Tag Archives: childhood obesity

Ronald McDonald Is Getting Fired

A Special Guest Blog By: Courtney Mueller, Co-Producer of “Finding Thin”

When I was little, my best friend and I would rollerblade to our local McDonalds once a week.  Every week we shakily crossed the busiest street in town, rolling with determination towards our favorite meal.  We didn’t mind the threat of speeding traffic, we didn’t consider our journey to be exercise, we just focused on the payoff: Chicken McNuggets, french fries, and hot fudge sundaes.  The golden arches beckoned us closer. The red and yellow colors were as bright as the vegas strip to two hungry 10 year olds.  Fast, hot, greasy food was the jackpot.  As my best friend and I enjoyed our happy meals, we were joined by another friend: Ronald McDonald.

The enemy?

This May, an open letter was sent to McDonalds CEO Jim Skinner from more that 1000 health professionals.  They urged McDonalds to stop marketing fast food to children, implying that Ronald McDonald was a tool of manipulation to to entice children.

They want to fire Ronald McDonald.

Personally, the clown was never really a draw for me. Granted he’s a clown, so he’s automatically interesting to kids.  He also comes with french fries, which makes him more appealing to the terrified-of-clowns-set. Sporting his red and white overalls, giant red clown shoes, and the classic red nose, Ronald McDonald is as recognizable as Santa Claus. But his mechanically waving hand from the parking lot didn’t spur me into a feeding frenzy. It was the smell. It was the taste. It was the immediate satisfaction of greasy delight.

Still is.

I was never there to visit Ronald, I was there to satisfy my hunger.  And there’s something so comforting about ritualized eating.

It would be nice if McDonalds continued to evolve their menus.  It would be nice if McDonalds needs to promote healthy eating. It would be even nicer if we could take the responsibility to lay off the fried foods altogether.

Parents can get out of the drive-thru line and choose another place for a healthier meal. They can even (gasp!) cook a meal at home.  Kids can be taught better eating habits. Americans can even pick healthier choices on McDonalds growing and health-friendly menu.

So why blame the man in the clown shoes for what is ultimately our decision?

Welcome to America, Would You Like a Grilled Cheese?


Of all the things we associate with our ethnicity, food is probably at the top of the list.

American immigrants may be eager to eschew their ethnic dress, music, and language for the sake of acclimating to this culture… but their food? They’ll hang on to that, thanks.

The resilience of ethnic cuisine is much to our benefit, too. The choices in many
American towns used to be limited to ordering a burger or chicken wings  but now customers are in line for bibimbap or chicken masala coorg.

Unfortunately, a recent study suggests that this exchange between the U.S. and its newest residents is a two way street that might be leading immigrants’ kids to obesity.

The study showed that when Asian-American students were made to feel insecure about the American part of their culture- even if was only on a subconscious level-they tended to choose foods that were typically “American cuisine” (fried chicken, grilled cheese etc.) and shy away from traditionally Asian dishes.

The logic by the researchers is that the children of immigrants are so concerned with fitting in, that they are willing to order highly caloric foods to do it.

Getting fat to fit in?

They are willing to get fat to fit in.

I question that logic. American society looks down on heavy people far more than it does on people who enjoy the occasional plate of chicken feet.

Still, it is troubling that children perceive the unhealthy choice to also be the American choice.

So what’s your order?

Michelle Obama Can Do The Dougie

Michelle Obama Can Do The Dougie

Written By: Courtney Mueller, Co-Producer

“Let’s Move!” not only to Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, but to the latest Beyonce song, “Move Your Body”.  America’s First Lady and the first lady of R&B have joined forces in the fight of childhood obesity… while dancing the “dougie”.

Mission 1.

Let me see you run

put your knees up in the sky

’cause we just begun…

Michelle Obama will soon be celebrating her one-year anniversary of her “Let’s Move!” campaign. With the combination of promoting a healthy diet, exercise, and providing resources to help kids and adults create an active lifestyle, Obama’s focus on changing the obesity epidemic has been nothing short of inspirational. And she’s just begun.

The First Lady Can Dougie

 Mission 2.

This is how we do

 jump a couple to the right

to the left, let’s move!

Americans are at an all-time high with their weight and statistics show that one out of every three kids are obese, but all it takes is that one step. It takes one step to start your own movement, whether it be making better food choices or even performing Beyonce’s “Flash Workout”.

