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Junk Food Is Satan's tool to make us fat


Hobbes
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it would be interesting to know if anybody has changed their minds (over any point) in this debate.

when i first started looking at this issue last year i was very much in the "sue Mcdonalds? its laughable " camp. after doing some research i found my opinions changed quite a bit and i became particulalry sceptical about the food industry's role in this issue and their typical (? predictable?) responses which attempt to lay blame elsewhere and try to junk the science against them. there is very little constructive debate on the topic and most people seem to dig in their heels rather aggressively and find cool headed rational argument difficult.

confirmation bias is always difficult to avoid in any analysis - but i would be genuinely interested if anyone out there has either changed their minds about any of these complex issues or changed their habits through thinking mroe about it. i for one have almost completely stopped going to mcD or BK even for the occasional swift lunch. and i recommend reading the judgement on the first mcdonalds case which was rejected but gven leave to amend the claim.

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when i first started looking at this issue last year i was very much in the "sue Mcdonalds? its laughable " camp. after doing some research i found my opinions changed quite a bit...

The freedoms provided by living life the American Way used to put the burden of responsibilty on the individual. People were responsible for their actions. I was certainly raised that way. If I made a decision, I either reaped the rewards or suffered the burden of the mistake. I still base my life around this philosophy. It makes me careful about the things I do, and it makes me weigh the risk/reward curve very carefully (I tend to skew in favor of risk for high reward, but that's just me, and that can lead to dreadful personal paybacks).

At some point in our cultural timelime, between Jimmy Carter and today, we stopped being responsible for our actions. Bad things that happened in our life, be it a big belly or a diseased lung, suddenly became somebody else's fault, a way to reap reward for bad living. That's offensive to me, especially given that we as individuals are provided access to more information about the potential consequences of any possible decision that we could make, in any arena, than at any other time in human history. We have the highest quality of life, and access to more choices on everything, than anyone, ever.

How can that be the case, and yet still have people suing because an addiction to burgers makes them fat? It's embarrassing and offensive personally and culturally (somebody has to step up and represent the American Way :biggrin: ).

Abusing any substance, be it bourbon or tobacco or hamburgers, will lead to nasty results. Whether there are formal studies or not, it's common sense.

Should we be taking hard looks at the industries that put food in our bodies, forcing a certain corporate responsibility? Absolutely. Should we sue because a grease addiction contributed to flabby thighs? Get the hell away from me with those stupid questions.

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it would be interesting to know if anybody has changed their minds (over any point) in this debate.

Somewhat. I know that the fast food industry had engaged in subterfuge and I really don't blame previous generations for thinking they were just getting a basic beef patty and a bun with some mayo-type sauce, just as I don't blame a WWII vet for taking up smoking thinking there were no consequences. However, anyone who is, say, under 40 thereabouts, and possesses a high school diploma, really has no excuse suing a fast food company for their obesity.

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"We have the highest quality of life, and access to more choices on everything, than anyone, ever."

An excellent point.

Those who want to assign blame for obesity also, I think, face a bewildering range of choices--including a labor force move from fields and factories to offices. What also has to be examined is the role of well intentioned governments and their overlapping attempts to solve or ease a very real problem--hunger--which may well result in the recipients consuming far too many calories, with no one keeping track.

Where do you turn after you have sued Big Macs and other currently demonized items off the menu and the rate of obesity doesn't drop, but continues to climb?

It would certainly be possible to reduce or perhap even eliminate obesity, but I do not think anyone but the most lunatic fringe of fanatics would find the methods, or the overall consequences, at all palatable.

For me, and I suspect for many others, the source of much unease about the whole obesity debate is the prospect of choices, and the ability to make choices, being curtailed.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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For me, and I suspect for many others, the source of much unease about the whole obesity debate is the prospect of choices, and the ability to make choices, being curtailed.

But of course the choice issue is owned by whomever frames it. Those who would seek to sue, regulate, and otherwise control what people eat often believe that fat people are stupid and have no self-control -- no choice. Therefore eliminating the alleged source of their obesity gives them more choice not less. I know it sounds like a crazy argument, but that's what people believe. And I think the post from Enthusiast demonstrates the effectiveness of long-term propaganda campaigns. The idea of holding a fast-food chain responsible for people's obesity is so patently absurd that virtually nobody upon hearing it for the first time thinks it's anything other than crazy. But repetition, spin, and refining of strategy and presentation over time are powerful tools for the demagogues who specialize in mass conversion on this sort of issue. In ten years or so, it may very well be just as politically incorrect to say that fast food chains shouldn't be liable for obesity as it is today to say cigarette companies shouldn't be liable for lung cancer.

