June 22nd, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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Live from the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen: Chef Daniel Boulud chats hot trends and chilling facts with Don Lemon, and Top Chef's Gail Simmons weighs in on the country's obesity epidemic.

Previously - Gail Simmons talks pigging out and the price we pay

See all Food & Wine Classic coverage

Watch CNN Newsroom weekdays 9am to 3pm ET and weekends. For the latest from the CNN Newsroom click here.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Schmalvin

    ok what you think stupid

    June 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  2. The Murgen

    Obesity is a complex problem. There are as many variables and reasons as there are obese people. Yes, you can simplify it down to an intake/output equation, then rail against those who don't "do" enough. You can blame pre-packaged food, or lack of access to "fresh" foods. But that is not the whole story.
    The simple fact is that obesity has increased as we transitioned from an economy of producers to an economy of providers. More and more people provide somehthing (knowledge, a service, etc) than make something (farmers, factory workers). Our culture has not caught up. We still tend to eat as if we were going off to shovel coal or till the soil, because that is what our ancestors did. Instead, we sit in front of a PC and type. We come home and feel exhausted and want to relax. But it isn't the physical exhaustion of our grandparents, but mental. Still, we seek the old remedies of comfort food, drink, and rest. This is particularly hard on the working poor, who typically have the high-stress/low reward jobs.
    Fresh food is a part of the equation, no doubt. But to fight the obesity epidemic, we have to look at the cultural causes as well.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Worldwalker

      That's true of a lot more than obesity. Our ancestors could look at a day's work and see something tangible: Those shoes are growing because I planted them. Those car parts exist because I made them. Those cars have headlights because I assembled them. Now, many of us just move numbers around. There's no tangible reward, nothing we can see and feel and say "I made that!" It's not just that advertisers are selling excitement - it's that people are SEEKING excitement because they can't have satisfaction. Food makes them feel good, at least for a while, so they eat.

      That's why things like volunteering work better than most people realize. If you help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, for instance, you can see it. It's real. That house has something because you put it there. Even a productive sort of hobby can do that. Make things. Grow things. Even if you're just growing a tomato in a bucket, it's something. It's real in a way that a bunch of numbers on a computer screen aren't real - in the way our minds are wired up to accept. If you've never done it, you'll be amazed at how satisfying it is.

      It's about definitions, too. I am a citizen, not a consumer. I am defined by what I do, not what I buy. What are you?

      June 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
      • Worldwalker

        Epic edit failure! That should be "those plants are growing" and "those shoes exist" ... /sigh.

        June 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
      • M3NTA7

        Yep, and tomatoes are really easy to grow! You'll be amazed at how many you can get from one plant if you've never tried growing them before!

        June 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Delta@The Murgen

      You said it! Thank you.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  3. Wayne

    Do a web search, "Eat fat and Grow Slim". It works everytime.
    Also do a web search on Cholesterol in metabolism.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  4. Susan

    Availability of fresh food in poor neighborhoods is definitely a problem – I read about a produce truck that would go into poor neighborhoods (I forget where) each week and bring fresh produce to the people. That's a terrific idea!

    For people who are not in poor neighborhoods and have convenient access to supermarkets it is just as easy to get fresh food as processed food. This morning I was out of fresh produce at my house and I had the option of stopping for a fast-food breakfast, stop for a bagel, stop at a food truck, or go to the supermarket and buy an organic apple and a banana. I went with the supermarket for the apple and the banana – it took less time than getting the fast-food, it was a cheaper choice and obviously a healthier choice.

    And of course, anyone with a container, a patio, a tiny little piece of land – grow some of your own food! :)

    It's time for people to be accountable for the choices they make – we can't continue ignoring what we put into our bodies and then be shocked and surprised when the consequences of our actions come back to us in the form of obesity and disease.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  5. Breaking News!

    American scientists have come up with a solution for the obesity and energy problems in our nation. They have constructed giant hampster wheels which will be installed in all new houses. Home owners will be forced to run on the hampster wheel in order to power their homes which will result in decreased obesity and a net increase in domestic energy.

    And now back to your regularly scheduled Eatocracy...

    June 22, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Delta@Breaking News!

      LMAO! There's alot to be said for creating your own energy – on so many levels.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Catherine

      If that were only true. It brings up the point though. People say that they are too busy but I know too many people who sit in front of the television from 7pm till 9pm each day. I have no problem with television but some of that time can be used more constructively.

      I agree with many of the comments, especially those in regards to lower income households. It's so less expensive to pick up the box of processed macaroni and cheese then picking up a bag of fresh fruit. Thankfully, some states are actually making programs to help lower income households obtain fresh fruits and vegetables but sadly it's not enough.

      It's the public that decides if these companies make a profit or not. I agree with Jamie Oliver. If the item has ingredients that sound too much like chemicals, then you don't need to put it into your body.

      I get a magazine each month that shows me how to make things like Heavenly Greek Tacos for under $2 a serving. I think if there was more information like this out there then people would find that they can eat healthy and have great tasting food too.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:57 am |
      • Been Poor

        $2 a serving is still unattainable for many who are on SNAP (foodstamps). When we were on SNAP, my budget allowed for a whopping $0.87/serving. We ate a lot of rice, beans, and noodles. None of which are well known for their nutritional value.

        Many times fresh fruits were completely out of the question – $5 for a bag of apples that will be gone before the end of the day, or 10 boxes of mac n cheese, or 5 flats of ramen that will feed us for a few days?

        Vegetables were also out of the budget – but I found out that SNAP will pay for fruit and vegetable seeds, so we planted a small container garden for tomatoes, carrots, peas, strawberries, and some herbs (cilantro, chives, basil, and oregano).

