Marketing & Manipulation ... and Musings ...


There's been quite the discussion going on in comments of The Men Who Made Us Fat, and I decided my commentary might be better organized in a blog post.  I can certainly see the positions of both sides there, but in the end I come down on the side of "Eric" when he says this:
"Until we accept that Obesity is a lifestyle choice ( either voluntarily or by apathy ) no real fix can every be made without crushing regressive taxation on food. To blame "big food" is a dangerous cop-out that reinforces the negative cycle."
The so-called "simple obesity" -- the epidemic of indisputable overeating to the tune of an average of 500 calories per day -- is very much a lifestyle choice.  In my case, the obesity of the late 90's and the 2000's was in large part due to apathy or laziness.  Too many take out meals instead of cooking something.  And take out means too many fried, processed, calorie dense foods.  Or just eating crackers and cheese watching TV -- before you know it a sleeve is gone, and you haven't even had a "meal".  It's ordering the quarter pounder and medium fries when a regular burger and small fries is enough.  It's having McD's on the road instead of packing a snack for the long trip.  CHOICES.

I'd also like to be clear that I was born and raised and lived all my life in the northeast US.  But I was raised with some decided European influences -- e.g. I would be sent out to play in the back yard shirtless long past the age where Americans put meaningless bikini tops on our little girls.    To see how different things are these days, having little to do with food, it is instructive to check "The Mindset List".  They list the things entering college freshman (if they come straight from HS) have never experienced or have always had in their lifetimes to date.  It's always an eye opener.  (This past Spring I experienced this a bit as I've taught a forensic science class for many years now, and I realized that now these students know little of OJ Simpson, the excruciatingly long presentation of the DNA evidence that wasn't cut and dry at the time, etc., they were in diapers).  A few from this year's list:
  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  • Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
  • Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
  • Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
  • Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
  • All have had a relative--or known about a friend's relative--who died comfortably at home with Hospice.
  • Haagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
  • Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.
  • WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
  • Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
  • Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.
  • IBM has never made typewriters.
  • McDonald’s and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
  • The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 EST.
  • They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
  • Authorities have always been building a wall along the Mexican border.
  • Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia.
  • Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the U.S.
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones.
  • They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
  • Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
  • Soft drink refills have always been free.
  • They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about “nothing.”
  • Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
  • Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.

When I was growing up, we had two groceries within walking distance, a few more within driving distance including a "health food store".  They were open M-Sat for at most 12 hours/day, and if open on Sunday hours would be noon-5.  Other stores were not open on Sundays ... as it is today still in NJ! We had a TV with a dial, 7 channels reception.  No VCR.    Every classmate in grammar school had two married parents, a few with step parents, I knew of one girl being raised by a divorced mom.  The government influence on school meals was minimal, we had a milk program where we paid like a nickel a day for a tiny carton of milk.  We had snack time at around 10am in grammar school, we were given an after school snack around 3pm when school let out.  We walked to grammar school but we were usually driven to high school as it was further away.  There were no "latch key" kids at least up to an age when we were old enough to care for other kids.  

Young girls babysat, young boys mowed lawns for pocket money.  Oh ... and if you were lucky, you got a "mother's helper" gig, which meant you watched kids for a few hours and maybe fed them dinner.  There was no such thing as day care.  I didn't need a license to babysit, and my brother didn't need one to mow lawns.   (Nowadays my neighborhood is groomed by lawn services and children are cared for by nannies).   Many (most?) entering kindergarten did not attend preschool (I didn't), and my mother had to write a letter to the teacher to introduce her to her child and explain why at not yet five, I was mature enough to handle a half day.

Oh ... and there were commercials for food and cartoon characters, and candy and sugar (you can't be more blazon about sugar than pixie stix and lick'em ade -- google it).  McDonalds commercials were aimed at kids -- or do you think Ronald McDonald and Hamburgler were aimed at adults?!  Sugar Frosted Flakes (as they were called before they had take sugar off the label by some regulation) were GRRRREEEEAAAAAT!!!   And lunchrooms were filled with Twinkies and HoHo's brought from home with lunch that was usually a sandwich on Wonder (the whitest of white) bread.  Lunch monitors were there to protect us from spit balls, noogies and food fights, not examine our lunches to make sure they were compliant with some guidelines.  Oh ... but let's not forget Tang -- because the astronauts drank it!

We weren't yet bombarded with assemblies, now curricula, that dealt with diversity, sexual harassment, being a good citizen by recycling, saving the planet from global warming, etc., but we did see the beginnings of it.  We did learn some cooking basics in Home Economics.   Saving the planet meant saving my parents money on the electric bill by shutting lights off in rooms where we weren't.  In sex ed I certainly learned things I had no business learning from a stranger and not only was premarital sex presented as acceptable (this was the 70's remember), we were taught birth control, told where to get it for free, and even passed around a sample of flavored contraceptive foam <-- in an era when 14-15 year olds didn't know what a Lewinsky was.  Speaking of which, in 5th or 6th grade we had our girls only tutorial on becoming a woman back when tampons were still quite controversial (and taught how to insert them) and Kotex still made bulky pads with a belt  (sorry guys).   In college the only course I ever took that dealt with any of that stuff was Masculine & Feminine, and we did have a Lamda Youth day back when everyone wasn't out.  

Seventeen magazine was pretty much the magazine aimed at teen girls and how we were supposed to be, what we should be concerned about and all that.  Later there were all manner of women's magazines -- Glamour, Self, Cosmo, Shape.   ...

Which brings me to the collusion and marketing and manipulation of the food industry.  Look, I don't deny it exists.  There's also an unholy alliance with government and subsidies.  The solution to that is to work to end the subsidies.  Marketing?  Well, if we let (and we have) our government dictate what is healthy, we have ourselves to blame.  We have, as a nation, sat back and traded freedoms for security left and right to where parents often have to resort to home schooling if they want to have any control over their child's upbringing.  

  • If we look to the government to dictate what's healthy, and the genius marketers can figure a way to incorporate that message into their advertising to get you to buy their crappy product ... who is to blame?
  • If we let our kids watch TV unattended and give them $5/day and let them fend for themselves with little supervision ... who is to blame when they buy chips and cookies and all those goodies?
Look, I don't envy being a parent these days.  But one can throw up their arms in surrender or be proactive.  We didn't get fat as kids mostly because we didn't have access to unlimited chips, soda, candy, and other crap.  We didn't get to choose what to eat.  If there were cookies in the house they were doled out - 2 or 3 depending on size usually with a small glass of milk.  You ate your veggies or there was no dessert.  Picky kids ate zucchini ... there were no clever cookbooks for making fruity smoothies or cupcakes to "hide" the vegetable.   

And a note to all those paleo and low carb parents out there ... just be careful not to overdo it.  I'm not a parent and I'm not telling you how to raise your kids.  But sooner or later they'll grow up, and be going out with friends and spending money they've earned.  Maybe they'll stick with how they were raised.  Or like many, they will rebel, or at least experiment.  If you demonize foods so much, that they never have them in their appropriate context -- occasional treat (that's not a dirty word even if you've convinced yourself that wheat is murder and one donut is a poison pill) -- they're ripe for the picking to go overboard.  I was raised pretty darned WAPF-paleo-PHD friendly.  There was no junk in our house and when Mom baked from scratch it was with reduced sugar, no frosting, and the goodies were rationed out.  It made McD's and Twinkies have an allure greater than the food itself possessed.  If you've had such foods on occasion, they lose that extra allure, but don't do any damage like if they are consumed regularly.  I liken it to alcohol in Europe vs. America.  When the drinking age was 18 in most places, nobody worried over minors drinking.  The people I know who had a glass of wine or a beer as a teen with their parents generally did not grow up to be drinkers and weren't the ones checked into the detox ward their first party in college.  Now that the age is 21, they aren't supposed to be able to drink in college even.  Ahh, but they do ... And how do they do it?  Now we have binge drinking problems.  You don't see that in France.  Same alcohol.  Same humans.  Same metabolism.  Dramatically different outcome based on societal attitude.

As to fast food and processed food, the food manufacturers gave us what we wanted!  Packaged and frozen TV dinners used to taste like crap.  So the food scientists went to work and found ways to freeze and reheat foods without sauces separating or meat turning to rubber, etc.  Then the microwave was invented and a whole new crop of food scientists went to work.  I still will not "cook" many things in one, but they do "bake" a potato in under 10 minutes and I'm forever grateful for the inventor of steam in the bag veggies!!  But in my youth, as a singleton, you really could do a lot worse than a Lean Cuisine!   Fast food establishments started staying open later, offering breakfasts, having 24 hour drive thrus because people came and wanted it.  Do you think BK is going to pay someone to keep the building open 24 hours if nobody comes??   Folks decry that there aren't more healthy options, etc.  Well thing is, nobody bought the McLean Deluxe (it was actually pretty tasty, they were always made fresh b/c almost nobody bought them and had lettuce and tomato) or the low fat menu at Taco Bell, or, for that matter, many of the low carb wraps offered in the Atkins boom of 2003-ish.   

Diet foods have been around since I can remember, they've just gotten a whole heckuvalot better tasting.  And who do we have to blame for that ... for the evil Snackwell?  We are not stupid.  It's time to stop acting like we are.  If I'm eating a certain way and its making me fat, I'm going to stop eating that way (thinking like someone who hasn't dieted per se).  Just because the government tells me breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I'm not going to start eating it when I've never been one that is hungry until several hours after waking up.  

The government most certainly has nothing to do with the explosion of drink obsessions.  It became fashionable to drink at Starbucks.  Heck, even regular coffee is no longer good enough for McD's ... do you think they'd be going into the crappacino market if there wasn't a CONSUMER??  Oh ... and chai and whatever.  Coldstone Creamery makes their caloric abomination shakes and DQ their Blizzards because people buy them and like them.  Doritos make their chips because people eat them.  And corn?  Well, corn chips being tasty is nothing new - oh and they used to be marketed by a cartoon character too ... the Frito Bandito <-- no longer politically correct.  So corn stuff is now "whole grain"  and "gluten free" as it always has been, but it's the manufacturers and marketers manipulating you into eating it with their clever marketing?  

We are perhaps reaping what we sowed in our prosperity.  Are SUV's the fault of the auto industry?  Or was it that not everyone wanted to drive around in coffins on wheels and this was how they could bring you a "station wagon" under the new regulations/mandates?  Do you need power everything in your car?  Air conditioning?  Many things that were upgrades you could select from a book in the 70's that now come standard in even the lowest model of many vehicles -- and are reflected in the price.  When I graduated college my car payment was more than my rent, and my car cost $11K.    Who the heck duped us stupid idjuts into believeing we NEEDED power steering, power breaks, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, remote trunk latch (heck, trunk release by the driver seat)?  I took my drivers' test on a car that had none of that.  So is the auto industry responsible for our sedentary behavior?  

What's so awful about the food engineer and marketing manager who is successful at selling their product and engineering it to consumer wants/needs, but noble about the engineer and marketing folks at  Big Auto?  When I bought my 2nd car, it had roll down windows but power mirrors and some other luxuries.  I didn't want or need those, but for $300 more than the other model, heck, I'm taking that value!  This is what happened with the whole super sizing.  Nobody is going to a restaurant that advertises "small portions".  We want value.  

Manipulation?  Well, I brought up women's magazines for a reason.  In my late 20's I stopped reading them.  It was the best thing I ever did, and I encourage all women everywhere to just stop reading the garbage.  The collusion between the advertisers and editors and writers is worse than anything you imagine for Big Corn and our government.  And while some of the potions of today do actually do something for wrinkles, etc., the potions of the 80s did not (collagen in a cream isn't going to incorporate into your skin, keratin in a conditioner isn't going to incorporate into your hair) ... didn't stop huge ads there.  The Dove commercials with "real women" in their undies are genius!  But the fashion, what's in, what you should wear for your figure, how you can fix this or tone that, all of that crap is a ton of nonsense.   Women are manipulated every day by the cosmetics and fashion industries.  I grew up in the era of the ERA, the hey day of modern feminism.  Despite it not being passed -- something Gloria Steinem assured us would keep us barefoot and preggers -- women exceed men in admissions and graduations in many professions, even those formerly dominated by men.  Be a stay at home mom? ... well ...

