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Thursday, August 02, 2007

How to Get Fat Without Really Trying

This video was posted on Ross Enamait's site yesterday: How to Get Fat Without Really Trying

It's 10 minutes long and a good watch. There are quite a few salient points in the video, such as:
- The typical grocery store carries 30-50,000 products, most of which are processed.
- Americans consume 3 times as much corn in the form of sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, etc) as in other forms, including as a side dish.
- It takes 1 hour of biking to burn off the calories in a soda. They showed a 20oz bottle, but didn't elaborate on the quantity of soda.
- A McDonald's meal (appeared to be a cheeseburger and fries) takes about 6 hours of walking to burn off.
- 25% of elementary school kids have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.

All of those tens of thousands of processed products are specially packaged to entice you to make that impulse purchase. Colorful cartoon characters and celebrities call out to us, tempting us to just try a bite of the garbage they're hawking. To counter the excellent marketing of the food companies, stick to the outer perimeter of the store where you can get your meat, eggs, dairy (if you desire), and produce. If you must walk down a center aisle, pick the one with the olive oil and/or nuts or an aisle that has products you are completely disinterested in. It's hard to be tempted if you don't see the products. Another solution is to shop at farmer's markets as much as possible, venturing into the supermarket as little as possible for essentials like spices, olive oil, and nuts. And get one of the small hand baskets as we tend to want to fill whatever apparatus is at hand...smaller apparatus = less room to fill with crud.

Three times as much corn in the form of sweeteners! That is appalling. Art De Vany had a good post on the I'll run it off mentality.

All of those elementary school kids have the makings of Syndrome X. Unless their dietary intakes are changed, most of them will end up obese, diabetic, and disease-ravaged. All of that sugar depletes the immune system and destroys arterial walls.

Peter Jennings was talking to a marketer about the products that the marketer helps shill. They didn't give a name, so John Doe is our marketer so I can quit writing "the marketer". He asked John if he cares if a product is healthy when he designs the advertising. JD's reply was "I care that the product has a positive role in a child's life." What positive role could Twinkies, Pop-Tarts, Oreos, and Cocoa Puffs possibly have in a child's life? Does he think that insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are a positive thing? When Jennings pushed him to compare his products to asparagus and broccoli, he actually used the words "so-called less healthy products" in reference to the sugary junk. "So-called"! That's marketing speak for "you're absolutely correct that I'm making a living off of pushing crap to kids, but I won't admit it in as many words." One good way to reduce your and your children's exposure to advertising is to....turn off the television.

Of course, I can't get behind the "blame the food industry" tack. It's all about personal responsibility. Granted marketers have mastered the art of using human nature against us to get us to buy things we know are bad for us. But ultimately, companies are only providing that which people are buying. If people would quit buying the junk, the companies would quit making it. It's not Kraft's fault if you're overweight. Kraft, et al, may be enablers, but in the end you and only you put the food in your mouth.