Archive for the “The Food Evangelists” Category
Tom is hard at work on that book/DVD project he’s been teasing us with for the last year or so, which is good. But it’s taking a bit more time and effort for this phase than he’d planned, so you all are stuck with me for another week or so. It should be worth it in the end, so let’s all, as Lone Watie said in the classic “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (played by Chief Dan George) –
“endeavor to persevere.”
BTW, if you’re too young to get that reference, you need to watch that movie. If you don’t have that kind of patience, or if Josey has ended up on the non-PC list, or if you’d just like a reminder of one of the great scenes in movies:
Okay, enough about the first Americans put on a government-run welfare program.
Back here in the present day, I’ve pointed out before the adage that “grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your children when they’re teenagers.” The Wife and I got an invitation to go to breakfast with The Oldest Reward (1st grader) yesterday at her school’s Grandparents Day. It was fun, and well attended.
Of course, you knew this had to be there:
You want to indoctrinate kids when they’re young. Otherwise, they may start thinking for themselves and we all know how messy that can get. Here’s something I never saw posted on the wall in the school cafeteria when I was a kid:
I never saw it, because hypoglycemia is associated with diabetes. Type I (juvenile) diabetes is rare and kids with it don’t need a poster to be aware of it. The other is Type II diabetes, but when we were kids, that didn’t exist. The condition did, of course, but it hadn’t been renamed to Type II diabetes. It was called “Adult Onset diabetes,” because almost no one got it until they were well past school age, usually mid-life and later.
It’s no puzzle to any Fatheads on how you create an unprecedented epidemic of insulin resistance in children. It’s simple. You just feed them breakfasts like this:
Didn’t manage to capture the other offerings in the picture, but you could balance your plate out with oatmeal and/or a plastic wrapped muffin, also. Not a drop of the fat kids need for their brains in sight, and the only protein available was a few grams in the milk. Fat Free!, of course. Ugh. The menu was missing one of last year’s offerings:
Thanks a lot, Michelle Obama.
Leah picked out what she thought looked good, and ate about half of it.
The Wife and I passed on the meal and just enjoyed being with her and her multitude of buddies. I was still fuming over the whole raw milk thing (or as the grandkids call it — “creamy milk!”) and took a look at the label on the fat-free chocolate milk:
Interesting that the FDA, USDA, CDC, and the Illinois State Medical Society are conducting a jihad against raw milk, but don’t seem to have anything but praise for the folks who bring our kids milk concocted with alkali, cornstarch, salt, artificial flavors, and carrageennan. Note also that the label does warn the consumer that this product “CONTAINS: MILK.” You know, just in case anyone was worried about there being milk in their milk.
It was fun being with the Oldest Grandkid, and we got to meet her teacher and see some of the school before she blasted off to the playground to squeeze in some playtime with her buddies before the bell started the school day. But the wife and I were a bit hungry so we stopped on the way to work and picked up a much higher quality breakfast to start our own workdays:
(Heh, heh. Just making sure Tom keeps getting those royalty checks from Ronald McDonald!)
Have a great weekend. Like it or not, I’ll have a few more things to say next week.
The Older Brother
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Here’s another callback for you longtime Fatheads. It’s from the end of a two-parter I wrote on the State of Illinois’ attempt last year to regulate raw milk producers out of business, “The Older Brother’s notes from the sausage factory floor…” At the end, after over a hundred people showed up to politely but loudly protest the state’s heavy-handed actions, I noted:
“I’ve heard from a couple of folks who think the regulators got an education on raw milk… Maybe the bureaucrats would change things up substantially. Maybe even remove impediments to raw milk while setting a few common-sense protocols, as it fits in with the buy local/real foods programs the state and others talk up.”
Feeling I had a better understanding of bureaucratic sausage-making than those good, honest people, I ended with…
“I’m guessing they’ll lay low for a few months or more, and then pass pretty much all of those rules as is, maybe without the 100 gallon limit. Or maybe they’ll bump the limit to 500 gallons. But they didn’t learn anything, and they’re there to pass those rules.
It’s what they do.”
