Each day I receive an electronic newsletter from Advocate Health Care, part of a pro-active program tied to my wife’s health insurance. And like many of us Baby Boomers in America, I could stand to lose some weight. And while not directly linked, the extra pounds I carry probably contributed to the fact that I’ve had my right knee and hip replaced. 


Bernie Pacyniak

So when I saw the lead story headline this morning, “Who’s to blame for expanding waistlines?” I couldn’t help but delve deeper into the article. After all, if there’s somebody I could blame besides yours truly, that would certainly make my day.

Reading the first sentence convinced me that this would be interesting, although not necessarily what I expected.

“More than one-third of U.S. adults are now obese and a lack of exercise rather than diet may be to blame, according to a new study,” the lead stated.

OK, not necessarily earth-shattering is it, or is it? I’ve always contended that diet and exercise together play a role in weight control. But it seems that this rather common-sense approach is wrong. According to author Kelee Lemcke, “Researchers analyzed 20 years’ worth of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and found a sharp drop in Americans’ physical activity levels, while calorie consumption remained somewhat steady.”

Moreover, the study discovered that the number of U.S. women who reported doing no physical activity rose from about 19 percent in 1994 to nearly 52 percent in 2010. For men, the number increased from about 11 percent in 1994 to 44 percent in 2010.

As Lemcke notes, “During the same time period, the average caloric intake did not change, the researchers said, yet the obesity rate continued to rise. The average BMI (body mass index) increased by 0.37 percent per year in both men and women, with the most dramatic rise found among women ages 18 to 39.

And although researchers did not examine what types of foods were consumed, they did observe that total daily calorie, fat, carbohydrate and protein consumption have not changed significantly over the past 20 years, she adds.

As a reporter and editor, I realize that nearly everyone can come up with statistics to support their argument. After all, the saying “Figures never lie and liars always figure,” has a great deal of truth behind it, particularly during election campaigns and political debates.

But I do find this statistical examination of lifestyle changes particularly interesting, especially since the confectionery industry — and sweets in general — is coming under attack more and more. The contention that sweets constitute only 2 percent of our daily caloric intake hasn’t stopped many activists groups from trying to ban all confectionery joys from the face of this earth.

I believe this study can provide some powerful ammunition for those of us in the confectionery industry dealing with negative portrayals of candy consumption. The gradual yet consistent evolution of a sedentary lifestyle has made many of us “plump up.” I suppose one can blame technology and the Internet for that, although a mirror would provide a better answer.

Sure, sitting before a computer screen for eight to 10 hours doesn’t do the body any good. And I’m sure many of you have seen those headlines that scream, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Seems a new study suggests that too much sitting can increase the risk of getting colon, endometrial (uterus) or lung cancer.

Certainly that’s even more reason to get up and get fit. It also reinforces the fact that we’re just not moving around enough. Guilty as charged. But it doesn’t mean we can’t eat candy or chocolate or other confections.

As always, do it in moderation and you’ll be fine. And do it standing up.