It takes one step to make the healthy choice.

It takes one step to start the effort.

It takes one step to jump into action.

Mission 3.

Can you dougie with me?

Throw your own lil’ swag on this swizzy beat!

Beyonce Knowles is no stranger to the public eye. Her incredible voice has landed 16 Grammy’s, leading roles in feature films, and of course frenzied paparazzi trying to take the most unflattering pictures followed by ridicule of her size. But Beyonce rises above the negative and turns the tabloids into a celebration of showing off her curves; or better yet, her “bootylicious” self. Some say full-figured, others say fabulous. And whether you are “ready for this jelly” or not, Beyonce is a strong, healthy woman fighting the fight of obesity using her own lil’ swag.

I ain’t worried doing me tonight

A little sweat ain’t never hurt nobody

Don’t just stand there on the wall

Everybody just move your body.

Exercising is a key element to a healthy, active lifestyle. Beyonce’s new craze, “Move Your Body” is taking exercise to a whole new level; and most of all, she’s reaching a new and greater demographic…kids.

Exercise is considered a hassle or an obligation more often than it is empowering But perhaps Michelle and Beyonce can help those in need of a positive outlook when it comes to the active lifestyle.

In short, exercise can be fun….who knew?!

We NEED to stop standing against the wall.

We NEED to lift our feet off floor.

We NEED to be ourselves and move our bodies and our mindsets.

Let’s move. And let’s move our bodies towards the movement of anti-obesity.

*Participate at http://www.facebook.com/NABEF and http://www.twitter.com/NABEF

The End of Dieting Has Arrived

New Years Resolution: Stop Dieting Part I

I know that I have said these types of things before like a broken record but this time things feel different. There have been so many ups and downs but now after finishing the first cut of the movie and having time to reflect on the last three years of my life in production on this film, I think I am starting to get it. Forget dieting!
Now I know what you are thinking, we have heard the non dieting approach before, so what else is so new? Well I could make you wait for the release of the film to find out but I will give you some personal hints. After spending time with some of the best authors and personalities like Jillian Michaels, Dr. David Katz, Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Judith Beck and that doesn’t even cover almost every top ten university that we visited. I think I  have a good perspective to back up what I am going to tell you. I Personally don’t give a damn if you want to eat peanut butter sandwich sandwiches all day long, though I think you will probably get sick and tired of them very quickly. I also don’t care if you want to eat foods laden with chemicals or just fruit and vegetables. It really doesn’t matter on its own. My new school of thought is really mixing two approaches. The first is trying to make small changes that are geared towards more healthy eating but with only foods that I like. If they are fruits and vegetables that I hate, why bother forcing myself to eat something that I know I can not and will not stick with. Second thing is stop depending on becoming so damn obsessed with calories, carbs and the chemical breakup. If you really want live by reading every food label you come by for minutes at a time you are going to have very hard choices and grow to hate the grocery store. I think it is a certain amount of common sense when you decide between having eggs for breakfast or a box of yummy chocolate pancakes with pecans and syrup. One is not going to turn out very well for you and chances are you already know which one. If you do decide to go the with the route of obsession, its going to be very hard to eat out with friends and your going to basically live like a hermit.. I personally think it is not going to work. Never did for me or the majority of the rest of dieters in this country.
Another major change is you have got to exercise. Now that does not mean spending huge amounts of time and money at your local gym Chance are that if you didn’t go last year, you probably wont go this year. Now don’t give up hope yet. There are some pretty cool solutions that have come out that are relatively inexpensive and totally enjoyable that you can do right out of you home or even possibly your office if are willing to share. So my New Years resolution is going to be practicing what I preach. After all, I have had three years of researching and filming for this film.
Please keep joining me everyday up until the release and I will be honest with you and share what really worked and what did not.
Please stay tuned tomorrow for the second part to this blog where I wrap things up with the truth about most diet book authors and the way to find possible peace and weight loss for this year and many more to come. The odds really don’t have to be against you.

HealthCorps, an Organization to Teach Kids about Health

HealthCorps is a organization started by the great Dr. Mehmet Oz and run by the fantastic Michelle Bouchard to push for education, better eating and fitness for children. You already know of Dr Oz, but you probably haven’t heard of Michelle. She has three years experience as the CFO of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, a public benefit Corp for the state of New York, and also started two not for profit theaters in New York. On a personal note, Michelle has been very supportive of my own weight loss journey. She was the first person to notice my weight loss. Truly, she’s a first class lady running a first class organization.

