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Congratulations USA...we're #1!!!!!(10 posts)

Congratulations USA...we're #1!!!!!ColnagoFE
Jan 5, 2004 2:43 PM
fat/sugar tax?DougSloan
Jan 5, 2004 2:57 PM
Maybe there should be a fat and sugar tax, except impose it at the corporate level - extra taxes for McDonalds, CocaCola, etc., on manufacturers and retailers of junk food. Make it competitively expensive with fresh, wholesome food. Just need to make it less "convenient," too. Could require McDonalds to offer apples and non-fat turkey, too?

I believe McDonalds is already thinking about thisColnagoFE
Jan 5, 2004 3:46 PM
Seem to recall that they were offering healthier happy meals and such in test markets--substituting apples and such for fries and milk and juice for soda. I eat at Mcdonlads on occasion because it's cheap and the kids (neither of which are anywhere close to being fat) like it. I just order something like a grilled chicken sandwich and scrape the half pound of mayo off it before eating. No fries (except the ones I steal from the kids' Happy meals) either. The salads are not too bad either. Nice to be able to feed the family for $10 instead of $30-40 you'd pay in other moderately priced sit-down restaurants.
Consumers and Food PoliticsJon Billheimer
Jan 5, 2004 3:55 PM
We as parents have a great deal of power, and should have some common sense when it comes to the whole food issue. To begin with, everyone of us can and should lobby our school boards and PTAs to remove pop vending machines and junk foods from the schools. Second, we ALWAYS have the choice of what to buy in the supermarket: e.g. fruits and vegetables or chips and snacks. Like duuuuh!!!! The food industry will ultimately give us what we want, but so long as we continue making bad choices they'll keep on selling us BAD food.

The other night at the gym Dr. Phil was on the tv screen, flogging his newest book (and re-invention of himself as an expert) on diet and obesity. While doing his usual know-it-all schtick, he dispensed the following wisdom of the ages to one of his tv proselytes: buy broccoli, not potato chips! In the end we have only ourselves to blame. Fortunately the solution is neither rocket science or some esoteric gnosis: get off the couch, and start eating more like our grandparents and great grandparents did.
It's not so much Food as it is...Dwayne Barry
Jan 6, 2004 4:53 AM
lack of physical activity that accounts for the negative health trends and rise in obesity affecting 1st world countries. In the US obesity has continued to rise over the last few decades despite no real shift in diet, yet an increasingly sedentary population.

In fact, it has even been argued that modern humans "under eat" compared to our hunter-gatherer ancestors who existed in the environment that our current genome evolved. Additionally, exercise or physical activity seems to be necessary for our bodies to be "healthy" across a wide-range of physiological variables. IOW, a skinny person who doesn't exercise may be less healthy than an obese or overweight person that does. Healthcare professionals and the media should focus as much on getting everyone to exercise as they do on trying to get them to lose weight. What's remarkable is that it takes relatively little exercise to get most of the health benefits associated with physical activity.
Unfortunately, it's both food and lack of physical activityDale Brigham
Jan 6, 2004 9:12 AM
Dwayne, I wish it were just inadequate physical activity that is making our kids and us adult Americans fat. My job in my state is to foster physical activity programs in communities, schools, and families, and I heartily agree with your sentiments about the key role physical activity plays in health.

Unfortunately, a several recently-published studies show that U.S. kids and adults are eating more calories than we did even 10 or 20 years ago, with, at most, only a minor downward trend in physical activity to worsen the effect of the increased caloric intake. Kids are eating more fast food (30% of U.S. kids will eat fast food today) than ever before. In fact, fast-food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970. Fast-food eating kids consume more fats, sugars and carbohydrates and fewer fruits and non-starchy vegetables than youngsters who didn't eat fast food. They also consume 187 more daily calories, which likely adds up to about six pounds more per year. (Pediatrics Vol. 113 No. 1 January 2004, pp. 112-118)

Another big factor adding to the problem seems to be the TV viewing. Kids who watch more TV are fatter. Unlike what I (and many other physical activity advocates) intuitively thought would be the main effect of TV, it's not principly due to decreasing their physical activity (there is little or no association between TV viewing and physical activity level). Rather, kids who watch more TV eat more calories. Food advertising on TV likely is the main component driving increased food intake. (J. Pediatrics Vol. 140 pp. 334-339, 2002)

Regardless of these sobering (depressing, to me) studies, you are absolutely correct that we can -- and must -- do more to get kids burning more calories through physical activity. One of the ways we can help is to get kids to walk or ride bikes to school (only 13% of U.S. kids currently do so); another is to be physically active with your own (or somebody else's) kids and/or support programs that get kids moving.