The thing is, there is absolutely, positively not the slightest shred of evidence that fast-food is the cause of obesity. Those who insist that it is are making a huge leap of faith based on nothing. So one has to wonder what is the source of this leap of faith -- what inspires them to believe without proof that McDonald's is responsible for obesity as opposed to, for example, the massive government effort to push people over to the food pyramid style of eating, or the simple fact of better food availability, or the inevitable process of civilization resulting in less manual labor? In my opinion it tends to arise from a quasi-religious breed of anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism combined with a subtle form of bigotry targeted at fat people.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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i find it curious how often one's arguments are misrepresented in order to be knocked down.

Fat Guy says:

Those who would seek to sue, regulate, and otherwise control what people eat often believe that fat people are stupid and have no self-control -- no choice. Therefore eliminating the alleged source of their obesity gives them more choice not less.

it is not that the "health lobby" thinks fat people are stupid or have no self control. nor do they wish to regualte or control what people want to eat. what they argue for is that people be given genuine/accurate information about what they are eating, in a way that is readily comprehensible. it is not a question of anyone being stupid - this is a highly complex subject with little even experts can agree on. what is clear is that overweight and obeisty is a growing global problem that needs to be addressed. and it has to be addressed at society level. i don't think it is fundamentally anti-capitalist (and certainly not anti- american) but the obvious simple solution - if you're using less energy you should consume less if you don't want to put on weight - is not something capitalist corporations want to hear.

i'm also sorry to read that i am a victim of long term propaganda - i thought i had chanegd my mind becasue i spent some time researching and considering the issues before publishing reports on the subject. i think judge Sweet in the McDonalds case was also surprised by what he discovered listening to the arguments. it didn't mean he came down in favour of the plaintiffs but nor did he dismiss the case out of hand. but then maybe he too was a victim...

nor does anyone seriously argue that fast food is the cause of obesity. some argue that the fast food industry - its growth, its practices and its marketing - are one factor in the rise of obesity. do sensible people believe everything they hear from lawyers with partisan interests? presumably not. in the same way press releases from corporations defending themselves need to be taken with a pinch of salt (and some extra mayo).

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it is not that the "health lobby" thinks fat people are stupid or have no self control. nor do they wish to regualte or control what people want to eat.

I get the opposite impression. Why 'prove' the products are hazardous to health and then allow them to stay on the market?

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it is not that the "health lobby" thinks fat people are stupid or have no self control. nor do they wish to regualte or control what people want to eat. what they argue for is that people be given genuine/accurate information about what they are eating, in a way that is readily comprehensible.

I'm not sure what organizations you think comprise the "health lobby," but there is of course a range. That's why I qualified my statement with "often believe." There are plenty of mostly-good organizations out there that are certainly part of the health lobby. I don't think, for example, many people have a beef with the AHA, other than specific disagreements with some of their reports or whatever. But groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Public Health Advocacy Institute are not in that category, and they're the ones leading the charge on the legal and legislative fronts. To say about these groups that "what they argue for is that people be given genuine/accurate information about what they are eating, in a way that is readily comprehensible" would be extremely naive. For these groups, labeling-and-information arguments are just one of their PR tools. In fact, if the labels don't say what their agendas demand, they will oppose labeling. For example, even though it is one of the best documented health claims of recent times, CSPI opposes placing information on wine bottles that points to the studies that support a claim that limited wine consumption is good for you. Even when the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau created a set of guidelines demanding that such claims be "truthful, adequately substantiated by substantial scientific evidence, properly detailed, balanced by information about the risks of moderate and heavier drinking, and qualified by an enumeration of the categories of individuals for whom any levels of alcohol consumption may cause health risks," the CSPI went on record saying that "a blanket ban on all health claims and health-related statements would have been preferable." http://www.cspinet.org/booze/TTBHealthLabel.htm

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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"nor does anyone seriously argue that fast food is the cause of obesity."

Enthusiast, if this is true, what should we make of the anti-fast food tidal wave, including lawyers, legislators, school board officials, Princeton and other researchers and people of various descriptions and occupations on several continents? That they are not serious but are making their cases and their stands for frivolous reasons?

Edited by fresco (log)
Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Seattle Times piece on John Banzhaf and Dwight Van Winkle's threats of litigation against the Seattle School Board for renewing the district's soft-drink vending contract:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/1351...fatsuit02m.html

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've had a change of heart on the whole issue of litigation. It's now clear that just about everything we eat or drink is bad in some way and we should bring on the lawyers and the legislators to sue everything possible out of existence and outlaw the rest.