And nothing but nothing about many of the paleo and low carb and various exercise gurus that is any different.  The only thing worse that "The Man" manipulating you, is being manipulated by a reactionary attitude against "The Man".  Well maybe not worse, but equally insert your own moralistic adjective here.

What I find disturbing about the blame game is how easy it was for me to unplug from it all.  And not by going into seclusion and becoming a subsistence farmer in some remote area.  I just no longer buy magazines.  Food ads on TV?  The only ones I ever responded to were things like Crystal Light when it came out.  Anything else?  No.  I don't eat frozen pizza, so could care less if DiGiorno rises in the oven. I don't eat mac & cheese from a box, so I don't care which is cheesiest.  Or what new Doritos flavor there is.  If the ads bothered me, I could shut the TV off.  Or DVR programs and skip the commercials.     But just unplug from it.  It's far easier than you think if you're an adult.  I have far greater challenges living with a spouse who doesn't eat the same way I do, though he's even changed quite a bit since I've been cooking more.  I have no problem passing Doritos in the store, it's more difficult when there's a bag in the house, but even then there are ways around it (hubs must store them out of sight, and though it doesn't bother me, he would not eat them in front of me if I asked).  Someone mentioned travel?  Really?  It may be a bit more challenging but if it does you in, it's not the fault of the food manufacturers.  Signs for food?  Billboards?  Really??  I can see the smell of fresh baked bread or aroma of pizza, etc.  But a sign?  A picture?  If that really causes you to lose control, then perhaps some counseling is in order.

Peer pressure was mentioned.  That is IT folks.  It's that your neighbor has that car, or that gadget, or that tool, or that whatever.  We Americans have a saying about "keeping up with the Joneses" -- Corporations kept having to outdo each other as the consumers kept trying to outdo each other or get that better value.    But with food I think it's more social pressure.  We socialize around food and alcohol.  Few just get together for anything without food being part of the picture.  Is this something Big Food and the US Government invented?  No.  Plan accordingly and don't be too inflexible and it becomes a non issue.  Trust me.  If this former binge eater can be so indifferent to it all at this point, anyone can be.  And if I can eat a handful of Doritos (probably one of the most engineered palatable foods on the planet) out of a big bag and walk away, you can to!  Yes .. you CAN!!

CHOICES.  The alternative, as Eric stated, is draconian regulations.  I've never been a smoker, but always been against the anti-smoking campaigns.  Yes, fewer people smoke, but those that still  do are penalized greatly by taxes 5X the cost of the cigs themselves that aren't going towards healthcare, and they still pay surcharges on their own health insurance and life insurance premiums.  What next ... will a parent who smokes in front of their kids because it sets a bad example?  If Lustig has his way, sugar will be viewed as equivalent of alcohol.  Nanny Bloomberg is already trying to ban drinks over 16  oz as if that will do anything but make the lives of the restaurant owners more difficult.  Kids can't bring cupcakes from home for birthdays?  Government officials inspecting brown bag lunches -- perhaps not allowing a small real apple juice?  And don't think they won't be coming for your beloved fat.   And here in NY we have 10 foot signs announcing the calories in the special of the month at McD's.  Yeah, only in America is 800 calories for $3.99 a crime....  The "community" rants like some libertarian/anarchistic lot, but they seem to be the first to line up to defend the hyperbole of Lustig, the demagoguery of Taubes, etc.  They don't like the "healthywholegrains" and would love to see that regulated out of existence, and yet CAFO beef, homogenized/pasteurized milk, and store brand eggs are unacceptable substitutes.   Ban this, ban that, tax this, tax that.  

There's that saying about "when they came for the name oppressed group I did nothing ... then they came for me".   The only way for that not to play out here with this diet/health situation we find us in is to stop empowering government to "come for" anyone, and take personal responsibility.  Ancel Keys and marketing execs at McDonalds didn't make you fat.

Off soap box.  :D

"I think environment is *extremely* relevant but it's broad and vast [a lot more than food and marketing is involved]. People who are on the wrong side of the power curve will STILL BE THERE when it costs more to buy a coke or when the Happy Meals aren't allowed to have toys in them. I think it is always worth the effort and study to be free than to be a well managed slave which is the best possible outcome of using taxation and regulation to attempt to generically sanitize my environment for me on my dime. The best possible outcome is not generally the true result in any case."
I agree with this comment by Bentley, also on that thread, that was made while I was composing this post or it would have been included on top.  Especially that bolded line.

Update #2:  Beth's comment reminded me of Mike's recent comment here that he expanded on in a blog post.  Perhaps instead of personal responsibility, it's more an epidemic of human nature.  Former block countries many (but not all) were overtaken by freedom, choices, and consumerism ... and perhaps the opportunity to act on greed and instant gratification without penalty.  Meanwhile industrialized Western cultures fell prey to the same impulses that could now be gratified with little effort or money (vs. the "old days").  Humans are good at "gaming the system".  Nice post Mike!


bentleyj74 said…
Hope it's OK I'm moving this post to this thread instead of the former where I just posted it.

Last night I had a 400+ calorie king sized candy bar for dinner...was it a binge? Was I out of control? I ate in, enjoyed it, and was satisfied till morning. In fact I'm still not hungry and will probably wait for lunch. Some could say...well that means you are physiologically normal congratulations and step off. Yet, I have gotten fat before so doesn't that mean that there *is* something wrong with me? I'd just be naturally resistant or neurotically white knuckling it while starving otherwise right? How can a former fat girl who got fat eating candy bars eat them now in large servings and NOT have the same result? That's against the law or something isn't it?

A little further down there's a really good discussion basically re environment vs self control that I've been wanting to reply to but hadn't quite articulated what I wanted to say....then I read the "Go Kaleo" blog yesterday [not sure which poster here owns that] and there was a super good post...really compelling...that finally let me put my thoughts in order. She was talking very honestly about the real costs of having the sort of self control involved in what I call moving against the tide. It's exhausting and she's dead on about the realities for all other aspects of life when your energy is redirected toward a specific isolated goal.

So I agree with her that this is what it's like *when you are moving against the tide* and your goals/desires are incongruent with your environment. People who suggest "self control" or "willpower" are usually people that naturally set their environment up for a win without necessarily even being aware that they are doing it.

They actually are not using willpower at all [less often than average in my observation] on a day to day basis and their self control is directed toward the appropriate part of the equation usually also without their conscious awareness. This gives the impression that they are either contending for the title of Atlas or just really smug and ignorant instead of conveying the *profoundly* useful information and perspective that they do have about how to navigate your personal landscape and cause it to bear the fruit YOU want efficiently. How to do it without having a daily fight with yourself involving a lot of decision making and throat slitting and relationship conflict.

I think environment is *extremely* relevant but it's broad and vast [a lot more than food and marketing is involved]. People who are on the wrong side of the power curve will STILL BE THERE when it costs more to buy a coke or when the Happy Meals aren't allowed to have toys in them. I think it is always worth the effort and study to be free than to be a well managed slave which is the best possible outcome of using taxation and regulation to attempt to generically sanitize my environment for me on my dime. The best possible outcome is not generally the true result in any case.
I am with you that going down the regulatory path is not a workable option even if you're into nanny statism (largely because the food lobby has too much power/$$).

At the same time, I see this as something more than just a massive global failure of personal responsibility.
bentleyj74 said…
Big Ag isn't responsible for abandoned [by one or more parents] children who are unsupervised the majority of their waking hours but it does make it cheaper and easier to feed them. Apple isn't responsible for parents being permissive or for people texting while driving. Ect and so forth.

The relationship between what's available and what people do with those resources is *there* imo but it's subtle and intricate and has more to do with perceptions and motivations and how all of the moving parts are coming together for the individual than it does with metabolism or manipulation. Putting the smackdown on the resource leaves people in precisely the same condition they were before only with fewer resources and options. People didn't get fat because corn is cheap [and I'm no fan of subsidies]. If they were TRULY capitalizing on the resource as a resource they would be using it to their personal advantage and would probably be both thinner and wealthier as a result. There will always be variables that can work for or against people, teaching them how to grab the reigns is infinitely more emancipating than telling them to submit to arbitrary and draconian rules and punitive fees. The problem is, when you take responsibility for yourself you have to actually contend with YOURSELF and all of the areas of your life that are in conflict.
Lerner said…
Speak of the devil:

Science Journal Takes Aim at 'Big Food'

Published: June 21, 2012

The food and beverage industry has a huge and growing influence on the obesity crisis, but "Big Food" is not met with the same skepticism as other industries that influence public health, according to the editors of PLoS Medicine.
Asclepius said…
"I liken it to alcohol in Europe vs. America. When the drinking age was 18 in most places, nobody worried over minors drinking. The people I know who had a glass of wine or a beer as a teen with their parents generally did not grow up to be drinkers and weren't the ones checked into the detox ward their first party in college. Now that the age is 21, they aren't supposed to be able to drink in college even. Ahh, but they do ... And how do they do it? Now we have binge drinking problems. You don't see that in France."

Hmmm - got to call this as cherry picking evidence! In the UK we can drink at at home with the permission of a parent from aged 5! If out for a meal in a restaurant we can drink alcohol at aged 16. The legal age to purchase alcohol is 18. As you may well know, there is a big problem here with binge drinking.

As for France in particular, they have a more sophisticated culture than most British of letting kids enjoy alcohol with a meal, but things have gotten out of hand in recent years. Google 'Le Binge Drinking'- and of course they blame the British for this!

On a wider note, there is clearly something about modern foods that make them hard to resist, easy to overeat and, perhaps even addictive. If food is engineered to bypass our sense of being sated/satiated, then it makes assurances from the manufacturer that their product 'can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet' pretty hollow - because all our biological limits that help us check our eating are not working.

Should we really blame the addict rather than the supplier? Would you do this if we were talking about illegal drugs/alcohol/tobacco?
bentleyj74 said…
"Should we really blame the addict rather than the supplier?"

Yes, I would absolutely.

Would you do this if we were talking about illegal drugs/alcohol/tobacco?

Nigel Kinbrum said…
I felt that Eric was trying to create a false dichotomy i.e. The Obesity Epidemic is 100% due to "Big Food" vs The Obesity Epidemic is 0% due to "Big Food".

I believe that the Obesity Epidemic is partially due to "Big Food". Partially is still too much.

RE Billboards: One trick of psychological illusionist Derren Brown is to hand somebody an envelope and ask the person to name a tune. When the person names the tune, Brown asks them to open the envelope. The tune that they thought of is written on a piece of paper inside the envelope. How did he do that?

He arranged for the person's travel route to pass a large number of signs with the song title written on them. The multiple subliminal messages put that song into the person's head. Ditto for the large number of billboards & shop signs for foods & drinks that put thoughts of eating & drinking into people's heads that wouldn't be there otherwise.

I don't have a problem with companies advertising non-food/drink items and making as much profit as they like on them. However, I believe that people need to eat/drink good quality food/drink to achieve optimum health. Much suffering is being caused by "Big Food" influencing people to displace good quality food/drink with excessive amounts of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle. I think that this is wrong.

