I didn’t write a post last night because the Cubs were in a do-or-die playoff game that ran late. But I did come across an interesting study that speaks volumes about The Anointed and their never-ending plans to (ahem) “help” the rest of us.

It’s been awhile since I’ve explained how The Anointed think and operate, so rather than link back to previous posts, let’s recap.

I borrowed the term The Anointed from author Thomas Sowell, who described them in great detail in his fabulous books Intellectuals and Society and The Vision of The Anointed. As Sowell explains, here’s the pattern we see with these people over and over:

1. The Anointed identify a problem in society. That problem is now The Bad.

2. The Anointed propose a Grand Plan to fix the problem. The Grand Plan nearly always involves spending more of other people’s money and/or restricting more of other people’s freedoms.

3. Because they are so supremely confident in themselves and their ideas, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with having to provide proof or evidence that the Grand Plan will actually work. In fact, they often insist that because the problem is So Bad, we must adopt the Grand Plan RIGHT NOW.

4. Because the problem is The Bad, The Anointed assume their Grand Plan to fix the problem is The Good. Therefore anyone who opposes the Grand Plan isn’t simply opposing a plan; no, he or she is supporting The Bad and opposing The Good. The Anointed take this as proof that anyone who opposes the Grand Plan is either evil or stupid.

5. Because only evil or stupid people would oppose the Grand Plan, The Anointed feel entitled to impose the Grand Plan on others — for their own good, of course.

6. If the Grand Plan fails to solve the problem (which it usually the case) or makes it worse (which is often the case), The Anointed will never, ever, ever admit that the Grand Plan was wrong. Instead, they will insist that 1) the Grand Plan was good, but was undermined by people who are evil or stupid, or 2) the Grand Plan didn’t go far enough … which means we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the abstract of a study (actually a meta-analysis) with the title A Meta-Analysis to Determine the Impact of Restaurant Menu Labeling on Calories and Nutrients (Ordered or Consumed) in U.S. Adults:

A systematic review and meta-analysis determined the effect of restaurant menu labeling on calories and nutrients chosen in laboratory and away-from-home settings in U.S. adults. Cochrane-based criteria adherent, peer-reviewed study designs conducted and published in the English language from 1950 to 2014 were collected in 2015, analyzed in 2016, and used to evaluate the effect of nutrition labeling on calories and nutrients ordered or consumed. Before and after menu labeling outcomes were used to determine weighted mean differences in calories, saturated fat, total fat, carbohydrate, and sodium ordered/consumed which were pooled across studies using random effects modeling. Stratified analysis for laboratory and away-from-home settings were also completed. Menu labeling resulted in no significant change in reported calories ordered/consumed in studies with full criteria adherence, nor the 14 studies analyzed with ≤1 unmet criteria, nor for change in total ordered carbohydrate, fat, and saturated fat (three studies) or ordered or consumed sodium (four studies). A significant reduction of 115.2 calories ordered/consumed in laboratory settings was determined when analyses were stratified by study setting. Menu labeling away-from-home did not result in change in quantity or quality, specifically for carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, or sodium, of calories consumed among U.S. adults.

In other words, the evidence from several studies demonstrates what common sense should have told The Anointed years ago: mandatory listings of calories and other nutrition information on restaurant menus don’t prompt people to eat less (except in a laboratory setting, which is meaningless.) In fact, nothing changes … total calories consumed, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, you name it. It’s almost as if when people go to restaurants, they order the foods they like, not the foods The Anointed want them to order.

It’s a perfect example of The Anointed in action.

The Anointed identify a problem in society.

The problem, of course, is the rise in obesity.

The Anointed propose a Grand Plan to fix the problem. The Grand Plan nearly always involves confiscating and spending more of other people’s money and/or restricting more of other people’s freedoms.

Restaurant owners complained that being forced to have every food item on the menu tested for calorie and nutrition counts and then listing them on menus would cost a ton of money (much of which would passed on to consumers.) The Anointed, of course, didn’t care. Spending other people’s money is what they love to do.

Because they are so supremely confident in themselves and their ideas, The Anointed don’t believe they should be bothered with having to provide proof or evidence that the Grand Plan will actually work.

There was never any evidence that forcing people to look at calorie counts would convince them to eat less. If The Anointed wanted to make a case for menu laws, they could have conducted some simple, inexpensive studies.  Put calorie counts on menus at a couple of restaurants and see if people ate less as a result.  But of course, The Anointed can’t be bothered with supplying evidence.  So the menu laws were rammed through.

