Food Engineering

Editor's Note: Making a difference in the battle of the bulge

November 1, 2011
Thank you to the food industry members who are making access to nutritional information easier.

Is it stress? Is it the economy? Is it modern lifestyles? Maybe it’s all of the above. Many Americans are just saying no to low-fat food and light beverages. And while many claim they want to drop pounds, most continue to eat high-calorie foods when dining out, bypassing the salad selections.

With a third of Americans now considered obese, experts fear we may reach a 50 percent obesity rate in 20 years. According to an NPR report, even in health-conscious Colorado, obesity has risen from 20 to 21 percent. The trend also continues in traditionally fit nations like France where obesity is increasing. Some researchers believe the culprit is the change to modern lifestyles mimicking the American culture of larger portions and plentiful options. As cultures become more urbanized, young people are no longer interested in learning how to cook. As more women enter the workforce, they are no longer able to shop daily for fresh foods and take the time to prepare healthy meals for the family. 

Nutrition experts say it’s OK to indulge once in a while and that most people cannot maintain a restrictive diet for very long. The challenge comes in managing cravings for tasty treats.

I, for one, am happy to see calories listed on websites and fast food wrappers. In fact, I often consult a fast food website before my visit to the restaurant. I look for the wise options and check for whole grain bread offerings.

I know I’d also think twice before ordering certain dishes in casual dining restaurants if calories were listed on their menus. It would definitely help manage my portion control, too.

Last week, for example, I took advantage of a free frozen drink offered by a chain where I’m a loyalty card member. I checked the website for calories when I got home and promptly threw away the remaining half. It just wasn’t worth the calories.

Some people think obesity can only be solved by the individual’s self control. I think our industry can make a huge difference in the battle of the bulge.

Thank you to the food industry members who are making access to nutritional information easier. It’s helping at least one American make intelligent choices.