Columbia to participate in efforts to reduce obesity

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 11:41 a.m. CST, Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Fifty towns around the nation have grants to focus on obesity problems. Many of them are in some of the most obese states in the nation. Missouri is the 12th most obese state and has two cities receiving grants, Columbia and Kansas City.

COLUMBIA — Too many of us are fat and getting fatter. Missouri was ranked the 12th most obese state in the seventh annual report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future."

What’s more, obesity rates reflect racial and ethnic disparities: The adult obesity rate in Missouri was 28.4 percent for whites compared to 38.4 percent for blacks and 34 percent for Hispanics.

The nation’s largest public health philanthropy, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has committed $500 million to reversing the obesity epidemic by 2015, and Columbia is one of 50 U.S. communities participating.

Locally, the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities grant, financed with $400,000 from the foundation, is unfolding under the umbrella group Unite 4 Healthy Neighborhoods, according to a previous Missourian article.

The initiative’s goals include:

In this package of articles, Missourian reporter Maggie Menderski explains the unfolding initiative to end childhood obesity and introduces residents who are facing challenges to a healthy lifestyle as well others who are showing the way. Use the links above or at left to navigate to other stories in this report.

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Robin Nuttall March 8, 2011 | 8:00 a.m.

This is definitely a great thing for Columbia. However, I would caution people about the BMI as an indicator of obesity, or lack of same.

The BMI uses only height and weight to determine whether you are normal, overweight, or obese. The problem is, it makes no allowance for sex, age, frame size, or muscle. As an example, Sylvester Stallone is considered obese according to the BMI.

Here are some articles and information on BMI:

Here is a link to a Flickr photo set showing real people and their BMI; it's pretty shocking:

(if that link does not come through, just do a search for illustrated BMI.)

To get a handle on your frame size, go to

(Report Comment)
ammes saanswe March 8, 2011 | 8:06 a.m.

A European filmmaker has been reversing weight problems in NON diabetics with a Diabetes diet. It has been giving people who have a hard time losing weight a normal body weight fast

It is now used in 10 countries. ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals and he shows how to reverse it

if you are Diabetic or not SEE HERE

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 8, 2011 | 8:17 a.m.

ammes saanswe wrote:

"ALL weight issues are caused by Food chemicals and he shows how to reverse it"

ALL weight issues are caused by eating more calories than you burn. This whole "food chemicals" canard usually is a sales pitch for some supplement or "cleanse".

Eat a balanced diet and get lots of exercise and your body will largely take care of itself.


(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall March 8, 2011 | 8:42 a.m.

@Mark, you are right... and not right.

Unfortunately, as you age it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight. You are literally fighting your own body's metabolism. Exercise can help increase metabolism, but our physiology is our physiology.

And females are encoded to attain and maintain more body fat than males. We gain weight more easily, hold onto weight longer, and must consume far fewer calories than men of an equivalent weight in order to actually lose.

Losing weight is, at its heart, quite simple. Burn more calories than you consume. But knowing how many calories you have burned, how much to consume to safely lose weight without decreasing the body's metabolism, and learning healthy foods; that's difficult.

I happen to use an online system called My Food Diary (no, don't work for them, have just used them for a long time). The nice thing about MFD is that it helps you realistically set your daily dietary needs. It has over 70,000 foods in a database to help you log your intake. It also has a comprehensive exercise logging tool. Not wedded to any specific diet, MFD is based on helping you make educated choices and know what you are putting in your mouth. And keeping track of that is key to weight loss.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 8, 2011 | 11:04 a.m.

Robin says, "But knowing how many calories you have burned, how much to consume to safely lose weight without decreasing the body's metabolism...that's difficult."

No, it's not difficult. But it does require about 30-45 days of self-discipline.

All you have to do is three things: (1) For 30-45 days, keep EXACT track of how many calories you consume, (2) For 30-45 days, weigh yourself in the morning before consuming any foods, and (3) a bit of simple math.

You can construct a line of your weight versus time (I use regression analysis, but you can eyeball the line with reasonable accuracy). If you are losing weight, the line will decrease with time; if you are gaining weight, the line will increase. You simply need to know...on many pounds you lose/gain each day. It's important to construct this line over the 30-45 day time frame in order to accurately estimate the average daily weight gain/loss; you need lots of data points to smooth out the daily variations.

You will also be able to calculate your average caloric intake over that same time period.

Now, a "pound" is generally considered equivalent to 3500 calories. If a person is losing 0.15 pounds/day on this particular diet, then that person is deficient by 0.15 x 3500 = 525 calories per day. Let's also say the average calculated caloric intake is 1900 calories/day.

Hence, if you are consuming 1900 calories per day, and that intake is 525 calories deficient, then your "break even" point is 1900 + 525 = 2425 calories per day. That means if, with your current lifestyle, you consume 2425 calories per day, you will (on average) neither gain nor lose weight.

