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The Obese Problem of Obesity

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm

obesityfacts

Often, when the topic of “eating right” is raised, many people automatically tune out the truth about the food we are eating. This sort of response is very understandable. Becoming educated about what foods are “good” and what foods are “bad” is no easy task, as such matters are never black and white and many times information is not readily available, especially on labels. Furthermore, many people assume the position that it is not easy or affordable to completely alter the way they eat every day even if they wanted to. Sometimes the proper options aren’t available, such as the inflexible menus in schools. Many times people find it more convenient to write-off the damaging evidence concerning every day foods as conspiracy theories, so they may continue their diet even thought it may be doing irreparable harm to their bodies. But the reality of food, primarily in America, lies in the overall health of our consumers. In 2011, it was concluded that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, and more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese (“Diabetes Basics”). Obesity is an epidemic similar to cancer or any other disease, but the difference is that obesity is completely preventable. Over the course of this semester in OSG’s Global Issues class, we have studied various issues  around the world such as globalization, sustainable development, and women’s rights. Improper nutrition on the level of poverty was addressed when evaluating developing countries, and the “business” aspect of the food industry was also included in our lessons on fair trade and sustainable development. I even focused specifically on the fast food industry in a previous OSG blog post. But the absence of proper nutrition in the form of obesity is also an extremely important issue in-and-of itself. It is time that we take responsibility for our own health, because the change is doable and imperative to our well being.

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One of the most important things to remember about avoiding harmful foods is that they often hide behind a non-threatening mask. Medical Doctor William Davis wrote an informative novel called Wheat Belly about the dangers of wheat, which contradicts the idea that consuming “whole grain” bread on your sandwich is healthier than white bread. In fact, Mr. Davis himself became diabetic before discovering the truth about our country’s wheat supply after going on a strict diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and on top of jogging five miles a day. Soon after this revelation, he found that “wheat is no longer wheat”, and the manner in which it is manipulated in growth is harmful (Davis, William, Dr.). Modern wheat is hybridized, backcrossed, and re-hybridized with non-wheat plants. Hybridization is the crossing of different strains of wheat to generate new characteristics, which means that 5% of the proteins generated in offspring are not present in either parent. Moreover, backcrossing is the repeated crossing of strains to produce a specific trait, and re-hybridizing with non-wheat plants produces entirely new genes in the wheat (Davis, William).

“The concept is: wheat has changed…whether it is a Twinkie, or a whole grain bagel, or a big-heavy expensive loaf of multi-grain bread. It is all the same stuff. It is all made from the product of agribusiness and modern agriculture called semi-dwarf wheat. It makes no difference what form it comes in. There are a bit more B vitamins and fiber in whole grain bread than in cupcakes and cookies, but in the end they both end up having the same physiologic consequences.” -Dr. Davis (Davis, William, Dr.)

Dr. Davis’ argument is an interesting one. He stipulates that the new production of wheat is a recent discovery, which is why he wrote Wheat Belly to spread the word about it. In America, many more severe allergies to wheat or gluten (a protein found in wheat) exist today than ten years ago. It is not uncommon for people in today’s society to resort to a “gluten-free” diet. I myself have at least three family members on this diet.

wheat-belly

“Wheat products such as whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar higher than all other known foods. Two slices of whole wheat bread have been proven to raise blood sugar higher than a Snickers bar! And so after having my patients remove wheat from their diet they would come back three months later thirty pounds lighter and their blood sugar dropped from the diabetic or pre-diabetic range to normal. Many other things transpired as well; such as improved asthma even after discontinuing the use of three inhalers, improved arthritis, elimination of acid reflux, a significant reduction of irritable bowel syndrome, and a rash of eight years disappearing. It became clear, the more I heard these stories, that this was not a coincidence. This was real. People were experiencing all of these improvements just by removing wheat.”- Dr. Davis

Although whole grains are commonly known as the “good grains”, it appears evident that it is most likely prudent to be careful. That does not mean that wheat is the worst thing for you, but it should be regarded with moderation like anything else.