The great thing about us RBR folks (that would be you!) is that we are committed to being active in our lives, and we can be part of a positive movement in fostering physical activity in our families, schools, and communities. This movement needs your passion, ideas, and energy. The alternative is a nation with kids getting increasingly fatter and more unhealthy. We can't let that happen.

Dale (Soapbox Mode OFF)
Unfortunately, it's both food and lack of physical activityJon Billheimer
Jan 6, 2004 11:58 AM
I agree with everything that's posted here. (Obviously we're all preaching to the choir!) However, a couple more comments regarding diet. It's not only the calories that are being consumed vs. energy outlay, but also proportions and kinds of macronutrients consumed. Our fat content consists primarily of saturated and trans-fats and is almost totally deficient in Omega-3 fats. Second, the total glycemic load of our diets is extremely high, which elicits exagerated insulin response--leading to increased fat storage--and ultimately insulin resistance--which leads to carb cravings and Type II diabetes. Mom's--or grandma's advice--to eat one's veggies stands as probably the best and most time-proven advice. That means then to layoff McD's, Wendy's, etc. and the middle aisles of your local grocery store! This should be a no-brainer for anyone with a modicum of information and common sense.
Can a libertarian crusade for public good (serious post, tho)?Cory
Jan 6, 2004 8:40 PM
I dunno, Doug--you've got to let people make their own decisions. If they're not smart enough to decide what they should eat, how can they be trusted to invest their privatized Social Security money?
This gets into all kinds of things we haven't even considered, though. For one, when McD's offered (relatively) healthy alternatives, they took a huge dump in the market. Anybody seen a McLean Deluxe lately? The salads, with minor exceptions, come with dressings that have as much fat and sodium as the burgers; same with the chicken and fish. Otherwise they don't sell.
Can we blame the advertising? Sure--it sucks me in. I'd love a Quarter Pounder right now. But you can't ban it (First Amendment), and warnings don't do any good (how many smokers read those things, and who couldn't possibly know the danger anyway)? Government spends far more money subsidizing the producers and promoting consumption than pushing healthy habits, and that's not going to change, certainly not under a Repub administration. First thing schools cut to save money is PE classes, without a thought to how much it will cost 40 years down the road. I've fought with our local school board for 20 years about that.
You can't even convince PARENTS. We had a big flap around here a few years ago about vending machines in the schools, and something like 70 percent of the parents saw nothing wrong with selling soft drinks, potato chips and candy during what the schools call "nutrition break" in mid-morning.
A few points:TJeanloz
Jan 7, 2004 6:56 AM
1. "when McD's offered (relatively) healthy alternatives, they took a huge dump in the market"

McDonald's undertook its latest "health-food" craze not to keep people healthy, but to go more upscale. They realized that selling hamburgers for 59 cents attracted the sort of customers who could only afford 59 cent hamburgers. The response to the premium salads has been nothing short of spectacular - McD's stock is more than double where it was before they offered the "healthy alternatives" ($12 vs. $25). The healthy alternatives were offered as a restructuring strategy, and it has, by all accounts, been very successful.

2. "Government spends far more money subsidizing the producers and promoting consumption than pushing healthy habits, and that's not going to change, certainly not under a Repub administration."

It is true that Government gives away a lot of subsidies. It is laughable that this is a pet of the Republican Administration. Farm subsidies have more to do with geography than political affiliation. But most conservative think-tanks [Heritage, Cato, et. al.] wholly oppose farm subsidies. Every time it comes up in Congress, the subsidies are pretty widely supported (the last vote was something like 300/100). The Bush Administration has, in fact, proposed a reduction of farm subsidies at the WTO. It's definitely a cheap shot to say that farm subsidies are a "Republican" project.
that was opposites day talk nmDougSloan
Jan 7, 2004 8:15 AM