A truly impressive thunder-and-lightning storm last night blew out our cable service.  A technician will be dropping by on Friday sometime between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM (so much for the guaranteed two-hour window) to take a look.

So when I leave work today around 5:00, I won’t have internet access until sometime tomorrow.  Just thought I’d mention that, since it means I won’t be able to read or approve comments.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 2 Comments »

I received an interesting email from the American Diabetes Association more than a week ago, but I saved it until today because I’m reasonably sure it’s intended to be an April Fools’ joke.  Here it is, with my comments:

Dear ,

Yup, that’s an exact quote.  No name after Dear , just a space for my name should I care to insert it.

Our country is headed down a costly, and dangerous, path – leading to 1 in 3 adults having diabetes by 2050.  However, you can act to change that, and it only takes a minute!

Well, I’m a pretty busy guy, so I don’t know if I have can spare a full minute to save the country from diabetes.  But okay, I’ll keep reading.

Congress needs to know that the cost of diabetes to our nation – over $245 billion a year – is unacceptable.

Congress needs to know having nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes and 79 million more with prediabetes is unacceptable.

Congress needs to know that inaction is unacceptable.

So that’s why we have so many diabetics these days – not enough action by Congress.  Back when diabetes rates were a fraction of what they are today, Congress must’ve been all over the issue.  I suppose my daughters will eventually endure a history lesson in school explaining how diabetes was low during the Great Depression because of a New Deal program that was later canceled by Ronald Reagan, leading to the current epidemic of diabetes.

(Sara was recently taught that the New Deal lifted the United States out of the Great Depression.  She asked my opinion on that lesson, which led to one of those heart-to-heart conversations she’ll remember fondly when I’m gone.)

Can I count on you to take just one minute and act now?

The letter was signed by someone whose official position at the ADA is National Advocacy Committee Chair.

Now, I have nothing against advocacy per se.  I consider myself a health advocate.  But when I come across the words advocate or advocacy in an organization’s name or a person’s title, little alarm bells go off in my head … because it usually turns out that advocacy translates to trying to get Congress to spend a shootload of the taxpayers’ money on our cause.

So I clicked the COUNT ME IN! link in the email and ended up at a page with the headline Tell Congress to take action to Stop Diabetes! Here’s some of the text:

Some Members of Congress want to derail ongoing diabetes research and undermine proven prevention efforts despite the fact a staggering 100+ million Americans either have or are at risk of developing diabetes.

So let me wrap my head around this:  1) we have proven prevention efforts, but 2) diabetes rates are through the roof.  Those proven prevention efforts must not be working out so well.  And if we already know what the proven prevention methods are, what’s the big concern with derailing diabetes research?  Sounds as if the ADA has it all figured out already.

We must act now – Congress is in the process of making crucial budget decisions about vitally important diabetes research and prevention programs.

Send an email and urge your Members of Congress to support funding for diabetes research and prevention and add your voice to those of Diabetes Advocates who will be in Washington, D.C. next week for our Capitol Hill Advocacy Day.

Translation:  Yes, we receive a ton of funding from the makers of food-like products consisting largely of sugars and grains – but it’s not enough.  TELL CONGRESS TO GIVE US MORE OF YOUR MONEY!

Your email will have more impact if you personalize it, so please take a moment to explain the impact diabetes has had on your life.

Diabetes hasn’t had an impact on my life because I ignore the ADA’s advice.  Well, okay, that’s not entirely true.  One of my relatives who’s a type 2 diabetic recently went into the hospital and was served pancakes and syrup for breakfast.  Then an obese dietician stopped by to tell him to follow the ADA guidelines and eat plenty of carbohydrates while avoiding fat.  That made me really, really mad.  So I guess that had an impact on me.  My cortisol levels went up for awhile.

Just so we don’t personalize that email to Congress too much, the ADA was kind enough to write most of it for us:

Dear [Decision Maker],

As your constituent, I stand with the American Diabetes Association in urging you to support funding for diabetes research and prevention programs.