Another undercover assailant is the trans fat. Unlike saturated fat, trans fats not only raise your bad cholesterol, but also lower your good cholesterol. This non-essential and possibly deadly fat is meant to enhance the flavor, texture, and shelf life of processed foods, but they actually turn to “sludge” while traveling through your digestive system to your arteries. Many companies hide behind the label of “partially hydrogenated”, but do not be fooled. Hydrogenated is just a sneaky way to say trans fat (“What Are Trans Fats?”).

And of course there are the more obvious-but-tempting packaged foods with lots of high fructose corn syrups and trans fats. Common packaged foods like cereal, crackers, cookies, and bread are worth watching out for. Six European countries (France, Luxembourg, Greece, Germany, Austria and Hungary) have actually banned any kind of genetically modified organisms in crops such as high fructose corn syrup because they do not want it to become a part of their country’s food system. America is ranked number one in the world for obesity at 30.6%, while France rests at 9.4% of obese people in their population. If such products are not at all harmful, then why are these countries refusing to distribute it? (Davis, William).

LetsMove1

 

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The silver lining to this massive issue is that we can easily prevent obesity, and you can become the change.

  1. The first step starts with you. Reading labels while grocery shopping goes a long way. Whenever you buy something, you can make a simple checklist in your head. There should not be more than five ingredients on the label, and you should recognize them all. An even simpler trick is to shop the outside aisles of the grocery store; that way you are getting all of your fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy while avoiding the packaged foods. You can also refer to Michele Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to learn easy tips and tricks on how to eat healthy on a budget. She suggests using the “3 P’s”- Plan, Purchase, and Prepare food on a budget and even gives a sample meal plan for a week of healthy eating. Another easy way to become more educated about eating right is to download an app such as “101 Revolutionary Ways to be Healthy.” It gives a daily tip or fact about easy every day ways to be healthy.Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 1.06.57 AM
  2. The next step is to make a difference amongst your peers. You can start by just telling your friends about the reality of trans fats, preservatives and genetically modified food. If people see you choosing to eat a healthier diet, they are bound to ask questions anyway. Many times people complain that the proper food options are not available in the school or work cafeteria scene, and this is very true. Because the administrators in charge of ordering the food are generally not professional nutritionists, they are not educated about the most affordable way to fuel their students without setting them up for future heart attacks. But that does not mean that it cannot be done, and there are easy ways to be the voice of change.
  • If enough people want a change, it will happen. If your parents are involved with the school like belonging to the PTO, encourage them to get educated about nutrition and suggest alternatives.
  • Also, if you present your principal with a petition signed by the majority of your student body, it is a tough subject to shove under the rug.
  • Even putting together a small presentation for your class, school, or administrators will at least get the message out there so people are not oblivious to what they are eating.

3. You can also write letters to your state legislature about school/work lunches, or nutrition companies in charge of listing ingredients on packaging labels. And if you get enough people to call their Senator, change will be brought about!

The reality about much of our food today is staggering, and it deserves more recognition than its “health freak” status. So, while it is easier to continue eating the all-too available vending machine food, I encourage you to just consider the future risks of the unknown ingredients and take action in these small and simple ways. It is exciting to think that you are helping your future and the future of others by doing these things. As a benefit, this does not take a lot of time or money, just initiative.

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Davis, William, Dr. “Wheat Belly-wheat Is No Longer Wheat.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

Davis, William. “Wheat Is NOT “genetically-modified”” Wheat Belly Blog. Dr. Davis, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

“Diabetes Basics.” Diabetes Statistics. American Diabetes Association, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

“What Are Trans Fats? Food Sources and Daily Limits.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

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Our World of Corruption

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm

According to Merriam-Webster, corruption is an impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.  This implies that it corruption should not be occurring on a regular basis.  The sad and terrifying thing is, that corruption has become a part of our daily lives and affects people around the world.

For the last two years, we have been following the ongoing terror in the Arab World dealing with the Arab Spring.  The corruption has caused for leaders of Egypt, Libya, and Yemen to be forced out of power, civil uprisings in Syrian, and numerous protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara.  The citizens of these countries share common goals in their efforts even thought they have added more fuel to the fire.  They aim to have a strong democracy, fair and free elections, human rights, and regime change.

