Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

Service of Extremes: When A Winner is a Loser

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Biggest loser 2014 2

Much of the coverage of this year’s winner of the TV reality show “The Biggest Loser” focused on the danger to the health of the 24 year old who dropped almost 60 percent of her body weight to take home the $250,000 prize. When the season began she carried 260 pounds on her 5’4″ frame. After daily six hours of training and a 1,600/calorie diet, she ended up at 105 pounds.

Cup of coffeeIn her New York Times article, “A Big Reveal Touches a Nerve,” Jennifer Conlin quoted a finalist in the show’s third season who lost 118 lbs and felt unhealthy in the process. This finalist’s hair began to fall out due to lack of vitamins and in the journal she kept she recorded that the day before weigh-ins, so as to lose water weight, contenders would stuff themselves into layers of clothes so that they’d perspire excessively during workouts, and consume only coffee which is thought to reduce a body’s water.

You couldn’t help but notice the weight extremes in this year’s winner from stout to skinny, a woman who was once on her school’s swimming team. A book, “Almost Anorexic” by Jennifer J. Thomas, addresses the strong relationship between obesity and anorexia. Thomas is also the co-director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program at Mass. General in Boston and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. She told Conlin that she’s concerned by the attention and reward given the winner in this show because of the unhealthy approach to weight loss seen by people with eating disorders. She admitted that if the winner came to her clinic “we would be worried about her.”

Does this TV program address the obesity crisis or is it even supposed to? Can a TV program that deals with weight alone do a disservice to a person such as this year’s winner who for unknown reasons went from average to overweight and then to thin? Might some of the contenders have other health issues that have caused them to gain weight that when ignored by an extreme approach to weight loss might be a danger to them? And who can maintain for long a schedule that includes a job and six hours of training daily?

Biggest loser 2014


Service of Equality: Free School Breakfast, Lunch and iPads

Monday, September 9th, 2013


I want my taxes to cover the breakfast and lunch of children whose parents can’t afford to feed them. Currently in NYC, according to Stan Brooks on 1010 WINS radio, NY:  “The free meals are only available in a quarter of city schools, and only one-third of eligible students are eating them. On Wednesday [August 21], the City Council passed two resolutions by a vote of 42-2, asking the state legislature to take action.”

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported: “‘Currently, only 34 percent of New York City schoolchildren who qualify for free or reduced lunch eat breakfast at school. When compared with other big cities across the country, Newark, for example, at 87.2 percent or Houston at 79.1 percent, our performance in abysmal,’ City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) said at an education committee hearing on Wednesday.” Lamb quoted Levin as saying because we don’t spend it we return $50 million to Washington. He also wrote that NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn reported that: “Only about 28% of elementary school students, 15% of middle school students and 12% of high school students participate in the school breakfast program.”

healthy breakfastWhile Mayor Bloomberg thinks all the children should have a free breakfast, the Mayor is concerned about overfeeding the some 40 percent of obese NYC children. Wouldn’t this be an opportunity to teach the children about eating healthy food by serving it to them?

However, I think that the children whose parents can afford to pay for breakfast and lunch should do so.

kids using iPadsSimilarly, I have a bone to pick with politicians such as NYC Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn who feel that every child in public school should be given an iPad. It’s happening in LA to help erase the divide between rich and poor. If it’s imperative for every child to own a tablet, there’s nothing wrong with a Nook or a Kindle both of which have access to email and apps, a savings of hundreds of dollars per child.

Should the adults who’d like a tablet and can’t afford even one of the cheaper ones pay taxes for kids to get the luxury version? Won’t there always be a colleague, team member, neighbor or relative who has more goodies than you? Is it up to the government to even up such inequities? Should we not spend tax money to teach kids so they can become the ones who can afford the equivalent of the iPad if they want one rather than giving them a fancy gadget and expect it to do the work?


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