A 2013 study showed that diagnosed diabetes cost our country $245 billion in 2012 alone, up 41% from 2007. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million have prediabetes. Our country is facing a diabetes epidemic and we need a stronger federal investment in diabetes research and public health initiatives.

And remember, Congressperson, if we spend the money now, it will save money in the long run! (Everyone who wants to spend taxpayer money uses that line.  That’s why we’re awash in government budget surpluses these days– all that federal investment during the last 40 years that saved money in the long run.)

I urge you to request the following actions of the Appropriations Committee:

Allocate $2.066 billion for the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the primary federal agency that conducts research to find a cure and advance treatments for diabetes.

Provide $137.3 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT) whose mission is to eliminate the preventable burden of diabetes through research, education, and by translating science into clinical practice.

So now I’m picturing my representative receiving this email from me and thinking to herself, “Man, this ordinary citizen is really specific in his demands for appropriations … exactly $2.066 billion for NIH, exactly $137.3 million for CDC … he must have really done his research to come up with those figures.”

The annual costs of diabetes will continue to skyrocket unless we invest in stopping the spread of diabetes and finding a cure. If Congress does not take action, diabetes will overwhelm the healthcare system with tragic consequences for all Americans.

Yes, the cost of diabetes could indeed overwhelm the healthcare system.  I don’t care if we’re talking about private insurance, Medicare, ObamaCare, or all of the above; when a third of population is diabetic or pre-diabetic, we’re going to run up medical costs we can’t afford to pay without sinking the rest of the economy.  No method of payment will solve that, because no method of payment will generate wealth that doesn’t exist.

But I’m pretty sure getting the federal government more involved isn’t going to avert this disaster by fixing the diabetes epidemic.  In fact, I’m reasonably sure federal involvement in the food-production and dietary-advice business is part of what got us here in the first place – along with helpful advice from the ADA, which still tells people to avoid saturated fat and eat plenty of whole grains.

Happy April Fools’ Day, ADA.  Thanks for the laughs.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 26 Comments »

Well, this is what happens when I get busy:  I forget anniversaries.  A couple of years ago, I went through a pile of mail I’d plopped on my desk and found a nice Happy Anniversary card from my mom, which included a check and instructions to use the money to take that lovely wife of mine out for a fancy anniversary dinner.

Gulp … the card had arrived exactly on time, meaning I was opening it late in the afternoon on the day of our anniversary.  I hadn’t so much as picked up a card for Chareva, much less ordered flowers or bought a present.  I stood there with a growing sense of dread, expecting her to walk into my home office any second and spring a card on me, perhaps while wearing something revealing.  Announcing that I needed to run a quick errand at that point would be a dead giveaway.  Thank goodness we established a no-divorce rule before walking down the aisle all those years ago.

After hiding the card and the check in a desk drawer, I ambled into Chareva’s office, acting all casual and such, and said, “So, Honey … I was thinking maybe we’d go out for a nice dinner for our anniversary.  Do you have any place special in mind?”

“Oh my god, it’s our anniversary?  Today?  I totally forgot.”

I was tempted to feign being hurt and bank that for some future thoughtless-husband emergency, but a near-total lack of gamesmanship is one of the reasons we’re happily married.  Plus I was afraid she might ask to see the card I bought her.  So I confessed.  We were both busy and we’d both forgotten.

I’ve been swamped lately trying to finish up a big programming project in addition to working full-time, which is why I’ve gone a week between posts now and then.  It’s also why I forgot my fifth blogiversary last week.

Yup, my first Fat Head post was on March 20, 2009 – five years ago.  Hard to believe, but if I’m tempted to dismiss the calendar and convince myself it’s only been a couple of years, all I have to do is compare then-and-now pictures of my kids – because I haven’t aged a bit, of course.

Here’s a picture of Sara from a recent post about our overabundance of eggs:

And here she is five years ago, posing for a mock magazine cover Chareva whipped up in Photoshop to accompany a post about Parents Magazine and their lousy dietary advice:

Good grief.  Better not blink, or I’ll open my eyes and find her heading off to college … or suing me for uncompensated modeling work.