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Every night on the news, we see and hear about the terrifying outbursts, bombings, and protests that are constantly occurring in these places, but we can never fully comprehend how awful it truly has become.  Reporters such as Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News, have been to these countries to see and explain how terrifying the corruption has become.  The video below shows some of the trips she has taken and her experience in those countries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XhLDVK2LgQ

Along with corruption around the world, the U.S. has experienced traumatizing events in the 21st century.  We all see 9/11 as a corrupt event in history that will leave a lasting mark on the U.S. as well as other countries around the world.  Although this was a horrifying event, and affected many people in my own community because I live 20 minutes outside of New York City, this brought our country closer together.  The events that have torn this nation apart are the massacres that have been occurring in malls, movie theaters, colleges, and schools.  These horrifying deaths and loses are proving that the U.S. is weakening and is becoming a dangerous country. 

ImageI am scared to leave my house now because I am terrified that I will be one of those stories that you read or hear about in the news that was killed in a mass killing.  This year alone, there have been eight mas killings.  What has been happening is unimaginable, but it is a new reality.  We can only help stop these incidence from happening by keeping the victims and their families in our prayers and help rebuilt the communities, but there is no way to undo what has been done.

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I would also like to dedicate this post to my father’s friend who’s niece was killed in the Newtown’s Sandy Hook School shooting on Friday morning.  She was one of the reasons why I choose to discuss corruption.  She is in the thoughts and prayers of many.

Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/corruption

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XhLDVK2LgQ

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/15/newtown-shooting-motive_n_2306876.html

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/12/14/1337221/a-timeline-of-mass-shootings-in-the-us-since-columbine/?mobile=nc

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137053/fouad-ajami/the-arab-spring-at-one

Under the Eyes of God: The Conflict Between What is Right and What is Holy

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Throughout this semester, my studies have expanded my understandings of global issues—broadening my perspective to discover the many dimensions of social controversies that once seemed so unbending. As I have been exploring the depth of our global discord, I have come to realize our good fortune often blinds us from the harsh realities that exist outside our sheltered customs. In turn, our coddled society has created a fractured perspective on the world around us. Our censored views lead us to overlook cultural and social circumstances that do not personally inhibit our social norms. 

 

Malala Yousufzai was a visible, vocal advocate of women’s education in a culture that is sharply divided on the issue. Some people like her father, fully support the emancipation of women by being sure that they have the education to make critical choices for their lives and their lives of their families. Malala was lucky that she was born into a family with this progressive viewpoint. On the other hand, another segment of the culture is represented by very conservative Islamics who have a deep and passionate conviction rooted in their history and traditions that women should play a much more subservient role and that educating them would cut against their vision of the role. Malala was shot because an extremist of this conservative viewpoint felt that she deserved to be executed for her defiance of the traditions he thought she ought to abide by.

 

To us, as Americans, the issue seems so simple.  We live in a democratic society where most oppressive gender issues have been resolved, specifically the right to an education. It is hard for us to fathom how one in this day and age could take on such a repressive tradition. It is even more disturbing that a member of that culture could seek to kill her for asserting what we would think of as a fundamental human right.

 

But if one views this from the perspective of people who have grown up in and have been fully immersed in these ideas and traditions about women, it is possible to understand how he could believe that it was not only his right, but his religious duty to uphold his traditions. As the line of ethics begins to blur, we struggle with invalidating either side of the argument. Who are we to excuse the oppression of women as tradition? Who are we to stop their means of religious or cultural expression? The problem is, is that when ones’ religious traditions conflict with fundamental human rights, we must become universalists even if it means limiting the way individuals within religions try to express and enforce their deepest beliefs.

 

Examples of religion that has had the clash between individual religious and cultural convictions have been forbidden in favor of the broader human rights approach. The United States banned polygamy even though the Mormon culture found it to be a violation of their religious beliefs. The British government put an end to the Hindu practice, Suttee (the burning of the widow). Currently, we are still attempting to stop the tradition of female mutilation, which has been affecting well over 120 million women within Asia and Africa. Malala’s case is just another example of religious influence hindering human rights.

