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October, 2006

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Overweight seniors should dance at the gala, not eat….too much
My Way
Ursula Feist
Now that I have reached my goal at Weight Watchers I have become a weight nut. When I see individuals who are obviously overweight or obese I wrinkle my brows, shake my head and cluck my tongue. I would like to tell them to stop eating indiscriminately, learn to put the right things into their mouths, keep a list of their daily consumption and exercise some discipline.

Recently I was forced to wait in the Philadelphia airport for endless hours for my plane to take off. It was bedlam in the waiting area and I was faced with three untidily dressed men directly opposite. They were huge. They wore shorts, open shirts, had their dirty feet in sandals and were sipping Coca Cola from a straw. When they came up for breath they could be heard belching. It was an ugly and unappetizing sight and I moved away making no secret of my obvious disgust. However, they were not the only ones who looked and behaved like that. I counted and found that almost every second person around me was overweight. The majority were munching something or licking ice cream cones, but they could barely put one foot before the other as they wobbled their way to the washroom.
A young heart surgeon explained to me that the number of overweight and obese-related deaths is the same as those related to smoking. According to the Internet, 300,000 deaths in the US are related to obesity and 97 million people are overweight. One in five persons is morbidly obese. The latter are practically unable to move; they cannot dress or bathe themselves, can’t find a suitable chair to sit down on and may weigh up to 700 lbs. I was told that many drag themselves to the fridge during the night and gorge themselves with one or two whole chocolate cakes.
With this kind of lifestyle it is easy to go from being overweight to morbidly obese. Surgeons can perform gastric bypass surgery if the patient is psychologically and physically fit. This disease leads to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, severe breathing problems and it is patients with these problems that surgeons will attend to first. The others may have to wait several months before a bed in a hospital can be found.
What bothers me even more are the kids in this condition. They are being made fun of at school, will not be admitted to certain sports activities and, already at a very young age, will carry the stigma of being different. They are being made to feel like outsiders. Overweight or obese children will often grow into overweight or obese adults. They should not eat junk food and parents should not supply it. According to the Internet, 15% of kids 6 years or older are overweight — which is three times more than in the 70s.
It is true that in some cases obesity runs in the family and is therefore genetic. However, I am not convinced that one could not control one’s eating habits. It is a matter of discipline, determination and willingness. Frequently, elderly single women are prone to being overweight; they have allowed themselves to become couch potatoes and are depressed because of loneliness. Some people eat more when they get upset — others don’t eat at all and look anorexic. It’s a hard battle to win. It takes great effort to figure out a sensible way to live, to find a balanced diet and keep looking attractive. It is important to feel good about oneself and maintain a positive outlook on life in today’s stressful environment.
Let’s talk about something cheerful now: The Senior Times is going to have its 20th anniversary in October and Barbara Moser and her staff must be congratulated for their hard work and devotion to this paper. It is a wonderful publication angled to us seniors; it is full of useful and varied information and a lot of fun to read.
Happy Anniversary The Senior Times, have a great Gala on October 14th but…do not eat too much, rather dance to the music!

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