I've monitored these same numbers for myself over a decade or so...whenever I see things creep up a bit too much. As I've aged, I've seen this "basal" number go's about 2300 calories/day now whereas it was ca. 2800 calories/day 10 years ago. I'm confident that ALL of this reduction in my basal rate is not exercising or staying active as much as I once did. I'm 61 and retired.

(PS: A few hints about caloric intake. Week-old M&Ms found in your coat pocket COUNT; they are not a freebie. Further, the only TRUE negative food is celery; it takes more energy to chew and digest it than is possesses. The lack of celery calories does NOT negate the caloric content of the 1T of peanut butter smeared on the stick.)

(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 8, 2011 | 11:59 a.m.

There are indeed food additives that are the cause of obesity and the biggest culprits are High Fructose Corn Syrup and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). They are amino acid analogs that act as neural innervators and make the act of mere eating a compulsive addiction. They are in just about everything: Power Ade, Pepsi, Potato Chips, Canned Soup, Beefaroni (although I think that Beefaroni may be additive free), fruit bars, salad dressing etc.,. Even food items that claim to be low calorie have these substances in them. While Although I'd recommend rigorous exercise to overcome obesity, the FDA and the USDA should come down on big food chains such as Kroger and make them stop putting these substances in food.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall March 8, 2011 | 2:50 p.m.

Michael, you say it is not difficult, but let's be realistic. Let's take your three suggestions (which are quite good).

(1) For 30-45 days, keep EXACT track of how many calories you consume,

That is actually quite difficult and time consuming. For example, as a member of My Food Diary, a food logging tool, I have access to a database of over 70,000 foods, including some restaurant foods. But even so, probably at least half of what I eat is not in the database. So I have to guesstimate. Was that 3 or 4 oz of chicken? Was it cooked in butter? Olive oil? If so, how much? The little slaw garnish; how much cabbage was that? Was there vinegar? I had one bite, approximately a tablespoon, of my friend's chocolate mousse for dessert? How do I figure out how many calories *that* was? And what about salt? How do I know how much salt they put in something?

If I cook, MFD allows me to input the ingredients of my recipe. So that's easier, but still quite time consuming.

(2) For 30-45 days, weigh yourself in the morning before consuming any foods

That's easy.

(3) a bit of simple math.

Again, not so simple for the math challenged. I myself simply use the guidelines in MFD for women of my age, height, weight, and activity level. To me, that's easy. But logging food? I do it pretty religiously and trust me, it is NOT easy.


(Report Comment)
Mark Flakne March 8, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

@ David Sautner:

If you are concerned about High-Fructose Corn Syrup you should take a look at the history of the Sugar Tariff. The U.S tariff on imported sugar drives up the cost of regular sugar and artificially manipulates the market. HFCS is used because it is a cheaper alternative to the artificially price-inflated sugar. That’s not to mention the outrageous government farm subsidy payouts to corn growers that further manipulate the market. Instead of inviting more government regulation and tinkering, we should be asking for less. When the government tries to control anything, both the foreseen and unforeseen consequences can be dangerously counterproductive.

In the case of MSG and other nasty chemicals like Aspartame, etc., the government seems to not only allow these chemicals be put in our food, they seem to protect the companies that produce the products. This is thanks to two things. First is a powerful centralized government with power for sale to the highest bidder. Second is powerful company lobbyists with a bankroll to purchase politicians. There will always be rich corporations so the only hope is to decentralize the government power structure. If the feds have no power, they’ll have nothing to sell to the corporations.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 8, 2011 | 3:29 p.m.

David Sautner wrote:

"They are amino acid analogs that act as neural innervators and make the act of mere eating a compulsive addiction. "

HFCS is not an amino acid analog. It is what you get when you take cane sugar (sucrose) and hydrolyze the ether bond that holds the glucose and fructose together. Since this is what needs to happen in the small intestine for sucrose to be absorbed, eating HFCS is little different from eating regular sugar. It's fattening because we eat so much of it, not anything intrinsic to the substance.

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, a non-essential amino acid that is part of every protein in your body. It is a large part of the flavor of brewed soy sauce, and is present in many other protein based foods. There is a sensitivity reaction to it in some people, but the absence of that, moderate consumption of MSG is not harmful.

Americans are obese because of portion size, the prevalence of rich, high calorie foods that people prefer to lighter fare, and our dependence on the sutomobile. Specific factors in our diet have very little to do with it.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 8, 2011 | 3:48 p.m.


I wrote a quattro-pro program years's simply a spreadsheet...that keeps track of things for me. In that program is a list of ca. 50 foods that I have found I eat 95% of the time. It's simply a matter of entering the calories. Also, I weigh and measure food, and it's not hard once you are in the swing of things. I even plan meals that are know, stuff like a peanut butter sandwich is 2 slices of bread and 1T of peanut butter, or a Subway 6" cold-cut combo is 415 calories. You only enter 1 number in such situations. I spend less than 10 minutes a day dealing with all this stuff once I got organized.

A huge problem folks have with dieting is they don't know their basal rates. How can you plan a diet without knowing this number? Well, it's pretty much impossible for most folks. Without that number, folks don't understand the impact of one simple extra cup of 2% milk per day per month. Well, that's 120 calories per cup per day and, over 30 days, that's 3600 calories in a month. just gained a pound.

