The weighty struggle of Sly James, Jim Heeter et al
The Kansas City Star
Kansas Mayor Sly James and Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Heeter will no doubt get all kinds of advice, now that they’ve announced a friendly competition to see who can drop the most pounds between now and the end of October.
Basically, though, sustainable weight loss always boils down to a simple formula: Move more, consume less. The tried-and-true pattern is to start with a daily walking regime, and then maybe advance to a more strenuous form of exercise, while eating smaller portions and healthier choices.
Many people can change their eating patterns with a trip to the supermarket and a rigid meal and snack schedule. It will be harder for James and Heeter. Their jobs require their presence at business lunches, where you don’t have much say over what’s being served. They also are expected to show up at receptions, picnics and the like, where it’s so easy to talk yourself into just one appetizer, just one burger, etc.
So, I applaud the leaders for going public with their competition, and wish them well. And for the rest of us, here’s some interesting data from Planet Money that helps to explain why so many Americans struggle to keep weight off.
As you see, Americans spend less of their money on groceries than we did 30 years ago. And processed foods and sweets have supplanted meats as the category on which Americans spend the lion’s share of their grocery money. That’s partly because the price of meat has gone down, but it also shows we’re addicted to the food items most likely to pack on the pounds.
The share of grocery money spent on fruits and vegis has remained about the same over the 30-year spread — just over 14 percent. It should be higher. Spending on grains and beverages has also remained pretty steady, but spending on dairy products has dropped by about 3 percent.