I predicted back in 2009 that the menu laws The Guy From CSPI and others were demanding wouldn’t make any difference:

Here’s how the politicians and the nutrition-nannies believe those calorie-count menu boards will make us thinner:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “Oh my gosh! I had no idea there were so many calories in this meal! I’m going to order a Filet-O-Fish and a bottle of water.”
  • Fat Customer is satisfied with this low-calorie meal and, thanks to the menu board, begins eating low-calorie meals at restaurants from this point forward.
  • Fat Customer loses weight, as do millions of other fat customers. The obesity epidemic is solved. Rates of heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes plummet. Medicare expenditures drop by 50 percent.
  • Millions of formerly-obese citizens march on Washington to express their gratitude. Hallelujah, hallelujah! All praise the wise and wonderful politicians and Kelly Brownell and CSPI for saving us from our ignorance and gluttony!

This fantasy outcome was based on the belief that people are stupid. They go to restaurants, order high-calorie meals they somehow don’t recognize as high-calorie meals, get fatter, yet have no idea why. So by gosh, if we make them look at the calorie counts, they’ll finally realize what they’re doing wrong and eat less.

Nonsense. Here’s more of what I wrote in 2009:

Here’s an even more likely scenario:

  • Fat Customer waddles into McDonald’s, intending to order a Double Quarter Pounder value meal.
  • Fat Customer is confronted with the calorie count, right there on the menu board where he can’t possibly miss it.
  • Fat Customer says to himself, “I don’t give a @#$%. I’m famished, and I want the Double Quarter Pounder value meal.”

The calorie-count menu laws were, of course, imposed on everyone by The Anointed — for their own good.

If the Grand Plan fails to solve the problem (which it usually the case) or makes it worse (which is often the case), The Anointed will never, ever, ever that admit the Grand Plan was wrong. Instead, they will insist that 1) the Grand Plan was good, but was undermined by people who are evil or stupid, or 2) the Grand Plan didn’t go far enough … which means we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER.

So how will The Anointed do the same thing again, only bigger? Actually, they already have. Originally, they wanted restaurants to post nutrition information where everyone could see it. The restaurants complied, but people didn’t eat less as a result. Faced with this failure, The Anointed of course didn’t conclude that the Grand Plan was based on faulty ideas.

No, instead they decided that people were too lazy and stupid to walk over and look at that big nutrition poster on the wall before ordering a meal. So by gosh, we need to put the information right on the restaurant menu, where people can’t possibly miss it.

As the recent study shows, that didn’t work either. So we wasted a lot of time, effort, and other people’s money on a Grand Plan that didn’t make a dent in the obesity problem.

You’d think The Anointed would give up at this point. Maybe, but I doubt it. I think it’s more likely they’ll wait for more favorable political conditions, then propose new regulations requiring every restaurant to employ an on-site nutritionist. If you dare to order a meal full of saturated fat and sodium, the nutritionist will be required to stride up to your table and lecture you on your bad choices.

Yeah, I know … that sounds crazy. But we’re talking about The Anointed here. They are often wrong, but never in doubt – and no matter how many times they fail to control what we want and what we do, they never, ever stop trying.

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51 Responses to “Menu Laws Are A Failure, But The Anointed Will Never Give Up”
  1. Walter Bushell says:

    Could be a dangerous job for a nutritionist, lecturing people about their food choices.

    • Tom Welsh says:

      I always feel the word should be written “nutritionist”, as it embodies a whole series of unwarranted assumptions about what “nutritionists” know and what they are qualified to advise about.

      Isn’t it amazing that, once the decision was taken to send men to the Moon, it took less than a decade – yet, at least 250 years after the serious scientific study of nutrition began, there are so many things we just don’t know? And so many things we are pretty sure aren’t so, that “nutritionists” and “doctors” keep lecturing us about.

    • Jennifer says:

      Maybe it should come with hazard pay.

    • Stephen T says:

      Almost every health service nutritionist I’ve ever met has been overweight. The sane ones who refuse to endorse the low-fat nonsense all seem to have to work privately.

  2. Dianne says:

    I don’t suppose any of The Anointed ever stopped to think that people go to restaurants to enjoy themselves. I’m usually very careful at home, but when I go to Outback or Cracker Barrel, I go with the intention of treating myself to something I wouldn’t ordinarily eat. I’m going to have the coconut shrimp with orange marmalade dipping sauce, or the Victoria’s fillet and a loaded baked potato. And if, by golly, I decide to go whole hog and add a slice of cheesecake, you’d better believe that the printed calorie count (if I even bother to look at it), won’t make me hesitate for a nanosecond and it won’t even make me feel guilty. Mind you, I probably don’t do this more than once or twice a year, but if I did it every week, I’d still ignore the calorie counts. I spend enough time counting ’em at home. And as for fast food, well, anybody with the IQ of a kitchen appliance knows that stuff isn’t diet food.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Exactly. If I go to Outback (which I do maybe three times per year), I don’t want the calorie count shoved in my face. I don’t want to think about calories at all. I just want to eat and enjoy.