Is it really asking so much to ban food/drink ads, including displays of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle? Ditto for subsidies for large companies? It's not a ban on buying stuff and it's not a tax on stuff, so what's the problem?
Asclepius said…
Just want to add that the cherry-picking jibe above was purely tongue in cheek! :)
bentleyj74 said…
Nigel, how can you be influenced by someone you hold in utter contempt? I'm not even aware of what bill boards exist between my house and any given destination because I'm not interested in looking at them. I might recognize a jingle but so what? Are we going to play Black Sabbath records backwards next? The best a marketer can do is influence whether I choose them or their competitor when I want crap in a box. They can not compel, influence, or persuade me to buy crap in a box when what I really wanted was beef bourguignon.
CarbSane said…
The more I think about it, the more the alcohol analogy is apt. When I was a teen, if you looked around 16 and could "pass" nobody bothered you ordering beer in a restaurant or getting into a bar. We did this, me and my friends that is, and my big problem was the baby face. The waitress would bring the beer and glasses for my friends and wink-wink a water glass for the "one of us who didn't look 18". Harummmph!! There was alcohol at a "class party" my senior year in HS and I drank Southern Comfort for the first time at that party. It was 3 blocks from home, my best friend walked home with me, I didn't wake up until noon the next day. My parents, strict as they were, never said a peep. I think they knew that in six months or so I'd be on my own, and this was the best lesson I could learn in relative safety.

So this is what I'm talking about, and when I talk about binge drinking, I'm not talking about drinking a lot. I sure as heck did my fair share of that in college. No ... what I'm talking about is that now kids will be able to get alcohol in their dorm or home from an older brother, parent, whatever, but unable to be served in a bar or frat. So they guzzle before going out, then perhaps do drugs in the bar, or maybe have something out in the car if that's how they got there. Bad behavior ... worse than just allowing drinking in the bar at that age, however bad.

This is what they want to do with food. Whether or not someone considers it "food", all of the modern culinary evils were present in some way, shape or form 50 or even 100 years ago. It's not the food.

He he he... It's Friday ... have a Cherry-pickin' martini on me! :D
Nigel Kinbrum said…
Do the people who consume lots of CIAB hold the makers of it in contempt? I very much doubt it. It's invalid to assume that, because you're not influenced, others aren't. Marketing does increase consumption. It doesn't just influence brand choice.

I'll ask again: Is it really asking so much to ban food/drink ads, including displays of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle? Ditto for subsidies for large companies? It's not a ban on buying stuff and it's not a tax on stuff, so what's the problem?
bentleyj74 said…
I agree it's the culture not specifically the alcohol. I was raised drinking alcohol, heck my uncle used to make wine as a hobby however...being drunk or high indiscriminately was frowned upon not because it's "wrong" but rather almost unforgivably *stupid* which is a relevant distinction.
bentleyj74 said…
What business is it of yours if people who consume it don't hold it in contempt? I occasionally consume it, I don't hold them in contempt neither am I compelled by them. It seemed you were implying that you were influenced despite your disdain via compulsion/subliminal messages/etc. If you are not compelled despite their best efforts what makes you think other people are rather than the more obvious conclusion that their priorities and preferences are not what you want them to be or think they "should" be.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
You're still evading answering my question. Whether or not people hold companies in contempt is irrelevant. Whether or not I am influenced is irrelevant.

I'll ask once again: Is it really asking so much to ban food/drink ads, including displays of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle? Ditto for subsidies for large companies? It's not a ban on buying stuff and it's not a tax on stuff, so what's the problem?
CarbSane said…
Nige: I don't know about where you live, but cig ads and marketing here in the US has been seriously curtailed. And yet ... smoking amongst teens -- as in observation, not statistics subject to reporting error -- has not really changed. If anything, it's the youngsters who take up the habit lately. For every kid who will never try it out of whatever/wherever they are taught, there are others who still do it because it is cool.

So cool Joe Camel and Marlboro points for free merchandise are long gone ... yet kids smoke. And you're kidding yourself about ads ... frankly some of the ads of the 50's are FAR more insidious and dripping with propaganda (do it for the troops!).

In grammar school my Mom sent me with an apple or a natural peanut butter and lettuce on sprouted zillion grain bread sandwich for lunch. My classmates had bologna with cheese on white bread or Skippy peanut butter and grape jelly (lots) and a Twinkie. I'm not making this shit up. I some how managed to trade sometimes or I'd never have tasted a Twinkie!

Ads are not the problem.
Asclepius said…
Really? Perhaps you should consider the society that would precipitate from allowing capitalist exploitation of the vulnerable.

By the way, society doesn't agree with you - which is why for example, we have advertising controls on what can be marketed to kids and how this can be done.

Whilst I am all for liberty and freedom of the individual, in practice there are grey areas which include defence of the vulnerable (preferably through education, transparency and robust science).
CarbSane said…
And that has prevented kids from doing what they will, how?
Nigel Kinbrum said…
Cigarette smoking has decreased overall. Do you believe that this is a good thing? Whether it's increased taxation or a lack of ads or a combination of both, it's impossible to say. Are you suggesting that banning tobacco ads has actually encouraged underage smoking? I believe that young people are naturally rebellious and like to do taboo things. Underage smoking/drinking/shagging are all taboo things.

I think that we're going to have to agree to disagree on the power of marketing. There's only one way to find out if marketing is or isn't a significant driver of consumption and that's to ban it. Will people's worlds come to an end if this happens? Nobody seems to be willing to answer what seems like a simple question to me.

If, as you claim, the obesity epidemic is simply a matter of contagious Gluttony & Sloth all around the world, there is no solution and we might as well all pack up and quit blogging!

P.S. To answer bentleyj74's question, I am influenced by CIAB marketing, but I have the knowledge & resources to almost completely avoid it. :-)
Unknown said…
Wow. Anecdotes about how tough and resistant some of us are to marketing. Surely that disproves the point, right? Lol.

Firstly, this government versus corporation nonsense is the biggest false dichotomy above anything else. Both work quite well together.

Let's look at this blog. . . it's largely devoted to fighting certain misconceptions about diet.

Yet, if you look at the mainstream, even primary contrarian knowledge is so heavily controlled, monopolised and contorted that a place such as this one wouldn't even be considered, no matter how many pubmed articles we throw around.

So we have people under the belief that beef consumption is cancerous. What now? Do they go to one of these 'loony paleo/alternative health blogs' to get a clue, or even dare to scour the technical jargon on pubmed? Do they listen to PlantPositive? Please! They're going to bloody rely on other mainstream sources parroting the same oversimplified nonsense.

So is fructose good? Is fructose bad? To hell with getting fat. Let's just talk about what's healthy for the long run -- is actual plain table sugar good or bad? Look up the answer with all those wonderful 'empowering' information tools, and instead of being given a well-informed complete picture, we're being sold different varieties of contradicting truths in convenient little popular columns and health articles that barely hold a candle to some of these blog posts. To be well-informed, people would have to be pathologically fixated on the internet to a degree that is just not practical or even healthy.

I've grown up around journalists and was mentored by one and seen other colleagues go on to make their names. Now let's take low carb notions as a subject of contention; a place as informative as this blog, as an example, wouldn't even cross their radar before they start quoting Taubes and Eades as gospel through no direct fault of their own other than just the hype and influence that drives certain ideas around. So what do you do? Use the free market of ideas and drive up the value and appeal of your own ideas so they can compete against the false conceptions? Good luck. You'll be needing it. Until then, people are and always will be victim to popular trends and fundamental conditioning.

"If anything, it's the youngsters who take up the habit lately. For every kid who will never try it out of whatever/wherever they are taught, there are others who still do it because it is cool." - Evelyn aka Carbsane

Yes, it's called a trend that also had a point of origin somewhere else. It's not like some of us were born with this thing in our DNA that said, "Go smoke now! You need to be teh kewlz!" Also, marketing isn't just about overtures. There's plenty of cultural quirks being syphoned around through various, subtler avenues and channels with the specific goal of achieving desired behaviour without overt coercion. How else do we have countries in another part of this world where people still think that rape victims getting publicly stoned, or accused thieves being amputated is some glorious example of justice?

Now can we please talk about something that is a little less trivial.

Perhaps a little dose of anarchy should take place so people can get this infatuation out of their systems and the rest of humanity can resume working with the clear-cut compromises of an increasingly co-dependant and complexly collective society.
Unknown said…
Kids these days mostly want to be vampires so I think they will be increasingly resistant to food marketing, it's the blood banks who should be worrying.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
School-kids consume CIAB because they've been consuming it before they went to school so, to them, it's normal. This is different from taboo activities, which some school-kids do simply because they're taboo.

Forbidding kids from consuming CIAB might not be effective for the above reason (especially if parents are subversive). Banning food ads probably won't make much/any difference at first, but there should be an increasing effect as time passes, by removing the "normalcy" of CIAB consumption.

RE Illegal drugs: Where do you draw the line at blaming the addict? Do you approve of dealers handing-out free booze/fags/crack/heroin to school-kids to get them addicted? My answer is no/no/no/no. What's yours?
P2ZR said…
Funny how people will invoke 'gluttony and sloth' when something touches a nerve and they reflexively want to label the provoker a misguided moralist.

There's a simple saying that gets to the heart of this, and I'm surprised that no one has brought it up (or perhaps I missed it). 'Don't set yourself up for failure.' It goes hand in hand with Bentley's 'moving against the tide' (is the more common saying 'swimming upstream'?).

Granted, not setting yourself up for failure takes some honesty and perceptiveness re: what your stumbling blocks are; and the road to failure is in fact sometimes the path of least resistance. Buying the drive-thru meal instead of preparing some wholesome food. Getting the super-value meal while you're at it so that you'll have leftovers and won't have to make the kids' dinner. But really, is it so hard to figure out that being Big Ag/Food's marionette, responding to every beck and call of their ads, is stacking the odds of wellness against you?

I'm not sure how comfortable I am standing squarely in the 'personal responsibility trumps all' camp, though. Sometimes, the biochemical allure of something (new) is so powerful that you just don't know what hit you. Think the introduction of drink to American Indian tribes in the colonial and frontier eras of American history, so that they could be easily parted from their land. Think the introduction of opium into 19th c. imperial China, so that silver could easily flow out of the haughty empire. You could argue that there wasn't sufficient education against the deleterious effects of these poisons, but then you have to ask how well the demographics most affected by the obesity epidemic today are equipped to deal with the onslaught of advertisement for boxed/bagged crap.

'There's only one way to find out if marketing is or isn't a significant driver of consumption and that's to ban it. Will people's worlds come to an end if this happens?'

The slippery slope argument (re: free speech) would be facile but not invalid here. There is already way too much rhetoric being hashed out over what skimpy clothes the Abercrombie & Fitch can market to little girls, to what violent video games can be advertised or sold to little boys, etc. Democracy is choice, and choice means being able to say, 'no thanks', when capitalistic marketers are trying to ram crap (pseudo-edible and otherwise) down our gullets. Choice does require knowledge, but are we really so haplessly unknowledgeable?

Incidentally, does anyone know good stats for alcoholism? I think it's down for most demographics in most countries, except notably for Russia. I have this half-formed (warning, inflammatory) hypothesis that, as alcoholism has become even more stigmatized in recent decades, obesity has taken off partly because one addiction is naturally supplanted by another. High-functioning alcoholics exist, but it is much easier and more socially acceptable to be a high-functioning junk food addict. Just a possibility.
P2ZR said…
LOL! But aren't they supposed to be getting the blood straight from the jugular veins of their peers?
bentleyj74 said…

"I'll ask once again: Is it really asking so much to ban food/drink ads, including displays of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle? "

Who are we supposing *is* being manipulated and do you think they'd agree with that assertion?

"Excuse me sir, I can't help but observe that you are too stupid to feed yourself properly...don't you agree that some higher authority ought to step in and save you from your own ability to make choices I don't like?"
bentleyj74 said…
Ha! The current vampire trends leave me longing for the good old days when vampires were evil at least most of the time :)
Alex said…
When I grew up, the drinking age was 18. I was also raised in a Eurocentric household where we kids got to enjoy the occasional glass of wine. But, I abused alcohol from the very first day I could buy it, and I went on to become a raging alcoholic. As it turns out, my biological mother was from a family of hardcore alcoholics, and I have no doubt that I am genetically predisposed to alcoholism. That said, I was just as responsible for my drinking as I am now for my sobriety. No one held a gun to my head and forced me to drink.
bentleyj74 said…
I think you could make a VERY compelling case that populations [even ethnically diverse populations] that are impoverished, "conquered", and dependent become very passive/path of least resistance prone.

