September 21, 2007

Money Funds America’s Killer Diet

CNN this weekend tackles America's Killer Diet: Fed Up: America’s Killer Diet.

It's probably an eye-opening special, but by the stories on the web and the thrust of the headlines, CNN only tackles the symptoms of America's obesity problem.

The best part is the title: food in America is a killer.

But it's a killer with a lot of money behind it.

Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said, the federal food policy is making, and keeping, people fat.

He was interviewed by the Hartford Courant and his views coincide with my experience.

If you don't change food policy, people will keep getting fatter and sicker, and no diet or exercise program in the world will change that, Brownell said.

His advocacy of sweeping policy change, such as his promotion of the so-called Twinkie tax on junk food - and his own substantial girth - has made him an object of derision to conservative critics who say weight is purely a matter of personal responsibility.

His conclusions have been at the center of a growing national debate over food - from whether trans fats should be served in restaurants to snack food in schools. Brownell believes the chief culprit is the trillion-dollar food industry, which Brownell said has stayed profitable through massive advertising campaigns to get people to eat more calories than they need.

The evidence is everywhere, Brownell said, from super-size fast food meals to jumbo Coca-Colas. As portion sizes ballooned, so did waistlines of people who exercised less and less over the years.

Meanwhile, the government has fueled the obesity epidemic by granting subsidies to farmers that helped create cheap feed for cows, greasy oils and sweeteners to create countless empty calories in our diets, he said.

Food economics make it cheaper to buy a Happy Meal than a salad. Why is it, he said, that you get a price break the bigger the fries or soft drink you order, but there is no break when you buy six apples instead of three?

Why not create food subsidies for apples, oranges or broccoli instead of corn?
As they said in "All the President's Men": follow the money! Obesity isn't a problem with individual willpower. It's a problem with too much money for all the wrong foods. Let's demand cheaper healthy food and expensive junk food. In the end, it will all be cheaper and better for us and our children.

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