May 25, 2018
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Obesity report no surprise to this Mainer

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

Lately I’ve been feeling fat.

So when the “F as in Fat” study was released this week I read it with just one eye open.

And Friday morning when I picked up the newspaper and saw the local photograph of two people, each with a bit of a belly bulge, walking across what appears to be a downtown Bangor street, I secretly sighed with relief that neither were me.

Bangor Daily News photographer Gabor Degre shot those dreaded headless photos to illustrate the story that Maine has the highest rate of obesity in New England and is the 27th fattest state in the nation.

No offense to Gabor, who is a totally likable chap and simply was sent out on an assignment this week.

I could only hope that the soul with the gray T-shirt and the one behind him with the yellow dress shirt and tie are not regular readers. It could definitely have ruined their day.

On the BDN website there’s another picture of a headless and shirtless motorcycle rider with the same issue. Thankfully the bike’s license plate is not visible.

The big local news out of the national study was that Maine is the fattest state in New England and gaining quickly on the rest of the country.

To be fair, Mainers are not the only ones who are getting fatter.

It appears everyone is.

Colorado has the lowest obesity rate of 19.8 percent, but just 20 years ago no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent.

Of all the statistics and theories that have been rattled off this week about our collective fatness, that to me was the most eye opening, even though I still had one eye closed.

Twenty years ago. That was 1991. I was 28, newly married, childless and slim — just a tad shy of being underweight according to that dastardly Body Mass Index chart that the BDN so graciously put up on its website.

Today, 20 years later, I have two kids, premature arthritic joints and premenopausal hormones and it appears that I’ve contributed to the troubling fat statistics that we all learned about this week.

That’s right. I confess. I’ve helped bring the whole darn state up to the 27th fattest in the country. I accept the blame and am dutifully ashamed.

When I graduated from high school the statistics on my driver’s license were truthful. I was 5 feet nine and a half inches tall and weighed 117 pounds.

When I renewed sometime in my mid twenties there was an additional 10 pounds added.

I kept it that way for many, many years.

The last time I renewed my license, the worker at the Department of Motor Vehicles looked up over her reading glasses and asked with a deadpan gaze, “is there anything you want to change here?”

I returned her deadpan gaze and said, “no.”

There are many theories about why we are all fatter today than we were 20 years ago. Almost as many as the number of excuses we all have.

You know, excuses like arthritic joints and premenopausal hormones.

Then of course there is the fact that there is a fast food chain restaurant on nearly every block and dollar menus that allow our kids to eat four double cheeseburgers for $4 – and busy parents who find it more efficient to run through the drive-thru than to prepare a meal – and video games, and stress….

My father has lost and gained more than 100 pounds a few times in his life. He’s not a nutritionist or a scientist, just a realist with the only one real answer to solving the problem.

“You need to burn more calories than you eat or drink to lose weight.”

No matter how many fast-food joints are on each corner, how cheap fattening food is, how arthritic your knees are or how busy your household is.

You need to burn more calories than you consume.

I guess that sad little factoid would be tucked away in the “T is for Truth” report.

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