whf logo-enews  Women's Heart Foundation Newsletter
Helping you take care of your heart July 2008
In This Issue
Save the Date: Sept 11
Teen Esteem Measures up
News Headlines
September 11  Princeton, NJ 

Jessica Melore
JESSICA MELORE, heart transplant survivor, will be the guest presenter at PROFILES IN COURAGE, a special event with dinner and cocktails that will take place at the Nassau Inn located in Princeton, NJ, starting at 6 P.M.  This is the first in a series being organized by TruTok and Dilip Keshu of Cambridge Worldwide to support the work of the Women's Heart Foundation.  
For more information or to make a donation, contact Rosemary.Guarnieri@cambridge-na.com

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Happy Birthday, America! July is National Family Health Month and July 4th is the day we celebrate our nation's independence, but let's not forget about the obesity crisis in America and the politics of obesity that is hampering our freedom and interfering with our health. Three out of five Americans are overweight and one out of five is obese. If you visit the CDC website you can view Obesity Trends 1985-2006, a Powerpoint drawing that demonstrates how obesity rates have grown in this country over the past 20 years. The slides tell the story and they are mind-boggling. Worse, while the obesity rate has doubled in adults over the past 10 years, it has tripled in teens and for the first time ever in our nation's history, the current generation of young people is not expected to live beyond their parentslongevity. What used to be called "adult onset diabetes" is now occurring in our children, mostly due to obesity, and the associated health burden is enormous with early heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, asthma, arthritis, bariatric surgery, just to name a few. But who is to blame for this health crisis and what are the barriers to doing the right thing for tax-paying citizens? To gain perspective, I want to refer our readers to the Project Appleseed website. The video that appears on the fitness and nutrition page - "The Politics of Obesity" - helps explain some of the complexities of the obesity problem in America and how to solve it. An expert panel, consisting of nutritionists and policy advisors, references a New York Times article that describes the problem as "the gorging self environment - more foods, more sources."  The answer sounds simple: "Eat less, exercise more", but it's not so simple. This is a multi-factorial problem with causes stemming from economics, biology and the environment. Here is a synopsis of the hour-long panel discussion:

  • The food industry is a 1.3 trillion dollar-a-year business big business, on par with the pharmaceutical industry. Many politicians are beholden to the food industry. Each food type has its own trade association and lobbyist group.
  • Campaign contributions corrupt public legislators, keeping them from making decisions in the public good.
  • Children are the victims. Children are seduced into brand loyalty at a very young age. Our culture permits this. Essentially, what we have said to the food industry is "Take our children". Children are made to think that they are entitled to special foods with special packaging, such as McDonald's Happy Meals.  Many nutritionists see this food as addictive, high in calories, high in fats and high in trans-fats. Many chemicals in the foods are unnatural and toxic that the body doesn't know how to handle. Another point: when children see special foods in special packaging just for them, they are conditioned and may turn down highly nutritional foods that are alternatively viewed as "adult" foods. School children are also the victims when unhealthy school meals are being served, when school buses display logos of Burger King, or when logos appear for soft drink companies on score boards or on free mouse pads being distributed.
  • Many foods are now being marketed as "health foods" that are extremely high in sugar. One orange juice manufacturer petitioned the FDA to allow it to make claims it prevented heart disease because it contained potassium, as if Vitamin C wasn't beneficial enough. A cup of orange juice contains more sugar than a cup of cola. This declaration of heart disease prevention resulted in a 54.5% increase in sales. No one needs to drink that much sugar. Another example is Lucky Charms® cereal. The cereal is 43% sugar, yet the product has the American Heart Association stamp of approval on the box because the company paid a fee. The American Heart Association needs to reconsider its guidelines. Here again, we are marketing to kids with special packaging that says "This is not an adult food". Further, the cereal is placed at eye level in the grocery store so that the child who is sitting in the grocery cart can see it. This is known as the "parent pester factor" and is intentionally used by the food industry to market children's cereals.
  • Food is plentiful in America. It is cheap - accounting for only 10% of our total income due to federal policies that keep costs low - so people eat large quantities. More food is available. The average person consumes 3900 calories a day yet the average intake should be only 2400 calories a day, and we are not exercising enough to eat that much food. People don't follow the food pyramid either, eating more of the types of foods located at the top of the pyramid instead of those at the bottom. Our new "eat more" society with cheap food encourages us to eat more variety, eat more, and eat more often.
  • The food industry is a hugely competitive environment and is always asking "How can we get people to eat more food in general?"  There are 27 varieties of Oreo cookies. There is a 64 oz Big Gulp at 7-11 that has 800 calories, depending on the amount of ice. The store no longer sells an 8 oz soda.  One soft pretzel equals 6 servings of grains, and that's a full-day's supply. With $5, you can purchase five McDonald's hamburgers or one salad. Federal subsidies make hamburgers cheap, but why are salads so expensive?
  • Beware: The food industry recently discovered that selling to Hispanics is a very lucrative market.
  • There is no nutrition plan or mechanism or a way to carry it out.
    Change can occur from the bottom up or from the top down. In Washington, if you focus on food, you won't have any friends and you will have a lot of enemies. The food industry is quick to jump on the bandwagon if the focus is on inactivity. Hence, it appears more change is occurring from the bottom up with hopefully, a ground swell of support. Victories include organic gardening, "Farm to Table" initiatives at some schools and removing soft drinks from vending machines at most schools (though one school later replaced the beverages with Snapple, as if this was a healthier choice).  Solutions recommended by the panel include:
    • Change the political system and the campaign contributions law, then change public policy to help from furthering the obesity epidemic. The food industry is deceitful. Raise the alarm - the victims are our children. We have the science to prove it.
    • Teach "Farm to Table" in schools. Establish organic gardens onsite. Help schools to do this and to serve up more nutritious school meals.
    • Teach kids how to cook nutritious foods in schools. Educate them about unnatural chemicals in foods and processed foods and their effect on the body.
    • Government is doing both helpful and hurtful things. We need strong government to provide funding support of current successful programs and to help expand initiatives to reverse the obesity crisis in America.
    • The panel closed with a quote from the great philosopher Mahatma Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." The Women's Heart Foundation concurs with the panel's findings. There is additional concern of low HDL in children. Eating healthy monunsaturated fats can help remedy this problem, along with more exercise. Children need to have at least 60 minutes of free play at the end of every school day. Moms need to have a shorter work day that mirrors the child's school day to end the latch-key unparented-child syndrome in America. Exericse your freedom today by joining your local PTA and by attending your child's classes and lunch hour. Volunteer in the classroom at least 2 hours a month. Get involved and make your concerns known. Your child's health is your business. If you wish to voice your concerns and join the coalition of Parents for Prevention in Schools, send an email to bonnie@womensheart.org
      Take care of your heart.
      Bonnie Arkus, Executive Director
      Teen Esteem exercises 
      The Women's Heart Foundation, a 501c3 charity, is the only non-governmental organization that implements heart disease prevention projects and is dedicated to improving survival and quality of life. Founded 1989. Incorporated June 11, 1992. Please support the WHF wellness and prevention programs. Donate online: www.womensheart.org/store/shop.asp
      teen esteemer gets waist measured by her teacher 

      The Teen Esteem 

      Program Continues to Measure up

      The Teen Esteem students at Trenton Central High School (TCHS) ended their 4th year of this WHF healthy lifestyles program for heart disease prevention. More than 500 students have graduated the gym-alternative class at TCHS and a record 188 more have signed up for this fall. WHF co-administers the program with the school, bringing in expert presenters from local universities to mentor the girls, hiring a personal fitness trainer, and coveing fees for nutrition supplies to prepare heart-healthy meals in the Teen Esteem kitchen. WHF also maintains and upgrades the fitness equipment and coordinates measurement-taking to monitor outcomes. For the past three consecutive years, the research has demonstrated positive trending. The girls are making healthy changes with results such as a lowering of waist size by an average of 2 inches when compared to the control group. Further, the girls are remaining in school to graduate. more

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