Anyway, it’s been quite a ride.  I had no intention of starting a blog at first.  When I put Fat Head in the can after two years of working on it while also working as a contractor at Disney, I was burnt out.  Writing, researching, rewriting, rewriting again, flying around to conduct interviews, watching footage over and over, more rewriting, editing well into the wee hours for weeks on end, then finding out I had to buy a Mac and edit the whole thing together all over again in Final Cut Pro because the post-production houses in Los Angeles couldn’t read my Premiere Pro files. That led to stint of working three days around the clock with no sleep and two quick showers.  I lost count of how many times I had to sit through the whole film during audio and video post.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and realize I’d been dreaming about the film – often about something going very, very wrong with the film.

But hey, what’s a little emotional strain when you can toss financial strain on top of it?

Shooting and editing didn’t cost all that much – my biggest expense had been paying our animator –  but I started dealing with major sticker shock once we signed with a distributor and I found myself scrambling to meet all of their technical and legal requirements.  Producer’s liability insurance alone cost more than $7,000 to cover a worldwide market.  Post-production fees ran several times that.  Master tapes were hundreds of dollars each, and the distributor wanted a whole slew of them in different formats.  When I went through my financial records later, I realized I’d ended up investing nearly $100,000 from start to finish.  I wondered if it would turn out to be the biggest financial mistake of my life.

It nearly was.  As I’ve recounted before, our first two distributors turned out to be incompetent or just plain crooked.  The U.S. DVD distributor told me Fat Head was their biggest seller – hooray! – then went bankrupt owing me two years’ worth of DVD royalties.  They’d been using the proceeds from their biggest seller! to float their operation before giving up and declaring bankruptcy.  The foreign distributor sold Fat Head to several TV markets around the world, then claimed they’d lost money in the process.  They sent me quarterly reports showing large and mysterious losses piling up, with no explanation of how exactly they were losing all that money on a film they were no longer attempting to sell.

It was a strange, strange time for me emotionally.  Once I decided to start blogging (with a push from Jimmy Moore), I started hearing from fans around the world.  I received lots of emails and comments from people thanking me for making the film, telling me how it changed their lives, etc.  (And I learned the meaning of words like “gobsmacked” from fans in New Zealand.)  The blog readership grew quickly.  There was quite a bit of buzz about Fat Head in cyberspace.  I started getting requests for media interviews.

So I’d be lying in bed at night – probably after writing a check to pay interest on the part of the post-production costs I’d financed by borrowing – and thinking, “What the @#$%!! I’m hearing from people all over the world, there’s all this chatter about Fat Head on blogs and in internet forums, and I haven’t seen a dime.  How the @#$% is that even possible?”

I was royally pissed off about not being paid for the film I’d spent so much time and effort and money producing, but the subject matter had become near and dear to my heart – especially as I saw my own health improve – so I figured if this turned out to be a non-paying but passionate hobby, so be it.  I kept blogging.

After moving to Tennessee and eventually accepting that we’d never receive anything but excuses from our supposed distributors, we decided to start selling the DVD ourselves through the blog.  I added a DVD purchase page, then took Chareva and the girls to Kentucky for a two-day vacation touring some caves.  I came home to find I had $400 worth of orders to process – the first time Fat Head had actually put money in my bank account instead of draining it.

The big turnaround, of course, was because of Netflix.  While still trying to figure out how the hell my supposed distributors were losing money with an apparently popular film, I sent a DVD to Gravitas, a digital distributor.  The president of the company sent me a polite email telling he doesn’t take on first-time filmmakers with no track record.  Nonetheless, I occasionally sent him links to positive reviews and media interviews that were available online.  A year or so after I’d first sent him the DVD, he called and said I’d finally persuaded him to watch Fat Head, and he happened to like it.  So he was willing to break his rule about first-time filmmakers, but only by putting Fat Head on Hulu to test the waters.

He called again a few weeks later.

“Are you aware that Fat Head is currently ranked number one in the documentary category on Hulu?”

“No, I don’t have any idea how to check Hulu rankings.  Wow.”

“So I guess you’re also not aware it’s currently the third-most watched film in any category?”

