Scientific Findings Could Save Your Butt

This week I came up with two solutions to American obesity. They were triggered by two articles that caught my eye and set off Carson City bells in my head.

One story was called, "If you serve it they will eat." It detailed a study wherein people were given various portions of food. And - you guessed it - the more they were served the more they ate. "Well, duhhh." you might say.

"Anybody could tell you that." But this makes it official. Food servers are to blame for fat America.

Food and fat are subjects I can weigh in on since I am one of those Americans who has spent a lifetime loving one and warring with the other. And I have a bone to pick with restaurants that are guilty of overserving the public.

It was understandable 30 years ago. When I was a girl in Carson City we used to eat at the Dutch Mill. It was just about the only place to eat in town, if you didn't want to go gambling or bowling. Pork chops, hamburgers, french fries and banana cream pie were their specialties. Delicious, fatty fare, typical of our region's meat and potatoes heritage.

In those days no one connected food with heart attacks. That would have been un-American.

More recently Carson City has discovered "California cuisine." Now every other joint serves ahi tuna, gourmet pizzas and fresh entrees that take half an hour to describe. This is a big improvement over the days when prime rib ruled. But some generous restaurateurs are unclear on the "less is more" concept. Instead of serving arty veggie-ful portions with exotic garnishes on little square plates, they heap buffet platters as high as if every meal were the last supper.

OK, I know there are a lot of reasons we Americans are too fat. And I know we have to take responsibility for our own actions. But I suggest that for the sake of public health and common decency Northern Nevada restaurants voluntarily reduce their portions by 25 percent.

This may not fix our schizophrenic relationship to food, weight and beauty.

My 7- and 8-year-old girls can ogle the magazine covers at the checkout stands and quickly learn how the ideal girl is supposed to look. If that doesn't drive you to binge, what will?

Of course, for those of us who don't fit the mold there is now a liposuction guy around almost every corner. I don't know whether this is another California transplant (or do I mean implant?), but all of a sudden they're taking over the airwaves and whatever billboard space the politicians have neglected.

Sure, you can blow your wallet on plastic people surgery. But I suggest a healthier way to tackle the battle of the bulge. Walking.

Which brings me back to those articles I mentioned. The second was on walking paths. Researchers say, "If you build them they will come." Walking paths have been declared officially, quantifiably valuable. A study in St Louis shows that especially women and low-income people (often one and the same) increase their exercise where walking paths have been built. Walking is the most common physical activity in America, especially among older people and ethnic minorities. And it's a lot funner than liposuction.

In St. Louis they're putting in lots of paths - at the low cost of $2,000-4,000 - because the health benefits to the citizens is so great.

Carson City has already decided that walking paths are important. The city included a multi-use path to go with the freeway bypass plan. The path would be nicely landscaped with pretty, drought resistant plants, perfect for joggers, mothers with babies, doggies, bicyclists, old people, children and other non gas-guzzling beings. Unfortunately the state wiped out the pedestrian path when they adopted the freeway plan.

But now its back on the drawing board, thanks to the many local people who are pushing to put the walking path back in the freeway plan. If you think we need bike and walking paths in Carson City call the governor, who is still new to our fair city, and tell him to make sure the state works with the city on this.

These scientific findings might not win anybody a Nobel Prize but they could save your life.


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