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Dispatches from the fat wars


The fight against childhood obesity continues to be waged, on many fronts. This past month, these remedies got a tryout:

Encouraging exercise. McDonald's restaurants, smarting from the accusations that fast food "Happy Meals" and the like are a major contributor to overweight in children, is promoting exercise as a way to keep poundage in check. The chain is experimenting with replacing the playgrounds they have at some restaurants with gyms offering exercise bikes, rope climbing, and other sports and aerobic activities designed for children under 12 years of age. Thus far, the chain has opened seven such gyms, in sites located in Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, and California. Maybe it will help.

Switching ingredients. In New York City, a new ordinance bans all but miniscule quantities of trans fats in restaurant cooking. Trans fats are known to be particularly lethal, but there is no guarantee that switching to other types of fat in cooking will lower the calorie count or the amount of saturated fats in restaurant food. A similar caveat is applicable to the announcement by one soft drink manufacturer that in the future it will be the swapping high-fructose corn syrup for cane sugar sweetener that their drinks now contain. Potentially less unhealthy, but still calorie-laden.

Eating raw veggies. This practice continues to be recommended as a low-calorie, highly nutritious part of a healthy diet, but the potential of raw produce to carry infectious micro-organisms seems to get more serious all the time.

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