HealthCorps approach is to work with kids via peer monitoring in schools. Educator, peer-mentor and activist coordinators work with individual schools to develop a tailored edition of HealthCorps. They are all involved in two year commitments to help these students and their community. Through the program, students are taught to shop for good food, to cook healthily, and to exercise. I feel the later is so important, particularly when physical education is being cut in so many schools.

At first I was skeptical. It seemed like a big name attached to a puff project, but I’ve seen for myself the results they’ve been able to achieve. It amazes me how they’ve been able to influence these kids in such a short amount of time. I applaud their efforts to reach out to under-served communities and to start an organization that goes to the heart of weight-related issues in this generation of at-risk youth.

However, Dr. Oz and Michelle Bouchard can’t do it alone. I implore everyone to take a closer look at this organization and do what you can to help them improve the lives of children.

You can learn more here!

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Physical Education – Where did it go?

When I was in school, we had P.E. every day. I can still remember how much of a pain it was to run the mile at a time. No matter what, we would not stop running around for an hour each day. Additionally, the school day was broken up by recess — more running around to build the sound body for the sound mind. All that appears to be stopping.

I’m from Illinois, one of the only states that requires physical education for all grades K-12. Most states only require one year of high school P.E., if any. However, I’m concerned because there have been talks about cutting P.E. classes due to budgetary contraints. Some schools in Chicago are even cutting Junior Varsity sports. Eliminating Physical Education can mean cutting the little amount of physical activity kids have these days.

Obesity in children is at the highest it has ever been. The increase of high fructose corn syrup in their diet is a major factor, but the lack of physical activity is a problem as well. With computers and social networking, kids are living a more and more sedentary lifestyle. So if P.E. & recess both disappear, then children will have no reason to move and ultimately suffer. I’m not saying it’s the only cause, but losing P.E. doesn’t help.

If the schools cut out physical education, what is the real cost long-term cost? Wouldn’t it save money in the long run to make sure our children are playing and exercising? If we allow our kids to be deprived of physical activity, then aren’t we responsible for their resulting obesity?

Bring back P.E. Bring back recess. Bring back sports programs. We owe it to the kids.

-Barry Roskin-Blake

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My Position on Fat Acceptance

There has been speculation recently about what stance the film “Finding Thin” would take on fat acceptance — a very heated and sensitive issue. The time has come to try and make my intentions very clear.

I am obese, and I accept myself and want others to accept me. That puts me on the side of those who do not tolerate bigotry or prejudice of of any kind including discrimination against size, race, creed, religion, sexual preference, etc.

I also believe that fat is beautiful and anyone can be attractive. I sometimes waver about my own appearance and can be very self conscious. I’m lucky that I have good people, including my closest friend and business partner, around me to remind me that my weight shouldn’t stop me from what I want to do.

Despite this, I firmly believe that the health risk that obesity presents to myself, my family and to this great country of ours means we should try to understand how we came to be this way and what we can do to be healthy. I have lost almost half my family due to obesity-related illnesses, and I recently ended up in the hospital with a health scare directly attributable to my weight. If I had chosen healthier eating or a better lifestyle, I’m certain it could have been prevented. Likewise, if my family had known the risks of the weight they carried and had the tools they needed to help achieve a healthy weight, I may not have lost them prematurely to obesity.

I know there are no easy answers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find them for our children, who are experiencing increasing rates of obesity, or for the adults, who are dying in larger numbers due to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. These problems are not mythical and have real causes rooted in weight issues. They will catch up with each and every one of us if we don’t learn to take care of ourselves and live at a healthy weight. We know this and can’t seem to do anything about it, and I don’t think it’s acceptable.

I think the fat acceptance movement does a lot to highlight the real discrimination that people of size experience in our society, and I’m not opposed to their efforts. However, I don’t feel discrimination is the biggest problem that we face and that’s why I’m making this film.

I stand on the side of never going up against or hating anyone or anything except this terrible disease and epidemic called obesity. Certainly not the people that suffer from it because I know, love and am one of them.

– Barry Roskin Blake

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