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August 26, 2011

Comments

Sam

Let me get this straight.
People can over-eat without actually putting food in their mouths.
And food should be made more expensive - because that's good - "as long as it does not cause disadvantage to poorer people".

The man's a genius.

AC1

They don't seem to have researched the fact that people are eating less calories than they were in the past...

Katabasis

Any "tough action" on this via legislation should only be allowed to pass when each and every member of both Houses are no longer classified as "obese" by the BMI.

Stuck-Record

Never underestimate the power of success v logic. The bans on smoking worked (for the alarmists) despite the empirical proof that there is no link between passive smoking and cancer. The 1993 EPA scare-mongering paper, to paraphrase Twain, was 'a lie that was halfway round the world before the truth could put it's boots on'.

The EPA study was totally debunked by the US courts, but you would never know.

Alarmists learned a powerful lesson from that. We've been living with the consequences since.

JuliaM

I'm still in a state of *boggle* at the thought of road injuries being classed as an 'epidemic'.

Peter Risdon

I'm planning to publish my new passive dieting book, as part of the fightback. It's a relatively easy regime to observe.

David

Peter,

“I’m planning to publish my new passive dieting book... It’s a relatively easy regime to observe.”

Heh. We laugh – and we should – but these nasty little phuquers will never stop, at least not voluntarily. Once you’ve socialised medicine, for instance, there’s a foothold for obnoxious coercive urges - and a justification (of sorts). Usually some variation of this: “The medical consequences of Harry’s fatness stress the NHS and cost the public X, therefore I, as a member of the public, have a right to interfere and determine Harry’s diet.”

And so the solution is always more interference, more control, more socialism.

AC1

> and a justification (of sorts)

On the contrary. It's an indication that "socialised" medicine does not work, and we are all negligent for not capitalising on it.

Kevin B

Why would anyone trust anything put out by the Lancet after the gazillion Iraqi casualties debacle. The journal is totally debased not just for publishing that nonsense but for refusing to back down in the face of the obvious problems with the paper.

As for the obesity epidemic:

Either it is an epidemic so stop blaming food companies and start seriously looking for the real agent - the virus or bacteria - responsible.

Or, obesity has been caused by the medical establishment falsely blaming animal fat for the 'epidemic' of heart disease in the sixties and seventies and forcing a change of diet on the western world, in which case, get a little humility here, Doc.

Peter Risdon

David, yes exactly. That's really the worst consequence of socialised medicine: the excuse it gives to interfere in every corner of life.

Still, they do deserve to be ridiculed.

David

I marvel at how this claptrap gets published and cooed over.

Setting aside the questionable research, the surreal wording and the overt authoritarianism, there’s something unpleasant about richer people – say, doctors and academics - demanding a punitive tax on proletarian food, which would leave them largely unaffected, unlike the poor.

Horace Dunn

This bit is priceless:

'"I think governments get it, but don't know what to do about it, and don't think it's their responsibility. But it is their responsibility," he [Steven Gortmaker] said.'

But did you see what they've done there? Supposing the following paragraph was inserted into the article:

'"I think governments get it, but don't know what to do about it, and don't think it's their responsibility. Which is correct, as it isn't their responsibility," Horace Dunn said.'

Do you notice that my statement has credibility and authority equal to that of Steven Gortmaker's? That's right because it's just an opinion. Odd though that the Guardian only sought opinions from people who favour increased state intervention in the private sphere. I wonder why that was?

Perhaps it's because the Guardian only employs whiny statist morons.


Darleen

Family attractions should be “junk food-free zones”

Want to see riots? Try banning funnel cakes from County Fairs

mojo

Almost as good as the AMA "encouraging" doctors to get snoopy with their patients about if they have guns in the house.

My doc tried that one on. I told him he wasn't the only doctor in town, so could he please stick to the subject at hand...

David

Peter,

“That’s really the worst consequence of socialised medicine: the excuse it gives to interfere in every corner of life.”