I think most fights are won or lost on the battlefield of the *mind*. Training matters. Resources matter. Conditioning matters. Pushing your empire into Asia is a catastrophically bad idea pretty much ...ever. These things are realities...but there's something valuable lost when we submit our autonomy in defeat and say "Yes, that man in the dancing clown suit has defeated me utterly. He used bright primary colors, loud music, pictures of lettuce air born through a cascade of water and I was misled"

Most people...when they are being honest...know that simply isn't true. More likely they were feeling overwhelmed in a generalized sense due to not having a handle on the other conflicting areas of life and the fast food was cheap *enough* to be a problem solver for them their way right away. They can check out, they want to check out, no one will even argue or complain. In fact it's a "treat". All the benefits of being drunk without actually having to get drunk and best of all no hangover :)
P2ZR said…
'School-kids consume CIAB because they've been consuming it before they went to school so, to them, it's normal. This is different from taboo activities, which some school-kids do simply because they're taboo.'

Yet how are you going to deal with the reality that frankenfoods will become cooler by being stigmatized, i.e., made taboo to some extent? Related to this is the almost-schadenfreude of the skinny girl deriving an ounce of extra pleasure from eating 'bad' foods in front of a plump girl who is openly struggling with her weight and diet. (Full disclosure: I was once that skinny girl, but some of those plump girls were really, really mean.) If a taboo is established, there will be those who revel in the act of rebellion.
Jacquie said…
My issue with the extensive marketing of highly manufactured foods is that in the aggregate, the advertising makes such items seem like the norm and acceptable as customary and commonplace parts of our daily diets.

Ninety-plus percent of what I purchase when grocery shopping falls into the category of single ingredient items: fresh or frozen fruit and vegs, fresh or frozen meat, canned fish, pasta and rice, strained tomatoes, nuts, dried legumes, butter, cheese, eggs--you get the idea. (Okay some of what I listed may have added salt, but I wish it didn't; I prefer to do my own seasoning.) The only store bought, multi ingedient foods I typically have in the house are sprouted grain bread, oatmeal crackers, bottled kimchi and salsa, and mustard. Once in a great while, I'll splurge on organic Italian pork sausage or an order of liverwurst from a mail order company. I combine my single ingredient foods with other single ingredient foods to make meals that are free from flavor enhancers and preservatives.

Maybe the chemical additives have no effect on our health, or appetites, at any dose. Or maybe they do, a little or a lot. To be on the safe side, I stay away from them. But judging by what I see in other people's grocery carts, the majority of people are eating a lot of additives and preservatives. And if the statistics about such things are close to accurate, the majority of people are carrying extra weight. Maybe there's no relation. Or maybe there is. I don't think anyone knows for sure just yet.

And when I look at what other people are buying, more than half--sometimes a lot more than half--of whatever is in their carts is multi ingredient food. On more than one occasion, I've had a clerk or fellow shopper comment about my "healthy" food in such a way as to imply that it's "unusual," if not downright weird. Which leads me to believe that the heavy marketing of multi ingredient food has helped create this mind-set of highly processed food being seen as normal and maybe equivalent to fresher, less adulterated, minimally processed food.

Call me cynical, but I really don't trust the food manufacturers to have the general population's better health in mind when they're formulating, producing and marketing their quasi food.

By the way, I also remember fondly the Oreos, chips, and Coca-Cola that my mother occasionally brought home as treats for the kids. I'm 49 years old. I think it's a pretty safe bet that what was in those foods in the 60's and 70's is somewhat different than what is in those foods now.
garymar said…
The greatest invention of the modern world is the MUTE button on the TV remote control.
Geoff 99 said…
Marketing and product development in the food industry are the result of well over 100 years of rapidly evolving, "survival of the fittest", message/product "arms wars". Products and messages that have survived and prospered are the ones we have voted for in the free marketplace.

The messages of advertising and product marketing are now more a window into the soul than a description of the contents. If you look, they tell you things about yourself and about us as a species. Our hopes, dreams and fundamental drives. Look carefully at the packaging, imaging, messaging and feel - then ask "why?".

This not part of some conspiracy. It has become this way based on what sells, on what succeeds, on what is "voted for". On what worked. Things evolved. We selected the winners.

The promise of long term health, fitness, pleasure and elevated mood - all wrapped around cheap, high reward, factory foods is a winning combination. Food based on sugar(s), MSG(s), fat(s), artificial flavors, preservatives and novel chemicals - and the ubiquitous salt. The message is health, pleasure, quality, simplicity and honesty. The deceit is obvious, but it works. Why?

Real food in a simple bag with a picture of whats, inside typical of my 1960's childhood was obviously a losing combination - even when it included a small plastic toy or swap card.

Why did the low fat craze take off in the 80's? Because we were told to eat that way? Because we all made up our own minds based on the information to hand? Because we trusted the people who told us? Because of convincing evidence from long term carefully controlled studies showing phenomenal improvements in longevity and quality of life too good to miss out on? (joke).

I think it is simply that the message dovetailed into basic human emotions and fears - ones that are continually looking for self-improvement. For a performance edge. For a long life. For attractiveness. For clear skin and keen eyesight. For energy. For fulfillment.

The low fat message captured the imagination of the marketplace - and that marketplace voted in millions for the low-fat dream. People wanted the promise and seeming ease of a low-fat life. And the food industry found a great new past-time, re-inventing the flavors and textures of our past in new and fat-free ways. It also found ways to hide fat, or to encourage you to indulge when you had "been good".

There are plenty of other drivers besides health of course. Hedonism and self-indulgence (fat + sugar + fat). Out of body, drug like experiences (sugar + fizz) - especially targeting children! Endurance and recovery (sugar). Quality and freshness (preservatives, colors, GMO, factory farming). Fun (sugar + fat + color + exploding mouth candy). They all have their own agenda.

If there is a conspiracy we (in general) have been willing participants. In the end I think it is more productive to ask why? than to try and say no!
bentleyj74 said…
"Really? Perhaps you should consider the society that would precipitate from allowing capitalist exploitation of the vulnerable.

By the way, society doesn't agree with you - which is why for example, we have advertising controls on what can be marketed to kids and how this can be done."

Lol, the kids I knew doing hard core drugs on a daily basis in high school were buying it direct from cartels in Mexico. In the Midwest. In daylight. In the center of town. Cheap. And making fun of those regulations while they smoked. The notion that teenagers can't get what they want without going to the store is just naive and then they get to make "friends" with some really dangerous people who are *for sure* exploiting vulnerable populations both at home and abroad. I'd love to see those polls though. "Show of hands who bought cigarettes illegally and also a bunch of narcotics and whose parents would roll in their graves prematurely if they knew how closely associated their children were with the nice folks deeply involved in the international sex slave trade"

Society also likes to release child predators and call them rehabilitated despite the appalling statistics.
bentleyj74 said…
"RE Illegal drugs: Where do you draw the line at blaming the addict? Do you approve of dealers handing-out free booze/fags/crack/heroin to school-kids to get them addicted? My answer is no/no/no/no. What's yours?"

My answer? Where are their parents?
MD said…
I think this discussion is missing an enormous part to it. We are very privileged to devote the time that we do to thinking about what we eat. I come from a working class background and almost everyone in my family does blue collar work. When you are on your feet all day, to barely make ends meet, only to wake up and do it again, the last thing you care about is "real food." It is just the reality. I live on the border of some rough neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores and many of the kids are in and out of jail or won't make it to 25. When that is your life, you don't care that you eat McDonald's every day. What is the point? You want food that is cheap, filling, and tastes good.

Fast food places love to market and open up in shitty neighborhoods. Why do you think that is? It's not that they don't know. They are not stupid. It's just a totally different priority. Try to imagine life as a young black male growing up in abject poverty with literally every odd stacked against you. Do you give a shit about the calorie count of your dinner? No. These are systemic issues. All of us reading and commenting on this blog can and do clearly make other choices and we are so lucky to be in that position.
Asclepius said…
@Bentley - looking at your last couple of answers I have to question how these parents are going to intervene in the purchasing habits of kids who deal directly with Mexican drug cartels.

@Evelyn - "And that has prevented kids from doing what they will, how?"
When a child is young its mind is highly plastic. Strong parenting is required along with prohibition to develop favourable behaviours. You only need to see what is happening with smoking in Indonesia to see how very vulnerable kids are exploited by the cigarette manufacturers and exposed to risk due to parental ignorance.

As children approach teenage years, sure they will experiment but this is where transparency, honesty and education come into it whilst prohibition loses much of its power. I know many kids who've tried smoking but always had an eye that the Reaper's hand was on their shoulder. Most have not pursued it as an addiction (and limited it to nights-out), fearful of the consequences.
Mike said…
@Evelyn - Wow, thanks so much for mentioning my post. It's much appreciated.

Lots of good thoughts here and much to chew on. I agree that it's easy for someone who is even vaguely aware of advertising tactics to render themselves immune to it. In the mid 90s I picked up a Tivo and have seen very few commercials since. These days I don't even have cable (just Netflix and DVDs) and all my Internet browsers have ad blockers.

I'm so out of the loop, I don't even know what movies are playing or what TV series are currently airing. When people at work talk about a funny commercial, I've rarely ever seen it.

It wasn't a concerted effort to reduce the influence of ads on my behavior. I just found them to be really annoying and I was tech savvy enough to excise most of them from my life.

But here's the odd thing. My wife and I are far less impulsive shoppers than we used to be. I almost resent when manufacturers release new versions of their products and skip more generations of iPods, Rokus, cell phones, etc. than I used to. I still dig my gadgets but I tend to upgrade only when the old one breaks or I start to run into serious compatibility issues.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is a strong correlation between exposure to advertising and consumption. Not just of the specific products or foods, but overall consumption.

While we can dismiss advertising on an individual level, there's one fact we can't ignore. Companies spend billions of dollars on it. I've heard claims that for some products, it's the biggest portion of their cost.

Companies aren't spending those billions for the purpose of providing us with funny TV shows, cheap magazines and free music on the radio. They're not running a charity. They spend that money because advertising works. If it didn't, they wouldn't waste their money.
Eric said…
Hey, that's me!

Anyways, I won't say that we should keep doing what we are doing, but I think attempting to regulate adult behaviors will ultimately be futile on this front unless we go tobacco and just keep slapping taxes on the products until they are too expensive to afford. This has always been a economic/reward system and as long as food is cheap entertainment this will continue. I support Bloombergs attempts to regulate or tax caloric sodas, honestly it's a low hanging fruit in the fight. Will it do a lot, probably not but it will have an effect even if that is just raising awareness. I agree with his analysis and hitting the economic side of the equation is probably going to be the most effective in the US.

That said I'm a little more aggressive when it comes to children's items. While I do believe that parents are ultimately responsible, we as a society should attempt to make it easier by removing the most egregious attempts to manipulate our children. The biggest problem will be addressing the schools who will need some serious financial support in order to cut off these revenue streams that are helping to float their compromised budgets.

I've watched the episodes on youtube and I'll stand by original comments, I think the show is a huge cop-out and very poorly done compared to other recent documentaries. They are using confirmation bias, "just so stories", and "post hoc ergo proctor hoc" reasoning. They leave out all contradictory evidence in order to prove their point and by doing so compromise their show. Often times I have seen them present contradictory statements from one moment to the next, specifically they say that they only now have a good grasp of the unstructured play of children via accelerometers, but then on to say, with certainty, that children are as active now as they were 30 years ago. Having been a child 30 years ago, and being a parent myself, I find that hard to swallow.

They point a lot of fingers, but never at individual choice. The fact is we, as a society, love cheap and tasty food and the companies are going to provide that. Anything else would be economic suicide for a food company. They imply malice and immoral actions when economics alone fully explain the actions of not only the companies, but of people as well.