“Uh … no.”

“I’m glad I broke my rule.”

He told me he was moving on to Netflix, which, based on the Hulu rankings, was offering a pretty good license fee for a two-year run.  I figured our DVD sales would taper off once people could watch Fat Head for free on Netflix, but what the heck, the Netflix royalties would more than make up for the lost DVD sales.

So Fat Head started showing on Netflix and our DVD sales quintupled the next week.  We still receive orders almost every day.  Heh-heh-heh … turn out people see a film they like on Netflix or Amazon Instant Play or iTunes and then decide to go buy a copy.  Go figure.  I don’t know how many people watched Fat Head on Netflix, but more than 225,000 of them took the time to rate it.

I eventually got away from the crooked foreign distributor – who refused to relinquish the rights despite those mysterious losses – by creating the Director’s Cut version and signing the foreign distribution over to Gravitas – honest people who send a nice royalty check every quarter.  (As the president of the company told me, film distributors are like trial lawyers – it’s that darned 90% who give the rest a bad name.)  Mere years after throwing a combination premiere party / 50th birthday party in Burbank to celebrate putting Fat Head in the can, I finally knew it wasn’t going to be a financial loser.

Whew.

The film itself took me on a financial and emotional roller-coaster ride for a few years.  But the blog has never been anything but a positive for me – even when I hear from angry vegetrollians in the comments section.  (Heck, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel.)  I enjoy writing posts, but it’s the ongoing conversations in comments that make it fun.  We have some very intelligent and well-informed participants here and in the Fat Head group on Facebook, and I learn more from them than they learn from me.

So five years (and one week) after my first blog post, I just want to say thanks.  Sorry I forgot our anniversary, and I don’t have time to run out and buy a card, but I know you won’t hold it against me.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 49 Comments »

As I’m sure many of you know, a large new study concluded that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease.  Here’s a quote from one of the many media articles about the study:

Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.

For decades, health officials have urged the public to avoid saturated fat as much as possible, saying it should be replaced with the unsaturated fats in foods like nuts, fish, seeds and vegetable oils.

But the new research, published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, did not find that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had more heart disease than those who ate less. Nor did it find less disease in those eating higher amounts of unsaturated fat, including monounsaturated fat like olive oil or polyunsaturated fat like corn oil.

This ought to drive a stake through the heart of the Lipid Hypothesis, but it won’t.  Here’s part of a blog post by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, offering his prediction:

You see, the entire edifice of the cholesterol hypothesis is held together by two links in a chain. Link one is that saturated fat consumption raises cholesterol levels. Link two is that raised cholesterol levels then cause heart disease.

This is the cholesterol hypothesis, or the lipid hypothesis, and it has driven medical thinking for the last sixty years.

I have had it painstakingly explained to me, by very clever people, exactly how saturated fat raises cholesterol levels. Indeed, you will find ‘evidence’ for this almost universally accepted fact in literally thousands of clinical studies.

Okay, let us accept that eating saturated fat does raise cholesterol levels. However, if consumption of saturated fat does not increase the rate of heart disease then …. Then raised cholesterol levels can have nothing whatsoever to do with causing heart disease. Just keep chasing the implications of that statement around in your head for a while.

So what happens now? We now have a cholesterol/lipid hypothesis that just had its head blown off. Yet, it still continues to wander about, unaware that it is actually dead… I suspect it will continue to rampage about, stomping on puny humans for many years, before it finally keels over and admits that it is dead.

The cholesterol hypothesis is not only blissfully unaware of its demise, its proponents are pushing harder than ever to beat down everyone’s cholesterol levels.  Take a look at the latest news on guidelines for prescribing statins:

The new American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol would increase the number of individuals eligible for statin therapy by nearly 13 million people, an increase that is largely driven by older patients and treating individuals without cardiovascular disease, according to a new analysis.

Awesome.  So we’d be giving statins to more older people (the group least likely to benefit from statins) and people who don’t have heart disease (the other group least likely to benefit from statins).  Makes perfect sense.  I don’t have cancer, but I’m considering signing up for chemotherapy just in case.

