Word Play

15 Aug

Happy Hump Day!

I don’t know if anyone else out there is a stickler for proper writing and always expanding their vocabulary (hello, GRE tests?), but this week there were some interesting changes to the Merriam-Webster dictionary that caught my eye.  No, I am not talking about the addition of F-Bomb to the dictionary (which is true!) I am talking about the more health related news.

The words flexitarian and obesogenic were both added to the MW official chronicle of definitions.  

I actually love the word flexitarian, which is defined by “one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish”.  Proponents for this word understand the value and enjoyment of using meat as a flavor enhancer, not the main star of a dish.  Ok, I get it, you veg heads, that I am not strictly a plant eater, but I do like to enjoy meat (mostly for dinner) especially when I can buy organic, local, or free range varieties.  Do you make an effort to be a more “flexitarian” eater?

The second addition to the dictionary, obesogenic is an adjective for “promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity”.  The term has existed in science and nutrition since 1998 and is contained in many reports by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The main idea behind this term is that there are certain environments that inhibit healthy living (such as workplace, region, society, etc).  There are some environments that encourage over eating, unhealthy food, and inactivity (think Southern states, who are among the top of list for obesity rates).  The goal for the United States is to reach a 15% obesity rate, and only 2 states are below 20% (yay for Colorado and District of Columbia!).  Sadly, these rates are rising in every single state rather than decreasing.  For those of you wondering who is considered obese, the BMI indicator is 30 and over.  

What do you think of these changes to the dictionary?  While it is depressing that more words are being used every day to express the dire state of our country’s obesity and medical despair, I do think that it’s encouraging that more health related terms are being added, and consequently, becoming commonplace in everyday vocabulary.  A huge step for the US to tackle major health concerns is to begin with education, and spreading the word about healthy living. 



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