The 'Joy' of Obesity

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The 'Joy' of Obesity

The calorie count per serving is up almost 40 percent over 73 years

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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As someone who has fought a decades-long battle of the bulge, I am always alert to new findings in the area of weight control. Especially sobering are the statistics that 142 million Americans are overweight and 112, 000 deaths each year are directly attributable to obesity. As a nation, we spend millions of dollars each year on weight-related illness, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

In a study that will appear soon in the Annals of Medicine, researchers studied 18 recipes that appeared in all seven editions of The Joy of Cooking, and they found that the average number of calories soared from 197 to 274 per serving — a 39 percent increase over 73 years. Only chili con carne, that Tex-Mex classic mix of beans, tomatoes and meat, escaped.

Some increase came from a larger serving size, however increasing affluence probably had a hand in the change of ingredients. More sugar, more butter, more nuts means it must be better, right?

Savories don’t escape either. When meat replaces potatoes and sauces proliferate, calories increase. The lesson here? Watch what you eat and how you cook. Danger lurks everywhere, even in the innocent-looking pages of America’s most beloved cookbook.  

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