… Well. Sorry to be right again, but really, it was an easy call.
Apparently, in the last week or so, the FDA-funded lickspittles at the Illinois Department of Public Health went ahead and promulgated new rules concerning raw milk because… well, because there were no rules and how can you just let people mind their own business without someone writing rules to give them permission to do their own business and regulations detailing how that business is to be minded.
This go-round, they’ve posted for comment regulations that will require anyone selling raw milk to gather the name, address, and phone number of anyone they sell raw milk to and turn it over to the state on request. They will also be prohibited from milking a cow with any dirt on its udder or belly, and be required to only milk cows in a building with floors and walls that can be cleaned. In other words, you can’t milk a cow outdoors, and you’ll have to build a building for several tens of thousands of dollars to do it in.
These are, of course, only a start. Once they get some regulations on the books, they can keep expanding them and “re-interpreting” them until they’ve driven all raw milk producers out of the market. Mission accomplished!
I wouldn’t have known about this as my local paper — the one in the state capital and the middle of ag country — didn’t actually mention any of this. It did, however, helpfully print a letter to the editor from one of the FDA’s useful idiots – the (prepare to be impressed) president of The Illinois State Medical Society. Here’s a few of what the medical establishment’s public mouthpiece seems to think are compelling arguments on why educated, intelligent, health-conscious people shouldn’t be allowed to choose to consume milk in the way it’s been consumed for the last 7,500 years or so…
As the Illinois Department of Public Health advances rules governing the sale of raw milk, the Illinois State Medical Society remains opposed to the sale and distribution of “raw” or unpasteurized milk in any form. Federal law prohibits dairies from distributing raw milk across state lines in final package form and about half of U.S. states prohibit the sale of raw milk completely.
Correct answer: So what?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other medical and health organizations, raw milk that is not pasteurized may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other bacteria, that can cause serious illness and, in extreme cases, death. And studies show that children, particularly, are most susceptible to illness due to consuming unpasteurized raw milk.
You mean, there might be germs in milk? Like just about any other food out there. Only as the statistics show, not so much. The nice thing about raw milk is that, unlike pasteurized milk, it also contains all kinds of good bacteria that, in addition to controlling the baddies mentioned, also brings both documented and anecdotal benefits. Probably in about another twenty years, the adherents to the type of medicine practiced by the Illinois State Medical Society will discover the wonders of the gut biome. (Don’t tell them now – you’ll ruin the surprise!)
Pasteurization, simply put, is heating milk to a high temperature and then rapidly cooling it to eliminate harmful bacteria, yet maintaining the milk’s freshness for an extended period of time. Even the Illinois Farm Bureau advocates that individuals drink pasteurized milk.
Wow. You mean, the industry group representing the commodity dairy producers who keep their livestock in confinement pens, inject them with hormones and antibiotics, then mix milk from thousands of cows from different producers, to be shipped hundreds of miles, think people should only drink pasteurized milk? The ones who also put artificial coloring and aspartame in their products?
Now, if you’re going to drink milk from one of these producers, you damned well better want it to be pasteurized. That has nothing to do with the environment of healthy dairy cows raised on pasture with sales going to people within driving distance, who can walk around those fields if they want to see what conditions their food is being produced in.
(Don’t worry about that aspartame thing though. The FDA of which the guardian of our health at the Illinois State Medical Society speaks is engaged in an effort, at the behest of these same producers, to allow aspartame to not be listed in the ingredients of your store-bought, “healthy” milk.)
And these commodity producers, having seen milk sales drop over 20% to the lowest levels in thirty years, are more than happy to advise the FDA, the USDA, the Medical Society, and any other economic illiterates, on how to best put small farmers — who are producing a healthy, ethical, vastly superior product at premium prices — out of business.
I’d say that if the good doctor’s medical expertise is in line with his depth of understanding exhibited in the areas of epidemiology and economics, it would explain why there are over 90,000 medical malpractice-related hospital deaths a year.
