It isn’t the soda, and it isn’t the size

My fellow HND columnist Jo-Ann Heslin does a bravura job in explaining why there’s an obesity crisis in America.

Here are a few key excerpts:

The real driver of obesity in this nation is the volume of food available. As a nation we produce too much food and it’s cheap. Recently, food costs have risen, but we still spent less than 10% of our total income on food, down from 23% in the late 1920s.

The idea that overproduction of food in the US is the driver of obesity is not a very popular theory. Restaurants don’t want to stop offering value meals, it drives traffic. Casual restaurants see unlimited drink refills as a perk that gets customers to sit longer and order more food. Food companies are in intense competition to come up with the next hot food item that will spark sales.

Think about it—do we really need a full aisle of cereal choices, hundreds of energy drinks, or 50 different doughnuts to choose from? These foods are developed and marketed to compete for your food dollar. They entice you to buy which entices you to eat. Little of this has anything to do with your health, but it may have everything to do with your body size.

Finally, someone is telling it like it is! Read the complete article.

Shaw’s Eco-Logic

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14 responses to “It isn’t the soda, and it isn’t the size

  1. But but Michelle O says it’s all the fault of corn syrup caused by corn subsidies! Surely the first lady can’t be wrong?

  2. lawrence of arabia

    Well, that’s .001% of it as the above comments point out. Not much of a start is it?

  3. Food has gotten cheaper, so people eat more? Seriously?

    1. The obesity crisis is made up.

    2. Obesity results from over eating. One doesn’t overeat because the food is cheaper. One overeats because they reject the normal spoon/mirror feedback loop.

    3. Until it became obvious in 2008 that a community activist with no skills other than reading a teleprompter was going to become president, America was quite wealthy. The price of food to wealthy people has no relevance.

    Obesity is the result of individual behavior. The writer’s discussion of all sorts of externalities shows a fundamental lack of understanding of weight control, and a willingness to play along with all sorts of distractions.

    Reducing obesity will result from changing individual behavior. It has double ought zero to do with sodas, corn syrup, price of food, phase of the moon, or
    sun spots. Blaming food for obesity is ignorant.

    • On point #1: You could not be more correct. There is no “crisis” when it comes to obesity.

      Most of the rest of your thought I tend to object to, based on the work done by this one-time active contributor to the Junkscience community: http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com.

      Your final sentence deserves reiterating, however: “Blaming food for obesity IS ignorant,” just as much as blaming obesity for rising healthcare costs, or selling bariatric surgery as a “life-saving” procedure.

  4. Leaving aside the “question” of obesity, this lady seems to be looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Note that she says that we produce too much food. BRAVO! This leads to economies of scale,allows farmers to produce more to feed a hungry world,allows me to buy cheap food so I can donate to the food bank in my city (Toronto), and allow those less fortunate to partake in the results of our bountiful harvest. So what if I have to buy in bulk at the superstore. I store my goods in a pantry,so my wife does not have to go food shopping as often. I defy the author to prove that I eat more because I store more goods away. A simplistic analogy would be the laying in of supplies in remote communities in the North. I can assure the lady that they buy in bulk cause thats where the savings are.

  5. The other side of the coin and possibly the more important is lack of physical activity. Kids watch “Barney” hour after hour in day care, running, dodge ball etc is prohibited in school. Watch a schoolyard during recess or the outdoor activity of a day care. The activity is highly structured with no sponteneous running,jumping or playing. Adults spend all day long on a comupter at work and e-mail the person in the next office rather than get up and walk over to ask them a question. Visits to the restroom may comprise the bulk of their physical activity for all day long.

  6. Susan Salisbury

    I agree with Allen Brooks and also Gary Taubes who wrote “why we get fat”. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates, whether as corn syrup or supposedly health whole grains causes, in many individuals, the production of excessive insulin which converts the carbohydrates to fat for storage. High insulin levels block the release of fat from fat cells for use as energy. As Dr. Bernstein points out in Dr. Bernsteins Diabetic Solution, the genes which cause people to do this are not a “defect”. They were the means by which those persons’ ancestors survived. In the thousands of years before refrigerators were invented, storage of extra food on the body as extra fat enabled people to survive later periods of famine. In nature, foods heavy in carbohydrates are mostly available on a seasonal basis (think fruits) Most fruit trees bear a lot of fruit for about two months and then the fruit is gone. Being able to scarf it all up and use the calories in the winter when only meat (in the form of animals) is available is a survival asset not a defect. Accodingly, when insulin levels are lower in the bloodstream the body can use stored fat for energy. But in a time when food is always available, the body’s natural food regulators keep storing up fat for the famine that never comes.

    • Feed a man a 1,000 calories a day of any food you choose, and he will lose weight.

      • Depending on the man (or woman), you are correct. He will also soon suffer from the health ravages of starvation, for as Allan Keyes (inventor of the K ration) proved 60-odd years ago, the human body makes no distiction between a “diet” and a “famine.”

      • ETA: Ancel Keyes, not Allen. My bad.

  7. LuisaDownUnder

    I think the point she was trying to make is that there is a saturation of food available to people.
    It’s easier to buy snacks and ready-made meals and take-aways than it is to buy fresh produce and make a dinner from scratch. It’s all about motivation and education.
    She is right about the need for companies to have you buy their product as opposed to their rival or competitor so offer huge plate servings or value pack meals so as to entice you to return and consume more.
    But as long as you can walk into a supermarket and be confronted by chips, lollies, chocolate, over sweeten breakfast cereals, flavoured milk drinks, cakes, doughnuts, pasties, frozen foods such as sausage rolls etc., ice creams (and the list goes on), people will consume them and they will get fat. Pure and simple.
    I have to say that the obesity problem is mainly a problem of urban areas, country folk to not get fat: they eat what they need and work pretty hard for their daily bread.

    • “people will consume them and they will get fat. Pure and simple.”

      Puerile and simple.

      Why am I not fat? I am “confronted” with all these foods. Obesity is a behavioral problem. Focusing on food is a distraction.

  8. Oh, it’s all behavioral. No chance that depression is not involved?
    What of the decline in nutritional content in agro-products since pre-WWII?
    How about all those artificial fertilizers used in a feeble attempt to “replenish” the soil?
    What of effects of pollution, not to mention the radionuclides that remain unmremidiated in soil?
    “The real driver of obesity in this nation is the volume of food available. As a nation we produce too much food and it’s cheap.”
    I would content that it is not necessarily the quantity of food available, yet the QUALITY or lack thereof that sucks balls!
    “They entice you to buy which entices you to eat.” No wonder i’m not buying.
    “The idea that overproduction of food in the US is the driver of obesity is not a very popular theory.” Once again, underproduction of quality foodstuffs (not to mention pink slime, legal cloned meats with no labelling, GMO, et al) reminds me of the age-old saying “you are what you eat”. Nice to see that epigenetics has that saying pegged appropriately.

    JUNKSCIENCE, indeed!

  9. I had dinner with an obese friend of mine a couple of months ago. He ate a full basket of bread before our drink orders arrived. He ordered and ate two entres.

    When I see the long list of theoretical causes of obesity, I just shake my head.

    My guess is that alot of smart people heard the government say that obesity is increasing, to epidemic proportions. So that scratched their heads and wondered what might be causing it. Many theories followed. What didn’t happen is they didn’t watch obese people eat.

    Artificial fertilizer? Insulin tricks? Really?

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