Why we are fat

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Rinsaikeru
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Rinsaikeru » Sat May 23, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

I had to reset a lot of my tastes when I found out I was gluten intolerant. They do reset--not that the smell of bread doesn't still get to me.

I'm totally off any/all cola and most other carbonated soft drinks. I drink 100% juice, milk, tea or water 99% of the time. I feel a bit ill drinking sugary drinks now.

I don't think they should have sin taxes on unhealthy food--but I do think that there should be some incentive to make healthier food choices--for instance keeping the cost of healthy options open to everyone.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 23, 2009 10:41 pm UTC

@Kendo:

I didn't say I have a revulsion to the overweight, I said the obese. There IS a difference. And, afaik, there is NO medical condition that renders one obese, whereas there are TONS of medical conditions, predispositions and just bad luck genes, that render someone overweight. If you've got a gut, or can't squeeze into a size 0 dress, I don't fucking care, people come in all shapes and sizes and one set of media standards is lying to you when they say you need to change. If you can't sit in a single airplane seat or need to eat four big macs every hour, then fuck you, you have simply bought into another set of media standards and convinced yourself that your habits are acceptable. Go for a walk. Make it a jog.

And I didn't say that the government should regulate anything pertaining to obesity, I just said I wouldn't mind it. Don't jump the gun at ill-perceived affronts. It's perfectly within your rights to get as fat as you want. However, I don't think you should expect your insurance to stay the same, and I don't think you should expect special privileges or allowances.

We regulate tobacco sales to minors, and now the tobacco industry is forced to spend INCREDIBLE sums of money on anti-smoking ad campaigns. Why should McDonalds or KFC shit be any different?
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby cerbie » Sun May 24, 2009 3:44 pm UTC

We have grown up sick, and keep getting sicker, thanks to the food industry as a whole. Other industries help, but they're off topic :).

Where are plain whole grains in your typical grocery store, as an example? Around here, there's brown rice, and that's it. No barley (which I dearly love, now that I've found it), no millet, no buckwheat, no wheat, no oats, etc.. Fittingly, I was just reading the 1896 Fannie Farmer Cook Book, and there were recipes for many such grains and things that are hard to find, these days.

Even better, here's a couple quotes. Remember that this over 100 years ago:
"I certainly feel that the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one's education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent."
"Statistics prove that two-thirds of all disease is brought about by error in diet."

Indon wrote:But... but... I like my free time!

What non-processed food is there that doesn't require extensive preparation? (I assume peanut butter and jelly, as well as the bread I make sandwiches with qualifies as processed food)
Any food that you prepare ahead of time, that requires minimal effort, possibly none, for final prep before eating.

Not going on a specific diet, it can be a very slow process, since you have to change how you think about eating and preparing food. TANSTAAFL.

markfiend wrote:Foods also have to list things like calorie content, fat, sugar and salt content, all compared with daily recommended amounts.
We have similar nutrition labels for fats and such inside, but the way food is made, those are pretty bogus, even after accounting for unrealistic serving sizes (saturated fat in a frozen dinner isn't the same as saturated fat in unrefined coconut oil, FI, but we've been told it's all bad, just the same). Likewise, daily recommended and required amounts are often misleading (vitamin C is a great example: 60mg/day may keep you from getting scurvy, but your body can utilize multiple grams per day--neat link).

Izawwlgood wrote:It bears mentioning that humans are not 'meant' to subsist on the massive diets we consume. One purported link to obesity is fat storing adaptations for wandering people; it was to their advantage to store consumed food stuffs biologically over time.
Isn't that to the advantage of any creature that may go for some extended period of time without enough food, but will not survive if dormant? Animals can get fat, just like we do. It's far older and elementary than us humans.

I find that I have a really strong revulsion to the obese, and I sort of feel guilty for it. But the fact of the matter is the various food industries have falsely advertised and created a lifestyle that is unhealthy and wasteful. While we may be genetically predisposed to obey their campaign, I really find it a pretty lame excuse. Put down that double bacon cheeseburger and go for a jog.
How? I haven't been able to walk outside for any length of time for years, right until yesterday. Many of us can't just up and do that. Our bodies heal themselves, and we can learn, but it does not happen instantly. Even with the internet, we have poor access to information, since it is so diluted, and full of propaganda1. Our work environments only make the problems worse (it is much harder to get moving after sitting down for nearly 10 hours straight, than it is to start moving in the morning and keep it up). I have no sympathy for anyone who is not trying to make their lives better, but it's not always so easy as just putting down the fast food--most of the people who tell us it is are going to gain weight back :).

1Trying to find a good source for the coconut oil statement has proven tough, and the best I could find before getting too frustrated were this and this. But I found a good example of why it's so hard to find useful information:
http://www.healthcastle.com/coconut-sat ... eart.shtml
http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/arch ... fat_s.html
tl;dr version: "Saturated fat is bad! We did a study!" v. "So, we have a study that may tell us that there is a difference between the actions of saturated fat and unsaturated fat in a giant, calorically dense meal that contains more carbohydrate than anything else. Who cares?"
This is the norm, not the exception, sadly[citation needed].
Last edited by cerbie on Mon May 25, 2009 4:58 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby btilly » Sun May 24, 2009 6:49 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
You've asserted that the comparison to drugs is wrong, but you've provided no real arguments backing that up. The effect on the brain of sugar, fat and salt is exactly the same as drugs. What then is the difference? You ingest a substance, it has an effect on the brain, and this drives behavior. I fail to see the distinction. And in terms of the effects on behavior, there is no distinction.

You see you are the one who should bring the arguments not me. You have not shown me any proof of any kind that this food is adictive. You point to a book I cannot check, that book could be about anything unrelated. Let's supusse I talk about a book caled "How you are wrong" and I tell you to go check it because it has all you need to know. Will you accept that as "evidence"? I doubt it,

There you are wrong.

Suppose you brought up a book that you claimed said that I was wrong. In that case I would search Amazon for that book. This will tell me very quickly whether such a book exists, and the information on that page is enough to make an informed judgment about whether it is likely to say what you claim it says, and whether it is likely to be a reasonable reference. At this point, without even having read the book, I'll be able to make an reasonably informed decision about whether I should regard it as evidence. If I'm interested I can either order it online, or I can go to the library and get the book. Then I can investigate the topic in more depth.