That’s an interesting number, because coincidentally, according to an excellent breakdown of the real numbers done by Chris Kesser here, that’s about the odds (1 in 94,000) of a person even getting ill from raw milk (not dead – just a reportable tummy ache). The odds of being hospitalized due to raw milk are around 1 in 6 million, or about three times less than dying in an airplane crash. As for dying, well that’s hard to calculate, since the last reportable deaths associated with raw milk were in the late 1990’s, and those were from homemade “bathtub” queso cheese, which was assuredly contaminated by the maker.
Now, back in 1985, both the worst case of food poisoning deaths (52) and the worst case of salmonella poisoning deaths (possibly up to 12) since the CDC began keeping records in 1970 resulted from consuming dairy products. However, both of those cases involved pasteurized milk. You know — the safe kind.
In fact, there has never been a death reported from just drinking raw milk. That’s according to the CDC. But it took a Freedom of Information Act request to get that out of them, cause it tends to mess with their mission, which is to produce press releases that say “Majority of dairy-related disease outbreaks linked to raw milk.”
Not that food can’t kill you. Since that last death associated with raw milk products, people have died from spinach, green onions, cantaloupe, peanuts, drinking water, apple juice, various types of meats, and again, pasteurized milk products, among others.
If the sundry State Medical Societies worked on “physician, heal thyself” and “first, do no harm” instead of acting as the PR wing for the FDA, CDC, USDA and other Big Ag-owned agencies, they could save countless lives. Up to 90,000 just for starts. That’s without even touching all the havoc and suffering they create helping out their other good buddies over at the pharmaceutical companies.
NOTE: If you live in Illinois, you’ve got until October 20th to let your elected representatives know that you’re not interested in less freedom, crappier food choices, and putting small farmers out of business. Remember, nothing gets a bureaucrat’s attention like a lawmaker who’s getting an earful from irritated (but polite, please) constituents two months before an election.
the Older Brother
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I have to admit, that was kind of fun. See, what I did with the headline for this post was to look at a couple of observational studies and jump to the kind of unsubstantiated cause-and-effect conclusions so beloved by media health writers – and particularly beloved by many vegetarian zealots.
Take T. Colin Campbell – please. He and his vegan pals show up in vegan propaganda films like Forks Over Knives and solemnly inform that world that in countries with high rates of meat consumption, people are more likely to die of cancer. Must be the animal protein causing the cancer, ya see. (Unfortunately, this unscientific claptrap is persuasive to reviewers like Roger Ebert, who apparently knew a lot about good filmmaking but almost nothing about good science.)
There could be all kinds of reasons other than animal protein causes cancer! that people who live in countries with high rates of meat consumption are more likely to die of cancer. I’ll give you just one: Animal protein is expensive compared to other foods, so people in prosperous countries eat more of it than people in poor countries do. People in prosperous countries also have longer lifespans because of better medical care – which means they live long enough to die from the diseases of old age, including cancer.
T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, John McDougall … I’m sure they’re all intelligent enough to understand that correlation doesn’t prove causation. I’m also sure they don’t care, at least not when they can dig up a correlation that supports their vegetarian agenda. That’s because they consider eating animal foods immoral. It’s a sin, you see, so if they need to tell little white lies in order to stop people from sinning, that’s okay. Nothing wrong with portraying correlation as causation if it supports the true cause.
So in that spirit, let’s take a look at the studies that inspired my headline. Here are some quotes from an online article about a study linking vegetarianism to poor health:
Vegetarians may have a lower BMI and drink alcohol sparingly, but vegetarian diets are tied to generally poorer health, poorer quality of life and a higher need for health care than their meat-eating counterparts.
I think the only correct interpretation of that finding is that if you’re going to be a vegetarian, you should also try to stay fat and drunk.
A new study from the Medical University of Graz in Austria finds that vegetarians are more physically active, drink less alcohol and smoke less tobacco than those who consume meat in their diets. Vegetarians also have a higher socioeconomic status and a lower body mass index. But the vegetarian diet — characterized by a low consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol that includes increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products — carries elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders.
Vegetarians were twice as likely to have allergies, a 50 percent increase in heart attacks and a 50 percent increase in incidences of cancer.