We are all entitled to out own opinion, but not our own facts.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
P2ZR said...
"Yet how are you going to deal with the reality that frankenfoods will become cooler by being stigmatized..."
I'm only proposing a ban on CIAB/frankenfood/w.h.y. marketing (& subsidies on the ingredients for them). You've remixed what I wrote into stigmatisation. I smell straw.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
bentleyj74 said...
"My answer? Where are their parents?"
Congratulations! You've managed to evade answering yet another simple question. The correct response is x/y/z/t where x,y,z & t are either "yes" or "no". Are you a politician or are you just trolling?

What do you think should be done about feckless parents? Go on, surprise me by giving me a straight answer.
bentleyj74 said…
"As children approach teenage years, sure they will experiment but this is where transparency, honesty and education come into it whilst prohibition loses much of its power. I know many kids who've tried smoking but always had an eye that the Reaper's hand was on their shoulder. Most have not pursued it as an addiction (and limited it to nights-out), fearful of the consequences."

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha...ha ha ha...ha. [Wipes away tears of mirth] That's a good one. The kids buying from cartels didn't have parental prohibition at any point and "educating" from kindergarten on did absolutely nothing to stop those habits and relationships from forming. Prohibition never had any power where it didn't have teeth.

I ask again...where are the parents? Do you think it is by mistake that the sellers are targeting a grey zone where children are frequently alone for all practical purposes? Child predators love to hunt school grounds too. Noise, crowds, and huge child to adult ratios. Perfect. That kid can be missing for hours before anyone even knows.
bentleyj74 said…

You are framing the question in a manner that evades the root issue. I am giving you not just *a* straight answer but THE straight answer.

The children are a vulnerable population because their parents are awol.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
The Early Bird study was quite a long one as studies go and it showed that kids' activity levels declined after they became fat, not before (as Big Food would have us believe). The documentaries contain biases & inaccuracies and have been dumbed-down for the general public. So what? They're trying to level a currently extremely lop-sided playing field. Big Food hasn't been unbiased or accurate with its information.

Why is CIAB so cheap? Because your government has been bribed into giving your tax $'s to wealthy growers of corn, wheat & soya.

Our government is also adversely influenced by Big Food. I find it sad that making loads of money is a higher priority to some people than health.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
I'll ask once again: Is it really asking so much to ban food/drink ads, including displays of Crap-In-A-Bag/Bottle?
bentleyj74 replied...
"Who are we supposing *is* being manipulated and do you think they'd agree with that assertion?"
The correct answer to my question was "Yes" or "No". You are clearly incapable of giving a straight answer. I'm not going to waste any more of my valuable time asking you any more questions.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
What do you think should be done about feckless parents? Go on, surprise me by giving me a straight answer.
bentleyj74 replied...
You are framing the question in a manner that evades the root issue. I am giving you not just *a* straight answer but THE straight answer.
The children are a vulnerable population because their parents are awol."
See my reply to you below. I'm done with you.
CarbSane said…
I don't think anyone is saying that any of this is near 100% the fault of one thing or another. For example if fructose addiction were to be established as an inevitable result of consumption in 99% of humans, it still wasn't the cause of my obesity.

Let's say we ban all food advertising. Period. Are we going to tell businesses they are not allowed to have signs bigger than 2'x4' in black and white if they serve fattening foods at their establishment? Are you going to ban the McD's billboard alerting drivers that there's a rest stop coming up in 10 miles? And if you do, do you still allow the billboard alerting same that there's an adult lingerie and sex toy shop off the same exit? Here in the US we have reservations that are exempt from cigarette taxes. They do GOOD business. When I was in high school, we even had a smoking section, and you could go smoke there if you had a parental permission on file. When high schools let out these days, the numbers of teens who light up seems about the same as I recall from my youth, though it definitely varies on the area. What's happened is it's largely a tax on the poor who are not stupid, they know it's not good for them, they smoke anyway, and have even less money available to get themselves out of their situation. Crap food is consumed disproportionately by the poor too. Tax it to death and they'll just have even less money to get out of their predicament. My husband's store in a very poor and rough neighborhood in NYC sells some food, including very economical milk and eggs. Most of his clientele has the welfare debit card. He routinely has to throw out the milk and eggs as nobody buys them but corporate requires him to stock it. Now when Cheetos go on sale they eat that. I doubt highly that is because of advertising per se, but they do buy sale. There's always cheap XYZ available in his store. They don't buy that, they wait for the more expensive stuff to go on sale and buy it then.
CarbSane said…
"This not part of some conspiracy. It has become this way based on what sells, on what succeeds, on what is "voted for". On what worked. Things evolved. We selected the winners. "

Nail. Head. WHAP!! Driven and countersunk in one blow. We asked for it, we got it. Toyota! (take on the old "you asked for it, you got it, Toyota" ad slogan here in the US)

Growing up, TV dinners were considered the undesirable yuck food settled for by bachelors and men married to bad cooks or busy (or lazy?) women. As society changed, they became an appealing option for a much wider demographic. If company X made one that tasted better, more bought it ... and the rest is history.
CarbSane said…
Yep! Though I think DVR's are even better. A half hour show is less than 20 minutes of show here in the US. I like to unwind to mindless comedies -- lately reruns of How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory -- we FF through all commercials.
CarbSane said…
Welcome Jacquie! Probably some of the ingredients in junk foods have changed over the years, but I doubt that has had much of an effect. We had no junk in our house and I walked home for lunch in grammar school most days. If I took lunch to school it was as described previously. Yet somehow I knew about cookies and Hostess pies and fruit rolls and saltines -- and I learned these were more "normal" because that's what all of the other kids ate. I always chuckle at Tula eating her white bread sandwich with the blonde girls when she goes to college in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Somehow I'm just not seeing that if we banned all advertising overnight that would have changed.

"Call me cynical, but I really don't trust the food manufacturers to have the general population's better health in mind when they're formulating, producing and marketing their quasi food."

I agree. That's not their job really, although ethical business practices would have them making less claims of "it's healthy" when they know it's not really. Let's not let the elitists off the hook either, because in many cases the expense of "organic" is nonsense, and I see it with grassfed beef and high O3 eggs and all that. Maybe better, worth sometimes twice and even four times the price of the alternative? I suppose if you eat 2 lbs a day every day, maybe. But if you a normal serving a couple few times a week?

I strongly agree with Bentley about the parent issue. Where kids and childhood obesity is concerned, it's the lack of parental supervision in feeding these kids that is at the heart of most of this. Kids will eat crap if it is available to them. It should be the parent who instills what is healthy.
CarbSane said…
Welcome Kade! I gotta say I'm having a hard time understanding where we agree or disagree here. Just confused ;) I don't claim to be some sort of superior human being for now being able to totally ignore whatever it is about ads and all that and not succumb to junk foods. If I eat something junky, it's a small portion and I move on. On rare occasions, chips and dip have been a meal still, and perhaps a higher calorie meal than usual where I more than likely skip the next meal. And I was the person who could buy a box of Little Debbies and even though it's individual packages, have to devour the whole box after eating just one. So I just can't get past that this is more often than not a mindset thing ... and if you change the mindset, the rest seems to follow quite easily. Getting rid of the damage I wrought is far more difficult :D
Eric said…
Nigel, I will also point out that your language betrays you. Your use of emotional language and implied malice where none exists is quite telling. In the end this problem starts with personal choice and needs to end with personal choice.

We, as a society, have tackled many difficult behavior issues over the years and, in the end, people rise to solve the issue. I have seen both behavioral and regulatory methods and I much prefer the idea of behavioral changes.

Many of the arguments made are similar to claiming that SONY and government agencies were conspiring to make people buy larger TV's. Between economies of scale and better broadcasting technology they forced people to demand bigger tv by luring them in with higher quality broadcasting standard, inexpensive manufacturing techniques, and and better effects. They then claim it has to be true, look, everyone has big TV's today!
CarbSane said…
Great example Eric!
bentleyj74 said…
I'd like to bring MDs comment into highlight in response to the "what would I do with feckless parents" question and how does it relate to marketing et al.

What you see in actual real time poverty or poor parenting is people who are reacting rather than thinking. They themselves have not been trained or conditioned and the result is basically a semi domesticated animal "raising" children who are entirely slaves to their impulses. These kids pee on the couch, bark, yank the leash, steal the car, swear at their parents, and utilize all other manner of unattractive behaviors that are ultimately self destructive as people who should love them actively dislike them instead assuming they are even invested enough to notice or care.

Last fall a teenager broke into our house so drunk and high he didn't even know where he was at or that he had a loaded gun pointed at his head, a few months later I found his little brother [7] wandering outside alone without a coat in November because he had left his coat and backpack on the bus and was locked out of his house where he was accustomed to being left alone to fend for himself for hours every day. You think that's a coincidence? You think the now drug addict and criminal brother was never a lonely 7 year old locked out with no help or resources? The mother is fat btw as are several of her children, you think changing the advertizing regulations will resolve that situation? Suddenly she'll feel her responsibility and have sufficient wherewithall to freeze casseroles on her days off instead of order take out?

More on this later.
Eric said…
Another thing that just get me is that the documentary downs Keys and hold up Yudkins as a shining light of reason ( who didn't have the data at the time to fully support his theories ). The problem is this is non-scientific, both of them could be correct and probably are.

It would be a silly person that denied that there is a strong correlation between saturated fats and heart disease. There is also ample evidence now that a diet that is high in calories, such as sugar, is also not heart healthy. This is not a one or the other, but they may both be right for different reasons.

The K-ration did not increase heart disease because those 12k calories were, more often than not, in balance with the activities of a soldier

Anyways, I'm off for vacation and plan to ignore any further discussion as I like to enjoy my time with family.
CarbSane said…
Enjoy your vacation!

I would note that few will bother to tweet, retweet, and mention ad nauseum Denise Minger's piece of the full story of Keys' study:
Nigel Kinbrum said…
Eric said...
"Nigel, I will also point out that your language betrays you. Your use of emotional language and implied malice where none exists is quite telling."
If you're remixing stated greed (making loads of money) into implied malice, then I'm done with you too.

TV size is irrelevant to health (unless somebody gets a hernia from carrying a heavy old CRT TV).
P2ZR said…
Nigel, perhaps the salts of self-righteousness activate the same olfactory receptors as those for straw.

How did we go from allowing Joe Camel and similar 'criminally' suggestive tobacco ads to all the government ('public health') anti-smoking campaigns? Was there this nice thoughtful lull of a few years or decades between not allowing something to be promoted, and stigmatizing all h*ll out of it? Or was it that fiery opportunistic legislators and the human nature of 'concerned citizens groups' made it such that there could be no saying no to offensive advertising, without pushing ads on how unforgivably offensive the very substances are?
P2ZR said…
Thanks to you and MD for opening up this important part of the conversation.

The conversation becomes more uncomfortable when we consider that there *are* certain demographics that are significantly more affected by obesity than others, and that they correspondingly consume more junk foods. Suddenly, there's the potential for our arguments to be conceived as blanket stereotypes on these groups. This is where the conversation can devolve into two unhelpful extremes:

(1) The bleeding-heart liberal who says that woe are they, those single mothers who work 3 jobs at ungodly hours, who have 2 or more kids to feed, and no high school diploma to help her in navigating the language of 'healthy'. It's not her fault that she thinks daily McD's is a good and sustainable way to feed her family; she has so little time and simply *doesn't know any better*. Can you say condescending and sanctimoniously trampling on the dignity of others?

(2) The out-of-touch snob who wants to mask their out-of-touch-ness as tough love. 'Yeah, they just have a willpower deficit. It's a matter of their getting their sh*t together, that's all.' With no understanding of how hard it is to make decent decisions when you're physically taxed, mentally and emotionally drained, and life just feels like being about to be flung off the hamster wheel.