So you see, you can perform a reasonably good check of the book very easily, from the comfort of your computer. You can verify that the book exists, is written by the person I claim wrote it, talks about there being a biological impact on us from the right combination of sugar, fat and salt, and that it talks extensively about the food industry. If you lack the energy to do that, then why should I spoon feed you anything else? Your laziness makes it a lost cause. If I point you at a web page you'll just say, That's not proof." If I point you at a scientific paper like Opioid Modulation of Taste Hedonics within the Ventral Striatum (Physiology and Behavior 76, no 3, 2002) you'll just say, "I can't check that paper, and I probably couldn't read it. Why do you expect me to believe it?" And of course if you're unwilling to look at any form of evidence, then I'm not going to succeed in informing you, and I shouldn't even try.
General_Norris wrote:Also I don't know you but I don't eat
takeout at home. Or snack on junk food. Or eat some pre-processed food we bought in a store that is easy to prepare. All of these foods are likely to be high in sugar, fat and salt.

"more often that I should". Prove we eat those things because we feel an impulse to do so caused by an adiction to a certain combination of sugar, fat and salt and not because we just like it or we are lazy or whatever. Correlation doesn't imply causation.

No, correlation doesn't imply causation. But when you've unraveled the neurological networks to show the cause and effect that makes our opioid system react to sugar, fat and salt, and then you've demonstrated that drugs which block the opioid system stop over consumption of food (unfortunately the most effective drug combination for that was withdrawn from the market due to nasty side effects), then you really are on good grounds to claim causation.

Now I can tell you until I'm blue in the face that scientists really have done this. But if you refuse to look at the evidence? Well you can lead a horse to water...
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Azrael » Sun May 24, 2009 7:19 pm UTC

Guess what we're not going to continue debating? Debate methodology.

For what it's worth, linked citations are very, very nice. But insisting another participant link their source to save you the google effort? Poor. Form.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby ssbookyu123 » Mon May 25, 2009 4:54 am UTC

Funny that even though obesity is a health crisis it isn't gone yet is because that fatty addicting foods make MONEY that is it and it is simple. The more people buy the more money they spend and the more tax they pay because they are addicted to this crap and the more people in the hospitals for heart disease, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and a smorgasbord of other preventable diseases which are preventable if Americans just stopped over eating but hospitals are government businesses so that equals more money for the government, besides Americans are like Homer Simpson happy with his doughnut and choosing to forget about a problem because it will require him to change his glutinous ways. A foreign exchange student lived with my family and at once she commented that the food portions are humongous compared to the portions in Korea. However she soon enough became Americanized as did her appetite and her waistline. The reason why America is fat is because we are fine with the fact that we boast one of the heaviest countries of the world and we are fine with the fact we probably won't change any time soon. And legal action, who are you going to sue the company that makes the food, hell you don't have to buy it but here is the problem you do so they technically aren't responsible. I pray to god that I am being overly pessimistic but I feel that this is true.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby BlackSails » Mon May 25, 2009 7:06 am UTC

We are fat for two reasons:

1) We eat too much
2) We exercise too little.

It is a side effect of the modern world. We produce foods laden with sugar and fat, because evolution has taught us to hoard energy. And then we spend all day sitting at desks. The average american gets as their sum total of exercise for each day: Walking to the car/bus, walking to the desk, walking to lunch, walking back to desk, walking to car/bus, walking to home. And the lunch is probably a bacon cheeseburger and a bag of chips.

Being overweight is, for the vast majority of people, a thermodynamics problem. Energy is conserved. If you consume more energy than you output, you gain weight. If you consume less than you output, you lose weight.

Its really not that hard to not gain weight. Cut soda out of your diet, take stairs as often as possible, and try jogging every now and then. Bam, weight loss.

Ive never seen the point of putting calories on everything. You know, with few exceptions what things are healthy and what things are unhealthy. Labeling them just puts an unhealthy obsession on counting calories, something which is basically useless to do unless you count EVERYTHING you eat, and have a very strict diet for some reason (like if you are a professional athlete)

If people would just lay off the greasy, sugary things we wouldnt be the fattest (2nd fattest? I hear Australia took 1st place) country in the world.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Emmz » Mon May 25, 2009 8:19 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:We are fat for two reasons:

1) We eat too much
2) We exercise too little.

This is probably true for a good many people, but please do not labor under the delusion that it applies to all people in the American population (implied in the generalized "we").

There are many people who eat normal to too-much, and do very little exercise, and are yet quite thin. I do not think there is much scholarly evidence of this phenomenon yet, but I can provide you with some very real anecdata. There are several gamer guys in my friends group who I have observed and heard about their eating and exercise habits. They are atrocious (the habits, not the guys). I've seen them eat terrible food (mostly junk) at lunch and during leisure time, and most of them admit to spending the vast majority of their free time on either schoolwork or video games. Most make no effort to exercise at all. One recent acquaintance bragged to me at a party how he can "eat a whole Pizza Hut pizza" (I've never wanted more than 2 or 3 slices), and proceeded to brag how he "does nothing" in the way of exercise. He admitted it himself. This guy is also quite skinny.

Most of these guys are in the 18-20 range, which might help, but I'm a woman in the same age range who tends to eat much less junk and gets regular exercise. And I'm not skinny. (I'm more "average" with some areas appearing fatter than others.)

So there are (at least from what I have observed) clearly sets of people for whom diet and exercise are utterly irrelevant to their body size. This also goes both ways. Plenty of "fat" people eat very healthy meals and get regular, high-intensity exercise, and continue to be fat.

I don't think that the body size matters as much as the lifestyle does.

It is a side effect of the modern world. We produce foods laden with sugar and fat, because evolution has taught us to hoard energy. And then we spend all day sitting at desks. The average american gets as their sum total of exercise for each day: Walking to the car/bus, walking to the desk, walking to lunch, walking back to desk, walking to car/bus, walking to home.


Please be aware that this is a very class-specific phenomenon, and also that many people do not have any other choices with regards to work and transportation. It would be great if we all lived in mixed-use developments where our workplaces, homes, and recreational activities were within safe walking distance of each other, but most American suburbs are distinctly NOT designed like that. Where I live, trying to bike to work is horribly time-consuming at best and an outright danger at worst--given the way people drive like maniacs and the utter lack of bike lanes and/or sidewalks in most areas. For many people, outdoor exercise and walking/biking to work are impossible.

And do please realize that many lower-income, lower-prestige jobs that do not involve sitting at a desk all day do not inherently result in weight loss for those employees. Many of those people are unable to afford the time for weight-loss-directed exercise (especially if they are working multiple jobs), and, you can also note, some of the foods that are worst for us are also the cheapest. For people living on an extremely tight budget, sometimes what's healthiest is not the priority--it's about getting the most food for your money, and that frequently means the foods that are highest in fats, sugar, salt, or other chemical additives.