Wow. More physically active, more economically prosperous, less likely to drink, less likely to smoke, and less likely to be fat … yet still more likely to be in poor health, including more likely to develop cancer or suffer a heart attack. Has T. Colin Campbell been informed of this finding?
The cross-sectional study from Austrian Health Interview Survey data and published in PLos One examined participants’ dietary habits, demographic characteristics and general lifestyle differences.
Many past studies have instead put an emphasis on the health risks associated with red meat and carnivorous diets, but this study points the other dietary direction. However, the researchers do caution that continuing studies will be needed to substantiate some of the rather broad dietary distinctions, associations presented in this current research.
No, no, no, we don’t need to be cautious. If we find an association we like in an observational study, we can treat it as cause-and-effect and trumpet it from the hilltops … or in a book called The China Study.
Overall, vegetarians were found to be in a poorer state of health compared to other dietary groups. Vegetarians reported higher levels of impairment from disorders, chronic diseases, and “suffer significantly more often from anxiety/depression.”
So a vegetarian diet will give you mental problems as well. But as a health writer, I don’t want to rely on a single study to reach that conclusion. So let’s look at another one. In this study from Germany, vegetarians were found to have higher rates of depression, anxiety, hypochondria and eating disorders.
Now, if we wanted to be careful, we’d have to consider all kinds of possible explanations. It could be that people who are sick or depressed or have an eating disorder are more likely to try a vegetarian diet, hoping for a dietary cure. It could be that more vegetarians are obsessed with being thin, which makes them more likely to semi-starve themselves, which it turns leads to poor health and depression. Eating or not eating meat may have nothing to do with it, at least not directly.
But I’m not in the mood to be careful. I more in the mood to channel the spirits of Campbell, Bernard, McDougall, and the other great vegan zealots. So I’ll just declare that according to the recent research, a vegetarian diet will make you sick and crazy.
Heh-heh-heh … like I said, that was kind of fun.
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Happy Halloween. Chareva and the girls are in Mexico, where the girls will be experiencing their first Day of the Dead celebration. They’ve been looking forward to that for weeks. I plan to celebrate Halloween by getting some work done and then watching Thursday Night Football. I don’t expect any trick-or-treaters to show up here. We’re too remote and the place is kind of scary-looking at night.
Speaking of scary, some kids who go trick-or-treating in North Dakota may be coming home with a nasty note from a local busybody. I saw this on the news last night, and today a reader sent me an article from the New York Daily News:
A North Dakota woman is taking it upon herself to school the parents of trick-or-treaters by denying Halloween candy to kids she feels are too chubby.
Instead, she says, she’ll give them a note informing parents their “obese” child should lay off the sugar.
So she isn’t refusing to hand out Halloween candy to all kids … just those she feels are “too chubby.” Thaaaaaaaaaat’s going to make for some interesting exchanges on the front porch.
“Trick or treat!”
“Uh … so what are you supposed to be, young man?”
“The Incredible Hulk!”
“Yes, but, uh … I can’t really tell how fat you are under that bulky costume. Would you mind taking it off so I can see if you’re chubby?”
As public schools in some states debate sending home “fat letters” to kids with high body mass indexes, “Cheryl,” of Fargo, N.D., sees nothing wrong with taking the controversial practice into her own hands.
Of course you don’t see anything wrong with your behavior, Cheryl. That’s the problem with idiots: their idiocy prevents them from recognizing when they’re being idiots. Let’s take a look at the letter Cheryl will handing out to kids she deems too fat:
Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!
You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorehead, West Fargo.
When people say “It takes a village to raise a child,” what they mean is that they think they have the right (if not the obligation!) to tell you how to raise your kid — because they know better than you, of course. In other words, it’s a favorite phrase among busybodies who don’t know how to mind their own @#$%ing business.
Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.
Kids don’t get fat from eating Halloween candy once per year, you mental midget. My (thin and active) girls eat Halloween candy. But they don’t eat candy most of the year. Shaming and embarrassing the kids you deem too fat won’t make a bit of difference in how much they ultimately weigh. You may, however, send a few of them home in tears – which will give them a reason to tear into the candy and other comfort foods.
