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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

What to do about obesity, the No. 1 killer

By Chad Giles

October 25, 2006 | What is considered obesity is simple if you look at the BMI scale (Body Mass Index). Below 20 in considered underweight, 20-25 is normal, 26-30 is overweight, and 31 and above is considered obese. The BMI is the standard what Americans go by to judge what they are. The scale today makes it hard to judge what you really are though; people look different today then the generation before us.

If we look at pictures of our athletes today compared to the past, you can see the physical differences. I am male 6-foot-1, and weigh 178 lbs. I work out regularly and on the BMI scale I am 23.4. That is just below overweight. Former NBA player Karl Malone had a body fat percentage of 6 when he played but by the BMI he was a 27 and by the BMI scale he is considered overweight. Former MLB superstar Mark McGuire when he was playing had a body fat percentage of 7 but was considered obese with a 31 of the BMI scale. You have to look at certain things to take into account when you look at the scale.

Obesity is looked at as a burden for the outer appearance. People are judged all the time about how they look and act. Magazines today portray people in ways that make us feel bad about ourselves and push us to be better. Victoria's Secret portrays women to be petite in turn makes the average women to push themselves into bad habits. Whereas, being obese in certain cases is what people strive to be. Sumo wrestlers are the best at their job when they are large. Also when it comes to other sports like football. Football linemen have to be as big as they can to be able to stop the rush of a running back for the other team. Of course they have to be talented too but its their weight that helps them get the upper ground on the field to plug the holes.

The way that we look should not be the important thing rather the way that we feel physically should be on the top of the list. Being obese doesn't make you attractive to the norms of America but what it is doing is putting your body in danger of things to come such as physical harm. Being obese has a huge impact on your internal organs that your body needs so desperately to function properly. The excess weight forces your organs to compress and work overtime to try to make your body happy.

Obesity is looked at today as a major problem but signs of these problems have been here since the early 1970's. The signs haven't been big enough to really provoke the need in change for America. It's been just recently that the government has stepped in to try to change America. This country was in need of guidance on what to eat and it was up to our officials to do something about it. Therefore they created the food pyramid, which lets us know what our bodies need, every day of our lives. How accurate the pyramid should be is the question. It wasn't dieticians coming together to make up this pyramid and the government needed to address the problem as soon as possible. Thus the top officials put together a solution that would make the country feel better and it is still used to this day.

Americans are eating more fruits and vegetables then before but the problem is that the country is still getting heavier and heavier. America is considered the fattest country in the world. In 1998 the National Institute of health (NIH) released dietary guidelines that concluded that 97 million American adults (over the age of 18) who consist of 55 percent of the adult population are either overweight or obese (not by the BMI). The standard medical definition of obesity that the NIH went with is weighing at least 20 percent more then the ideal body weight. That is a significant amount of weight if you think that 20 percent of a 200-pound adult is 40 pounds.

America is changing in ways that will hurt us more and more in the future when it comes to obesity. The costs that come with obesity are at a huge amount. NIH estimates that the total costs attributed to obesity are now approaching $100 billion annually. Those are the costs that are being used to find ways of reversing the affects of obesity. That number will continue to rise every year unless we can find solutions for the problem. The question is why we need to pay that much money towards obesity when we can use that money for other more important things. The problem is that in 1998 officials say that obesity contributes to as many as 300,000 deaths per year. That came in second to cigarette smoking. Just recently though the government found out that obesity has just passed cigarette smoking in more deaths per year. So we don't know what the number is and when it's going to decrease. The obesity situation is becoming more of an issue when it comes to health then ever before. It has become a major problem that we didn't see coming and now that its upon us we need to cure it right away before it becomes to hard to fix.

It has attacked us so fast that we didn't realize the impact it has on us, not just on American adults but the children of this nation. The obesity rate for children from 6-17 years of age has doubled since 1984, which is a major increase in just over 20 years. Genetically, it's becoming a problem that certain diseases and other health related issues are making our children obese without them doing anything.

U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher told a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture conference on childhood obesity that the condition has reached "epidemic levels." An epidemic of course is defined as something spreading rapidly and extensively by infection and affecting many individuals in an area or a population at the same time. Satcher stated "this is an infection that needs to be stopped to overcome great problems for our youth in the future." He stated, "Obesity is now categorized as a disease because of the inability to slow or stop it from happening."

How genetically, has it become an issue is by certain diseases that come from being obese that is inherited from the parents to the children? Certain diseases such as Metabolic Syndrome , which makes your body resistant to insulin. This syndrome has spread like wildfire as it reached numbers of 47 million (doesn't include children). That is American adults that are affected with the Metabolic Syndrome This syndrome attacks Americans in certain areas of the body. The abdominal region is where the weight goes most of the time with this syndrome. Doctors have stated that it doesn't matter how much you work out or even diet it makes it almost impossible to lose the weight. How children receive this syndrome, in most cases is by unnourished mothers, from who are maybe obese passing it to their children at birth. The children are usually underweight at birth because of the lack of nourishment and can stay underweight through childhood but gain the weight rapidly when they reach their teen years. Other problems children get are cardiovascular and diabetic problems. Type 2 Diabetes is passed from generation to generation from obesity related issues. Type 2 or what doctors also call adult-onset diabetes has grown fourfold in children of ages 10-14 since 1982 which was also linked to obesity.

Pamela Kay Giles, a Registered Nurse (RN) at Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele, said, "There is definitely a coincidence with obesity and health risks." Being obese makes it so you are not as mobile and not being mobile causes problems to your body. Such as: Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Ammonia from fluid sitting in the lungs, Blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and heart attacks. The are problems that might require some type of operation.

Giles said, "It is very difficult to do surgery on a patient if they are obese." Obesity makes it difficult not just for the person but for the people that are trying to help.

We need to watch what we eat. People blame fast food but what about what we eat outside of fast food? Janet B. Anderson RD, MS, Clinical Professor for the Department of Nutrition from Utah State University said, "Its all right to eat a burger and fries once in a while. We just need to watch what else we eat." The portions at fast food restaurants are showing large portions which we find to be a norm but in turn we show this as home by making our portions larger. This is what Anderson calls "Portion Distortion."

Jay Leithead, a student at Utah State University said, "Eating fast food is so convenient for the time I have between my studies."

Becoming obese has roles in which many factors come into play of how we live day to day. The way that we eat, act, or even think changes our lives each day. Obesity is an epidemic like stated before. The way we can fix this is by changing ourselves individually. We needed to be better prepared and watch out for things that can cause us to become obese. As other countries are fighting for problems that plague them we need to be watchful for us and fix the problem before it grows to a state that can't be fixed. The root of the problem is ourselves and that's were we need to start changing.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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