Its really not that hard to not gain weight. Cut soda out of your diet, take stairs as often as possible, and try jogging every now and then. Bam, weight loss.


*laughter* Oh darling, if it was only this easy. If this were the direct, easily-achieved result that you claim it is, I should weigh a lot less than I do now.

If people would just lay off the greasy, sugary things we wouldnt be the fattest (2nd fattest? I hear Australia took 1st place) country in the world.


I think the point the OP was trying to make was that it's not always sometimes absolutely evident that people are eating things with much-higher-than-normal levels of fat/sugar/salt. (As in, there's not always such a high consumption of high-grease, high-sugar things in evidence.) Things that you wouldn't expect to have these high levels somehow have them hidden in them--and, I would add, probably other chemical additives that weren't in food 100 or maybe even 50 years ago.

To the OP:

Does Pollan discuss other chemical additives like that? Things that aren't as easily identifiable as fats/sugar/salt, but are definitely not normally found in foods, and were not added until the development of the vast food-industrial complex?

Also for consideration: organic, natural, unaltered-or-however-many-"naturalish"-modifiers-you-want-to-add foods are often prohibitively expensive, both to produce and to purchase. How do we reconcile this with the massive loss of resources many American families are undergoing now (and that many of the people in the lowest income brackets have always experienced)? You cannot expect people to eat the best-quality food if it is out of their price range. People make choices according to what they perceive to be best for them and their families, and if this means purchasing more processed foods so they can put a little more towards their house payment or health insurance or college savings, that will probably continue to happen.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby cerbie » Mon May 25, 2009 9:13 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:We are fat for two reasons:

1) We eat too much
2) We exercise too little.
However, it is important to get to how and why we eat too much, and too much of exactly what. Saying, "eat less," will not curb cravings. Cravings, when eating too poorly, are too hard to deny. Like part of the classic group help programs, you've got to admit that in some ways, you are powerless. You cannot deny the cravings, and you cannot deny the high from eating these foods.

It is a side effect of the modern world. We produce foods laden with sugar and fat, because evolution has taught us to hoard energy.
The OP's author disagrees heartily. We produce foods laden with sugar, fat, and salt, because they sell more of that food. Evolution has unwittingly given us a mechanism to become addicted to the right combinations, at the expense of the rest of our nutritional needs.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby mrbaggins » Mon May 25, 2009 9:32 am UTC

Something that really bugs me lately are the new %DI listings on foods. Here in Aus, McDonalds and other restaurants, as well as a great many brand name good lines in the supermarket have adopted them.

Like this one:
Spoiler:
Image


They are a great idea! They show the %DI of a good number of things (such as energy, fat and sugar) and make it very clear that something like a Quarter Pounder has 50% of your saturated fat content for the day.

Except for one small problem. The fine print. "%DI is recommended daily values based off a diet of 8700kJ. Your individual requirements may vary."

And vary they do. Most people need between half and two-thirds of that. And by most I mean at least 9 tenths of the population. It is blatantly making stuff that is bad for you look better.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby markfiend » Mon May 25, 2009 11:50 am UTC

mrbaggins wrote:Most people need between half and two-thirds of that..

The UK gov recommends 2000 Calories per day (~=8300kJ) for women and 2500 Cal (~= 10400kJ) for men.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby el_loco_avs » Tue May 26, 2009 1:46 pm UTC

slightly over 2000kCals sounds right to me. I'm losing weight if I exercise moderately with that kind of diet.

A 1000kCal diet would be... yikes.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Vaniver » Tue May 26, 2009 3:07 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure 1.5k Calories is low enough to be a starvation diet.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Spacemilk » Tue May 26, 2009 3:42 pm UTC

Emmz wrote:
BlackSails wrote:We are fat for two reasons:

1) We eat too much
2) We exercise too little.

This is probably true for a good many people, but please do not labor under the delusion that it applies to all people in the American population (implied in the generalized "we").

There are many people who eat normal to too-much, and do very little exercise, and are yet quite thin. I do not think there is much scholarly evidence of this phenomenon yet, but I can provide you with some very real anecdata. There are several gamer guys in my friends group who I have observed and heard about their eating and exercise habits. They are atrocious (the habits, not the guys). I've seen them eat terrible food (mostly junk) at lunch and during leisure time, and most of them admit to spending the vast majority of their free time on either schoolwork or video games. Most make no effort to exercise at all. One recent acquaintance bragged to me at a party how he can "eat a whole Pizza Hut pizza" (I've never wanted more than 2 or 3 slices), and proceeded to brag how he "does nothing" in the way of exercise. He admitted it himself. This guy is also quite skinny.

Most of these guys are in the 18-20 range, which might help, but I'm a woman in the same age range who tends to eat much less junk and gets regular exercise. And I'm not skinny. (I'm more "average" with some areas appearing fatter than others.)

So there are (at least from what I have observed) clearly sets of people for whom diet and exercise are utterly irrelevant to their body size. This also goes both ways. Plenty of "fat" people eat very healthy meals and get regular, high-intensity exercise, and continue to be fat.

I don't think that the body size matters as much as the lifestyle does.


Emmz, I tend to agree with you, but I don't think using guys in the 18-20 age group as an example is a good idea. I have also known plenty of guys who can eat an entire pizza in one sitting and be hungry a few hours later, but it's because this age group has a ridiculously high metabolism. In a few years, those same guys will have their metabolism slow down and they could potentially gain a belly if their eating habits continue - I'm watching it happen to a friend right now. And you also can't really compare girls and guys - girls are naturally going to have a higher body fat percentage than guys. [1] [2]

But I agree with your observation that there are heavier people who work out and eat right but still don't necessarily have the "ideal" slender shape. I have a friend who ran a marathon in a respectable amount of time in January, but he still had a bit of a spare tire around his stomach when he ran it.

I think this discussion is suffering from a lack of definition - it sounds like most people are confusing overweight people and obese people. Izawwlgood made this point earlier.

Emmz wrote:*laughter* Oh darling, if it was only this easy. If this were the direct, easily-achieved result that you claim it is, I should weigh a lot less than I do now.


For obese people, it would work perfectly fine. For an overweight person, you're right, maybe not so much - it depends on why you are "overweight". Like I said, we're suffering a little from a lack of definition about what we're trying to discuss. Can we just agree to discuss obesity, and only obesity, from now on? And for a definition of obesity, let's follow the one given in the wikipedia article I linked above ([2]): Obesity is defined as a body fat % of 42%+ for women and 38%+ for men.

Vaniver wrote:I'm pretty sure 1.5k Calories is low enough to be a starvation diet.