Keeping track of such information lets a person know how long it takes to lose...say...5 pounds. Want to lose 5 pounds in a month? Well, you need to find 3500 x 5 = 17500 calories to get rid of. That means 17500/30 days = 583 calorie deficiency/day. Guaranteed. Gonna happen. No lie (unless you lie to yourself). But, to get to that deficiency, you have to know the basal rate. Otherwise, yer just shooting in the dark, exercising hard, probably not eating a balanced diet, getting discouraged after 1.5 weeks of no loss, not planning, and eventually getting discouraged and gaining 3 pounds because you have no counter argument to your body which is telling you "starvin' times are a-commin'".

This is 4th grade math stuff.

Guess I'm a planner and organizer, but that's just me. To each his/her own, I guess.

(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 9, 2011 | 1:25 p.m.

Mark Foeking:

I understand that sugar is made up of sucrose, which when broken down in the small intestine in converted into glucose that is digested and metabolized. However, high fructose corn syrup has been altered to increase the fructose and decrease the glucose. The body doesn’t metabolize fructose as easily as glucose; it metabolizes it more like fat. The natural fructose in fruit is counterbalanced by the fiber but this is generally not present in foods with high fructose corn syrup. For this reason the blood sugar level goes much higher, especially if drinking high fructose corn syrup. This can lead to obesity, diabetes and poor digestion.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 9, 2011 | 3:07 p.m.


My point was that when you eat sucrose, you eat a molecule which is half glucose and half fructose. Amylases in the intestine break that down into single molecules of glucose and fructose, after which they are absorbed.

There are two common commercial HFCS's; 42% fructose and 55% fructose, of which the 55% is the more popular (it's sweeter by weight). Sucrose, once it hits the gut, is the exact chemical equivalent of 50% HFCS. Whether the molecule is cleaved in the gut or taken in already hydrolyzed, the result is the same - the intake of a lot of fructose whether by sucrose or HFCS. There's very little difference.

Fructose is metabolized like any other sugar except for the first step. Fat metabolism is quite different, although both generate acetate as acetyl CoA.

It's different when the only sugar eaten is fructose. There, the liver has to convert it to glucose (since most of the rest of the cells of the body cannot use fructose for energy) and put it back into the bloodstream. That's not the case when glucose is consumed along with the fructose.

Incidentally, HFCS is made by enzymatically isomerising glucose from corn syrup. It's not made from sucrose. Sorry if I gave that impression in my above post.


(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 9, 2011 | 4:20 p.m.


This article reiterates what I was saying.

(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 9, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.


I'm not questioning your extensive knowledge of this subject, but Sucrose is a molecule that is cleaved by dissacharideases whereas HFCS is not a molecule but a chemical compound. I would hypothesize that the cleavage of the sucrose molecule into glucose and fructose in the gut may be a contributing factor to the difference in metabolism between the naturally occuring fructose in sucrose as opposed to the compounded form of it in HFCS.

(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 10, 2011 | 10:04 a.m.

My remark about HFCS being an amino acid analog is just nutty, however.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 10, 2011 | 10:40 a.m.


from tha AJCN article you linked:

"it is unclear how much of the increase in consumption of calorically sweetened soft drinks is a result of the shift to beverages in which one-half of the fructose is free rather than bound with glucose as in sucrose."

This is what I was saying earlier - that it isn't so much the form in which we take in the glucose and fructose, it's the amount of it that makes us fat.

In the 60's, soft drinks were sweetened with sucrose, and they switched over to HFCS in the 70's. However, they also started increasing the portion sizes to where they are two and three times what they were in the 60's. A Coke in those days was 6.5 ounces, and now it's 12 or 20 ounces.

In Europe, they have legislated that sucrose is to be used instead of HFCS, and this is often cited as evidence of adverse health effects from HFCS. However, this was done more to protect Europe's sugar industry than from any demonstrable health effects from it. Europe also doesn't grow much corn, so their cost saving would not be as large.

As far as the cleavage, the cleavage takes place in the small intestine, where the metabolism takes place in the liver. Any of the fructose resulting from cleavage of sucrose, or absorption of HFCS, has to be absorbed into the bloodstream before it can be metabolized. So I'd think it unlikely that the cleavage would have anything to do with metabolism.


(Report Comment)
David Sautner March 10, 2011 | 2:36 p.m.

This article published by AJCN (2008) claims undeniably that
there is absolutely no difference between HFCS and sucrose:

Although there remains the possibility that such research
was conducted under the auspices of the Agro-giants Archer-Daniels
Midland and Monsanto who want to hear good things about HFCS.

However this article published by Obesity in Nature
concludes that there is a critical difference between
HFCS-55 and sucrose:

And it seems to me that the research published in Obesity
is much more rigorous than that published in the 2008 article by

However the OBY article was published by Europeans who
produce perhaps 1/100 the amount of corn that the US

(Report Comment)

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