DFW Is Fat, What Can We Do About It?

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Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, but increasingly that mantra includes the people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area specifically.

In fact, a study published earlier this year found that DFW ranks as the 19th most obese and overweight metro in the United States.

The Dallas Express recently spoke with local dietitian Isabella Ferrari of Doherty Nutrition to get her thoughts on what’s causing the issue and what we can do about it.

Ferrari believes that one of the biggest factors contributing to this problem is that DFW is “not suitable” for outdoor physical activity.

“One of the main things is that [DFW] is not very walkable,” she said. “We have a very sedentary lifestyle … Texas overall doesn’t have a lot of walkable cities.”

“We just sit down and work all day. We don’t live in a city where we walk around,” she said. “We go from sitting down eight hours at our desk to sitting down in our car to commute. So, it’s just a lot of sitting, not a lot of walking.”

Ferrari believes another big problem is the lack of nutritional education. “Not a lot of people get educated on what it means to be healthy.”

With 12 dietitians across four locations in the metroplex, Doherty Nutrition provides one-on-one nutrition counseling to 45 clients per day.

While most of her clients are striving to lose weight, Ferrari added that she consults many people who are simply trying to “fix their relationship with food.”

The unhealthiest habit Ferrari sees is eating out. Most people are just looking for convenience— “something that’s quick that they can just grab and eat,” she told The Dallas Express.

The most common obstacle her clients face when trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle is time.

“A lot of people, for example, have super long commutes,” she said. “They don’t get home until six, and the last thing they want to do is work out or meal prep or go to the store and spend two hours cooking and cleaning.”

While many people believe eating healthy has to be expensive, Ferrari believes convenience is a larger factor than price.

Many people prefer to spend money on food that comes ready to eat rather than “spend that same money on some fruit and some vegetables that you might be able to eat for two or three meals.” But doing so “involves the effort of cooking,” and most people would rather “just do the convenient thing.”

“If you add it up,” she said, “buying fruits and vegetables that are in season does not have to be that expensive. Things like chicken [are also] not really expensive.”

“Probably the best thing is just buying canned and frozen foods or canned and frozen fruits and vegetables,” she continued, “It’s as healthy as fresh [food], and just having them in your fridge is going to guarantee that you always have something there.”

“I just think that we have to be really careful with the convenience part,” she warned.

Ferrari’s best advice to those aiming to lose weight is to understand that it is a “slow” journey, “which is usually the hardest [part] because people just want to see results really quick,” she said. “They get discouraged when they don’t lose weight.”

Another important thing is for people to focus on having a healthy life, rather than simply looking a certain way, according to Ferrari.

She also believes that employers can play a role in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Doherty Nutrition offers corporate wellness classes to help employers better facilitate the health of their workers. “Allowing people to prioritize their health instead of their work is going to keep them happier,” she said, adding that it will also help employees remain in the workforce longer as well.

Ferrari stressed, however, that everyone’s relationship with food is different.

“People usually feel like we should all be doing the same thing,” she said, “but I’ve seen from this practice that the more individualized your nutrition is, the better you’re gonna feel.”

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  1. Justine W

    I think that will be a good idea. Employers assist with some sort of program in place by Adding incentives. ,motivation keeps individual going.

  2. Buhlz_I

    This all started with the introduction of fast food as the mainstay of the American diet

    • Matt

      Close, but not exactly. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are the culprit. Not hard to verify. The oiling of America is a good place to start.

  3. joe

    They act like this is some new discovery, hasn’t the entire south been obese for generations?

  4. Marsha B Crawford

    With our busy lives drive-thru fast food is a given. Have you ever wondered why Chick-fil-A is so popular? It’s the availability of healthier selections: multiple salad choices, soup, grilled options, light lemonade, etc., compared to other popular chicken fast food businesses where there are very few healthy items. Check out the menus at Cane’s, Popeye’s, KFC, Chicken Express–nearly all carbs, fried and sauced. We Texans love our chicken, but it’s killing us.

  5. Jan

    We all have portion distortion. Sugar, corn syrup and flours are a huge problem. Your body doesn’t discern one sugar or carb from another. Once upon a time (in my grandparents time) people ate local, used animal fats and things made at home without all the highly over processed things we have now. We started getting fat in the mid to late 80’s

  6. No longer anonymous

    I’ll say it again, what do you mean obese? Happy beer belly, perhaps! What do you mean walkable? Too many loose dogs and not enough fun, laughs, jokes and good bars in the neighborhood, you mean! What do you mean convenience is a larger factor? Texans care about price all the time, convenient or not, we ain’t paying more than a buck fifty for a hotdog! What do you mean it’s a lot of sitting and no time for anything other than work? Why can’t we work hard and drink beers now and lose weight and drink light beers later, what’s wrong with yall? I’m scared of this topic because it’s heavily biased. We have a such thing called Texas weight and then we have, you need some meat on yer bones, no one in Texas prefers the latter!

  7. Brian

    I don’t remember signing a release for my photo!

  8. Kim

    Mind our own business. Everyone who is fat isn’t unhealthy and everyone who’s skinny isn’t healthy.

  9. Kathleen

    The first place they need to start is food processors. Our food has been contaminated with chemicals that cause damage to our hormones. Hormones out of balance can cause weight gain. Since the 60’s food processors have been using chemicals, pesticides, and hormones in our foods causing massive disruption in the human body. We can’t even trust organic items as places like Whole Foods mark non organic foods as organic when in fact they are not. The food industries, including fast food had done great damage to our society!

  10. Cynthia Lucas

    It is none of our business.



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