I typically eat about 1500 calories per day and I'm not starving, nor am I losing or gaining weight, and I'm at a healthy weight for my age/height - about middlin' for my bracket. I'm not hungry but I never feel over-full. Sometimes I eat more than 1500, sometimes I eat less. It's all relative - I know a lot of people for whom a 1.5k calorie diet is extremely unhealthy because it's too low.

ssbookyu13 wrote:Funny that even though obesity is a health crisis it isn't gone yet is because that fatty addicting foods make MONEY that is it and it is simple. The more people buy the more money they spend and the more tax they pay because they are addicted to this crap and the more people in the hospitals for heart disease, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and a smorgasbord of other preventable diseases which are preventable if Americans just stopped over eating but hospitals are government businesses so that equals more money for the government, besides Americans are like Homer Simpson happy with his doughnut and choosing to forget about a problem because it will require him to change his glutinous ways. A foreign exchange student lived with my family and at once she commented that the food portions are humongous compared to the portions in Korea. However she soon enough became Americanized as did her appetite and her waistline. The reason why America is fat is because we are fine with the fact that we boast one of the heaviest countries of the world and we are fine with the fact we probably won't change any time soon. And legal action, who are you going to sue the company that makes the food, hell you don't have to buy it but here is the problem you do so they technically aren't responsible. I pray to god that I am being overly pessimistic but I feel that this is true.


Whaaaaa? Hospitals are government businesses?

And do you honestly think there should be legal recourse for a choice we freely make? You said it yourself - we like it! And I would be PISSED if legislation took away my ability to freely choose to eat foods that are bad for me. If you want to increase the amount of education that's out there so people will know the consequences of their actions, but the government should not treat people like children and take away the choice of those actions.

For example, I really like to eat Ramen noodles - a lot - but it's not what I eat for every meal, not even close. Yet they are very unhealthy. If the government decided to ban the sale of Ramen noodles because they are so bad, that would just be silly. It's an indulgence food for me. Or what about chocolate? Dark chocolate with its antioxidants can be good in small doses, but milk chocolate really isn't that great for you. This is rather silly, but can you imagine the response if you tried to regulate the sale of chocolate? Women would burn you - at least, I would.

Oh, and the guy arguing we should get rid of fatty foods because they provide a dopamine response? LOTS of things provide a dopamine response. It's why we like doing those things. Think about if you restated the argument this way: Watching movies in the theater provides a dopamine response, if the movie is good. If Hollywood starts making more good movies, people will go to the theaters more, possibly to the exclusion of other, more healthy activities, because movies are providing a pleasurable experience. Should we therefore ban Hollywood from making good movies, and people from watching good movies, because it might end up being detrimental to their health? Because the pursuit of happiness, in the form of a chemical your brain releases, becomes detrimental to your health, or so the government claims?

The answer is not banning all things that are unhealthy, but like I said earlier, increasing the information people have so they can make an informed decision. If people still make poor decisions to the point where they become obese, then the consequence of that action should be that the government no longer has to support them. If their health insurance provider can prove that they informed the obese person that the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle would cause obesity, the insurance provider should be allowed to drop that person unless the person agrees to make an effort to become more healthy. Obesity, with no exceptions that I can think of (feel free to correct me), is a choice. The choice should not be forbidden, but there should be consequences to making such a choice.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue May 26, 2009 3:53 pm UTC

No matter what your weight is--eating healthy foods will always be better for your body (in both long and short term) than eating highly processed sugar/fat/salt laden food items. In terms of caloric intake--what your body needs is going to depend on so many factors that it's not possible for us to determine an exact measure of what your body needs. 2000 +/- several hundred calories depending on your size and activity level and metabolism etc.

In my opinion, the worst part is how forcefully these foods are marketed/sold/given to children. Not only in advertising but in school cafeterias, children's meals and things like lunchables. Bad food habits are learned early and can have serious repercussions on the rest of your life. At work I see what gets packed for lunch for children all the time--most of the time it's not pretty. Too much food, to many prepackaged sweets, too many lunchables, lots of leftover fastfood. For every child who has a parent packing fresh fruit/veggies, whole grains, yogurt etc. there are 5 packing what is essentially junk food.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby mosc » Tue May 26, 2009 5:08 pm UTC

When it comes down to it, food is somewhat of a drug. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has some responsibility to ensure the well being of it's citizens. I'm all for the cheerios type legislation stuff. Be up front about what's in your box. Rat poison or Oat bran, I don't care. Be specific and truthful. Also, it needs to be presented in a way that's blatantly obvious to even the mildly retarded (literally).

A big mac is like a cigarette and needs to be treated like one. Illegal? No. Excise taxes, warning labels, special laws regarding purchase with age limits? YES.

When this country wakes up and realizes the epidemic of obesity that is killing us simply because we allow corporations to make money selling us tasty poison, we'll get over our legislative jitters and keep this stuff out of our kids.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby btilly » Tue May 26, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

Emmz wrote:There are many people who eat normal to too-much, and do very little exercise, and are yet quite thin. I do not think there is much scholarly evidence of this phenomenon yet, but I can provide you with some very real anecdata. There are several gamer guys in my friends group who I have observed and heard about their eating and exercise habits. They are atrocious (the habits, not the guys). I've seen them eat terrible food (mostly junk) at lunch and during leisure time, and most of them admit to spending the vast majority of their free time on either schoolwork or video games. Most make no effort to exercise at all. One recent acquaintance bragged to me at a party how he can "eat a whole Pizza Hut pizza" (I've never wanted more than 2 or 3 slices), and proceeded to brag how he "does nothing" in the way of exercise. He admitted it himself. This guy is also quite skinny.

Most of these guys are in the 18-20 range, which might help, but I'm a woman in the same age range who tends to eat much less junk and gets regular exercise. And I'm not skinny. (I'm more "average" with some areas appearing fatter than others.)

Let me assure you, being 18-20 does help. A lot. While you're growing you need a lot of food. Men tend to have growth spurts later than women. So they've benefited from that very recently. (They may still be benefiting, some people continue growing until 27!) And then it takes time for your adult lifestyle to catch up with you. But catch up it will.

For example suppose you were skinny as a rail when you finished growing at 17 and you're living a lifestyle where you will add 2 pounds/year. You were skinny at 17, and now that you're 19 you've added 4 pounds. 4 pounds is simply not going to be visible on a reasonably tall man. But by 27 that will be 20 pounds, which will give a tall man a noticeable gut. By 37 you'll have 40 extra pounds and will be looking well padded. By the time you have 60 extra pounds at 47, you'll simply be fat. This is why lots of people eat anything they like and don't exercise but are at a reasonable weight at 20. You'll be hard pressed to find people meeting that description at 40.