      But of course, The Anointed think it’s their job to force me to think about the calories, whether I want to or not — for my own good, of course.

  3. Lori Miller says:

    How often do you hear some people brag that they haven’t been at a McDonald’s or other fast food restaurant in years? If The Anointed were to set foot in a McDonald’s, they’d find people who aren’t aspiring to get ripped or fit in their wedding dress. Around here, they’d see people who have kids to feed or need enough energy to keep paving a road or roofing houses until quitting time.

  4. Jean Irvin says:

    You might think that is unlikely but I got a lecture when I asked for full fat mayo in an English pub. A very young, chubby server told me it would make me fat so they didn’t stock it!

  5. Tom Welsh says:

    “This fantasy outcome was based on the belief that people are stupid”.

    Actually, some people are stupid. Namely, the advocates of the Grand Plan. It’s a nice example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I think Sowell’s description is spot-on: The Anointed tend to be intellectuals who are, in fact, intelligent. But they wildly overestimate their own competence.

  6. Tom Welsh says:

    Nowadays The Anointed have an even better get-out-of-jail card: “The Russians Did It”.

  7. Firebird7478 says:

    I’ve said this before — when I go to an all you can eat Chinese buffet, I don’t go for the salad. I am, however, smart enough to avoid the low mein, rice, french fries and other carbage and opt for the shrimp, beef and broccoli, chicken teriyaki and so forth along with a couple of pieces of sushi.

    I can go into Denny’s and get the Chicken Caesar Avocado Salad or a Grand Slam of 4 eggs, 4 slices of bacon and ask for salsa and sour cream on the side.

    I don’t need the government telling me how to do that. You, Drs. Atkins, Ellis, Eades et al, Gary Taubes have done just fine with that.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      And of course, others may go for the low-fat items and do just fine with that choice. Governments generally produce one-size-fits-all solutions, while in the real world, what works for some people doesn’t work for others.

      • kla9107 says:

        “what works for some people doesn’t work for others”

        That pretty much sums up what “should be” the extent of the US dietary guidelines.

        Although, I do sometimes like to look at the carb/protein counts. But, the silly little icons will draw me in, trying to figure out what the little “hearts”, “broccoli”, “carrots”, “different colored stars”, etc. mean — it’s like a treasure map!

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I sometimes look at nutrition info as well. But since it’s widely available, I sure don’t need it shoved in my face on a menu.

  8. Wayne Gage says:

    If voluntary reduce calorie does not work…then punishment surely will. Tax the bad.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I certainly don’t want government officials defining what’s bad.

      • Wayne Gage says:

        I meant for my response to mean government going from bad to worse but now that I read it, it appears that I support going from bad to worse. I support getting government out of controlling what they think is best for us.

  9. Pierre says:

    It would be much simpler to taxe the sugar content of the meal.
    If your meal has 50 gr of added sugar, then you add 50 cents taxe.

  10. vicente amor says:

    My concern about “the Grand Plan didn’t go far enough … which means we need to do the same thing again, ONLY BIGGER” is that eventually they’ll put us on ration cards and tell us “hey, it worked during WW2.”

  11. Bob Niland says:

    We rarely consider the existing Nutrition Facts when eating out (because the vast majority of menus are motivation to indulge in intermittent fasting, and we can eyeball assess the rest).

    But what might actually be useful, for people new to any of several enlightened ancestral diets, is simply:
    1. net carb grams
    2. prebiotic fiber carb grams
    3. omega 6 linoleic acid grams
    4. a short list of major allergens

    If the Anointed™ were aware of 1-3, and why, they’d probably move to prohibit even voluntary disclosure of them. #4 is already disclosed, and sadly, most of those allergies and due to having been on an Anointed Diet.

    Meanwhile, encourage your favorite joints to start voluntary disclosure of #1-3.

  12. Chris says:

    These studies only show that people are the same amount when they went to a restaurant. They don’t, for example, show whether people went to restaurants with the same frequency (perhaps due to recognition of just what the nutritional value of the food is). For example, McDonald’s revenue declined last year (from 2015). Is it a stretch to say that calorie displays are relevant to that – perhaps. But this study doesn’t answer that question

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, I think it’s a stretch. I’m pretty sure McDonald’s sales declined because more consumers are avoiding processed foods.

  13. Walter Bushell says:

    An Anointed Diet. But isn’t it illegal to eat them?

  14. Bill says:

    Tom
    paragraph 4. You need to add ‘denier’. Seems to coming into vogue.

  15. Judy B says:

    This sounds eerily like the “thinking” about the cholesterol “problem” and how to fixc it…

  16. Ed R. says:

    Actually, I think a lot of people going to fast food restaurants do look at the calorie count. They try to get the most they can get for their money.

