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Farms to Forks immersion--"Weighing in on the Weight Debate"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jeff Novick was the speaker at this second session. Jeff is a most entertaining speaker, very funny and had us laughing much of the time, although the subject was very serious. Jeff resides in Florida and is a former director of one of the Pritikin clinics. He has an interesting and qualified background. His website is and on it you will find a plethora of information about eating plant-strong. Everything he talked about can be found on his website.

Jeff started his presentation by showing how the obesity rates in the US have changed so drastically since 1985. For example, in FL in 1985 the obesity rate was less that 10% of the population; in 1996 it had increased to between 10%-14% and in 2008 it was between 25-29%. That's ONE-FOURTH of the population of this state being obese!! He estimated that now in 2013 about 2/3 of the population of FL are obese. This was shocking to me. All his numbers were obtained from government website with statistics on obesity, etc. One compelling graph he showed us was one showing the obesity rate in the US remaining fairly steady until about 1980. After then the rise on the graph was remarkable. Jeff asked us the question, "What do you think precipitated this sudden increase in obesity in the US?" Many answers were offered by the audience. Jeff responded by pointing out that the US government developed the "food pyramid" in the 70's --1977-79. BETWEEN 1975 AND 1980 WE STOPPED TALKING ABOUT FOOD AND STARTED TALKING ABOUT THE COMPONENTS (PROTEINS, CARBS, FATS) OF FOOD. This, according to the charts is when the change began. Since the food pyramid, food consumption has changed dramatically.

1. Large increase in protein intake. He noted that the higher the protein intake the higher you weight is likely to be. Since 1980 we now eat 2X the amount of turkey and chicken. Seafood consumption is also up. Fat consumption increased 61% from 1970 to 2004.
His assessment was that since 1970 we have eaten more fat thinking that we are eating LESS fat, because (1) we are now eating more food, (2) there are now added fats in our food, and (3) we are now eating processed foods. He showed all this on government available charts. The data shows that Crisco consumption is up more than 68s%. He showed us that a potato has 1% whereas french fries are 50% fat.

Cheese consumption is up nationally 275%--Italian cheeses up 645%-pizzas, Cheddar cheese up 75% and mozzarella up 855%--again pizzas.
Sugar consumption is up to 145 lbs. per person per year, mainly through soft drinks and sweet snacks.

Beef consumption is down 22%, chicken up 22%, turkey up 204%, flour up 21% and fruit juice up also. From 1970 to the present the increase in daily calories consumed on average is 2057 kilocalories per day vs. 2674 kcal in 2008. One-third of us have 1/2 of our diet made up of "junk food."

According to government statistics, the top 10 restaurant foods for men and women are, starting from the highest, hamburger, french fries, pizza, breakfast sandwich, side salad, eggs, donuts hash browns, Chinese foods, main salad. For women it is the same, except french fries ranked #1 and hamburgers ranked #2.

Jeff summarized this point, that our consumption has changed and increased, by stating that 2/3 of the American diet is a donut; that is fat, white flour and sugar. (That's what a donut is made of!)

2. Second point in the "weight debate" is that our activity levels have changed.
He stated that on any given day, only 5% of Americans engage in vigorous activities according to the government statistics. The #1 form of activity is cooking and watching TV. Apparently, preparing food is the #1 form of moderate activity.

3. Moderation is a myth. (Jeff has an article with this title on his website.)
He had an interesting discussion about how we think we are being healthy when we "just have a little bit of oil on our vegetables," but we are ending up with a meal of oil, with vegetables on the side, when you consider the calorie density of these two foods. His conclusion was that "Moderation will kill you." He ended this segment with a joke: Moderation is when you are on a cruise at the all-you-can-eat bar and you eat less than your sister-in-law does."

4. Last point, that he called "The Good, Bad and Ugly."
•The good--Little changes make big differences: not smoking, more exercise, eating 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day, healthy weight and BMI, moderate alcohol.
•The bad: Only 3% of Americans follow th above 4 things.
•The ugly: in 2009 we got even worse!

For successful weight loss and maintenance:
1. Regular and consistent physical activity
2. Watch total calories
3. Low fat diet
4. Regular monitoring or weighing
People that were successful ate a healthy diet, by changing the way they ate, and ate a lower calorie-dense diet. He said to (1) eat oats, (2) eat leafy greens, (3) eat beans and lentils, (4) eat whole grains and (5) eliminate (not reduce!) oils.

For your enjoyment, here is a picture of a plant strong breakfast I fixed yesterday. It met all of the criteria that Dr. Esselstyn propounds. I used NO OIL at all, even in the pan to cook them.

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