Now why does it not work out so well for you? Multiple reasons. You're a woman, so you probably finished your growth spurt longer ago. (Women usually enter and leave the puberty growth spurt younger than men.) You've therefore had longer with your adult weight trends. Your growth spurt wasn't as big, and so didn't absorb as much food. You probably have less muscle mass, and therefore lower ongoing metabolic needs. Women naturally have more fat than men do. And, being smaller, 5 extra pounds is going to be more noticeable on you than them.

Emmz wrote:So there are (at least from what I have observed) clearly sets of people for whom diet and exercise are utterly irrelevant to their body size. This also goes both ways. Plenty of "fat" people eat very healthy meals and get regular, high-intensity exercise, and continue to be fat.

I've just shown how gaining 2 pounds/year can lead to being fat after 30 years. 2 pounds/year results from an excess of just 19 calories/day, which is 1 tall Starbucks frappuccino every week and a half. The behavior change between, "maintaining weight" and "steadily gaining" is very, very small.
Emmz wrote:
If people would just lay off the greasy, sugary things we wouldnt be the fattest (2nd fattest? I hear Australia took 1st place) country in the world.

I think the point the OP was trying to make was that it's not always sometimes absolutely evident that people are eating things with much-higher-than-normal levels of fat/sugar/salt. (As in, there's not always such a high consumption of high-grease, high-sugar things in evidence.) Things that you wouldn't expect to have these high levels somehow have them hidden in them--and, I would add, probably other chemical additives that weren't in food 100 or maybe even 50 years ago.

This is absolutely true. If you go to any popular restaurant chain and buy a chicken dish because chicken is naturally low-fat, well, the chicken you just got was almost certainly made artificially high-fat. It is not visible, but still present. 30 years ago grease was not such a pervasive additive in our diet. Today it is.
Emmz wrote:To the OP:

Does Pollan discuss other chemical additives like that? Things that aren't as easily identifiable as fats/sugar/salt, but are definitely not normally found in foods, and were not added until the development of the vast food-industrial complex?

The book I was quoting is by Kessler, not Pollan. Kessler does discuss other chemical additives, but not at length. It is more of a, "Here are some of the tricks they have available to make a food look and taste like one thing when it is really another thing." But there is no discussion of the potential medical concerns from said chemicals. He stays to the mainstream and established science about sugar, fat and salt.
Emmz wrote:Also for consideration: organic, natural, unaltered-or-however-many-"naturalish"-modifiers-you-want-to-add foods are often prohibitively expensive, both to produce and to purchase. How do we reconcile this with the massive loss of resources many American families are undergoing now (and that many of the people in the lowest income brackets have always experienced)? You cannot expect people to eat the best-quality food if it is out of their price range. People make choices according to what they perceive to be best for them and their families, and if this means purchasing more processed foods so they can put a little more towards their house payment or health insurance or college savings, that will probably continue to happen.

I'm somehow reminded of the line from Supersize Me where a McDonalds customer was complaining that he'd prefer to eat at Burger King instead but he can't afford it. Quality is relative...

However the issue being discussed in the book is not organic vs non-organic, nor is it the potential problems from all of the weird chemicals we put in our food. It is about the impact of sugar, fat and salt in high quantities on our brains and health. In principle you can mass-produce food without injecting masses of sugar, fat and salt in it. In practice there is no market for that because those foods don't sell so well. So if you care about sugar, fat and salt then you're pushed towards more expensive ingredients. But with the reduced cost from cooking for yourself, many people can save money. But not all. And in our world it does take more time.

However legislation that pushes companies to make a mix of foods with a much lower overall target level of sugar, fat and salt does not carry a major production cost penalty. Food would admittedly probably get more expensive because companies won't sell as much product and will try to maintain their bottom lines. But the cost of an actual meal should stay steady.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Utnapishtim » Wed May 27, 2009 8:47 am UTC

liposuctionguide wrote:I think we overeat. It’s that simple.
[...]
...portion sizes have exploded over the last 20 years.

For instance, bagels have ballooned from 140 calories to 350 calories.

The standard turkey sandwich has gone from 320 calories to 820 calories.

So are you saying that bagels have gotten twice as big recently?

And that sandwiches were half the size before?

I have to think the issue is the content of the food; not just its volume.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby brume » Wed May 27, 2009 11:18 am UTC

I couldn't find the link, but yes, bagels have just about doubled in size over time. So have portions served in restaurants.

I recently tried an experiment by ordering a regular lunch at a local BBQ place, to go. I took it home and divided it into two meals. Each one was plenty. I think I could divide it into thirds and still be satisfied. Once you get used to eating smaller portions you get satisfied easily.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Azrael » Wed May 27, 2009 11:22 am UTC

I'm calling shenanigans on a user named "liposuctionguide" contributing to an SB thread on obesity. Conflict of interest like whoa.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby winegums » Wed May 27, 2009 1:09 pm UTC

I don't think it's down to a lack of exercise...I'm too young to even have experienced the 60s or 70s, but any media referring to these times doesn't really mention gyms or adults going out exercising often (I mention this only because the typical response to "why are kids fatter now?" is "'cause they play too many vidya games and don't go out and play anymore. This response, while perhaps appropriate for children, doesn't really apply to adults).

I've always been led to believe that the chemicals used to produce modern food are half the problem. Your body has evolved to process chemicals in reasonably raw formats, but heavily processed sugars, for example, take longer to break down. Mass-production of food has resulted in quality being awful (I remember watching a documentary, might have been Dispatches, which had a bit on the difference between organic free-range chickens and battery chickens. Basically the battery chickens are fed up on hormones which give them large fatty breasts, but little to no nutritional quality. Since they're sold by weight, the farms make a lot of money. That's your KFC, mcdonalds, and even your supermarket chicken.

As people have said though, eating healthy is often eating expensive. Any food prefixed with 'organic' will cost a swipe more than the non-organic alternatives.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Emily St Aubert » Wed May 27, 2009 1:41 pm UTC

It's worth considering the psychological aspects of being overweight/obese, too. Susie Orbach's Fat Is A Feminist Issue is still relevant today; and Carol Munter and Jane Hirschmann's work (see http://www.overcomingovereating.com/) is based on the same ideas. We overeat because we have low self-esteem; we 'protect' ourselves by gaining a layer of fat that insulates us from the outside world. Like anorexics, part of the psychological profile is sometimes that we don't want to/aren't able to cope with our sexuality, and this, combined with the addictive nature of 'bad' foods as discussed, the ridiculous diet industry, and the completely screwed-up media focus on thinness, contributes greatly to obesity.

