Monday, 26 October 2009 16:02
Obesity is becoming an epidemic, or already is to some, at least here in the US. Not a day goes by that I don't see a television segment or read an article concerning the rising percentage of the population that is becoming obese. There are fingers being pointed too: Physical education being taken out of schools, junk food vending machines being put in; Electronic technology keeping people on their butts all day and limiting physical activity; High fructose corn syrup, sugars, soft drinks, and fast food. But there is one culprit I feel is contributing to the race to reach the biggest waistline who has been flying under the radar - Costco.
If you are not familiar with Costco it is what is called a membership warehouse club store. It happens to be the largest in the world going by sales volume. Just about anything you may ever need (and I mean anything) they either sell it under their roof or provide a service that helps you get it for a good deal.
I shop at Costco and I like the place. The main reason I shop there is for some of my groceries. It is the one shopping trip that all my kids usually want to accompany me on, for one reason - the samples. If you plan your shopping trip at the right time you can consume enough calories to count as a meal, and I think that is what some people do.
But my point of Costco sharing some of the over-fatness blame is because of the package and portion sizes of most of their food items. It's like every item has been training for the "World's Strongest ________" competition. A muffin from Costco is big enough to share among four people. I've seen grapes as big as kiwis and steaks so thick that I honestly don't think Bobby Hill could eat one in a single sitting. Beyond the actual item size is the package size that I think leads to the greatest consumption of excess calories. I believe that for some people they would not eat industrial size servings if the food was not coming out of an institutional size package.
Thankfully it is just a matter of self discipline. One fitness marketer, having just visited Disney World with his family wrote about how many obese people he observed during his vacation. He asked his subscribers if theme parks should be forced to eliminate some of the unhealthier foods they serve. My response was 'no'. I know how to practice self control, but if I decide I want to have something not normally on my regular menu I should have that option. Especially on a special occasion. A trip to Costco may not be a special occasion but the point remains the same. If someone knows they have a problem with portion, calorie, or fat control they need to take personal responsibility. If you know you cannot resist the urge to taste do not visit during the hours they hand out samples. Realize that a package of 48 should last 8 times longer than the standard 6 count package. If you don't have the self control to stop eating because more is available do not purchase the large packages. Practice self control and discipline.
So even though we (I) could say Costco is contributing to the obesity epidemic like McDonald's and Starbucks I don't think it needs to change. It serves a great purpose, especially for families like mine with growing teens. Some of their shoppers need to change.