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“Salt, Sugar, Fat” ; ““Super Size Me” & other movements
Posted: 20 June 2013 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This really irritates me. The movements and documentaries that push the ideas that there is a conspiracy of industries to induce normal foods to be more “addictive” for profit. I have a better theory. The documentaries are made by the same industries to induce a false fear in us that more is bad and the taste quality of food is bad so that the industries can later respond to a demanding public by these notions to reduce the quality and costs of production while increasing profits in the name of ‘health’. I saw Michael Moss on Dr. Oz (I know, the guy’s a quack!) and he claims that the industries are dosing our foods with special forms of salt (Kosher) and sugar in order to increase our addiction. The problem with this is that even if industries experiment with ways to find something more tasty, desirable, or irresistible, how would you differentiate the function of such a cause as being any more evil than you purposely choosing to cook or bake with these ingredients for your own purposes?

Yeah, I want tastier foods, if they can make them. Yeah, if they can give me ten pounds of food product for the price of one, I’ll take it without complaining. It seems like they are trying to use the same tactical reasons against illicit drug traffickers for the reason why people can obtain certain drugs. Sure, if you eliminate supply, it’ll be harder to obtain. And eventually, if no one from then on learns of what those drugs are or feels like in the first place, maybe you’ll never miss them. But I ask this: If it were possible to get all our nutrients in one all-purpose pill or meal, like dog or cat food, would or should we force society to eat it for the sake of extended life? Personally, I’d enjoy a short but tasty life over a life ten times as long that was dull and boring.

The market here in Canada likes to respond quickly to things like “Super Size Me”. Now they’re pushing tiny burgers as if they’re cute and interesting. The coffee has gone from $4.99 average three years at 907g to $15.99 for the same amount and then they offer us a new reduced size, 875g for 11.99!

That Michael Moss seems to understand that there is no solution to industry being able to replace salt, sugar, and fat, and yet he expends energy to insinuate by innuendos that they are out to get us! What a bunch of crap.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I guess I don’t find anything surprising or unlikely about industry trying to design and market their products to be maximally attractive regardless of health considerations. The nature of corporations is to pursue shareholder value and proft, not the overall interests of society. This doesn’t require any sort of mysterious conspiracy, though the more egregious behavior is often hidden from public view and tends only to come out in disclosure associated with litigation or government action. So while exposés like these tend to be a bit biased melodramatic and don’t always adhere to scientific standards of evidence, they strike me as at least accurately capturing a basic theme: the market incentives which motivate food companies tend to lead to the production of food which isn’t very healthy and to the encouraging of consumptive behavior which is consistent with our evolved urges to seek sugar, salt, and fat but not with what we know intelllectually is good for our health in the long run. Part of the etiology of so-called lifestyle associated diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and so on) does lie in behavioral risk factors (diet, smoking, etc) which are encouraged by industry because they are profitable.

So what should we do about it? I think letting the public know that marketing of foods is intended to sell product and likely encourages behavior that is unhealthy is reasonable, though I don’t know how effective it is likely to be. Public health authorities have been trying to promote healthy eating habits through education efforts for a long time, and it isn’t clear these efforts have much real impact on behavior or health. Regulation to limit the ability of industry to encourage unhealthy behavior, and to reduce the availability of the most unhealthy prducts has been shown to be more effetcive (e.g. increasing the cost of tobacco products through taxation and constraining tabacco advertising does reduce tobacco use, considerably more than merely education the public about the health effects of smoking). But of course this gets into the whole debate about the role of government, individual freedom vs public health and so on, and those debates quickly become fundamental philosophical conflicts between ideologies that don’t seem to get resolved by rational consideration of evidence.

On a theoretical level, sure we are all responsible for the choices we make. On a practical level, though, there is a significant human and economic cost to widespread poor health and if government efforts at a population level can improve health and reduce these costs, that doesn’t seem an entirely unreasonable thing to attempt, even if it means it is harder for some individuals to get their cigarettes or deep-fried Twinkies. Increasing the cost in effort and money for individuals to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of poor health outcomes isn’t necessarily taking away their freedom to make such choices, it is simply shaping the variables that they have to consider when choosing, and there are benefits at the population level as well as for the individual.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The price of coffee has gone up everywhere due to dwindling supply and increasing demand. Also, I believe you were referring to Michael Moore not Michael Moss.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The price of coffee has gone up everywhere due to dwindling supply and increasing demand. Also, I believe you were referring to Michael Moore not Michael Moss.


Although the law of supply and demand effects prices, we sometimes forget that we are subject to the whim of nature. Coffee supplies are greatly affected by changing weather conditions and even though producers hold back a surplus they can’t accurately predict what climate conditions growers will face in the future, hence the rise in prices in drought years. And yeah, I think he means Moore.