I think that even someone who's totally aware of the things the food industry does can still become obese because it's not just about physical factors. Many of us know that the sugar lobby is immensely powerful, and that the food industry replaces the fat in foods with sugar, which is far more fattening, and then labels them as low fat and dieters fall for it; we know about sugar leading to increased insulin production, which then stores the sugar as fat, giving you low blood sugar and a need to eat again and a desire for more sugar. We know about glycaemic index and glycaemic load. We've heard nonsense like 'just get off your fat arse and exercise' about a hundred billion times, and it's amazing that people still think that there's any point in saying it. if there was, there wouldn't BE any fat people.

Many of us also know that models get skinnier and magazines are just part of the whole conspiracy - they make us feel bad about ourselves because it sells us more stuff, and that's the only reason they even exist.

Without the self-reflexive aspect of it, it would be a lot easier to act on a weight problem. Right now I think these external aspects just add to the low self esteem that many people suffer from. I'm not saying all fat people hate themselves, that would be offensive and patronising; nonetheless for many people these feelings are extremely potent, and may not be easily articulated. Being fat is a way to opt out of the whole competitive social arena; you don't fail to get noticed, to get jobs, to get dates, to make friends, because of you, you fail because of your protective layer of fat. Fat people are invisible; you can go to bars and clubs and be completely ignored. It's as safe as it is hurtful - no rewards but no risk either, and it saves people from having to face any other reasons why their life is going wrong.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby btilly » Wed May 27, 2009 5:45 pm UTC

Utnapishtim wrote:
liposuctionguide wrote:I think we overeat. It’s that simple.
[...]
...portion sizes have exploded over the last 20 years.

For instance, bagels have ballooned from 140 calories to 350 calories.

The standard turkey sandwich has gone from 320 calories to 820 calories.

So are you saying that bagels have gotten twice as big recently?

And that sandwiches were half the size before?

I have to think the issue is the content of the food; not just its volume.

Both content and size have changed. http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/2 ... -size--now has comparison pictures.

The fundamental issue with content changing is that people find it a lot easier to overeat food that is high in sugar, fat and salt than food which isn't. If you are served too much healthy food, it is much easier to stop eating when you are satiated.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Utnapishtim » Wed May 27, 2009 6:10 pm UTC

Huh. How about that.

I was aware of the relevant bottomless soup bowl study, but it is also elucidating to actually see the portion size compared between the years.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby CrazyIvan » Thu May 28, 2009 4:27 pm UTC

This thread is what finally brought be out of lurking, so nice job there.

A few things to consider OP: First, you are sadly now the latest target of my "Don't Use That Set of CDC Maps" crusade. I *hate* that particular set of maps, and I hope they go down in history as an utterly inappropriate use of GIS. You'll notice there is a jump between 1998 and 1999, a jump that's not really mirrored elsewhere in the data, either before or after. Thats because in 1998, HHS revised the definition of "Obese" and overnight created 25 million new obese people. I have yet to see anyone actually attempt to correct for that trend.

If we look at the CDC's NCHS data brief from 2007, there's some interesting things to be seen. Particularly:
Image

Since the 1999 change, there's been...no change. Despite the fact that "We're in the middle of an obesity epidemic" is perhaps one of the most common phrases in parts of the public health and medical literature, and usually goes without an actual citation, and the medias fondness for vignettes of the rear ends of fat people, this is pretty much the most dubious "epidemic" around. And I say that as an epidemiologist.

There are legitimate problems with weight in this country, and the rest of the developed world. But its not as simple as "put down the cheeseburger". In many neighborhoods, access to fresh fruits and vegetables simply do not exist. The politics and epidemiology of obesity is actually the politics of race and poverty, given a new shell where we can once again feel comfortable moralizing. But until we have a system where buying calorie dense junk food is not a rational economic choice, we're not going to "solve" anything.

What we will do is make things worse. Some clinicians reported seeing upticks of kidney disease in college aged women during the height of the Atkins diet, there's some interesting studies showing the most unhealthy part of being fat is the stress from being fat, rather than the weight itself. Subjects reported things like being more willing to lose limbs than go back to being overweight. And how the medical community handles and treats overweight patients frequently falls under the heading of "appalling".

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Fledermen64 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:25 pm UTC

This is a society of instant gratification. People don't want to have to keep track of how much of this or that they are eating because it is effort. What people want to do is get hungry=>eat=>wait to get hungry again. not, get hungry=>determine whether you are actually hungry or desire food=>compare the meal your considering to the previous meals of the day to determine balanced eating habits=>include calorie count to daily sum=>eat=>wait to get hungry again. Add to that desire for things to be as simple as possible, a large selection of long lasting, high calorie, low nutrition food at extremely low prices and whamo there is your problem right there. Human nature is to take the easiest path presented to them, not many are going to think of the long term health benefits when doing the comparison of what foods to eat in what quantity.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby libellule » Sun May 31, 2009 3:51 am UTC

Spacemilk wrote:And do you honestly think there should be legal recourse for a choice we freely make? You said it yourself - we like it! And I would be PISSED if legislation took away my ability to freely choose to eat foods that are bad for me. If you want to increase the amount of education that's out there so people will know the consequences of their actions, but the government should not treat people like children and take away the choice of those actions.


But... legislation already has.

Trans fat ban in NYC:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... tml?cat=37

... to be followed at the state level by California.

It is a slippery slope.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Vaniver » Sun May 31, 2009 6:21 pm UTC

libellule wrote:But... legislation already has.

Trans fat ban in NYC:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... tml?cat=37

... to be followed at the state level by California.

It is a slippery slope.
Notice that he used the word "should."
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby mrbaggins » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:32 am UTC

Spacemilk wrote:And do you honestly think there should be legal recourse for a choice we freely make? You said it yourself - we like it! And I would be PISSED if legislation took away my ability to freely choose to eat foods that are bad for me. If you want to increase the amount of education that's out there so people will know the consequences of their actions, but the government should not treat people like children and take away the choice of those actions.

For example, I really like to eat Ramen noodles - a lot - but it's not what I eat for every meal, not even close. Yet they are very unhealthy. If the government decided to ban the sale of Ramen noodles because they are so bad, that would just be silly. It's an indulgence food for me. Or what about chocolate? Dark chocolate with its antioxidants can be good in small doses, but milk chocolate really isn't that great for you. This is rather silly, but can you imagine the response if you tried to regulate the sale of chocolate? Women would burn you - at least, I would.

