4 thoughts on “Food Doesn’t Kill [Obese] People, People Do:Bush and the Food Industry Oppose WHO Obesity Initiative – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Hi! Great blog. 🙂

    A few thoughts:

    Do people have any responsibility for what they eat? If so, where does the line between corporate and personal responsibility get drawn?

    Are you arguing that some segment of the population is biologically compelled to consume high fat, high sugar foods? What evidence supports the proposition that high calorie food is “addictive” and that people can’t help consuming it?


  2. Yes, people have responsibility for what they eat.

    But if fast food companies spend $500M or $1B ea. yr. (I don’t know the precise amount, but I’m certain that it’s devestatingly high) advertising to the American people (& the world) that they should eat foods that will eventually kill them if they eat enough of it…well, then the lion’s share of the blame is on the companies for marketing a potenially lethal product. Can you imagine Kraft or McDonald’s telling their customers to eat a modest amount of their products so they don’t die of obesity? That would be a sight to behold.

    I think a very good case can be made that once you accustom yourself to eating a diet very high in sugar and fat that it is very difficult to switch to a low sugar/low fat diet. Food that is better for you (i.e. less sugar & fat) tends to taste bland & you want to eat the high fat/high sugar diet. That’s not precisely a definition of addiction, but it’s pretty close. Also, once you’re consuming a high calorie daily diet it’s also very hard to switch to a lower calorie diet. Hence, obesity & eventually death.

  3. Well said.

    But lots of perfectly innocuous foods–carrots and water, for example–are dangerous when consumed in massive quantities. A little fast food here and there won’t cause long term harm to most of us so I don’t think it’s clear that corporations who sell fast food should necessarily be pilloried for marketing potentially lethal products, any more than Julia Childs should be prosecuted for writing books that include recipes with too much butter in them.

    Having said that, I do agree that corporations have little incentive to disclose the fat, sugar, and transfat content of foods they sell or to encourage moderation in diet. Government can and should do more to promote both so consumers can make informed choices and should act where the content or preparation of food presents a clear danger to public health.

    We disagree about where to draw that line, but we share a belief that any administration willing to trade public welfare to curry corporate favor is one we can do without!

  4. YOur first examples of carrots & water as potentially lethal foods seems preposterous. I’ve never ever heard of a person dying from drinking too much water or carrots. But there are tens of thousands of people around the world dying every year either directly from obesity or from closely related conditions like heart disease, hypertension, etc.

    I don’t have any problem with someone eating “a little fast food here and there.” But that’s not the habit of most obese individuals and it’s certainly not the habit that fast food marketing is trying to inculcate in consumers. People consume massive quantities of fast food & the TV ads encourage them to eat as much of it as they can as often as they can.

    Your Julia Childs example is also ludicrous. Julia Childs specializes in French cuisine which uses butter. Neither you, nor I nor Julia Childs eats as much rich French food as obese individuals eat fast food. If we ate heavy, rich French meals every night for ten yrs., then hell yeah, we might become obese. But what’s the likelihood of that happening??

    I believe that the Government should not only encourage people to eat a better diet, they should also create regulations forcing the fast food companies to disclose how much fat & sugar their products contain and how much more fat & sugar they contain than a healthy set of food choices. Let’s put the equivalent of a big bold cigarette pack warning on every Happy Meal that goes out of a McDonald’s kitchen.

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