It’s the neotenous effect of socialism - we must all be treated as children for our own good - because we cannot be trusted. A visit to almost any UK pharmacist reveals the process in action quite vividly. Try to buy more than 40 mild painkillers or two months’ supply of antihistamine and wait for the interrogation and/or refusal. The relationship has shifted from one of retailer and customer to that of State Authorised Person and impertinent upstart

dicentra

A state fair without funnel cakes and deep-fried butter?

You might as well nuke us all from orbit; we're too stupid to live.

Dom

Did anyone else see this:

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27083/

"The Cause Of Riots And The Price of Food"

"If we don't reverse the current trend in food prices, we've got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists."

David

dicentra,

“…we’re too stupid to live.”

To live unsupervised. But yes, that’s the basic message.

It’s true of course that it’s easier to overindulge today than, say, 50 years ago. But a thing being easier doesn’t make it fate. I’d imagine it’s quite hard to become seriously obese without at some point noticing this fact, which brings us back to choice and individual responsibility.

You can certainly argue that some modern processed foods are very calorific and so a belly full of cheeseburgers or whatever can entail a lot more calories, sugars, fats, etc than some other meal of comparable mass. Perhaps this is what Swinburn means by “passive” overeating, though the Guardian doesn’t bother to unpack the phrasing or question its implications. But like so many of his peers, Swinburn shows no regard for individual responsibility, which he casually dismisses. Instead, he blames “market economies” and “a tough environment,” to which, he implies, our minds are subordinate.

Well, I could in theory eat six pieces of blackberry cheesecake every day, or ten, or twenty. And I could do this every day with a hefty side of ice cream each and every time, for months, even years. But I choose not to. Because - contrary to rumours - I’m not a total idiot. And if I were sufficiently stupid to be wolfing down mountains of cheesecake (or whatever) on a daily basis and bloating indecently as a result, I wouldn’t presume that everyone else who buys cheesecake should be punished for my benefit.

Rob

Road injuries and tobacco are not 'epidemics'. The Lancet is a comic for permitting such unscientific stupidity.

"passive overeating" could be the miracle cure for famine in East Africa. We can fly in fat westerners and feed them burgers, and lo! Every starving person within 500m will mysteriously ingest calories.

That a 'news' article reports this is the final proof that our media is dead.

As for the authors, my tagline...these people are mentally ill.

Rob

The Guradian is, and has been for some time, the standard bearer for the new European Fascism which will blight our lives over the next decade.

Hyperbole? They don't wear uniforms, but how else do you describe an ideology which wants to control what you eat?

Sam

...a thing being easier doesn’t make it fate. I’d imagine it’s quite hard to become seriously obese without at some point noticing this fact, which brings us back to choice and individual responsibility.

That's the guts of it.

Rob

Having to buy new trousers twice a year is a good sign

Rob

A trickybone for the the Left. On the one hand, a natural victim group to use as a tool against 'society'. On the other hand, a rich fund of easy targets for their totalitarian instincts to gorge upon.

Bastiat Fan

They're not even trying to hide the fascism anymore, are they?

David

“They’re not even trying to hide the fascism anymore, are they?”

But why hide it? For many Guardian readers it’s a selling feature. Controlling people and calculating who to punish first are the rewards for all that socialist piety. See, for instance, this.

Karen M

It’s the neotenous effect of socialism - we must all be treated as children for our own good

Speaking of childlike…

Why do I have to pay my debts? Why isn’t everything free?

http://www.leftcoastrebel.com/2011/08/fisking-lefts-victimhood-mindset.html

(Blood pressure alert.)

David

“Why isn’t everything free?”

Blimey.

What’s interesting is the non-reciprocal assumption of entitlement – a kind of moral autism. This woman finds it exasperating that everything she wants isn’t given to her for free - and for free indefinitely. Because… well, presumably, other people just should. If she borrows someone else’s money and spends it, they shouldn’t ever ask for it back. They shouldn’t expect her to actually honour her agreements. Because… well, they don’t matter.

But infantile psychology is very often a product of “progressive” ideology. I suspect that’s the appeal.

