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The Fight Against Fat

Americans are eating themselves to death. Obesity is on the rise. More people eat too much, get too little exercise, and suffer a variety of health problems as a result. We've seen virtually a doubling in the number of obese persons over the past two decades, and an alarming increase in the number of obese children.

Many people wage a lifelong fight against fat. Some are successful, but many are not. American society seems to be stacking the deck against them, with the prevalence of "super sized" fast-food meals, sedentary lifestyles, quick-fix weight loss plans, and confusing — sometimes conflicting — information about exercise and nutrition.

Voices of the Struggle
Document Vanessa's fight against fat
Vanessa is a 28 year old woman who has struggled with weight problems her entire life. Two years ago she decided it was time to lose weight and regain her health. Since then, she's lost more than 200 pounds, and shares with us how she did it.

Forum Ask Vanessa about her experience
Forum What is your experience?

Audio Our families, ourselves
by Andrew Haeg
Many Americans are now overweight. But it wasn't so long ago, during the Great Depression, that families struggled to feed themselves. Generations later, that experience is still shaping peoples' attitudes toward food and eating. (06/02/2003)

Document 10,000 Steps
by Jeff Horwich
Fitness experts are pushing the notion of walking 10,000 steps a day to get enough daily physical activity. What does it take to reach that goal? (06/02/2003)

What's Your Health Profile?
If you're overweight or obese, you're at higher risk for developing serious medical conditions or early death. Knowing your weight wellness profile and your BMI (Body Mass Index) can help you determine whether you need to take action.

Document Weight wellness profile

Forum What actions will you take to modify your weight properly and improve your health?

Test Your Knowledge
Document From calories to diets to exercise, there's lots of information out there about losing weight. Take our quiz to see how much you know.

Forum Did the results surprise you?

What's your experience?
Document Even with so many overweight people in American society, our culture still idolizes thinness, and often treats thin people with more respect.

Forum Is weight discrimination more prevalent than we think?

Broadcast editors: Kate Smith and Euan Kerr
Online editor: Melanie Sommer
Researcher: Betsy Cole
Interactive Journalism producers: Michael Skoler, Andrew Haeg
Interactive Web producer: Julia Schrenkler
Art director: Ben Tesch
Web production supervisor: Michael Wells
Web manager: John Pearson

Go to story Document The obesity epidemic
Americans are getting fatter, and as a result they're getting sicker. The costs — to individuals, to business, to society, to the health care industry — are enormous. Why have we become heavier and less active?
Go to story Document The weight of our kids
Obesity rates among children are also on the rise. Overweight kids will become overweight adults. Some lay the blame partly on schools — many of whom have cut back on physical education and are serving more high-fat, high-calorie lunches.
Go to story Document Obesity and the brain
For years, scientists have looked for the causes behind obesity. They've found many possibilities. They've looked at pyschological, physiological and cultural reasons. Recent advances in neuroscience have given researchers an unprecedented look into the brain's important role in the equation.
Go to story Document Can you be fat, and still be healthy?
Research shows that even obese people who exercise are healthier than thin people who don't. A leading researcher on obesity says you don't have to lose weight to be healthy — you just have to take a walk every day.
Go to story Document The fitness gap
Experts say regular exercise is a key to keeping weight under control. For many people that means a stop at the health club. It's not quite as easy for those living in small towns.
Go to story Document Obesity on the reservation
One disease common among obese people is type 2 diabetes, and it is present at epidemic proportions on the country's Indian reservations. The disease and its complications take a serious toll on the health of Native Americans.
Go to story Document The last resort?
Some 10 million Americans are considered severely obese. That means they're at least 100 pounds overweight. A growing number of severely obese people are turning to gastric bypass surgery as a last-ditch solution to their weight woes.
Go to story Document Surgery was a life-changing experience
One St. Paul woman who had gastric bypass surgery a year ago found that losing half her body weight altered much more than just her waistline.
Go to story Document Spotty insurance coverage
The growing rate of obesity also presents a fundamental and frightening challenge for health insurance companies. Some say the industry is not adapting fast enough, while the insurers say Minnesotans themselves need to start living healthier lives.
Audio Mainstreet Radio special broadcast
In the past 20 years, the number of overweight children has tripled in this country. Health professionals, educators and politicians are concerned about the trend and its implications. In a Mainstreet Radio broadcast from Fargo, MPR's Rachel Reabe discusses physical education programs at schools, school lunches and long-term problems for overweight kids with the experts.
Guests: Dr. Cathy Breedon, clinical nutrition specialist with MeritCare; Sherri Driscoll, dietetics instructor at North Dakota State University; Janelle Schumacher, physical education teacher for the Fargo schools.

General Information
Document American Obesity Association
Document Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity study
Document National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion / CDC
Document Obesity trends for all states
Document Obesity education initiative
Document Health Affairs
Document Centers for Obesity Research and Education

Obesity and Children
Document Fitness Fever
Document Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine: School lunch report card (8/02)
Document American Heart Association
Document National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Obese children at risk for type 2 diabetes.
Nutrition and Diet
Document An Ideal Diet?
Document American Dietetic Association
Document USDA Dietary Guidelines, 2000 Edition
Document Harvard School of Public Health Food Pyramid: A revised food pyramid, de-emphasizing carbohydrates.
Document Fast Food Facts

Physical Fitness
Document American College of Sports Medicine
Document Mayo Clinic Fitness and Sports Medicine Center
Document 10,000 Steps Program

Gastric Bypass Surgery
Document American Society for Bariatric Surgery
Document National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Your Weight Profile
Document Body mass index/weight wellness profile

Blandin Foundation
Made possible by a grant from the Blandin Foundation

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