The Skinny On New Jersey

Call it the New Jersey Paradox : in the land of deep fried oreos, funnel cakes, penne pizza, and zeppole, we are still among the slimmest folks in the nation (take that, Meme Roth).
The good news, if you can call it that, is that Jerseyans rank 42nd on the national fat-o-meter, says a federally funded report from the food police. But being one of the least obese states is no great shakes when it translates to 23% of the population meeting the criteria for obesity. If you care to live among the thinnest, get thee to Colorado.
In the report, there also came a word of warning — despite our svelte state profile, our waistlines are growing bigger every year. What are you doing to fight the battle of the bulge?

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  1. I got off the Michael Phelps diet. Apparently you also have to swim about 5 miles a day for it to work. Darn, those chocolate chip pancakes were really good too….

  2. Fresh fruits and veggies, and leaving the car in the driveway when I can.
    Fresh seafood from the Walnut St. Farmer’s Market is also a must!

  3. When I was in Europe this past May you could tell which tour groups were the Americans. No, we weren’t any ruder, or inappropriately dressed, or obnoxious than any of the other groups…were were the fattest – by far! I was totally embarrassed. We have become the jolliest country in the world.
    On a few occasions, when in a crowded place like a mall or an airport in the US, I have just randomly surveyed the crowd with my eyes and it’s truly amazing how many over-weight or fat people there are. I think it’s closer to a majority than 25%.

  4. Kissmygrass: I’ve noticed that, too. Twenty to twenty-five years ago, you’d see the occasional overweight person(and I’m not talking 20 lbs. here, more like 50)in the mall, at resturants, on the beach. Today, you’re in the minority if you’re of a normal weight.

  5. Well, some people say that obesity is a more of a problem in low-income areas due to a lack of fresh produce and other healthy food choices and lack of places to walk or exercise.
    Source: Prescription for a Healthy Nation by Dr. Tom Farley

  6. Thank you Mellon. That thinspiration will keep me on track for a long while.
    I’ve noticed the same thing Kiss and MM. I’ve especially noticed it with kids. Over weight kids are a normal sight now. Not to sound like MeMe, but to me that is child abuse. I have friends who kids think french fries and pickles are veggies, and won’t eat salad if Santa tried to feed it to them.

  7. My husband got me a Wii Fit.. Hate going to the gym. I get a work out and its fun! I can do Yoga, strength training, and funs stuff like hula hoops, and ski jumps.. now just have to cut down on all the extra eating!

  8. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it abuse, it’s just ignorance or laziness. When I was growing up, my friends and I weren’t allowed to gorge ourselves all day on junk. Sweets, and fun foods like pizza and McDonald’s, were only for one-in-awhile, special occasions or vacation. My mother would never serve us something like Lunchables for lunch!

  9. I listen to rock n roll, its good for the body its good for the soul, oh yeah cut out the red meat, walk as much as possible, and my girl friend is a personal trainer! Go figure.

  10. I try to get to the gym for at least an hour 3 or more times a week (when my foot isn’t in a soft cast), walk or bike whenever possible, and only eat foods with ingredients labels that I can actually pronounce every word of.
    (even with the bum foot, I’m still trying to get at least 20 min of exercise a day)

  11. McDonald’s is a classic case of the problem: the cheapest items on the menu are the least healthy, and the healthy salads are the most expensive. For a “restaurant” that has a reputation for value meals, I think you know how its customers will tend to make their decisions. Its a classic case of corporate profit vs. “doing the right thing.” To appease its critics, it added salads and grilled chicken to its menu, but strategically priced the menu to favor the fatty foods.

  12. To each his own….
    Jim, who cares what’s on the McDonalds menu? It’s MCDONALDS.
    Corporate profits are why corporations are in business. (And remember, they employ a lot of folks.)
    Is this news to you?
    I didn’t realize McDonalds’ job was to see that American eat right.
    Isn’t that Corzine’s job?

  13. I have a membership at the WO pool, and I cannot believe how many overweight people, and more disturbingly, kids, I see there. Although the menu includes sandwiches and salads, I see few people choosing those things over cheese fries.
    I’m no MeMe Roth fan, but it’s scary to see so many obese children around.

  14. If people had to write down what they ate all day in a diary (calorie counts included), they’d be surprised. I worked with a personal trainer a couple of years ago and he had me do this for 3 months. At first I thought it was a bit anal but it was a real eye opener.

