Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why are we so fat?

Why are we so fat? is a New Yorker article by Elizabeth Kolbert. She talks about the global fat epidemic, as evinced in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A few awesome quotes in chronological order (but without segues):

"In just ten years, they showed, Americans had collectively gained more than a billion pounds. 'If this was about tuberculosis, it would be called an epidemic,' another researcher wrote in an editorial accompanying the report."

"Human infants are unusually portly; among mammals, only hooded seals have a higher percentage of body fat at birth. (Presumably, babies need the extra reserves to fuel their oversized brains.)"

"Relative to other goods and services, food has got cheaper in the past few decades, and fattening foods, in particular, have become a bargain. Between 1983 and 2005, the real cost of fats and oils declined by sixteen per cent. During the same period, the real cost of soft drinks dropped by more than twenty per cent."

"The correlation between cost and consumption is pretty compelling; as Finkelstein notes, there’s no more basic tenet of economics than that price matters. But, like evolution, economics alone doesn’t seem adequate to the obesity problem. If it’s cheap to consume too many calories’ worth of ice cream or Coca-Cola, it’s even cheaper to consume fewer."

"Kessler spends a lot of time meeting with (often anonymous) consultants who describe how they are trying to fashion products that offer what’s become known in the food industry as 'eatertainment.' Fat, sugar, and salt turn out to be the crucial elements in this quest: different 'eatertaining' items mix these ingredients in different but invariably highly caloric combinations. A food scientist for Frito-Lay relates how the company is seeking to create 'a lot of fun in your mouth' with products like Nacho Cheese Doritos, which meld 'three different cheese notes' with lots of salt and oil. Another product-development expert talks about how she is trying to 'unlock the code of craveability,' and a third about the effort to 'cram as much hedonics as you can in one dish.'”

"The World Health Organization has come up with more than three dozen actions that governments could take to encourage better eating and fitness; these include imposing a 'fat tax' on caloric snacks, improving health education, regulating food and beverage advertising, limiting the foods available in public facilities, and insuring access to sidewalks and bike paths."

Click through for the article, which has actual paragraphs and makes more sense. (Having been edited by a proper editor, and all.)

(From Guy)

1 comment:

Wilmar said...

nice TOTI post :)

ties in well with my blog too hehe.