The end result would be millions dying of starvation, but a much slimmer, trimmer population, most without jobs or enough to eat, excepting of course, the lawyers and legislators. eGullet would be headed by a guy called "Bones" Shaw and would be a forum devoted to fooling your belly into feeling full.

Edited by fresco (log)
Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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It would certainly be possible to reduce or perhap even eliminate obesity, but I do not think anyone but the most lunatic fringe of fanatics would find the methods, or the overall consequences, at all palatable.

What methods would eliminate obesity in our population or any other?

I think the only effective weight-loss plan they've come up with is surgery.

Unless, of course, one considers an extraordinary life-long commitment to self-starvation to be an plan that is universally applicable.

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KNorthrup Posted on Jul 24 2003, 10:20 AM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE (enthusiast @ Jul 24 2003, 10:05 AM)

it is not that the "health lobby" thinks fat people are stupid or have no self control. nor do they wish to regualte or control what people want to eat. 

I get the opposite impression. Why 'prove' the products are hazardous to health and then allow them to stay on the market? 

its the same argument as cigarettes - you don't control what people do, you give them enough information to ensure that the choices they make are as well informed as possible.

fresco Posted on Jul 24 2003, 10:25 AM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"nor does anyone seriously argue that fast food is the cause of obesity."

Enthusiast, if this is true, what should we make of the anti-fast food tidal wave, including lawyers, legislators, school board officials, Princeton and other researchers and people of various descriptions and occupations on several continents? That they are not serious but are making their cases and their stands for frivolous reasons? 

what i wrote was that fast food is not THE cause of obesity it is one factor. there are even plenty of rapacious lawyers who think suing McDonalds is a bad way to go...

as for the "health lobby" - it is a deliberately vague term because there is no organised group. there are just many different groups with different agendas and not all their motives are pure, or all their aims democratic/pro-capitlaist/anti-authoritarian.

what i am trying to agrue is that away from the extremes there are many good reasons why society needs to tackle an issue that is a growing problem, that is highly complex and very emotive. in my view the option of doing nothing and insisting that everyone is free to make their own choices without recognising that those choices are actually made in a jungle of misinformation and ignorance, is not a good option.

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The freedoms provided by living life the American Way used to put the burden of responsibilty on the individual. People were responsible for their actions. I was certainly raised that way. If I made a decision, I either reaped the rewards or suffered the burden of the mistake.

it would be reasonable, i think, to distinguish between "personal responsibility" as used in court and as used when thinking in existential terms. in the first case, it's what makes it possible to uphold a civilized society. in the second, it's use is more doubtfull. how many burger consumers or office workers or car drivers or... have actually taken the decision to live the way they do, resulting in overweight or obesity? as enthusiast says: "in my view the option of doing nothing and insisting that everyone is free to make their own choices without recognising that those choices are actually made in a jungle of misinformation and ignorance, is not a good option." but it can be taken further than that: to a large extent we can't help living the way we do.

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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those choices are actually made in a jungle of misinformation and ignorance

Is it your contention that misinformation and ignorance are the causes of obesity? Do you have a shred of evidence to prove it? Can you demonstrate, for example, that obese people don't know junk food is bad for them, but thin people do?

What is it that you would like everybody to know that they don't know now? What specifically are people misinformed about?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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the causes of obesity is the consumption of more energy than is expended. the misinfo and ignorance stop people responding to the problem (if they want to) in a sensible rational and effective way.

do thin people know more about food than fat people? no i doubt it very much. but i do know that until i looked into it i had no idea that it was the tartare sauce in my filet-o-fish that carried all the calories. i had no idea that the f-of was at least as calorific as the hamburger, i didn't realise that baskin robbins ice cream had the same calories per scoop as the lowfat yogurt with brownies.

what am i to make of products such as Kraft Lite, Primula Light, philadelphia Light all of which have 10% fat or more.

if you look at the repleaded mcDonalds case they list all the health claims that McD makes. some (most?) of what they say may be accurate but is intentionally misleading.

You are exceptionally well informed. I am an ignorant but an ordinary consumer who would like to understand better what small adjustments i can make to my intake to lose a few pounds with the smallest possible sacrifice. the misinformation out there (eg "Light" products) is not helping me.

I love this site and this debate - but i really must get back to work!

Edited by enthusiast (log)
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The most effective solution for the most people is state ordered starvation, but I don't recommend it.

Do you really think that if the government ordered people to stop eating until they reached some arbitrary weight, they could and would? And thereafter they would stay at that weight, just by wishing it?

It sounds to me that such people would be less motivated, not more, and it takes an extraordinary motivation to lose weight.

Starving people will steal food, even if they're still significantly overweight.

