A potential credibility gap on obesity (commentary)

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One by one, TV shows are starting to pop up in response to the obesity crisis in this country.

On the heels of “The Biggest Loser” comes a new show called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” I watched this for the first time on April 16, and was fairly satisfied with its portrayal of dairy products. The basic premise was that we should be eating healthier foods, consisting of fruit, fresh meat and vegetables — and, yes, milk — rather than relying so much on fast food and processed food.

Granted, the host of the show, British chef Jamie Oliver, is not keen about flavored milk because of the added sugar. But he is very supportive of regular white milk.

The April 16 episode showed him getting rid of chocolate and strawberry milk at an elementary school in Huntington, W.Va.

ABC-TV provided Oliver with two hours of prime time that night, and “The Biggest Loser” gets two hours every Tuesday. These kinds of shows seem to be catching on.

Obesity is definitely in the public consciousness.

It’s little wonder, given the fact that nearly two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. A lot of effort is being put into reversing this trend, such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

It time to get on the bandwagon. It’s time for us to step up to the plate.

The dairy industry recently announced that it would spend $250 million over the next five years to promote healthy eating habits among our nation’s youth through the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program. It is meant to piggyback on the National Football League’s “Play 60” campaign, encouraging children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Read more.

Two hundred and fifty million dollars is a huge investment, but one worth making if it can help reverse the obesity crisis in this country.

We have good story to tell. There is a growing body of research that suggests dairy products, because of their calcium content, can help people lose weight. Read a quick synopsis of a book entitled “The Calcium Key.”

But, we do have to address concerns that flavored milk has high amounts of sugar.

The public is hearing about this from Oliver and others. Oliver was recently featured on a YouTube video saying the following:

“Every kid has the right to milk at school… but milk ain’t good enough anymore, because someone at the milk board — don’t get me wrong, I support milk — probably paid a lot of money for some geezer to work out that if you put loads of flavorings and colorings and sugar in milk, more kids will drink it.”

He goes on to say that flavored milk has nearly as much sugar as soda pop. Then, he dumps a wheelbarrow full of sugar out on the floor and says that is as much sugar as a child gets over five years in elementary school just by drinking milk. See the YouTube video here, starting about 12 minutes, 15 seconds into the tape.

Chocolate milk has become the topic of controversy in some school districts. Read more.

Lord knows, we don’t want to discourage consumption of milk in any form. But we do have to be honest and consistent in our messaging if we are to have credibility on the obesity issue. We have too much at stake, financially and otherwise, to be caught in a credibility gap.

The people who put $250 million on the table are going to have to figure this out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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