I do, though, like her belief in ancient African electricity.

Karen M

If she borrows someone else’s money and spends it, they shouldn’t ever ask for it back. They shouldn’t expect her to actually honour her agreements.

She wants to screw other people over... but she's the victim.

Bart

I have to wonder: how is it possible to increase the price of food so much that it becomes impossible for the poor to eat too much but do so in a way that doesn't disadvantage them economically?

Ted S., Catskills, NY

Something that needs to be repeated over and over: these people don't have good intentions. I'd go so far as to call such people wicked myself: Roman Polanski could only rape one girl at a time; these people are screwing the entire population in one go.

Every time I read one of these perverts who gets their rocks off running other people's lives, I can feel my blood pressure rising, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Higher blood pressure can't be good for health, so the argument could be made that these people need to stop angrying up the public's blood for the good of the public health.

To put it another way, whenever they talk about quality of life, I realize that I would have a much higher quality of life if they'd just leave me alone.

Col. Milquetoast

Well, the environmentally concerned telepathic gorilla* has mentioned that Totalitarian Agriculture has led to too few people starving to death. One thing we've learned from thousands of years of precarious and sometimes failing human existence is that sometimes chubby people are better equipped to outlast a famine than those who are already malnourished. As always, something needs to be done about this.

(to whom it may concern, you aren't pudgy with love handles. Instead, you are evolutionarily equipped in case of food scarcity. Admittedly, we may have to find a way to rephrase "survival of the fittest")

* btw the other day I used a reference to the book Ishmael as an example to my nephews of a differing opinion based on differing premises and their response to ask if was about Gorilla Grodd (a DC Comics super-villain).

Stuck-Record

So what is the reason for fat Guardian readers?

Are they so susceptible to passive eating pressures? Must be all those ads from the international Parma ham and mozzarella cartels.

Krispy Kreme

Raising food prices "as long as it does not cause disadvantage to poorer people"

Get ready, because here comes the fun. To tax food on some sliding scale to ostensibly protect the poor but punish the rich will not only mean variable pricing and labelling, but also squadrons of experts to evaluate calorie content, etc, and then more experts to measure the cost of food against incomes (and the price of food, being global, will be going up and down), with of course even more experts to measure the levels of poverty (both real and imagined)

The designated poor will have to be endlessly checked and measured, and both their diets and income 'managed' by even more experts. Given that some of the so called poor will be immigrants who care little for Western ways (preferring to live in their own enclaves) there will need to be translators and social workers briefed in handling sensitivities. Special departments to measure and propagandise the improved lack of obesity will have to be set up and funds found for state-of-the-art offices, with the necessary training courses and pension schemes.

So all in all, we can look forward to a vast swathe of new jobs, complex taxation (with carbon credits?) plus endless arguing in the House over what represents acceptable levels of anything. And, we have to think whether any of this will conflict with current EU legislation. What about human rights too if you really want that doughnut?

So, professor, bit of a flippant remark then, right?

Jamie

Don't suppose by passive they mean the culture of sitting back and expecting the government to take care of everything, instead of people taking responsibility for their own health?

David

Ted,

“Something that needs to be repeated over and over: these people don’t have good intentions.”

When someone gets very excited by the prospect of banning, taxing and generally interfering in other people’s lives - and when they insist on treating adults as if they were slow-witted children - it’s best to assume their motives aren’t as benign as they make out.

Here we have more so-called experts invoking obesity “pandemics,” all of them thrilled by the prospect of direct intervention - in other words, state coercion regarding what and where people may eat, along with punitive taxes on “unhealthy foods.” But there are surprisingly few “unhealthy foods,” i.e., common foodstuffs that are hazardous in even small or moderate quantities. There are unhealthy diets, especially if coupled with sedentary lifestyles, but diets and idleness are hard to tax and outlaw. So popular foodstuffs will be targeted instead. One way or another, the public will be corrected by their betters.