 

As Eleanor Roosevelt says, ““All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” We must provide every individual with the opportunity to use their own reasoning to form their beliefs yet we must be sure their beliefs will not interfere with the rights or dignity of anyone else. Education is the stepping-stone to a universal understanding of human rights. We must expose ourselves to the world around us in order to progress as a global society, not just as our own cultural niche.

By Abrielle Josephson

Works Cited

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/world/europe/uk-pakistani-teen-activist/index.html

http://www.historyextra.com/oup/suttee-self-sacrifice-or-murder

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/female_genital_mutilation.shtml

 

I Dream of Green

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”- The Lorax

Planet earth is our home, but it won’t be here forever. Ever heard of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? It would be hard if you haven’t. That slogan is shown everywhere to promote the reduction of trash.  According to statistics, the average person throws away 4-5 pounds of trash each day. However, each country differs in what they consume and dispose. For example America generates 30% of the world’s trash while some countries probably produce less than 1%. Lifestyle is a huge indicator when it comes to measuring trash index. How much you use and throw away is probably far different from other people. What would our planet be like if the whole world lived like you do? Take the ecological footprint quiz and see!

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/

Now that you know how your lifestyle affects the earth aren’t you glad that not everyone in the world lives like you do? If they all did, what would the world be like now?

                                                               

The truth is that even the simplest of tasks affects the environment in some way. For example, you go to the grocery store to buy some food for dinner. You pick up some fruit, vegetables, and some meat. How did you get to the store? If you drove, then you contributed to damaging the earth’s atmosphere by releasing the carbon dioxide from your car into the air. How did the products that you bought get onto the shelf? Well it was probably shipped there which also allows excess carbon dioxide into the air. Also, the food was most likely cultivated with pesticides and fertilizers that often form into runoff which flows into local bodies of water killing many ecosystems. Although it seems overwhelming, there are actually tons of ways that you can help restore the environment. Carpooling is a great way to start! I spend about an hour driving each day to and from school; however, by carpooling I contribute to the environmental cause by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide. Also, choosing what you eat is a huge factor because even though it might be a bit pricier, foods that are grown without pesticides or fertilizers are better for both you and the planet!

                                       

There are many global events dedicated to increase awareness of the importance of Earth’s environment. Earth Day is celebrated in March and over 175 countries participate in the cause. In 1970 the first Earth Day launched an environmental movement that led to the creation of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Since then this event has expanded and promoted even more environmental concern in countries! Another day that supports going green is the World Environmental Day that runs through the United Nations. It is celebrated internationally annually on June 5th, and it is hosted in different countries each year. Be a part of the cause for a healthy earth and celebrate the step towards a brighter and cleaner future!

http://www.earthday.org/

http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Environment_Day

http://www.epa.gov/region7/waste/solidwaste/index.htm

Education Is Failing

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

          Around the world, education is failing. Education is essential to the progress of humankind and yet, we are neglecting it in many areas. Students are not getting the support they need to change their lives and communities.

          As the United States and other voting nations attempt to bring democracy to other peoples around the world, they must recognize that an educated populace is a conscientiously voting populace. As evidenced by this study from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the more educated an individual is, the more likely they are to vote.

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The education of women is especially essential because they provide a multiplying effect of the benefits of education on their surroundings. The unique position of women as mothers results in their passing on of the benefits they receive more so than men.  One study even discovered that “a woman with any education is 50% more likely to have her child immunized” (Plan, ‘Because I am a Girl: Girls in the Global Economy‘ 2009). The education of women would raise health for their children and also other benefits for the community. In addition, girls that receive an education for seven years marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children (The Girl Effect). In order to help lower global populations, we can educate women so that they have fewer children. The smaller families that would result also would lead to less economic stress on the families.

In America alone, “A one-year increase in average years of schooling for dropouts would reduce murder and assault rates by almost 30%, motor vehicle theft by 20%, arson by 13%, and burglary and larceny by about 6%.” This research shows that by increasing education in our populace we could help lower crime rates. This lowering of crime rates would lower costs for the government by decreasing the amount spent on prisoners and would increase the overall happiness of the population.

