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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fat Clock's ticking

Diet Detective, a Web site devoted to fitness a nutrition, has now posted the Fat Clock. The clock, in the upper right corner of the site's home page, shows the escalating weight off all Americans combined.

"It's tied to population and changes about 8 pounds a second," says Charles Stuart Platkin, founder of Diet Detective and a syndicated health-fitness-nutrition columnist, in a recent Sacramento Bee article.

Here's the full story.
Fat Clock says it's time to watch our weight
By DAN VIERRA
Sacramento Bee
Actress Kirstie Alley, one-time star of the Showtime comedy series "Fat Actress," may have lost 65 pounds thanks to Jenny Craig, but thanks to the rest of America, the Fat Clock is piling up poundage.
Diet Detective's Web site has posted the Fat Clock, real-time calculations of the aggregate amount of weight gained by American adults ages 20 and older.
"It's tied to population and changes about 8 pounds a second," says Charles Stuart Platkin, founder of Diet Detective and a syndicated health-fitness-nutrition columnist.
Remember the National Debt Clock that was in New York's Times Square? The Fat Clock is similar. Putting on pounds in a blur of numbers, the Fat Clock had a starting weight of more than 39 billion pounds _ impressive but not enough adipose deposits to alter Earth's orbit.
Crunching numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Platkin hatched a formula to confound Einstein. He spent six weeks perfecting his formulation to determine escalating weight gain.
"There's a lot of research behind it," he says. "It can be seen as a public health awareness tool to see how rapidly we're gaining weight."
But do we really want to know?
"I do," says Delores Bartella, sipping coffee at a Starbucks in Carmichael, Calif. "I truly think American children and adults are eating too much junk food and not getting enough exercise. It's a good thing to remind people."
Peggy Howell, spokeswoman for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, vehemently disagrees.
"It's utterly absurd," she says by telephone from her Las Vegas home. "There was a recent study that said focusing on diets and weight loss is actually counter-productive."
Howell said she believes people shouldn't focus on "how much weight they're gaining every second of the day," but on a healthy diet and allowing the body to "take care of itself."
Statistically speaking, two out of three adults in the United States now are considered overweight, according to the CDC. The number of overweight people ages 6 to 19 has tripled since 1980.
"I hope people won't feel overwhelmed by the numbers," says Platkin. "But policymakers, politicians and health-awareness campaigns out there should take note."
The news that the world is populated by 1 billion overweight people _ more fat folks than the 850 million undernourished people _ certainly is food for thought.
"Obesity is the norm globally, and undernutrition, while still important in a few countries and in targeted populations in many others, is no longer the dominant disease," professor Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina told a conference in Australia recently.
Fat Clock founder Platkin knows obesity firsthand. He once carried 220 pounds on his 5-foot-9 frame and says he was obese all his life until he took charge. Twelve years ago he lost 50 pounds and has kept it off.
"I'm tipping the scales at 165 pounds now," he says. "The quality of life can be horrific when you're obese."
(Dan Vierria can be reached at dvierria(at)sacbee.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

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