Among older adults, those aged 60 to 75 years old, 87.4% of men would now be eligible for the lipid-lowering medication, which is up from one-third under the old Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines. For women of the same age, the percentage of those now eligible for statins would increase from 21.2% under ATP III to 53.6% with the new 2013 clinical guidelines.

Headline from the future:  Doctors baffled by sharp rise in Alzheimer’s, arthritis among elderly.

The increase, say investigators, is the result of more patients being eligible based on their 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease.

Yeah, that must be it.  It couldn’t be the result of a desire to sell more statins.

The new guidelines identify four groups of primary- and secondary-prevention patients for physicians to focus their efforts to reduce cardiovascular disease events. And in these four patient groups, the new guidelines make recommendations regarding the appropriate “intensity” of statin therapy in achieving relative reductions in LDL cholesterol.

These four groups include individuals with clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, individuals with LDL-cholesterol levels >190 mg/dL, diabetic patients without cardiovascular disease aged 40 to 75 years old with LDL-cholesterol levels between 70 and 189 mg/dL, and those without evidence of cardiovascular disease, an LDL cholesterol level 70–189 mg/dL, and a 10-year risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease >7.5%.

In other words, resistance is futile.  Almost everyone needs to take statins at some point.  Go get yours before the Christmas rush.

Let’s suppose that statins do prevent heart attacks in some people … say, middle-aged men already known to have heart disease.  Does that make statins the best possible treatment?  I hardly think so.  Take a look of part of an article reporting on a comparison of statins vs. fish oil:

A clinical trial reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine compared people who took statin drugs with those who just took fish oil capsules.  Both these groups were compared to a control group that took a placebo.  The statin group decreased mortality by 10% over the placebo group; however, the fish oil group decreased mortality by 23% over the placebo group.  In other words, the participants who took the fish oil capsules had over twice the health benefit of those who took the statin drugs.

Hmmm, statins or fish oil … tough choice.  Statins cause muscle pain, joint pain, mitochondrial damage, liver damage and cognitive impairment.  By contrast, here’s what WebMD has to say about omega-3 fatty acids, the type of fats found in fish oil:

Hundreds of studies suggest that omega-3s may provide some benefits to a wide range of diseases: cancer, asthma, depression, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

And I’m guessing fish oil probably won’t turn you stupid and make your joints hurt.  The trouble is, nobody’s going to rake in $30 billion per year from fish-oil tablets or wild-caught salmon.  As far as I know, you can’t patent a fish — although it wouldn’t surprise me to learn Monsanto has tried patenting a laboratory salmon that can’t reproduce.

The cholesterol hypothesis has indeed had its head blown off, but I agree with Dr. Kendrick:  it will continue to stomp us tiny humans for years, or at least until nobody’s making a hefty profit selling cholesterol-lowering drugs.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 43 Comments »

I expect to walk into the kitchen any day now and find Chareva walking aimlessly in a circle, staring off into space, reciting her own version of a scene from Forrest Gump:  “Fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, deviled eggs, egg stew, egg salad …”

I had scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday.  I had deviled eggs for dinner.  I don’t remember if I ate lunch or not, but if I did, it was some kind of egg dish.

Our chickens have become relentless producers, and yeah, we’re getting a little overloaded.  A couple of my co-workers are happy, since I shared the largesse with them last week, but I’m starting to feel like we’re living in a reverse Easter egg hunt.  Colored eggs keep finding us.  Yesterday I opened the fridge to pull out the cream for my coffee, and when I went to put it back, another dozen eggs had appeared on the bottom shelf. Startled, I slammed the door shut, then opened it a crack and peeked in.  Four more eggs had already appeared.

So naturally, Chareva and the girls decided we need more chickens.

Sara will soon be taking delivery of 25 chicks as part of a 4-H project.  When I responded to this news by bulging my eyes to size of baseballs and losing hair from my head in small clumps, Chareva assured me that Sara is required to auction off some of the chickens at a 4-H event after they’re grown.

“How many does she have to auction off?”

“Five.”