With an education, young people can see the flaws in their societies and grow up to change them. Education can help prevent unwanted pregnancy, work towards gender equality, create wealth, and solve major hunger issues. With a health class, a student might learn the importance on mosquito netting or what to do if someone in their house gets a fever. Young women can gain access to knowledge of how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and rape, as well as knowledge about how to start the business that might force their male peers to see them as equals. With an education in business tools, disadvantaged young people might start a business that brings wealth to their town or family or become the first person to create a publicly traded company from their region.  Finally, by educating children on how to maximize the potential of land that their parents work they might ensure that they have enough food on the table.

Education destroys the limits of what someone thinks possible and makes them think BIGGER.

You have many options about how to help remedy this abysmal situation, both at home and abroad. You can volunteer your time at schools that help the underprivileged, like KIPP Schools in America. You can also give your time or money to organizations that provide for increased education, like The Girl Effect, Teach for America, or Pratham. If you are particularly financially successful, you might consider starting a scholarship at a local school. Another option to pursue it to write letters to your government representatives in which you ask them to work towards new education solutions or to support education bills that you think would be particularly effective. In conclusion, this issue is essential and requires YOUR help.

Sources:

http://ualr.edu/about/strategicplan/assets/figures/1_2_800.jpg

http://blog.timesunion.com/opinion/files/2012/05/0512_derosierTeaser-300×251.jpg

http://goodintents.org/uncategorized/skills-for-life

http://www.girleffect.org/explore/taking-the-girl-effect-to-scale/data-factsheet-2012/

Our Food’s Origins

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

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As we progress into the future, less and less people care about the food they buy and eat.  Now we care more about prices rather then the product.  Our eating patterns and choices have evolved to a point were we don’t know what is in our food and where it came from.  Most that have refrigerators full of food but they don’t know where and how their food is produced.  People do not see that animals are being treated horribly, that we are putting harmful foods into our body and that the production of our food is taking a told on the environment.

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As everything evolves and changes, some changes are not positive.  Beginning in the 1960’s animals such as cows, pigs and chickens have been raised on factory farms.  These are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  Now ninety five percent of our meat, eggs and milk are produced on factory farms. This is also bad because now most animals are feed by corn.  Although corn is a plant, most animals were not meant have a corn diet.  This affects animal’s digestives and then leads to affect us.  Now cheaply grown products lead to cheaply sold food which is fast food.  Even though the price of fast food is pleasing, it does not please your body.   On top of eating unhealthy foods, we are also digesting pesticides and herbicides.  These toxins which are sprayed on our foods can cause cancer and skin diseases.  On top of being harmful they are harmful to the environment.  After they are sprayed on to the plants they leech into the soil and then either soak into the ground water or run into the river where it then comes back to us.

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People sometimes brush this off a a minor issues because they cannot see they effect immediately.  But think about it, would you want your milk from a cow who barely sees or eats grass?  Do you realized that almost all of our foods have corn in them or were raised on corn? What would happen if there wasn’t government subsides for corn?  Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides do ramp up productions but because they cause illnesses are they worth it?  Are they worth polluted water?  Is it worth it to eat

This is an issue that cannot be changed over night or even in a year but if everyone changes their choices a great change can be made!  The biggest and simplest solutions is to but local.  Most people don’t know how easy it is to by locally produced foods and products.  Buying local also correlates with not buying from large corporations that use harmful fertilizers and support or run CAFOs.  Something even simpler is to grown your own vegetables and food.  By doing this you don’t support CAFOS and pesticides while saving money and eating healthier.

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More Information –

Documentaries-
Food, Inc.  – Robert Kenner
Corn King – Aaron Woolf

Books-
Food Rules – Michael Pollen
The Omnivores Dilemma – Michael Pollen

Images:

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_farming
http://www.factory-farming.com/CAFO.html
http://jesusandtheorangutan.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/pesticides-herbicides-and-fertilizers-oh-my/
http://www.enotes.com/the-omnivores-dilemma

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