Five Dinners Everyone Can Cook
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
"I'm fine; it's everyone else who's fat."
At least that seems to be the conclusion of a new Pew Research Center survey of 2,250 Americans.
Nine out of 10 adults surveyed in February and March said most of their fellow Americans were overweight, but only seven in 10 said that about the people they know. Even fewer -- just 39 percent -- considered themselves overweight.
Despite this ability to see fat everywhere but in the mirror, most Americans, including the ones who admit they're overweight, agreed that personal behavior -- not genetics or tempting ads by the food companies -- is the culprit.
In particular, those surveyed blamed failure to get enough exercise and lack of willpower about what to eat as the most important reasons for being overweight.
Regardless of whether Americans are willing to admit to expanding waistlines, an earlier government study of very overweight Americans found that the number of kids and men who were obese continued to rise from 1999 to 2004.
While the obesity rate for women was unchanged, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, experts are particularly concerned about the numbers of very overweight children -- a proportion that has tripled since the 1980s. About one in every six kids is obese, the study found. That's 12.5 million overweight kids -- 18 percent of all boys ages 2 to 19, and 16 percent of girls.
Health experts are alarmed because obesity increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other major health problems.
To help families improve their eating habits as well as boost their activity level, The Washington Post launched the Lean Plate Club's Fit for Fun Family Challenge last week in the Health section.
The first week's eating goal was to eat more fruits and vegetables. This week, families are being encouraged to eat more whole grains and to shop together for groceries. Next week, the goal is to eat one home-cooked dinner together.
Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, author of the Food section's monthly Entertaining column, has created five days' worth of simple dinner menus. The recipes require a minimum of cooking and use ingredients easily found in the supermarket. The goal is to get dinner on the table quickly and easily so families have time to enjoy their meals together.