My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.
Way to lecture the parents, Cheryl. Good move. Because it’s not as if they know their kids are fat. But after being enlightened by you, I’m sure they’ll step up, put those kids on a diet, and thank you later for pushing them onto the correct path.
If you’re concerned about fat kids eating candy, Cheryl, then the proper course of action is to refuse to give out candy, period. Do like some other folks who think candy is bad and give out little trinkets instead. That way you’re not putting yourself in the position of deciding which kids are too fat and which ones aren’t.
And seriously, what if a fat kid and skinny kid show up together? Are you going to give one kid candy and the other kid your “helpful” letter? Do you have any idea how much grief you could cause a kid who gets that letter in front of his peers?
If you sent that letter home with one of my kids, I’d tell them, “Well, it’s called ‘trick or treat’ for a reason, and I don’t consider this letter much of a treat. Time for the tricks. You have my permission to go egg her house. In fact, I’ll go with you.”
That “village” may disappoint you, Cheryl … but only because you’re the village idiot.
52 Comments »
A reader sent me a link to a rah-rah article about former president Bill Clinton’s vegan diet that appeared on the AARP site. Let’s look at some quotes:
The former president is now a devoted vegan, meaning no meat, fish or dairy products, and he has pursued a healthier way of life for more than three years. While I figured our lunch menu might be bland, that would be a small price to pay for private time with a world leader who is anything but.
As we enter a private room overlooking Manhattan’s busy Rockefeller Center, I’m struck with a dazzling kaleidoscope of a dozen delicious dishes: including roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, spiced and herbed quinoa with green onions, shredded red beets in vinaigrette, garlicky hummus with raw vegetable batons, Asian-inspired snow pea salad, an assortment of fresh roasted nuts, plates of sliced melon and strawberries, and rich, toothsome gigante beans tossed with onions in extra-virgin olive oil.
Hmmm … toss in some salmon or grass-fed beef, that would almost be a whole-foods paleo diet. I think we’re getting a clue here as to why Clinton’s diet has improved his health – and it isn’t because he gave up meat.
Clinton traces his decision to change back to the morning in February 2010 when he woke up looking pale and feeling tired. His cardiologist quickly brought him into New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to insert a pair of stents. One of his veins had given out, a frequent complication following the quadruple-bypass surgery he had undergone in 2004.
Prodded into action, Clinton started by rereading Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which urges a strict, low-fat, plant-based regimen, along with two books that were, if possible, even more militantly vegan: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and The China Study, by Cornell biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. (When I suffered a heart attack in late November 2010, Clinton sent me all three books.)
As Denise Minger pointed out her AHS 2011 speech, what do Ornish, McDougall, Esselstyn and other big-name doctors promoting veganism as the cure for heart disease have in common? They have their patients give up sugar, white flour (and most other refined carbohydrates), processed vegetable oils, processed foods, smoking and alcohol. Oh, and meat and dairy products, too. They also prescribe lots and lots of fresh vegetables.
Then when their patients get better, they declare that they’ve proved meat causes heart disease. It’s not the meat, of course. It’s all the other junk the vegan doctors have their patients stop eating. Let’s keep reading:
He no longer craves steaks, but bread is a potential pitfall. “Heavily processed carbs, you really have to control that,” he says. When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Excuse me?! Did I read that correctly? Let me copy and paste that last bit again and see if it was just my computer playing tricks on me.
When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
That can’t be right. Vegans don’t get heart disease. Just ask them. Meat and dairy products cause heart disease, and vegans don’t eat that stuff. Maybe if I just copy and paste the last sentence …
“I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Well, well, well … the famous vegan doctor doesn’t want Bill Clinton to eat a white-flour dinner roll because he’s treated a lot of vegans for heart disease. I can only conclude that the famous vegan doctor believes white flour can promote heart disease. But surely other heavy starches are fine. Let’s see how many of those Bill Clinton is consuming:
The former president has a tip for those who crave starchy food: “You can make whipped cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and it’s great.”
