The Weight of the Nation

I have recently joined an organization called Make Healthy Happen Miami. This outlet will allow me to get hands on with the community and voice the message from a chef’s mouth. Last night, I had the chance to few the screening of, The Weight of the Nation. A four part documentary series confronting America’s obesity epidemic, that will be airing on HBO beginning May 14 and also stream online free of charge on HBO.com in English and Spanish.

I was gritting my teeth at the statistics. Two thirds of adults and one third of adolescents are overweight or obese! With those percentages, I will reiterate this message again and again. Diet is directly related to five of the top ten leading causes of death in America including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and kidney disease. 147 billion dollars a year goes to obesity related health care costs. Need I say more? A full press release is here

For the first time in 15 years, the Obama administration has gotten Congress to pass new changes in school lunch policy. All government funded schools will double the amount of fruit and vegetables, require all grains served are whole grains, limit salt, french fries and trans fat and also set a minimum and maximum daily calorie intake based on students age. Unlike some raging parents and potato farmers, I think this is a great idea. What does it mean to Americans? The government is stepping in where they can, regulating what your kids eat and not going to let healthcare costs continue to soar because of the poor food choices that are made.

Between policies like these and hopefully future regulations on the amount of advertising of unhealthy foods on television, this costly epidemic can be reversed. In the mean time, chefs have a choice. We can get educated on nutrition, if we are not, and be cognoscente of our own health and therefore our guests. What better than the hands and artistic talent of a chef to promote and educate a healthy diet even if it is just to their coworkers and guests.

Let’s open up our eyes as chefs, consumers and diners to what we are serving in our restaurants and spending our money on. The chef will adapt to the demand of his clientele if he wants to stay in business. Additionally, diners will adhere to the slight changes in dishes such as leaving white flour and refined sugar behind and enriching menus with nutrient dense whole foods.