“Oh, okay.  That’s not so –”

“But Alana is feeling left out, so I told her she can get her own chicks.”

“How many?”

“Five.”

Alana’s chicks have already arrived and are living under a heat lamp in the basement.

Chareva’s solution to what’s shaping up to be a massive egg overload is to open a roadside egg stand.  So she spent part of this weekend doing construction.


The architect/construction foreperson assures me this is just the skeleton of what will soon be a fine roadside egg stand.  She built it to fit inside a wagon that we inherited with the property.  The tires are flat, so it’s not much of a wagon at this point, but the plan is to get new tires and then roll the egg stand to the road after construction is completed.

Five new chicks already, 25 more on the way … yeesh.  Let’s get that egg stand done.  We need to start selling.

On the bright side, I’m pretty sure the rooster population will soon be reduced by one.  The big, obnoxious rooster I refer to as the Rapper Rooster flew at Chareva yesterday and tried to spur her in the chest.  She responded by chasing him around the chicken yard for the next five minutes and basically kicking the @#$% out of him.  He didn’t want to be anywhere near her after that, but he seems to have a short memory for these things.

I originally agreed with Sara’s assessment that we should keep him because he’d protect the flock and make lots of baby chickens.  But now that the girls are afraid to go collect eggs because of him, we’ve all re-evaluated his usefulness.  The consensus is that he’ll be chicken stew soon.

And I suspect Chareva might even enjoy wringing his neck.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 36 Comments »

In a couple of recent posts, including part six of Character vs. Chemistry, I wrote that the Grand Plans designed by The Anointed to battle obesity will fail because those plans are based on the belief that weight loss is about character, not chemistry.  Well, in the interest of fairness, I feel obligated to point out that not every Grand Plan imposed on us by The Anointed fails because of biochemical ignorance.  Most fail because of economic ignorance.

In fact, to believe that the typical Grand Plan proposed by The Anointed will actually work, you pretty much have to be an economic illiterate.  You have to believe, for example, that young people who already refuse to buy inexpensive health insurance will flock to buy insurance that costs three times as much if you just run some cute ads encouraging them to spend the holidays wearing pajamas and drinking hot chocolate and #GetTalking with their parents about insurance.  That’s how The Anointed believe it should work, so by gosh, that’s how it will work.

Which brings me another Grand Plan to battle obesity:  spending taxpayer money to make sure plenty of fruits and vegetables are available in poor neighborhoods.  That’s why so many poor people are fat, ya see … they don’t have access to the magical fruits and vegetables that guarantee weight loss.  And of course, if we just make the magical fruits and vegetables available, poor people will flock to buy them (elbowing young people flocking to buy expensive insurance out of the way in the process), eat those vegetables, and then lose weight.  That’s how The Anointed believe it should work, so by gosh, that’s how it will work.

If you’re a long-time reader, you may recall that I’ve pointed out the economic fallacies in that Grand Plan before.  Here’s what I wrote in a post three years ago:

Here’s a simple economics lesson:  businesses don’t determine what consumers will buy.  Consumer behavior determines what businesses will produce and sell.  If fast food restaurants thrive in poor neighborhoods while stores that sell fresh fruit and vegetables don’t, there’s a good reason for it.  Using tax dollars to bring more fruits and vegetables to areas where people don’t buy fruits and vegetables isn’t going to reduce childhood obesity.  It’s just going to lead to a lot of rotten fruits and vegetables.

In fact, one corner-store owner in Philadelphia agreed, at the urging of The Anointed, to sell 15-cent bags of apple slices so poor kids would eat more fruit.  He ended up throwing most of them away – at a loss of $500 to his business.

Here’s what I wrote in another post two years ago:

Even if we’re talking about neighborhoods where there truly aren’t as many vegetables being sold, people get the causality backwards.  The local residents aren’t fat because they don’t have access to vegetables.  The vegetables aren’t available because people don’t buy them.

… Here’s what people like Mrs. Obama can’t seem to grasp:  if enough people in those neighborhoods wanted lettuce and fruit in their kids’ lunches, plenty of greedy capitalists would happily move in to sell them.