  17. Geoff says:

    Well the easy solution for The Anointed is force eateries to convert calories into the price. Every 100 calories = 1 dollar or maybe even 2-3 just to make sure. When all the eateries start to go out of business they can swoop in with bailouts and subsidies to save the “healthy” low calorie food, but still watch everything crumble.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Unfortunately, they’d probably consider that a reasonable plan.

    • Justin says:

      Actually, I think it’s a great plan to set the low fat movement into overdrive. Substituting lower calorie carbohydrate-rich foods for higher calorie fatty foods would lower the costs on the same volume of food just to keep people in the door. No need to make it tasteless either; go heavy on the sugar. Think Snackwells! What’s that you say? Low fat isn’t satiating? Cha-ching! Profits should continue to rise with all the repeat business just to refill the tank a couple hours later.

  18. chris c says:

    A recent UK study showed that over 50% of dieticians DO NOT recommend reducing dietary carbohydrate for diabetics.

    A useful followup study might be to look at how many carbs successful diabetics eat.

    The actual study being financed looks in more depth at how many carbs dieticians recommend.

    Do NOT look through the telescope, Mr Galileo!

  19. Lori Miller says:

    OT, Tom, but do you know of anyone in the blog-o-sphere who’s still shooting it out with vegans? I have a vegan friend who’s bugging me and I’d like to send her to someone who’s still arguing about the China Study. I couldn’t care less about it.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I haven’t come across anything new on the China Study specifically. When vegans try to convert me, I just send them to this post, since they always make the same arguments:

      http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2015/03/31/to-the-vegetarian-evangelists-updated/

      • Lori Miller says:

        Thanks, Tom. I told her (among other things) that I’m full of genes for diabetes. On a starchy diet, I could look forward to digestive problems, serious weight gain, wounds that won’t heal, losing my teeth, $500 a month worth of insulin, loss of vision, and possibly having my toes, feet and legs amputated. If I thought the world would be that much better off if I didn’t eat meat or eggs or cheese, I’d put a gun to my head and get it over with. I’m not wrecking my health for some greater cause. As another blogger wrote:

        “And yes, I used to buy into this ‘Save the Day’ nonsense, until I had an epiphany in the matter. The day doesn’t need saving, and people don’t want to be saved from their own folly – and will fight you tooth and nail on this. The best you can do is make a rational case for your viewpoint and then move on. You can’t force your views on others. And just because no one is counter-protesting your protest doesn’t mean everyone agrees with you.

        “I realized that fulfilling my part of the unwritten social contract was far more important than “fighting for” larger issues. And frankly, by taking care of myself, I have made more of an impact on this planet than I would have, being an ‘activist’ or a ‘protester’.”
        http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2014/12/narcissistic-liberals.html

    • Walter Bushell says:

      Veganism is genocidal in that it is bad for people with carb intolerance, inability to make retinol, deficiencies in ability to make lysine and cholesterol etcetera. These all have genetic contributions.

      • Lori Miller says:

        I have low cholesterol and need iron and other supplements despite eating red meat daily and rarely eating grains. I can’t fast, either. I know exactly how I’d do on a vegan diet because I already know how I do on a balanced diet (constant hunger, energy swings, depression), a starchy diet (GERD, tooth decay, weight gain) and watched my diabetic mother suffer from obesity, arthritis, perpetual crabbiness, low energy, dental problems, wounds that wouldn’t heal, neuropathy, and now, loss of vision. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d prefer a bullet.

        What kind of person continues to go on about all the “science” behind a diet that would destroy the health of a “friend”? I love red meat and think it’s perfectly healthy, but if someone was allergic to it, I wouldn’t go on about all the nutrients in it and how it helps farmers to shoot and eat wild, non-native boars running amok on their land, or for deer herds to be culled, or that poor people can make a little money selling eggs. I’d say, “That sucks!” and talk about something else. Yet this woman feeds meat to her dogs. Her dogs can eat meat, but I shouldn’t? She’s a narcissistic liberal who can bug off.

  20. Emily says:

    I recently saw an article tsk-tsking about having a muffin for breakfast because it has 500 calories. 500 calories for a meal sounds extremely low. Are people supposed to live on air? If I go to a restaurant, I want bang for my buck, so I’m more likely to order something with a lot of calories.

    On another, possibly related, note: I’m having trouble getting people to even hear that my anxiety was cured when I switched to whole milk. They’re not calling me a liar or anything (yet), but someone said it must have been dehydration, others are saying stuff like “food can help but not replace medication”, etc. I’m not trying to say what worked for me will work for everyone, because that would be silly. But it really shows “what we’re up against,” as you say, when people have a hard time comprehending the very simple things one says in the first place because they contradict received wisdom.

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