and bad foods are bad for us for time immemorial. We’ve known that to keep a healthy weight that we should eat fruits and veggies and exercise regularly and that keeping healthy is important to prevent diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. How can this study be considered so fantastic?
I write about this study today because it points out a fundamental problem with both our culture and our health care system. In our culture, many are ignorant to how to keep healthy. Maybe not ignorant, but turning a blind eye? Still, the fact that a person wouldn’t know the obviousness of your weight being influenced by what you eat shows that education measures need to increase to teach people about nutrition and that we need to encourage more individual responsibility. In other words, we can’t claim we didn’t know if we teach people (especially our children) and we can’t blame genetics for our own health. We really are the cause of our own weight gain.
Our health care system takes a part in this too. Many individuals can’t get into see doctors or nutritionists to get the advice they need to make better lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, doctors are often the first educators for adults who wonder why they are in poor health, when it should seem pretty obvious.
I may also note, that I find the research an incredible waste of time and money. It’s a four year study of something that we already know. I do understand that conducting or repeating obvious studies are needed to reinforce scientific findings (best explained in this article on Physorg.com – ‘Duh’ science: Why researchers spend so much time proving the obvious) but I don’t think this study was necessary or should be considered news at all. We should all know this. Seriously, I am disappointed that many don’t.
Also seeming obvious – there are no quick ways to lose weight. Even fat substitutes can make you fat (as discussed in this Scientific American podcast). I worry about the implications of such ignorance. I hope that it will not continue to represent our culture.