Oh, and the guy arguing we should get rid of fatty foods because they provide a dopamine response? LOTS of things provide a dopamine response. It's why we like doing those things. Think about if you restated the argument this way: Watching movies in the theater provides a dopamine response, if the movie is good. If Hollywood starts making more good movies, people will go to the theaters more, possibly to the exclusion of other, more healthy activities, because movies are providing a pleasurable experience. Should we therefore ban Hollywood from making good movies, and people from watching good movies, because it might end up being detrimental to their health? Because the pursuit of happiness, in the form of a chemical your brain releases, becomes detrimental to your health, or so the government claims?

The answer is not banning all things that are unhealthy, but like I said earlier, increasing the information people have so they can make an informed decision. If people still make poor decisions to the point where they become obese, then the consequence of that action should be that the government no longer has to support them. If their health insurance provider can prove that they informed the obese person that the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle would cause obesity, the insurance provider should be allowed to drop that person unless the person agrees to make an effort to become more healthy. Obesity, with no exceptions that I can think of (feel free to correct me), is a choice. The choice should not be forbidden, but there should be consequences to making such a choice.


While I nigh completely agree with you, the problem isn't you. Or me. It's people. Individuals can be smart, but people are dumb. Can you imagine the uproar should a health insurance company attempt to release themselves from fat people? Can you imagine what would happen if the government decided to remove the disability payment issued to people over a certain weight? The consequence should rest sorely on the shoulders of the people doing the deeds, but it doesn't, and people won't let it.

Information isn't the answer. The information is out. Eating things that are bad for you make you fat and feel bad. Eating good things makes you feel good. Exercise helps you lose weight. But people don't care. They don't want the hard answer. They want solutions now, or they want someone else to fix it.

As for obesity being a choice, there are a distinct few medical conditions that cause problems. There is one where there is no fullness response, and another where the body attempts to store everything as fat, then makes you hungry again. There are also problems with people that are on corticosteroids and similar for extended periods. But yes, >90% of the obesity problem rests with the individuals and the choices they are/aren't making.
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Kendo_Bunny » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:18 pm UTC

Do you also count the people who have gained weight because of mental disorders? People with severe depression who eat for comfort, people with non-standard eating disorders, compulsive over-eaters, etc.

I still say the thing isn't to make bad food more expensive, but to work to make good food cheaper. Have you been to a grocery store lately? You can get a liter of all-natural, no sugar added juice for your sweet-toothed kids for between $3.99 and $6 a bottle. Or you can get 3 liters of off-brand soda for 89 cents. You can get fresh fruit in season for $1.59 a lb, up to $4 a lb when not in season. Or you can get a giant bag of potato chips for $1. You can get lean cut steaks for $6-$10 a lb, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $4 a lb. Or you can get a bag of pre-made greasy hamburgers for $2 a lb, or a bag of breaded chicken strips for $2.50. Whole grain bread costs $4, unless it's on sale, while white bread costs $1. Store brands are almost always cheaper, and almost always packed with sugar and other empty calories. So instead of demanding government subsidies for sugar, why isn't more going to small farms and farms that grow primarily healthy food? If soda is cheaper than both milk and juice, there's something wrong, and it's not that soda is too cheap.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Random832 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:05 pm UTC

mosc wrote:It should be illegal to sell a product designed for immediate consumption after opening and list it's nutritional information with multiple servings.


It's the FDA that requires the serving sizes to be what they are in the first place - contrary to popular belief, these aren't determined by the companies making the products. And "designed for immediate consumption after opening" is in the eye of the beholder - so what if someone else eat all four reeses cups in the car, maybe I want to eat just one (or maybe even not) and pop the rest in the freezer. What do you want, "WARNING: If you have the eating the whole goddamn bag of chips gene you will probably get fat if you buy this product. If you're not already."?

You could just say "Any package containing four or fewer non-individually-wrapped servings should also have a column in the nutrition information listing the totals for the package, but that's probably still unreasonable for some products.

Doesn't really change the fact that the kind of person who actually reads the nutrition information probably isn't the kind of person who would be affected by this.

How about requiring nutrition labels with fast food? Could be a headache to make a system that will work for everything, though - What if they order one with no cheese? [Just don't let them order one with no cheese? Hardly seems satisfactory; probably most people would just take the slice of cheese in that case]

Kendo_Bunny wrote:I still say the thing isn't to make bad food more expensive, but to work to make good food cheaper. Have you been to a grocery store lately?


How about a tax on High-Fructose Corn Syrup - the net effect would probably be more stuff made with real sugar (which i've heard sends clearer signals to your brain on how much you've eaten) or without added sugar (seriously, some of the stuff you'll find it in is ridiculous). Plus, if it's high enough (and if they don't move to real sugar), diet soda might be cheaper than regular soda, which might convince people to at least try it (and other than coke - diet coke has a distinctive taste - I've found most don't taste all that different), and convince restaurants to carry it.

If soda is cheaper than both milk and juice, there's something wrong, and it's not that soda is too cheap.


Saying milk should be cheaper than soda (especially cheaper than soda actually is, rather than that soda should be more expensive) is ridiculous - making soda just requires water, carbonation machines, a few ingredients that can probably be shipped cheaply from anywhere, and the end result has a fairly good shelf life. Making milk requires maintaining animals, and it has to be relatively fresh.

libellule wrote:
Spacemilk wrote:And do you honestly think there should be legal recourse for a choice we freely make? You said it yourself - we like it! And I would be PISSED if legislation took away my ability to freely choose to eat foods that are bad for me. If you want to increase the amount of education that's out there so people will know the consequences of their actions, but the government should not treat people like children and take away the choice of those actions.

But... legislation already has.

Trans fat ban in NYC:


Um, BS. Trans fats are a completely separate issue. There is no reason to choose trans fats - they don't taste better than other fats or anything, food made with them doesn't even have more fat than food made with other fat - they're just poisonous. All the angry responses are from uninformed people who thinks "Oh me yarm Oh they're banning fat!!!!1!" If it were phrased as "Ban people from putting industrial waste* in food", no-one would be saying "They're restricting my right to eat industrial waste"

Actually, they probably would. But they'd sound a lot less reasonable.

* which is what trans fats are, they're industrial waste from the process of making saturated fats by hydrogenation.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby CrazyIvan » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:29 pm UTC

mrbaggins wrote:Information isn't the answer. The information is out. Eating things that are bad for you make you fat and feel bad. Eating good things makes you feel good. Exercise helps you lose weight. But people don't care. They don't want the hard answer. They want solutions now, or they want someone else to fix it.