Uh … um … why would a vegan need to find a substitute for mashed potatoes? Potatoes are vegan, and it’s those evil non-vegan foods that cause weight gain and heart disease. Just ask the vegans. Thank goodness Clinton doesn’t eat, say, eggs or fish.
Once a week or so, he will have a helping of organic salmon or an omelet made with omega-3-fortified eggs, to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.
Uh … um … isn’t a vegan who eats salmon and eggs to maintain his muscle mass not actually a vegan? And why would anyone need to consume animal foods to maintain muscle mass? There are lots of muscled-up vegans in the world. Just ask the vegans. They can all name the same two or three vegan bodybuilders.
So what we’ve got is a formerly overweight president who eats a lot of vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes, doesn’t consume white flour, recommends whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and eats salmon and eggs now and then to maintain his muscle mass.
And it’s giving up meat and dairy that made him healthier? I don’t think so.
Speaking of vegans, my buddy Dave Jaffe wrote a parody news story about animal-rights zealots on his Write Good! blog. Here’s a taste:
An animal welfare group responsible for spilling red paint on a butter cow sculpture at the Iowa State Fair is threatening to intensify their attacks until a fearful public shakes its head in annoyance and mutters, “Well, I never!”
“You have forced our hand and now butter must suffer!” read a news release from the Iowans for Animal Liberation that claimed responsibility for the vandalism. “Sorry! Enjoy the rest of the fair.”
You can read the rest of the piece here.
102 Comments »
More than two years ago, I wrote a post about Thomas Sowell’s book Intellectuals and Society. Although the book isn’t about nutrition, Sowell’s observations about how and why intellectuals embrace ideas certainly apply to nutrition policies dreamed up by government do-gooders. Here’s part of what I wrote back then:
Sowell has nothing against smart people, you understand. He’s one heck of a smart guy himself. As he points out in the book, intellectuals are fond of accusing people who oppose their pie-in-the-sky ideas of being “anti-intellectual,” when in fact the naysayers are often common-sense types who oppose basing policies on the latest intellectual fashions and prefer something resembling proof. It’s the attitude towards proof, says Sowell, that separates intellectuals from others who work in practical fields that also require high intelligence.
In intellectual circles, where the talent that Sowell refers to as “verbal virtuosity” is highly prized, new theories are often applauded merely for being bold, exciting, challenging, or exquisitely expressed. (And if the theory suggests intellectuals should be in charge of the rest of us, it will likely be hailed as all of the above.) Once a theory is adopted by a critical mass of intellectuals — thus becoming part of what Sowell calls “the vision of the anointed” — those who dare disagree will likely be scoffed at and dismissed … without a genuine debate centered around little annoyances like proof and evidence.
Intelligent people in practical fields, however, must rely on proof. If an engineer proposes a new theory on structural integrity, it doesn’t matter if the theory is bold, exciting, or exquisitely expressed … if the bridge falls down, the engineer’s career is toast. I was once hired to re-design the security module of a large database program because the previous programmer’s module ended up shutting down the entire system. Nobody cared how bold his design was or how eloquently he could explain why it should have worked. It didn’t work. Period. End of story. Bring on the next programmer.
As Sowell explains, if intellectuals were limited to dazzling each other with their ideas at cocktail parties and in university classrooms, they’d merely be annoying. Unfortunately, intellectuals often dazzle government officials too. Now we have a dangerous combination: people who don’t believe their ideas should be subject to proof getting together with people who have the power of compulsion. The end result is worthless (or worse) legislation based on theories that haven’t actually been tested.
Which brings me to a recent article from CBS news titled Giving McDonald’s eaters calorie guides did not curb bad eating habits:
Educating people on the number of calories they should eat may not help them make better choices.
A new study published July 18 in the American Journal of Public Health showed that providing people with calorie guidelines did not help them make better food choices, even when calorie counts for each item were available on the menu.
Several states and cities in the U.S. require that chain restaurants reveal calorie information for their items. Congress has already passed legislation to develop a national calorie labeling system in order to aid health care reform.
However, previous studies have shown that listing calories hasn’t exactly helped Americans trim down their waistlines.