This comment from an earlier thread may be relevant. It’s a response to someone asking why activists so often demand government coercion to override personal responsibility:

To attack consumers for in effect making proletarian choices – of which the campaigners disapprove – would jar with any professed egalitarian credentials. This may be why a common strategy is to insinuate some variation of “false consciousness,” whereby fast food enthusiasts are effectively side-lined as victims of some ill-defined but morally corrupting influence. It’s easier to imagine you’re being righteous and heroic if you target the provider of a service rather than the people who choose to seek it out.

But even this manoeuvre implies things that are rarely said directly for fear of how it would seem: The customers, by implication - unlike the campaigners - can’t see through advertising. The customers, unlike the campaigners, don’t know their own minds. Of course saying this explicitly would make the campaigners sound presumptuous and conceited, which they quite often are. And saying it face to face with Those Who Need Saving might invite a suitably frank response.

And when the proposed solution is always more interference, more control and more socialism, you can’t help wondering if the wrong questions are being asked.

Jonathan

"... That's really the worst consequence of socialised medicine: the excuse it gives to interfere in every corner of life."
And that's the point isn't it. Once the left nationalised medicine and education, they were able to always claim the moral high ground and say that anyone who opposed more tax and more state control didn't care about 'the children' or 'the sick'. It's a great technique; think of the number of times you've hear some public sector Union or Labour party hack bleating about 'Schools and Hospitals'.

Tom Albrighton

As a copywriter (click my name) I'm interested to see the old 'evil marketers' canard being resurrected in this connection, which nobody has so far commented on ('more… effectively-marketed food than ever before').

When people bemoan the bad habits of others, and those bad habits involve a purchase, it's convenient to blame the 'sophisticated' marketers who can force people to buy against their will. And when you look at McDonald's advertising, with its devious images of hamburgers and insidious jingle by Justin Timberlake, it's hard not to agree. That truly is some sophisticated shit. (Can I say that?)

In the real world, it's not actually possible to get anyone to buy anything just because you want them to buy it. If it was, I would be a millionaire, and people would be regularly going bankrupt from buying gold-plated fridge magnets or motorised shoes. The only way to get people to buy is by offering them some sort of benefit - in the case of junk food, 'tastiness' or perhaps (taking a psychological view) 'comfort'.

Some marketing can be deceptive. But assuming it's not actually lying, people should be allowed to see it. To argue otherwise is to argue for censorship - which the ban on cigarette advertising is, in a sense.

Ad industry veteran Jeremy Bullmore argues that advertising actually does people an important service, because it exposes them to a range of claims that they are free to believe or not believe as they wish, and make their decision on that basis. Without advertising, all you have is a bunch of opaque products sitting on a shelf. How can we decide? Better to let each one make their pitch, and we the shoppers will judge. If that's not democracy, what is?

Of course, it does imply that, as Bullmore put it, 'the consumer has a mind as well as a stomach'. A fact that the very best marketers always remember - and which we forget at our peril.

Also, you do not need a hyphen in adjectival compounds where the first word is an adverb, unless there is the potential for ambiguity. The correct punctuation is simply 'effectively marketed', even with the adjective before before the noun. Alan Titchmarsh corrected me on that when I was an assistant editor working on his 'Beautiful Gardens' calendar in 1996 - a humiliation I've yet to live down.

WTP

and people would be regularly going bankrupt from buying gold-plated fridge magnets or motorised shoes

Can you tell me more about these moterised shoes?

phantom menace

direct intervention – a euphemism for punishing the consumption – any consumption – of “unhealthy foods.” But there are surprisingly few “unhealthy foods,” i.e., common foodstuffs that are hazardous in even small or moderate quantities. There are only unhealthy diets

In a nutshell.

John D

One way or another, the public will be corrected by their betters.

Funny how lefties always want to be the ruling class.

David

“Funny how lefties always want to be the ruling class.”

Almost always, yes. What’s funny is that so many lefties have the chutzpah to pretend otherwise. As I’ve said before, if you make it your mission to ‘fix’ society – i.e., people - supposedly for their own good, then you or your proxy will have to be in charge. And given human nature, be in charge in ever more restricting and elaborate ways.

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