… No problem then.  The government’s on the job and planning a comprehensive response.  That of course means a really expensive and ultimately futile response.

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of really expensive.  Since I don’t work in the federal government, a figure of, say, $500 million sounds to me like a huge waste if some comprehensive response doesn’t work.  (I mean, geez, imagine if you spent nearly double that on a crappy web site that didn’t work and then had to go spend even more to get it fixed.)

But of course, part of what makes it so awesomely wonderful about being a member of The Anointed is that you get to spend other people’s money to institute your Grand Plans.  No need to start small to test your theory.  No need to try opening Uncle Sam’s Cheep Fruits and Veggie Stand in a few poor neighborhoods to see if people eat more vegetables and lose weight.  No need to stock some existing grocery stores with cheap fruit and track the sales.  Nope, if you’re a member of The Anointed, you may as well go whole-hog and plunk down $500 million in taxpayer dollars.

So here are the latest results:

With the obesity epidemic in full swing and millions of American living in neighborhoods where fruits and vegetables are hard to come by, the Obama administration thought it saw a solution: fund stores that will stock fresh, affordable produce in these deprived areas.

But now, three years and $500 million into the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative, there’s a problem: A study suggests it’s not working.

Adding supermarkets to areas with short supplies of fresh produce does not lead to improvements in residents’ diets or health outcomes, according to a report published Monday in the February issue of Health Affairs.

So The Anointed in government thought they saw an untapped market for fruits and vegetables that the greedy capitalists somehow missed, but it turns out they were wrong.  Boy, I’ll bet nobody saw that coming.

When a grocery store was opened in one Philadelphia food desert, 26.7 percent of residents made it their main grocery store and 51.4 percent indicated using it for any food shopping, the report found. But among the population that used the new supermarket, the researchers saw no significant improvement in BMI, fruit and vegetable intake, or perceptions of food accessibility, although there was a significant improvement in perception of accessibility to fruits and vegetables.

Well, if people perceive that they have more access to fruits and vegetables without actually buying them, that’s certainly worth $500 million … although it would have been cheaper to just run TV ads telling them that fruits and vegetables were in great supply.

The report was authored by a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Penn State University’s departments of sociology, anthropology, and demography. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences with support from the Population Research Institute, although neither had a hand in the research design, collection, or analysis.

Awesome.  So we’re spending taxpayer money to study why spending taxpayer money on yet another Grand Plan didn’t work.  Is this a great country or what?

The study needs to be replicated in other neighborhoods and other parts of the United States to confirm or refute these findings, said lead researcher Steven Cummins, professor of population health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The results do, however, mirror findings in the U.K., where researchers created a similar comparison of two neighborhoods in Scotland and observed no net effect on fruit and vegetable intake.

Wow.  It’s almost as if the laws of economics apply all over the world.  But we don’t know that for sure, so we really need to spend more taxpayer money to confirm that spending taxpayer money on yet another Grand Plan didn’t work.

And if the conclusion is borne out, it would suggest that policymakers rethink the Healthy Food Financing Initiative if they want to promote healthier eating and healthier citizens.

Hmmm, let’s see if I can remember what The Anointed conclude when a Grand Plan fails … okay, it came to me:

  • The plan was good but people didn’t implement it correctly because they’re stupid.
  • The plan was undermined by people who opposed it because they’re evil.
  • The plan didn’t go far enough – we need to do same thing again only bigger.

Cummins said in an email that lawmakers ought to consider policies that will change community behavior to incorporate healthy food into everyday diets.

“These might include economic initiatives such as taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies on healthy foods, marketing initiatives that focus on in-store promotion of healthy food, and programs that focus on skills related to buying and cooking components of a balanced diet,” Cummins said.

Yeah, what we need to do is spend even more taxpayer money trying to tell people what to eat – because it’s worked so well so far.  Then if that doesn’t work, we can spend more taxpayer money to study why spending taxpayer didn’t work.  Oh, and let’s tax the unhealthy foods too.

Anyone care to bet that The Anointed would correctly identify the “unhealthy” foods?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share/Bookmark

Comments 60 Comments »