You mean a bunch of legislators jumped in and passed a law without bothering to wait for evidence that the law would provide any benefits? Well, I am shocked. To quote Senator McGovern, a senator doesn’t the luxury of waiting for every last shred of evidence to come in. Or any evidence at all, apparently.
People don’t eat less when you shove calorie counts in their faces. That’s exactly what I predicted when intellectuals and government do-gooders started pushing calorie counts as a tool to stop the rise in obesity. They apparently believe fat people are automatons who mindlessly go around eating too much. Shove a calorie count in their faces, and by gosh, they’ll say to themselves, “Whoa! I had no idea I was scarfing down so many calories! Give me the salad, please.”
That belief is, of course, utter hogwash. When I was filming the street-interview scenes for Fat Head, I showed dozens of people a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries and a large Coke, then asked them to guess how many calories were in the meal. Some guessed about right, but most people guessed too high. Almost nobody guessed too low. People who order calorie-laden meals know they’re ordering calorie-laden meals, no matter what the intellectuals think.
But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that when people are confronted with calorie counts, they eat less at McDonald’s and other restaurants. Would that lead to a reduction in the obesity rate? Nope. Research has shown that the number of calories people consume over the course of a week is remarkably consistent. When people eat large meals, they compensate by eating smaller meals later. When they skip meals, they make up the difference over the next day or so.
In other words, how much they eat is driven by the complex relationship between appetite, energy balance and hormonal signals described by Dr. William Lagakos in The poor, misunderstood calorie. Informing people (whether they want to be informed or not) that their McDonald’s meal is 1,000 calories won’t make a bit of difference in how much weight they ultimately gain or lose.
Back to the article:
It hasn’t helped that fast food and restaurant food still remain calorie-laden. A 14-year study showed that fast food restaurants have only made minimal improvements to the nutritional value of their items, and 25 percent of Americans eat fast food two or more times a week.
Allow me to engage in the logical thinking the reporter didn’t: If 25 percent of Americans eat fast food two or more times per week, that means 75 percent of Americans don’t eat fast food two or more times per week. So the sentence It hasn’t helped that fast food and restaurant food still remain calorie-laden makes no sense. Fast-food restaurants are not the reason a majority of Americans are (by government standards) overweight.
“The general inability of calorie labeling to result in an overall reduction in the number of calories consumed has already been pretty widely shown,” study author Julie Downs, an associate research professor of social and decision sciences in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, said to HealthDay. “So that’s nothing new. But in the face of that, there has been the growing thought that perhaps the problem is that people don’t know how to use the information without some framework, some guidance.”
I see. Since we believe people are generally stupid, we’ve now decided just showing them calorie counts isn’t enough. We also have to teach them how many calories they should consume in a day. That must be right, because it’s the kind of bold, exciting idea that appeals to intellectuals. Let’s see how it works out in practice:
To see if teaching people how many calories they should eat would help, 1,094 consumers aged 18 and older at two New York McDonald’s locations were provided information on recommended calorie intake before they ordered.
A third of the customers were given a flyer that said women and men should limit their calorie consumption to 2,000 and 2,400 calories per day respectively; another third got a flyer saying a single meal should contain between 650 and 800 calories; and a third were not given any information at all.
After they ordered, researchers looked at the customers’ food receipts and had them fill out a post-meal survey.The researchers discovered that giving people calorie guidelines did not make a significant difference in how they read and used the calorie listings on menus. In fact, people who were given calorie guidelines ate 49 more calories on average than those who did not get guidelines at all.
Head. Bang. On. Desk.
So even if we coach people on how many calories they should (ahem) consume before confronting them with calorie counts, they still don’t eat less. And yet the geniuses in Congress will nonetheless march ahead with a law requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus. Businesses will pass the cost of compliance onto the consumers, and taxpayers will likely end up supporting new employees in some federal agency whose job will be to enforce compliance with a law that won’t accomplish anything.
Proof? Nawww. We The Anointed don’t need no stinkin’ proof before we impose our ideas on you. Proof is for engineers and software programmers, not intellectuals and government officials.
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