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the causes of obesity is the consumption of more energy than is expended. the misinfo and ignorance stop people responding to the problem (if they want to) in a sensible rational and effective way.

do thin people know more about food than fat people? no i doubt it very much. but i do know that until i looked into it i had no idea that it was the tartare sauce in my filet-o-fish that carried all the calories. i had no idea that the f-of was at least as calorific as the hamburger, i didn't realise that baskin robbins ice cream had the same calories per scoop as the lowfat yogurt with brownies.

what am i to make of products such as Kraft Lite, Primula Light, philadelphia Light all of which have 10% fat or more.

if you look at the repleaded mcDonalds case they list all the health claims that McD makes. some (most?) of what they say may be accurate but is intentionally misleading.

You are exceptionally well informed. I am an ignorant but an ordinary consumer who would like to understand better what small adjustments i can make to my intake to lose a few pounds with the smallest possible sacrifice. the misinformation out there (eg "Light" products) is not helping me.

I love this site and this debate - but i really must get back to work!

The "cause" of obesity is mostly genetic. The cause of weight gain is the consumption of more energy than is expended. There is a significant difference between the two.

It's hardly been a secret hidden from you by fast food companies that tartar sauce is mayo with chopped pickle. You chose not to know what was in your food. That is your choice to make, but not a reflection on them for following the standard (century-old?) recipe.

How many years have we had nutrition labeling on ice cream? You had the option of using it, and it was there for you when you wanted to. What else should they have done for you?

If light cream cheese has 10% fat vs the 90% fat of regular, in what way is that not light? You have the option of switching to fat-free "cream" cheese, if you can tolerate eating something that tastes like spackling compound.

Now what you're saying is that if you had known what was in tartar sauce, you could have chosen to leave it off your sandwich, thus resulting in 100 calories saved per fish sandwich, and net weight loss of one pound per 35 deep-fried breaded fish sandwiches consumed. Right?

You're basing this on several misconceptions:

-Cutting fat in the diet will result in weight loss;

----This is completely disproved.

-You can do this and your body won't notice, just lose weight;

----When you cut your intake, you get hungry and end up eating more.

-There is no human appetite that regulates when you get hungry, and what you choose and how much of it you will eat. Everything is a conscious choice.

----This is why modifications to the diet doesn't work. Whatever the changes you may make to your diet, they do not exist in isolation. They are interrelated in the appetite, which is designed to keep humans alive by having them eat what they need when they are hungry. This is why people who cut red meat to save fat end up eating more cheese and ice cream, or if they only allow themselves to eat Snackwells at night, they eat the whole bag, ending up stuffed to the gills with empty carbs, but still unsatisfied. When their bodies crave fat, do they choose carrot and celery sticks? No, they reach for a substitute for the fatty foods they crave.

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-There is no human appetite that regulates when you get hungry, and what you choose and how much of it you will eat.  Everything is a conscious choice.
Whatever the changes you may make to your diet, they do not exist in isolation. They are interrelated in the appetite, which is designed to keep humans alive by having them eat what they need when they are hungry. ... When their bodies crave fat, do they choose carrot and celery sticks? No, they reach for a substitute for the fatty foods they crave.

:blink::wacko:

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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do thin people know more about food than fat people? no i doubt it very much. but i do know that until i looked into it i had no idea that it was the tartare sauce in my filet-o-fish that carried all the calories. i had no idea that the f-of was at least as calorific as the hamburger, i didn't realise that baskin robbins ice cream had the same calories per scoop as the lowfat yogurt with brownies.

what am i to make of products such as Kraft Lite, Primula Light, philadelphia Light all of which have 10% fat or more.

Perhaps I am jaded and perhaps I am too well informed, but I find it hard to believe that anyone concerned about healthful eating or losing weight or maintaining their weight would eat any of this crap. If you're concerned about calories and fat, you probably should be forgoing McDonald's all together.

If you want to cut down on your intake of calories you eat lowfat yogurt with brownies instead of ice cream? How about eating nothing with brownies. And then cut out the brownies.

Do any of the lawsuits claim that McDonald's used their food as a fat delivery system?

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If you want to cut down on your intake of calories you eat lowfat yogurt with brownies instead of ice cream

So your saying eating 500 calories of lofat yogurt will make u loose weight, but eating 500 calories of ice cream won`t ? i really don`t believe what you eat makes a difference , it`s how much you eat of something.

Eating 3000 calories worth of apples a day will make you fat if you only bur off 2000.

Eating 1500 calories of bacon instead of the apples would cause you to loose weight.

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"Eating 3000 calories worth of apples a day will make you fat if you only bur off 2000."

Eating 3000 calories of apples a day would probably make you sick or kill you before it made you fat.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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