Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

There’s blame to go around in U.S. obesity epidemic

Author: Paulo Coelho

Today I submitted in Digg the following article that I read in the IHT by Richard Bernstein

“One of the smaller mysteries of life in New York is what was going on in the mind of the designer who created the narrow, plastic molded seats that we have on many of our subway lines – seats that seem to represent an ideal conception of a svelte public when the reality is that many of us are overweight or obese.

That subway seat that doesn’t fit is surely one of the lesser consequences of the increase in the collective girth, alarming statistics on which were reported last week by the Centers for Disease Control, the government agency headquartered in Atlanta that monitors public health.


Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says that many lifestyle changes, like the move from high-activity farms to more sedentary suburbs, happened before the 1970s, when Americans were thinner. Meanwhile, the exercise and wellness craze and the fads of jogging, bicycling and working out with a personal trainer came along fairly recently, and ought, it would seem, to have counteracted the tendency to be overweight.


Three years ago, the Center for Science in the Public Interest studied the advertising on Nickelodeon, perhaps the most-watched of the children’s television channels. “We found 88 percent of food ads on Nickelodeon were for foods that were high in fats, salt or sugar, or were low in nutrients,” Wootan said.

The group did a similar study of marketing by Kellogg during Saturday morning children’s shows. The finding: “98 percent of the products advertised were of poor nutritional value,” Wootan said.

To be a child these days is to be bombarded nonstop by multifarious, wickedly clever and ubiquitous messages promoting unhealthy food, a campaign in which a whole host of supposedly wholesome, child-friendly companies are implicated, from the food companies themselves to Disney, which allows its characters to tell kids, in effect: Ignore your parents when those uncomprehending sticks-in-the-mud say “no.”


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