  15. Oddly enough at a lot of the chain restaurants the salads they offer have more calories then a burger and fries. A few nuts, some croutons, creamy dressing, cheese, etc. small amounts add up.
    The food journal is one of the best tools for dieting I have found. I don’t use one everyday but when I feel I’m off track – or around the holidays – I get back into it and it really makes me stop and think about the decisions I make.

  16. Keeping a food journal changed my life (and helped me lose 10 pounds). I use the one on It keeps me in check, and it has helped me immeasurably to be aware of my eating habits.

  17. Prof: addressing the obesity problem is the US is going to be complicated, no doubt. Your response is typical of those who tend to quickly dismiss other’s valuable observations and proposals, and not offer any of their own that aid the movement in the right direction. I disagree with your assertion that McDonald’s cannot be successful at anything else other than fatty burgers and fries. Much like Walmart being the go-to one-stop shopping mecca for many Americans, so too is McDonalds for a quick meal. Like Walmart, McD’s can change its menu to attract more customers and keep its existing customers interested without getting bored. New menu items are necessary, but so too is a pricing model that doesn’t play favorites to corporate revenue and shareholders. Why are salads the cheapest item on most neighborhood restaurants and the entrees the most expensive? As soon as McD’s corporate culture can take the leap to put salads on the Dollar Menu and price the burgers higher, two things will happen: they will sell fewer burgers (revenue loss) but as a result gain a reputation for healthy-cheap meals thereby gaining increased customers (revenue gain) who desire to eat healthier but can’t afford to feed their families at more expensive sit-down restaurants. There are no numbers to prove it, but you can imagine a large number of families who rely on McDs for weekly meals, hence why obesity is increasing.

  18. Pffft obesity is a fabrication of the pharmaceutical industry as a way to sell more diet pills. Buy our new pill! It will burn the fat away WHILE YOU EAT! And please, don’t exercise while on our pill. Excessive movement makes it harder for our pill to reach all areas of your body. Just plant your chubby ass on the couch and stay as still as possible so our miracle pill can do it’s work.
    And all this diet and exercise talk ignores the fact that ‘obese’ people are big boned and that pills and diets and exercise don’t work on bones.
    Reminds me of a shirt I once saw that said, “When will someone do something about how fat I am?”
    Part of the problem Jim is that too many people substitute McDonald’s not for a more expensive and healthier sit-down restaurant, but for actually purchasing healthy food, cooking it, and most importantly, controlling portion size. The meat should be the smallest portion on the plate but Americans love that 12 oz. steak with 2 pathetically wilted string beans and a quart of mashed potatoes drowned in gravy.
    As someone who’s subsisted on McDonalds’ and the like in college, and now enjoys cooking for the family with wifey, I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy fresh produce and meat and make meals of that for the week as opposed to eating 3 courses of McDonald’s each day for 7 days. I can’t agree with the McDonalds=cheaper argument because my personal experience has been quite the opposite.

  19. danny – the are a lot of neighborhoods without good markets but full of fast food restaurants. if you’re talking about montclair it’s one thing, if you’re talking about central LA it’s another, that’s why they are prohibiting fast food chains from opening any new locations there. even here, my mother in law lived near the bloomfield green and the only market to which she could walk was c-town on bloomfield ave. which does not have the best produce. we would drive her to shop rite and whole foods on weekends but not everyone has that option.

  20. Oh I totally understand that JG. I remember seeing a news report about how hard it was to find a simple fresh tomato in, I believe it was part of Brooklyn or perhaps the Bronx. The people interviewed stated that if they wanted fresh produce, they had to hop on a bus and head to a different neighborhood to get it. Such a sad state of affairs and even moreso when people in that situation are viewed with contempt without knowing the specifics of their situation.
    However urban areas without access to proper food aren’t the only areas that are facing obesity through lack of proper nutrition and the residents of these areas are whom I reference. My aunt’s entire side of the family is obese and it’s simply because they don’t take care of themselves. They could walk to Corrado’s in about 20 minutes or drive it in 5 if they hate exercise THAT much. If they took that walk and spent their money on healthy foods (and Corrado’s has some great cuts of meat for super cheap) instead of their diet of Chinese take-out, pizza, and beer/soda by the case, not only would they save money but wouldn’t elicit death rattle’s from the bathroom scale.
    I know they want to get healthy. Every time they order a diet coke with a 3 pound hamburger, it’s a scream for help. But no matter how many times I offer to design their meal plan, no matter how many times I get them exercise equipment like the treadmill they now use to hang clothes on, they refuse to take the first steps necessary to get on that road.

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