I know that the sweet lady who keeps the restroom at the office spic and span doesn't microwave a potato, broccoli, and a homemade chicken patty for lunch. I see her eat lunch with her colleagues regularly. Lunch is soda, burger, and a bag of crisps. Same for her colleagues. What am I going to do? Pity her, even though she has an energy and temperament that I aspire to? Proselytize to her when I'm washing my hands and she's in there wiping down the mirrors? Ask the government to save her soul via less soul-warping advertising?

The term 'paradigm shift' has been so terribly abused in the world of diet blogs, so I don't feel bad stretching its meaning here. It's a *paradigm shift* for this lady to realize that the (a) microwaved potato, veggies, and chicken patty actually cost less and take less time than the (b) McD's. (a) Wash a potato, grab a bag of frozen veggies and maybe make a sauce, and buy or make some wholesome chicken patties on the weekend; nuke the whole thing in the cafeteria. (b) Go to McD's, wait in the line (which is long during lunch hour), place your order, wait for it to (finally) be ready....

But the notion of fast food as fast and cheap is so ingrained, I think even most of us who turn our noses up at it have that conception. The last thing that a frazzled working guardian in a lower-income home wants to do, is think about spending more time in the kitchen. And the opposite of kitchen time so happens (in a large chunk of the collective consciousness, at least) to be fast food.

People aren't stupid, and they don't need to be patronized as too inept to make their own decisions. But there is definitely something to be said for behavioral and cognitive inertia. That is why people don't saunter, but hurtle, down paths of self-destruction. And no, I'm not saying that feeding your family McD's every night of the week is a sure road to self-destruction. But it's something that bears thinking about, and that thinking is easier done without tons of noise about how people are manipulated rag dolls or pathetically deficient in willpower or whatever.
CarbSane said…
@Asclepius: I think my point (and Bentley's) is that the involvement of the parent trumps regulations almost every time ... or rather lack thereof. We rarely had sweets in the house and when we had them, IF I had been left alone at home and eaten them w/o permission, there would have been hell to pay. And often restriction heightens the allure of certain behaviors. For the most part it is relatively difficult to get illegal drugs (or alcohol for the underage, or smokes for that matter). Note I didn't say difficult, but relatively so, and there's even a rush some get by doing something illegal (kleptomania anyone?). So what's the draw? To try it out and see what all the fuss is about? Probably.

Canada has far worse warnings on their cigarettes and quite a few of my cousins and uncles by marriage still smoke.

I dunno, I don't doubt advertising plays a role, but I don't think it's anywhere near as big a role as the finger pointing patrol is making it out to be. I don't have time to look this up, but I'm pretty sure I remember there being studies showing higher incidence of obesity in single parent homes and two-income families vs. two-parent/one-income ones.
CarbSane said…
Excellent points P2ZR. Personally I get offended by Taubes' discussion of these obesity paradoxes where obesity and poverty co-exist. Because the poor in my country are far from undernourished (from a calorie perspective anyway). I know a number of poor people who struggle to make ends meet but somehow it is a priority to put good food on the table. Brown bagging lunches is (was?) a time honored tradition for saving money. But some fast food is cheap though so I can see the convenience when you are about to have your electricity shut off or the water in your apartment isn't even fit for washing dishes.
MD said…
you're welcome!

The problem is so much bigger than just food. Putting fresh fruits and vegetables into the convenience store doesn't do much. But yet, there is this liberal fixation that if we just taught them to eat "healthy" they would learn. The solution is to start from the beginning: better education, leading to better jobs, more mobility, etc. but no one wants to fix those issues, and instead blames it on them for not having enough willpower. If you are just lucky to be alive or lucky enough to be able to get a job, then these issues that we are discussing don't even register on your rader until it is too late.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
P2ZR said...
"How did we go from allowing Joe Camel and similar 'criminally' suggestive tobacco ads to all the government ('public health') anti-smoking campaigns? Was there this nice thoughtful lull of a few years or decades between not allowing something to be promoted, and stigmatizing all h*ll out of it?"
Smokers adversely affect nearby non-smokers (second-hand cigarette smoke irritates lungs & eyes and it also makes clothes smell bad), so it's no surprise to me that smoking became stigmatised.

CIAB consumers don't adversely affect nearby non-CIAB consumers, so I see no reason why CIAB consumption would become stigmatised.
SamAbroad said…
Sorry Carbsane but all your evidence here is anecdotal, there are far less teenagers smoking now that when you were in highschool. This isn't controversial.

I don't have any answers for what to do, I'm aware of the law of unintended consequences when it comes to legislating food. But the impact of the reduction of smoking due to tighter regulation is undeniable.
P2ZR said…
I think the 'let's ban ads!' people here are well intentioned, but missing an important point.

Banning advertising is *proactive*. Advertising is the *default*. By saying that advertisement of X should be banned (but not Y, Z, A, B, nor C), the body politic is making a judgment on the suitability of consumption of X (whether by the general population or certain subgroups).

'Smokers adversely affect nearby non-smokers (second-hand cigarette smoke irritates lungs & eyes and it also makes clothes smell bad), so it's no surprise to me that smoking became stigmatised.'

Unlike Evelyn, I appreciate the anti-smoking campaigns because I'm one of those individuals highly sensitive to secondhand and even thirdhand smoke. (I don't have numbers handy on whether smoking has actually gone down, or gone down for the most vulnerable populations, but cigarette demand is as inelastic as demand gets, and if it hasn't fallen dramatically, at least there's minimal deadweight loss. And for me, I'm grateful for the ability to go to most establishments [and planes] and have them be smoke-free, or if I am in New York, even smoke-free public places.)

The problem is that stigmatization occurs naturally due to political momentum. Consumption of X item, once recognized as 'bad', will acquire all sorts of negative externalities (which may be legit or post hoc rationalizations of 'badness') in the public conversation. So cigarettes are bad for others besides smokers? Well, junk food causes obesity and diabetes and general sh*t health, and we are paying for those via lost worker productivity and tax dollars that go to fund our public hospitals. And so on.

Again, bans are *proactive*. Consider if all your favorite evo health-friendly vendors decided to come together into a trade association, pooling their funds to bring evo health eating to the greater public. Billboards of (a) raw cream and (b) grass-fed beef. (a) is banned in short order because 'you moron, unpasteurized dairy KILLS!' (b) is banned because evil red meat, in its grass-fed form, contains a higher sat fat:PUFA ratio than conventional, and we all know how sat fat will KILL you (and PUFA is 54321x better)! You could marshal all your data and shout it at the public health bureau till you're blue in the face, but if they pay me enough, I'll craft them a compelling quantitative argument with the same data supporting their party line. And so in circles the advocacy vs. top-down recommendations go.
P2ZR said…
(clarification- inelastic for a given group of current smokers, who are already addicted. I just don't know the overall trend vs. time for teenagers [new smokers], but am open to solid data pointing in one direction or the other.)
P2ZR said…
Also, sorry--blurring of the lines with smoking ban example. Government ad campaigns against smoking come *organically* with bans of smoking in restaurants, planes, etc. Political momentum. Whether we like it or not, the body politic does not move in single sensible steps, always pausing to carefully consider whether a subsequent one would be wise before putting the next foot down.
CarbSane said…
Sam, ALL evidence on teen habits is anecdotal ... even "official statistics". Because nobody under 18 smokes ... it's illegal, right? This notion that all teens smoked in the 70's and none smoke now is absurd. Not as many as you think did "back then", and more than most think do now. Yes. Fewer people smoke overall. But the "unexpected" and "disturbing" trends always seem to start in the new younger generations. Wonder why...
Nigel Kinbrum said…
I feel that banning all food ads is a good first move because it doesn't take away any rights from individuals*. People can still buy CIAB if they want. Stopping subsidies to rich producers will raise the price of certain foods including CIAB, but taxation could/should be lowered as a sweetener.

Banning all food ads also means no discrimination between "good" foods and "bad" foods. Will CIAB be stigmatised if ads for meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, fruit, veg etc are also banned?

If all food ads are banned, I think that non-food advertising would expand to fill the vacuum. This includes sponsorship. I have no problems with companies making as much profit as they like on non-food items.

*I believe that the rights of individuals takes precedence over the rights of companies.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
"This notion that all teens smoked in the 70's and none smoke now is absurd."
That's a straw man. Nobody has that notion.

As the percentage of people who smoke declines (including celebrities), smoking loses its "kewl"-ness, so youngsters are less inclined to take it up.

This post really grinds my gears! Science seems to have been replaced by opinions, anecdotes, exaggerations, logical fallacies & question-ducking.

The "Obesity Epidemic" is multi-factorial. Food advertising is a factor. It needs to be tackled. Subsidies for rich producers is a factor. It needs to be tackled. Crap parenting is a factor. It needs to be tackled. And so on...

I'm trying to suggest practical ways to tackle some of the factors. Poo-pooing them without offering practical alternatives is really winding me up.
Galina L. said…
Nigel,I think the trend to consider fast food a cool and desirable alternative slowly started to turn. More people see crap in a box as a crap. As usual, I use some anecdotal evidence and personal observations, but I noticed that homemade food is hold now in a higher regard, and fast food considered to be a convenience probably because most people I see around can't cook or at least see it as a complicated activity.
When my son used to go to school I gave him lunch money (I worked and saw no harm in an eating something convenient outside of the house) until he requested a lunch box like the one was given to his dad. He considered a lunch box a privilege and a home-cooked food was cool at his high school because it was rare and required special effort. Now he cooks for himself in a university a very simple food, but it viewed as "cool" thing to do. I know many women who think that they have to cook sometimes in order to treat their families. I hope someday it would be realized that cooking could be not complicated and fan activity.
bentleyj74 said…
"I think the 'let's ban ads!' people here are well intentioned, but missing an important point.

Banning advertising is *proactive*. Advertising is the *default*. By saying that advertisement of X should be banned (but not Y, Z, A, B, nor C), the body politic is making a judgment on the suitability of consumption of X (whether by the general population or certain subgroups)."


Being able to set your environment to work for you, being able to prioritize and organize, being able to make decisions, have impulse control, being able to accurately predict outcomes...these things are skills not magical powers and people who lack them live in lack despite being surrounded by abundance and opportunity no matter what.

The vacillation between regarding people who are "poor" or "fat" or whatever unattractive trait we happen to be discussing atm as alternately suffering martyrs who have been put upon by them man with no personal contribution whatsoever to their own circumstances OR just need to "get their ducks in a row and pull themselves up by their boot straps" without any consideration for their present circumstances OR genetic dead ends who can't be salvaged and should probably be sterilized for posterity and managed for their own good are invalid and dehumanizing ideological fantasies that are dangerously unjust.

Some people will be helped by learning to spend some time being efficient in the kitchen, others would be better served eating off paper plates with a plastic fork for the indefinite future and I've met at least a few people who I really think would find necessary and swift relief in a crisis by taking a backpack of essentials to a motel six and starting there. Wherever the balance point is for the individual, wherever they are able to endure the weight and move the ball forward...that's ground zero for them. I don't just object to the potential ban, I object to the terminology dividing foods into CIAB = "bad" and REAL FOOD = "righteous" All the smug moralizing about "real food" in the world will not give the person who is floundering the ability to consistently produce the approved of result.

What the "real food" argument indirectly points to is a person who is able to plan and execute a menu of non convenience foods aka a person who *already has* the necessary skills. Of course it ignores the multitudes of obese chefs or obese people who are very fixated on their food quality but have put all of their energy and resources into that arena and are neglecting others of equal value leaving a life still out of balance and dysfunctional.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter if you pulled the ball, pushed it, levitated it, or rolled it with a spoon it matters that you got the ball where it needed to be to work for you. Whether that means you eventually learn to buy in bulk and grind your own wheat or have completely empty and bare cabinets except what you need for THAT DAY is irrelevant. If we as a society have our collective noses in the air about frozen breaded fish sticks we have just made it HARDER for people to learn to *use* their resources objectively to their advantage rather than react to confused, confusing, and often contradictory agenda driven media.
CarbSane said…
WOW. Amazing Bentley, and well said.
CarbSane said…
So Nige -- nobody should profit from food? NO food ads whatsoever?

