Healthy Living

Ten Ways to Change Our Approach to Weight

Here’s what you can do.

  • Start talking honestly about what needs to change.

    Hold constructive and public conversations about weight, body image, and how we produce, distribute, market, and eat food in America. Put the word fat back into our vocabulary and start using other blunt and forceful language. It’s not enough to say “eat more fruits and vegetables.” We also need to say “here are the foods that are killing us.”

  • Publicize the costs of obesity.

    The idea is not to stigmatize plus-size Americans, but to allow government officials and employers to break out their calculators and see whether programs to prevent or reverse obesity are worth the investment.

  • Insist that our leaders lead.

    People with influence and authority at every level — in federal, state, and local government, in the workplace, in the health care system, and in the schools — should help promote the broad changes that will get us on a healthier path.

  • Establish a federal obesity commission.

    I’d like to see smart recommendations, based on science, coming from the top about how to build healthier communities, incorporate incentives for weight loss into our health care system, make healthier foods more affordable, promote behavior change, and much more.

  • Fund more scientific research.

    Losing and regaining weight involves complicated biology, and we need to learn more about that. We also need to understand whether food really can become addictive and what messages will get people to act.

  • Overhaul the food climate in this country.

    There are a million public policy opportunities to make a difference. For starters, we should change the crops we subsidize, eliminate food deserts, revise the food label, and levy taxes on soda and other unhealthy food.

  • Educate the public at every opportunity.

    Our health care professionals should talk about weight with their patients, our markets should install touch screens to provide more information about what’s in the food they sell, and people who have succeeded should share their secrets with those who have not.

  • Make our kids the first priority.

    There is lots more we can do to improve the quality of school lunches, teach kids more about food, and get them moving. Teachers should talk to parents about their kids’ weight. And there is no excuse for selling sugary drinks and snacks in school vending machines.

  • Forge a healthful vision in small towns and big cities.

    Let’s make communities that work–with sidewalks, bike paths, easy-to-access and safe recreational activities, farmers’ markets, and stores that have an incentive to sell fresh and healthy food.

  • Celebrate a healthy thin in the media.

    Enough with the ultraskinny models. Let’s show photographs of what real and healthy bodies look like.

Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Weinstein Books, from Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction — and My Own. Copyright

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