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Take an unflinching look, then action

n Turning the tide on Americas obesity epidemic will take commitment from everyone


Now that I’ve viewed all of HBO’s “Weight of the Nation” films, it’s time to take action. I have to admit that I balked when I realized that I would have to publish my commitments on Facebook for all the world to see. But however uncomfortable it might be to “go public,” it will be necessary for all of us to take an unflinching look at ourselves to confront America’s obesity epidemic.

So, here are my commitments:

Commitment 1: I commit to getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, which, according to information in Weight of the Nation, is enough to improve one’s overall health. It takes about 45 minutes to walk home from work, and once I am home, my dear dog Daisy needs a walk, so that should be easy to accomplish.

Commitment 2: I commit to being a healthy role model. What we do has more impact than what we say. Modeling healthy eating supports the development of healthy behaviors in our kids.

Here’s the big ah-ha for me: I’ve been shortchanging my sons’ nutrition by buying processed foods like frozen chicken nuggets and frozen pizza so that there will be something on hand they can prepare quickly. Now, those aren’t foods that I consider healthful, so why, if I wouldn’t eat them, are they OK for my sons to eat? Why the double standard? My friend Joan Robbins reminded me that a healthy physique can be misleading as to a person’s true health. In “Weight of the Nation,” physicians showed evidence of damaged arteries and weakened heart muscles in young people, even though they were at a healthy weight.

Other ways I can model healthy eating patterns include eating breakfast each day, learning what moderate portions look like and and getting accustomed to eating that amount, planning healthy meals with my family and avoiding overemphasizing “good” and “bad” foods.

Commitment 3: I commit to making food choices that support small-scale, sustainable agriculture. This one is very easy as my husband Mark’s garden is producing lots of fresh lettuces, peas, broccoli and other vegetables. If you don’t have a garden you might consider planting one, shopping at a local farm stand or farmers market or joining a CSA program.

Commitment 4: I commit to learning more about school meals, physical and health education policies in our community and what I can do help strengthen them. Childhood obesity prevention at school is a national priority, but there is still room for improvement.

Commitment 5: I commit to learning more about government nutrition programs; what they are and who is eligible. I’ll pass along information about special programs that increase affordabilitiy of local produce to low-income residents in our community.

Commitment 6: I commit to learning more about how our national government influences foods in the marketplace. There are many laws that affect the food system in a variety of ways, including what farmers are likely to grow, how food marketing is regulated and the types of benefits government food and nutrition programs provide. I believe the food subsidy program is working against us nutritionally; I want to understand it more completely.

Commitment 7: I commit to using technology for health. So many options are available to make our lives easier, why not use them to track our health goals? These technological advances can help convert screen time into active time.

Commitment 8: I commit to organizing a screening of the “Choices” section of “Weight of the Nation.” I’ll keep you informed when a location and date are set so you can attend.

In the meantime, plan out how you can take action to confront America’s obesity epidemic. Take that unflinching look at your body and those of your family members. Obesity contributes to five of the 10 leading causes of death in America, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke. In the United States today, more than three in 10 children and adolescents, and more than two of every three adults, are overweight or obese.

If you haven’t already, visit hbo/theweightofthenation.com to view the documentary. You will find additional resources to use in bringing your own weight under control as well as an easy-to-use toolkit for planning a fun, informative and engaging screening of the documentary.

You can like theweightofthenation on Facebook and help promote the campaign.

You get two recipes today, both from thrive.kaiserpermanente.org, one of the resource links on hbo/theweightofthenation.com. The first is Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken and the second is a delicous cooling summer soup by Sheila Lukins.

Bon appetit! Eat something healthy!

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Makes 6 servings

This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe. She says it has long been one of her favorite al fresco summer suppers. “My method of choice has usually been to butterfly a chicken — or rather, many chickens — and then cut them into feisty quarters to layer up on serving plates. I’ve altered this to make cooking speedier, and conveying easier, by using only drumsticks,” Lawson said.

12 chicken drumsticks (approximately 3 lbs total)

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, bruised with skins removed

1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns

1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Place the chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag. Add the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of oil.

Add the bruised garlic cloves to the bag with the crushed peppercorns and salt.

Sprinkle in the ground cumin, add the maple syrup, and then squish everything in the freezer bag around to mix the marinade and coat the chicken.

Leave the buttermilk-marinated chicken in the fridge ideally overnight or out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Take the chicken pieces out of the bag, shaking off the excess marinade, and then arrange them in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil.

Drizzle over the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil, and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until brown, even scorched in parts, and juicily cooked through.

­— Nigella Lawson, 2007

Cucumber Soup with a Crunch

Makes 8 servings

Cooling and aromatic, this soup is in part inspired by raita, the yogurt and cucumber condiment that is so popular on Indian menus for its ability to soothe a palate all fired up by curry.

5 seedless cucumbers, peeled

1/4 cup minced garlic

2 cups chicken broth

8 cups plain nonfat yogurt

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 large red radishes, cut into 1/4-inch dice, for garnish

Cut four of the cucumbers into 1-inch pieces and place them in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, broth, 6 cups of the yogurt, 1 and 1/2 cups of the mint, and the lemon juice.

Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. (If using a blender, prepare the puree in batches.)

Whisk in the remaining 2 cups yogurt and 1/2 cup mint. Season with salt and pepper. Chill, covered, for two to three hours.

Cut the remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch dice and toss with the radishes. Divide the soup among eight bowls. Top each with the cucumber-radish mixture and serve immediately.

— 2003 Sheila Lukins

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 101, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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