Let's say I start a little bone broth soup business in my home. I can't advertise that? Or do you make exceptions for things such as that? And if you make exceptions, what's the criteria? Type of food? Sales volume? Number of employees? So when my business becomes a huge success, and I add a line of fresh fruit smoothies, hire 100 employees and exceed some arbitrary gross income ... am I no longer allowed to advertise?

Why should food be given this special consideration? What about shelter, healthcare of all sorts (here dentists advertise a LOT), transportation ... heck, even the USPS advertises!!!

Let's just ban TV, video games and the internet while we're at it!
P2ZR said…
I think the 'real food' thing (maybe in the vein of Michael Pollan) is, as an eating schema, healthier than something like paleo because it is ridden with less total ideological baggage. Where it sometimes goes wrong is perhaps when people start seeing it not as a means to an end, but the end itself. Eating a balanced real food diet makes health easier. It is easier to be satiated at an appropriate caloric intake, and the nutrient density is conducive to better mental health and physical energy.

This is one of my problems with Paleohacks. Granted there are some good Q&A's there, but it misses the whole point of paleo (or whatever other WOE) being a *life* hack. You eat a certain way because it makes life easier, and when instead you need to congregate to troubleshoot the WOE, well...?

It is easier for an emaciated ED sufferer to recover on a balanced real foods diet than on a 'moderation is key' diet of 1/3 frankenfoods, but she will never heal if the fact that frankenfoods aren't *evil (and by implication cause the ingestor to turn into a diabetic blob)* is not addressed. There is this undercurrent in the paleo/real foods movement that if people with food issues (and even those with full-blown ED's!) would just eat their prescribed diet, the good nutrition will naturally rectify whatever neurochemical imbalances were going on that caused them to have those issues. NO. You need to address their mental battles head on; all the liver and kefir and wise supplementation in the world will not effect magical curative powers otherwise.
Galina L. said…
"Why is CIAB so cheap? "
All that crap often is not so cheap. Breakfast cereals is a good example. People also spent ridiculous amount of money on different snacks and drinks made from cheap material. Often it is cheap for the manufacturer only. BTW, out of all food in commercials our family eats only sour-cream Daisy. A stake is no more costly in many cases than a fast-food meal. It is mostly convenient than cheap to get your food from a box as opposite to your pan or pot.
bentleyj74 said…
"Where it sometimes goes wrong is perhaps when people start seeing it not as a means to an end, but the end itself."

Right, I'd even go further and say it's not where it sometimes goes wrong...but just where it goes wrong. All of these pieces of reward, satiety signaling, fill in the blank...they are tools to help people efficiently reset the baseline behaviors in a relatively informed way.

It is *easier* and *cheaper* to nuke a potato than it is even to make a frozen pizza. No crumbs and it's faster too :) That's going to be true for a lot of "real" foods and they can move into a more prominent position in the average persons diet very easily however...there's going to be occasions where a dietary compromise will be the best overall option when looking at the picture as a whole with respect to preparedness. No one is going to die because they had peanut butter toast and a glass of milk for dinner occasionally. Having a parent stressing out in the kitchen trying to follow the rules to be "good" when their child needs their time and attention and they need relief and for the evening to progress is a plan to fail.

Prioritizing and ability to realistically anticipate that when you can't do everything you still know how to hit the mark in the most relevant areas to set up the next day is confidence building. Confident people are more aggressive about pursuing their agendas than beaten down and worn out people are. Call it the domino effect, the boomerang, the ripples on the pond, etc...having respect for the very real and involuntary consequences of all the moving parts in the bigger picture will get people further FASTER and with less drama than fixation on any one variable will. People check out for a *reason* and if an individual knows that they are at all prone to avoidance behaviors then lowering the boom and stress levels to where they are manageable is priority 1 and food quality maybe a distant 3rd. Trying to do it in reverse will result in a lap full of Taco Bell and an eye full of reality TV pretty reliably if that has been their pattern historically.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
"So Nige -- nobody should profit from food? NO food ads whatsoever?"
Banning all food/drink ads won't stop people from profiting from the production of foods/drinks. It just won't be so lucrative for "Big Food". If anything, the playing field will be made more level for small producers, who can't afford to spend money on ads. If CIAB consumption goes down (and I really hope that it does), consumption of real food (i.e. stuff that's grown) should increase to fill the void.
"Let's say I start a little bone broth soup business in my home. I can't advertise that?"
No. Exceptions for certain groups/foods only leads to confusion. A ban on all food/drink ads is the only fair solution.
"Why should food be given this special consideration?"
Because people's food/drink choices shouldn't be influenced by other people. Anything else goes!
"Let's just ban..."
I smell straw!
Galina L. said…
I have an unrealistic wish that all food advertisement directed AT CHILDREN (I don't want children to participate in all food commercials at all)would be banned. They are too vulnerable to outside influences, and it is their parents business to make food decisions right or wrong ones. It is less difficult to convince an adult with a right attitude toward food that some toaster strudel is a good breakfast food, than to communicate the same message to a child. Another wish is even less realistic. I which it would be forbidden to produce a food specifically made for children older than 2 years old. A lot of problems with nutrition came from the wrong idea that children needed special food (Nigel was blogging about it), drinking juices and snacking all the time. A child not given any snack and not drinking something sweet anytime when he/she is thirsty will eat just fine any adult food, especially if no fussing would be done about him/her not eating enough.
Galina L. said…
"No one is going to die because they had peanut butter toast and a glass of milk for dinner occasionally. Having a parent stressing out in the kitchen trying to follow the rules to be "good" when their child needs their time and attention and they need relief and for the evening to progress is a plan to fail. "
It is exactly what I disagree with. Not the occasional sandwich for a dinner, but with the opinion than cooking is described as a stressful activity in a kitchen , as a time taking from the spending time with your child. There are tones of "real food option" prepared in minutes which don't taste sweet like PB sandwich. BTW, I am not oppose to using a microwave, especially for pre-cooking. Often I pre-cook potatoes, frozen veggies, beets, things like that. Foreman grill takes fuss away from a cooking, omelet takes 3 min to prepare. It could be done together with your child, as a result the child grows-up with the same attitude - everyday cooking takes very little time, it is a normal everyday activity like brushing teeth and making a bed, it is less complicated and less costly that going to a fast food place and tastes better than a frozen food in a box and any cafeteria food.
CarbSane said…
Nige: C'mon ... then I can't possibly launch my hypothetical business. How besides some form of advertising will I ever get people to know about my business let alone try my soups? If you ban food advertising -- because somehow marketing food is "special" in terms of influencing lifestyle/environment -- that means all restaurants from the chain FF joint to the local diner. Grocery stores can't have sales flyers. No signs in the window? I only buy porterhouses when they regularly go on sale at the store we buy them at. By your rules, I could not know when that is, or perhaps they might be banned from ever offering them for as low as $4.99/lb! If I buy 3 lbs of ground beef I get a better price than if I buy a pound. Would your laws outlaw that too? I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. I realize in UK there are more stringent laws about marketing to kids. I dunno, as a kid I don't recall ever seeing an ad for Twinkies (didn't watch much TV and mostly kids' programs on PBS), and yet I knew about these things from my earliest school memories.

So as you say, exceptions breed confusion, but a total ban is nonsensical.
CarbSane said…
Anecdotally I've come across a lot of well nourished (former) WAPFers in the past three years or so. Gained weight with the "Nourishing Traditions".

Last paragraph is spot on!
CarbSane said…
Galina, some people don't particularly enjoy cooking. You and I do, many don't. The single and/or working-outside-the-home parent gets to spend scarce enough time with their kids to begin with. Sure they could cook together, but it's hard to help a kid with their homework while doing so. One of my fave childhood memories was Mom taking us to IHOP for the occasional dinner when Dad worked nights. Sometimes I'd get a burger or fish or other "dinner" food, but sometimes it was just fun to get pancakes for dinner -- with boysenberry syrup! Yes, that was fake food and as strict as my Mom was with food 90+% of the time, she didn't care about that and it didn't turn me into a sweets hound by any stretch.

@Bentley, I hope I don't give the impression here I'm a real food zealot. It's probably the best dietary basis, or template, to work with. Prepared at home as much as possible if for no other reason than that then you know what's in it!! But folks go quite overboard with this. I do believe that had my parents been a little more permissive with us as kids, I might not have gone quite as overboard as a teen once I had freedom & funds to do so. I see this with lots of these paleo/LC folks with kids. I worry for those kids when they go off to college.
CarbSane said…
I'm coming to hate that word willpower. I don't blame poor people who are obese for lacking willpower, and I don't really think it has anything to do with their predicament. Perhaps demonizing full fat dairy and eggs has permeated their communities too, but they pass on these cheap staples in my husband's store in a very bad neighborhood, and pay with welfare debit card for any manner of processed crap. I find it hard to believe that they are so ill educated as to think cheetos is a good choice compared to an egg, or that Arizona tea (sells like gangbusters) is better for them than milk (cheaper than the branch of his same company in this area sells it even!). And I am very good friends with two families that are near destitute, headed by high school drop outs, and yet manage to do what they have to do to put some sort of meat on the table as much as they can and eat boiled potatoes and not potato chips.
bentleyj74 said…

You missed my point entirely and fixated on "things that taste sweet are bad".
Preparedness and efficiency *is* a powerful tool but life and training is *more* than food.

Everything is stressful when a parent/person needs relief. Using an abbreviated version of all activities allows for having what you might call a controlled stumble forward rather than a set back and that's the point. Not a commentary of time spent in the kitchen in general, but time spent in the kitchen that is costing more than it's worth in context.
Galina L. said…
My point was that cooking something could be as quick as making PB sandwich. Of course, no harm could be done from occasional relaxation in any form. I wanted to suggest a third option besides two others like cooking something delicious and time-consuming from a scratch or using a fast-food. There are a lot of lay-back versions involving microwave. I remember telling my son to put a potato in a microwave for 3 minutes while I was taking a cream-cheese or sour cream out of a fridge. When the potato was ready , I took a skin off under a running water, mushed that potato with fork, mixing it with salt and cream cheese, added some piece of a cold-cut meat (could be considered a prepared food), or put on the top some fried egg, it that case I would ask him to put a skillet on the stove. It is not necessary a "cooking with your kids" activity, it is just another compromise, like managing get food into eatable state really quickly. We would be talking, doing something together while staying in a kitchen for a VERY short time. I think many people cook less because they want to do it in a more precise and perfect manner, as a result it tires them off and takes precious time from things higher on their priority list.
Galina L. said…
I was talking about quick options which didn't provide an opportunity to enjoy cooking or consumed much time. It is a mistake to try to spent too much time in a kitchen everyday, a food doesn't worth it. I am not so delusional to wish everybody would share my hobby. My son doesn't, but he knows how to make something fit to eat.

Probably, I just don't have an experience having fan with fast food because it was not around during my childhood. Pancakes were the less expensive food possible, my mom made it paper-thin, often she rolled into it pan-cooked ground beef or cooked apples or a country cheese and wormed it up later. It was our version of a fast food - something made in advance and kept in a refrigerator ready to be wormed-up, big pot of a cabbage soup, vareniki in a freezer or even a jar with a liquid mix for making pancakes in a refrigerator. I also have a childhood memory of eating pancakes on a Sunday morning, probably it would sound too bizarre for most readers here, but we ate it with a salted hearing. Because I never discouraged my son to eat whatever he wanted outside our house, he didn't feel there was a forbidden food, it was his choice to cook his own food in a college after eating in a cafeteria for a whole year. He mostly opts for quick compromises because he doesn't like to cook, one of his favorite choices - stake in a foreman grill.
P2ZR said…
'folks go quite overboard with this. I do believe that had my parents been a little more permissive with us as kids, I might not have gone quite as overboard as a teen once I had freedom & funds to do so. I see this with lots of these paleo/LC folks with kids. I worry for those kids when they go off to college.'