As for obesity being a choice, there are a distinct few medical conditions that cause problems. There is one where there is no fullness response, and another where the body attempts to store everything as fat, then makes you hungry again. There are also problems with people that are on corticosteroids and similar for extended periods. But yes, >90% of the obesity problem rests with the individuals and the choices they are/aren't making.


This idea, that >90% of the obesity problem rests with individual choices is, in my mind, an adaptation of the old moralistic "Group X we don't like is lazy/fated to be lesser than us!" argument that's existed for a very, very long time. As long as we frame it as a personal choice, its alright to moralize, to judge and to look down on people.

The consumption of calorie dense "junk food" is a perfectly rational choice for a good portion of the population. A quarter-pounder with cheese meal is hot, its fast, it can be obtained at any time of the day, and its $5 - and at the end of the day, you won't be hungry. Beyond questions of, between your two jobs do you have time to *cook* it, there are places in the South Side of Chicago where there simply is no fresh produce, no raw vegetables.

Modern obesity has many roots. Our economy is oriented around long hours and sedentary jobs for the affluent, ruinously stressful shift work for the not. But pretending obesity is just a personal choice, and would be fix the moment they'd stop eating so much pie ignores that it rests very much at the intersection of race, gender and poverty in this country. And that the same rhetoric is being used for the fat that used to be used for the poor and minorities disturbs me a great deal.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby libellule » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:52 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
libellule wrote:But... legislation already has.

Trans fat ban in NYC:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... tml?cat=37

... to be followed at the state level by California.

It is a slippery slope.
Notice that he used the word "should."

Notice that he didn't think such legislation existed. Which it does.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Random832 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:18 am UTC

libellule wrote:Notice that he didn't think such legislation existed. Which it does.
Trans fats are an unrelated issue. Do you have any examples of any such legislation that actually has to do with nutritional content, rather than poisonous substances?

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby libellule » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:38 am UTC

Random832 wrote:
libellule wrote:Notice that he didn't think such legislation existed. Which it does.
Trans fats are an unrelated issue. Do you have any examples of any such legislation that actually has to do with nutritional content, rather than poisonous substances?

Oh enough with your agenda.

It is legislation against a foodstuff we were quite happily gorging on before the ban. The fact that you think of it as a poison is neither here nor there.

Potato chips tasted much better with the trans fats.

And I can't even contemplate my Krispy Kremes without them.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby mrbaggins » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:49 am UTC

CrazyIvan wrote:
mrbaggins wrote:Information isn't the answer. The information is out. Eating things that are bad for you make you fat and feel bad. Eating good things makes you feel good. Exercise helps you lose weight. But people don't care. They don't want the hard answer. They want solutions now, or they want someone else to fix it.

As for obesity being a choice, there are a distinct few medical conditions that cause problems. There is one where there is no fullness response, and another where the body attempts to store everything as fat, then makes you hungry again. There are also problems with people that are on corticosteroids and similar for extended periods. But yes, >90% of the obesity problem rests with the individuals and the choices they are/aren't making.


This idea, that >90% of the obesity problem rests with individual choices is, in my mind, an adaptation of the old moralistic "Group X we don't like is lazy/fated to be lesser than us!" argument that's existed for a very, very long time. As long as we frame it as a personal choice, its alright to moralize, to judge and to look down on people.

I'm not sure what that argument is throwing back to, but you haven't explained how it isn't a personal choice.

The consumption of calorie dense "junk food" is a perfectly rational choice for a good portion of the population. A quarter-pounder with cheese meal is hot, its fast, it can be obtained at any time of the day, and its $5 - and at the end of the day, you won't be hungry. Beyond questions of, between your two jobs do you have time to *cook* it, there are places in the South Side of Chicago where there simply is no fresh produce, no raw vegetables.

It's not a rational choice though. Sure, once in a while, it's fine to grab a quick one. But for the exact same price (At least here in Australia) as a medium Qtr Pounder with cheese meal, you can get their chicken ceasar salad. Or a footlong of a selection of subs at Subway(or a 6 inch of any). Not to mention that if you consider rationality the weighing of options to make a selection, and you wish to remain thin or lose weight, then the table is instantly swung in favour of healthier alternatives, yet again making the Qtr Pounder irrational. Or if you are genuinely concerned about the lack of some product in an area, move. Saying that you can't is simply being too lazy to consider the options. Sure, moving is difficult, but if you are concerned that you cannot healthily feed you and yours, then you should be seriously considering it.

And that the same rhetoric is being used for the fat that used to be used for the poor and minorities disturbs me a great deal.

I'm not sure I get how this comes back to an argument used for the poor/minorities... Unless you mean the argument that poor people are perfectly capable of not being poor? In which case that belongs to another thread, and is irrelevant here (As the food you eat is largely an instantaneous decision, becoming non-poor takes extensive time). It's just being stated that the food you eat is a choice. Everyone is equally and substantially informed. People who do not want to get/stay fat are perfectly well informed at the moment of the foods that will cause them to do so, and so it is purely through choice that they continue to consume them.
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Zamfir
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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:04 pm UTC

Sure, once in a while, it's fine to grab a quick one. But for the exact same price (At least here in Australia) as a medium Qtr Pounder with cheese meal, you can get their chicken ceasar salad. Or a footlong of a selection of subs at Subway(or a 6 inch of any).


I find it hard to believe that a foot-long Subway sub has less calories than a quarter pounder.
Last edited by Zamfir on Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:23 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Random832 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:03 pm UTC

libellule wrote:It is legislation against a foodstuff we were quite happily gorging on before the ban.


You were not. Trans fats do not taste different to regular fats, so there's even less justification than there would be for making hydrogen cyanide a legal additive. (not that you wouldn't be fighting for that given half a reason to)

Potato chips tasted much better with the trans fats.

And I can't even contemplate my Krispy Kremes without them.

Oh, I see - you are confusing the poor oil-based substitutes they are trying to get away with now (since they can blame teh ebil anti-trans-fat peoplez) to keep costs down, with non-trans-fats as a whole - if they'd all just go back to using real butter or lard, it'd taste better than they ever did with hydrogenated oils.

It is not the trans-fat-ness that made them taste good before, and it is not the lack thereof that makes them not taste as good now.

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:24 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:if they'd all just go back to using real butter or lard


But aren't those full of trans fats?

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Re: Why we are fat

Postby Random832 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:58 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Random832 wrote:if they'd all just go back to using real butter or lard
But aren't those full of trans fats?

No. What's full of trans fats (up until recently, when almost all such products were reformulated) were artificially saturated fats like margarine and crisco
Last edited by Random832 on Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.


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