        We are no longer on SNAP (thank GOD) but, I took a lot of the lessons I learned in frugality and apply it still today. Our plates still look nothing like "my plate" says they should, there are way too many carbs, but we still can't afford to buy more expensive "luxury" items. And yes, when you get to be that level of poor – a lot of food items begin to look like luxuries.

        June 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  6. Delta

    The obesity epidemic has nothing to do with the "availability of fresh foods" as Gail claims. If you take in 1,000 calories and burn off 1,200, you will lose weight; if you take in 1,000 and burn off 800, you will gain. It's that simple. Regarding Keeping to the topic at hand, it doesn't matter where your calories come from, if you burn off more than you take in, you will not gain weight.

    The so-called epidemic began when Jan & John Q. Public were able to bring a computer into their homes, order anything they needed and have it delivered. Things spiraled down from there. As the public learned that PC's were a source of information, connection & comfort, they no longer needed to walk down to the corner store or their neighbor's house or the shopping centers. Why should they? The computer brings it to them.

    The anchor (apologies for not knowing his name) hit the nail on the head: eat a balanced diet & move. Instead of hopping in the car, walk or take your bicycle.

    June 22, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Amayda@delta

      I disagree. I think the obesity epidemic does have something to do with 'the availability of fresh foods'. If it were as easy, or easier, to buy a bag of grapes or an apple rather than a bag of chips for a snack, less calories would be consumed. But that isn't the case. The easiest accessible and transportable foods are pre-packaged, high sugar/high sodium empty calorie foods. Most people are too busy and don't want to be bothered with taking the time to provide their families or themselves with good, fresh food, with they have already been conditioned to feel that the pre-packaged food is easier, doesn't go bad as quickly and tastes better to their ruined taste buds. If fresh foods were available in more places, they would then be more easily accessible, wouldn't go bad as quickly becuase they didnt have to be shipped as far and would provide better, lower calorie options. People do need to get out and move more, but what is eaten is just as important.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • zach

      I agree with amayda, but it goes even further than people being too busy. if you look in the low income neighborhoods, there is very little in the way of fresh foods, and tons of fast food, snack food, etc...
      Lower income families have a higher obesity rate than middle and upper class. It is sad that in these neighborhoods you can get a meal at mcdonalds for $5-$7, but a pound of fresh grapes cost nearly the same!
      The problem goes high into the government with subsidies for the products that lead to cheap calories, while wholesome foods are being left only to people with higher incomes.
      If the govt would put more of an emphasis on farmers markets and eating as a lifestyle, this country would be much better off. Instead the govt pushes for cheap, quick production foods that are killing our countries people.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Delta@Amayda & zach

      That's ok. *patting you on the head* You just stay out of touch and live the lives you lead in your plastic bubbles.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
      • Amayda@delta

        Simply becuase I disagreed with you does not make me 'out of touch'. I, by no means, live in a bubble. I grew up in a trailer park, living well below the poverty line. I now work in a courthouse helping neglected and abused kids, many of which come from low income communities that are plagued by the lack of fresh food. When was the last time you 'got in touch' with the worst in your local community?

        June 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Wayne

      I find it amusing when "Eat a balanced diet," is offered. If you are eating a balance of what makes you fat, you are still eating what makes you fat. It is not as simple as eating smaller portions. I can offer less calories and you will gain weight and I can increase calories and you will lose weight.
      Don't accept what is common for weight loss.
      Weight loss should not be painful.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Worldwalker

      I've lived in some interesting places, and I've noticed some interesting things. One of those is that in places with large numbers of poor people, there are no farmers' markets, and not even convenient grocery stores with decent produce sections. If you want something to eat that doesn't require planning a journey, you go down to the corner store - yes, they still exist, and poor people still shop there - and buy whatever they have on hand. This is not fresh food. Hell, generally it's not even FOOD; it's "processed food products" dressed up to look like food.

      Let's say you live just two miles from the nearest decent grocery store. When I lived in Long Beach, CA, I did. If you don't have a car, you have to decide how to get there: do you walk through a bad neighborhood? wait for the bus? ask a friend for a ride? And if you have kids, do you take them with you (can they walk that far? can you afford bus fare for them?) and if so, can you keep them corralled in the store? Or do you get someone to watch them for you? Who? Even if you do have a car, you still have to deal with gas prices, parking, and of course the kids. It's not just "run out to the farmer's market and get some good produce" - it's a project. For a lot of people, especially if the destination sells only wilted, high-priced produce, it's all too much of a hassle, and it's much easier to run down to the corner store. The one with the fake food.

      Poor people tend to be fatter. Why? Because most cheap food is made of empty calories seasoned with grease. It has nothing to do with them ordering home delivery from their computers (seriously, what?) and everything to do with the food available and cheap being things like macaroni & cheese or high-fat hamburger and its associated Helper. Even if they know what they SHOULD be eating, knowing that you need food that you can't get does no good at all. It sounds so easy - "just buy better food" - but it isn't when you have no place to get that better food, or when you can't afford it.

      Take one simple thing: hamburger. Poor people buy it. I buy it. And we pay about the same price for it; I might even pay less. But mine is 90% lean, while theirs is 75% lean - that is, 25% fat, or two and a half times as much fat as in mine. I can do this because I drive to a city about 20 miles away once or twice a month to shop (the town I live in doesn't have much) and there's a Sam's Club there, where I can buy cheap 90% hamburger. Having that time and mobility gives me options that someone else - someone without the ability to drive to another city and spend half a day there - doesn't have. And that's a whole lot of poor people.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Mom to a few

      It is expensive to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Here it is summer and peaches at our store are $2.99/lb, plums $2.49/lb, even red delicious apples, small bag for 6.99. That is expensive. I don't buy chips and garbage. My kids prefer fresh fruit, but when it is that expensive, it is unattainable some weeks.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
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