Definitely. My father had a very rigid conception on what were 'good' and 'acceptable' foods, and played the terrorizing food Nazi (hope that term doesn't offend anyone) as much as he could. My mother would be kinder to us kids when she felt my father wouldn't rage at her instead, and would get us ice cream (highest on his list of 'bad' foods) occasionally. But if it was the weekend and he was home, we literally (literally) had to go hide in a corner to eat it--and couldn't even really enjoy it because we had to be afraid that he would wander in.

When I got to college, cheap ice cream became a major food group. During AN-induced obsession with food porn, probably half of my food oglings were of ice cream recipes and ice cream desserts. The forbidden becomes a fearsome fixation in the unbalanced mind.

So now my heart breaks a little every time I see parents heavy-handedly trying to enforce some WOE onto their kids. It seems that there are invariably 'good' and 'bad' foods in their conception of the WOE, whether it be vegan or LC paleo or whatever else. I think there is a WAPF mom blog where she calls herself the 'kitchen cop'. Similarly, there are macrobiotic-esque moms and mom blogs, and LC paleo (I single out the LC variant because they seem more dogmatic in feeding their kids) mom blogs--and it's not even like I purposely go looking for these or meeting these parents, as I'm not a mom.

Even if you have all the resources to prepare a real foods diet, that by no means guarantees the parental know-how for teaching your kids to eat healthfully. Effectively training them to react like a puppy with tail between its legs when caught with a 'bad' food is really just tragic.
bentleyj74 said…
I've heard that history described A LOT. I can't tell you how many people who have had EDs or life long weight struggles talk about one or more parents being extremely neurotic about food. It had to be carob this and goat milk that or vegan or sprouted whatever and you know...that's not to knock any one of those foods independently. I'm just as fond of carob as I am of chocolate and goat milk suits me fine. I definitely have friends who grind their own grains then ferment them and it tastes fantastic. At some point in the future when I have more time I might make bread more often [pumpernickel rye is my favorite favorite and a big treat for me] rather than relying as heavily on potatos and rice. It's the zero tolerance mentality rather than an attitude of balance and management that takes the power out of the hands of the individual and makes them subordinate to food.
Galina L. said…
It is ironic, but I never met anyone neurotic about food while living in Russia, I heard about vegetarians but never saw one, the only person with a strange food pattern was mu aunt, my uncle's first wife. Her strangeness consisted of eating only sweets and avoiding anything else if she could help it. Also people with allergies or gastrointestinal issues ate bland food, and that was it.
Only after moving here we became aware of the necessity to be more selective about the food. I also stopped buying some snacks because my son wanted to eat only chips and cookies while being small. We used to have an ice cream in our fridge all the time and it was normal to keep some cookies to have it with a tea, now we buy it only occasionally, my husband and son eat it, I don't, we eat cakes only for birthdays, I stopped making fruit preserves I had been making all my life. We don't walk everywhere anymore because our town is design for a driving. We are surrounded now by the people who eat themselves into all sort of troubles. For a person who found himself/herself in the crowd of fatties without seeing them before it leaves a very strong impression.It is a norm in US to take everyday pill and have a high blood pressure early in life, we don't want to get into the local pattern of unhealthiness while living a comfortable and easy American life with a big house, a car for every member of family, security and order. Environment in US and Canada is really obesogenic, it makes many more nervous than they would be in a different place. I went to Russia after the hurricane Katrina happened. I was surprised to be asked by many people what was wrong with people in a New Orleans. People in Russia were more shocked by the crowd of fat people they saw in news than by disaster itself.
I think I managed to avoid a food nazy regime in my family while being quite selective by practicing occasional indulgences and not keeping food rules outside our house.
bentleyj74 said…
"We don't walk everywhere anymore because our town is design for a driving."

Don't get me started on that one. Going from a pedestrian friendly tropical island with a stretch of beach in my backyard to a city with no sidewalks even and all community areas like parks and libraries being located miles from each other hidden on back roads on opposite outskirts of town makes MY blood boil.
Galina L. said…
Yes, I didn't have a driving license until I came to live in Florida. Our city is close to 900 sq.miles in the size of a landmass (without a metro are), but approximately about only 1 mln people people live here, distances are huge. I remember working 42 miles away from home. My son's school was 26 miles away, beach is only 10 miles away, but in order to get there we have to cross a bridge without a pedestrian sidewalk. Even for a bicycling my husband often puts his bicycle in the car, drives to the safe area and rides his bicycle there. We have to plan exercise activity and spent time exercising instead of doing it naturally during the day, but it is how everybody lives in a spacious house with a decent backyard and drives un-congested roads. We have even a real small forest in our backyard, and it was only 3 extra thousand $ for a lot of land. Tradeoffs.
CarbSane said…
@Galina -- it would seem in Russia growing up under communism, nobody had much of a choice what to eat.

The so-called evil food has been around long enough for my mother and father to be quite restrictive of it. I wouldn't blame my past ED's on that per se, but I don't think I would ever have pudged a bit at age around 15-16 had I not extended the usual teenage rebellion to food as well. IOW I think BK for lunch several times per week had more of a draw for me than it would have had it not been so off limits to me growing up. We see this with lots of behaviors and I sure as heck don't envy parents, because it seems in many ways they are damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

But my ED's evolved out of self-restriction, as they seem to for so many -- a deliberate effort to restrict some foods. Frankly, I think a huge portion of the low carb community fits the definition of practicing "disordered eating". I'm very saddened when I see the posts on PaleoHacks by those who've developed binge eating disorders after converting to paleo (sometimes not even for weight loss). When they have something "bad" they go overboard.

I can only speak for myself, but control over my eating is far easier when I avoid processed crap but don't impart power to an inanimate object. My experience is similar to bentley's description of having the candy bar for dinner one night. I'm not big on candy bars, but I have had other "junk" in place of a meal from time to time. I am genetically no different than I was in my 20's, and one could argue that I'm far more metabolically effed up than then. So how is it now that I can reach into a bag of chips, portion out a small bowl and eat them without finishing the entire bag. Only eating one (large) bag of chips and an entire container of dip would have been monumental for me in the past. The difference is my mindset. Chips lose their power when I know at some time if I really have a hankering for them, I'll eat them and be done with it!!
Galina L. said…
It just came to my mind that probably my attitude toward eating sweets (like a chocolate bar for a dinner) is at least partially influenced by the situation that when I was growing-up and a young adult it was difficult to buy without running from store to store or standing in long lines normal food items like meat, chicken , butter, cheese,deli items, good quality veggies while it was no problem to get something made of sugar and flour, cakes,bread, cookies (at least in Moscow). What is harder to get often seems more desirable. Eating sweets instead of regular food in communism environment would mean not to a get a treat or to have a binge, but a result of not being able to buy something better during the day, a failure, a giving-up . Delicious ice cream (which is actually a frozen custard) is still sold on every corner, the only reason children were not allowed to get some from time to time was a sore throat. I never saw or heard of a person having a bulimia, or binge eating disorder, anything from an ED category. Also, most parents didn't let their children to snack between meals because it was considered a spoiling activity , was thought to prevent a child to grow and parents mostly worried about "spoiling an appetite" and children eating more, not less, my grandma thought that skinny children were a disgrace for a family and I never saw parents who were concerned about their children getting chubby. I remember being forced to clean my plate and being forced to eat despite having better than an average appetite, may be it made easier for me to feel good about eating less now. Snack restricting didn't feel like you were the only restricted child in the world because it was a wide-spread norm. As I see it now, it was a very conservative society with strict rules about everything. I don't miss that ridiculous ideology, there were many tragedies because of communism(I am sure your husband's Ukrainian relatives had their share of grief, my ancestors did), all savings gone for everybody several times during only my life time ,it was not good to have fewer choices, but with everything not being white or black, I can say that there were positive moments even back then, like it was unbelievably safe and EDs were not common.
Sure, freedom of choise sometimes adds to anxiety. I used to be much less anxious to spent some hard cash before credit cards came into a picture even though I had less money. Nowadays I can easily overspend if I start buying whatever without much thinking, theoretically I can walk into a store and buy myself a mink coat, then at the end of month I would receive my bill which would contain a list of my financial sins.
Galina L. said…
Sorry for commenting too much about the same subject, but I want to say one last thing in case some busy people may find it useful. The key to eat less junk is to have other options available at home within your easy reach . The best way to do it - cooking extra when you do and freeze the rest. I have been cooking from a very young age because my mom was working (it was a norm in 99.9% families), more than 40 years by now. I had different periods in my life,sometimes I have more time and money sometimes less. The craziest time was when I was in my early 20, first time married, I worked at day and went to school after work, plus I didn't have a washing machine in my household because I didn't have enough money. I still feel grateful each time when I now use the automatic one. A fast food was not available, I cooked once a week, and reheated when we needed to eat. Since then I always make a gallon of any soup when I make one, the same for a bone broth. While it is still boiling but ready,I put half of it in mason jars sterilized in a microwave for couple minutes with some hot water on a bottom, close jars fast with caps boiled for a while on a stove in a water. I do the same with a stew. When I run out of soup, I will make new one or use the self-canned one depends of my mood or convenience. It takes urgency and stress out of cooking. I always cook a lot of rice when I use a broth as a cooking liquid, freeze it in small batches,it is good to have some frozen veggies in your freezer, some frozen beans cooked in advance. It is very conwenient to have a boiled in just salted water chicken in own broth or a piece of boiled meat kept in a broth in a fridge (I would bring it to a boiling point in 3 days again to be sure it will not get spoiled). The broth will be made into soup later or used as a cooking liquid for rice or buckwheat. It takes very little time and effort to reheat sliced removed from the broth meat or chicken on a pan with garlic and sour cream or soy sauce or tomatoes and herbs and some garlic, or add pre-cooked in microwave frozen cauliflower or green beans, some rice. You can put sliced hard-boiled egg and some chopped herbs in a broth , or add to it frozen spinach and cooked (for 3 min in a microwave) and sliced potato. If child is fussy about a soup, use a blender on the soup.
I do all that not because I am a nutritional zealot, I did it before I started to think about diets and health, self-cooked even in a simple way food tastes better, it saves me money and not hard at all.
CarbSane said…
NO need to apologize!

" The key to eat less junk is to have other options available at home within your easy reach "

Key. SO KEY!! And I would add that the flip side of having good options available, is not to have bad ones.

If it's not in my house, I don't crave it. Maybe that makes me a freak, but commercials on TV don't make me want to hop in the car and go to McD's or buy a bag of Doritos. Now if that bag of Doritos is in my house ... open ... and I'm hungry (or bored) ...

I'm NO SAINT. But I think sharing that and my experience is hopefully helpful in that there was a time when I C.O.U.L.D. N.O.T. S.T.O.P. That doesn't happen anymore. And there was a time when I really didn't think twice about noshing down chips even though I knew in the back of my mind I'd just eaten two or three meal's worth of calories that would have ultimately been more satisfying. What I'm trying to convey is that it really is easier to "unplug" than you think. I feel if I can do it, anyone can. Perhaps that's self righteous, but it's not intended to be. I was in the very bottom of every barrel.
Galina L. said…
Thank you for being welcoming. No one is with a halo over a head, my problem is nuts(especially raw sunflower seeds for some un-known reason) , more than once I was thinking about getting into my car and to drive to nearest Publix to get some , but managed to stay home . It is better to set yourself for a success that to get surrounded by a food traps, however I am the only member of my family who limits carbs, at least my husband trays to stay away from junk and sugar. He is very ambitious about his bicycling, and can barely keep-up with a group of even more ambitious nuts, especially when they go up-bridge, so he has a wish to go down to 145 lb or at least not to add anything to his 150 lb. Everybody has own set of problems.
Anonymous said…
It's appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and
it's time to be happy. I've read this post and if I may I desire to counsel you few fascinating issues or advice.
Maybe you could write subsequent articles regarding this
article. I wish to learn even more things about it!

my web-site Anatomy Of The Muscles