 

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Posted: 20 June 2013 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Also, the price of coffee has nothing to do with food ingredients being manipulated to get people hooked on junk food.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Also, the price of coffee has nothing to do with food ingredients being manipulated to get people hooked on junk food.

Yeah, well that too Darron! And while we’re on the subject the original intent of junk food peddlers was to provide cheap food to people on the go who didn’t have the time or inclination to patronize a sit down restaurant. The McDonald brothers wanted to take advantage of mobile patrons with their concept of a quick meal in a bag. They had no intent on getting customers hooked, just to make a fast buck. Now Ray Kroc however… .


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Posted: 20 June 2013 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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McKenzie,
I think the biggest of social crimes are the ones of ignorance and indifference. When authorities impose methods upon society that attempt to keep people ignorant by means that hide or prevent normal attitudes and behaviors from being realized, they are more culpable of bad behavior than the original social problems that occur naturally. Now, of course, these authorities sincerely believe that their reasoning is due to some other ignorance or indifference imposed by natural behaviors and attitudes that to them are “evil” or “bad”. But usually, exposure to these along with knowledge, alone is sufficient to aid people into making better decisions. I find that choosing to take things away from the society as if you, an authority, is overly paternal and controlling. It’s tyrannical.

I happen to be a smoker, for example, here in Saskatchewan where extraordinary taxes are forced on me as well as the methods of doing things like hiding tobacco products from sight and making it illegal to smoke forty or more meters away from many public buildings is used to discourage such bad behavior. We were not exposed here to tobacco advertising since the late seventies and yet had the same percentage of smokers the U.S. had with it. I didn’t choose to have my first smoke because any corporation was successful at tricking me into it. Nor do most people. It is almost always through friends and close environment alone that get you involved. And though the methods of attacking the presence and availability of something decreases the popularity of use amongst peer groups which makes it less likely for people to try new and bad things, the excuse by authorities for such political actions do not match the realities. It was the tobacco companies that were initially blamed for odiously trying to make their products more attractive by trying to discourage the idea that nicotine was addictive or by enhancing the addictive agent in their products, or that they used strategic marketing to target the youth.

These were all irrelevant because the truth of the matter is that all the efforts of tobacco companies aim to compete for their particular brands. The actual nature of tobacco to be desirable and the peer groups that truly cause people to try them are diminished as the results of external agents. When it became political, governments declared their recognition of the addictive nature of tobacco. But instead of acting on that belief, they pretend that these addictions are also contradictorily merely trivial minor habits of ‘choice’ that can be cured by taxing it to death and creating a help phone line for advice. To someone like me, the government became the worst of drug dealers by forcing a demand to pay for the higher prices based on my addiction.

You can continue to find things more harmful things after each event of restriction of some other innately enjoyable but risky behavior in life. But at what cost is it to the society at large when those who believe it is their right to eliminate risk authorize the rest of us to live in bubbles? I don’t see the difference between this and any other kind of tyranny. For we can all be just as safe in prison cells.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oh…and Darron, TheVillage,

It’s Michael Moss, not Michael Moore, that I was referring to.

See: http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/nutrition/2013/05/31/michael_moss_author_of_salt_sugar_fat_talks_about_how_the_food_companies_hooked_us.html

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Posted: 20 June 2013 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Scott, there is some truth in what you are saying but you are missing the bigger picture. Clearly the biggest factor influencing someone to begin smoking is their peers and family. Kids who grow up in a home where parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke as those who grow up with non-smoking parents and while have I not read the studies on the influence of peers I would imagine they have as much or more influence. On the other hand, to imply that advertising does not influence this decision is naive.

I doubt many teenagers or young adults would succumb to an ad that directly encouraged them to smoke, but more subtle approaches like the commercials that show smokers having a great time, living a successful lifestyle, or being looked up to by those around them can be a powerful form of persuasion. TV commercials were removed from the airwaves in the US in the 70’s also so I am not sure you comparison of US to Canadian smoking rates means very much. Personally I dont think measures removing these commercials go far enough. I think there should be a concerted effort to make smokers look foolish or uncool on shows that teens watch. It’s socially acceptable to single out “nerds” on these shows and make them look goofy or uncool. There should be a conscious effort to subtly make characters who smoke look like the dorks in an effort to decrease smoking rates among teens. Kids are very susceptible to that sort of persuasion.

In regards to taxation of cigarettes and other restrictions, there is clear evidence that these methods are effective. Teenage smoking rates have dropped to their lowest level in history this past year in large part due to the increasing cost. Many employers and municipalities have made it difficult to smoke on the premises. My own hospital forbids smoking anywhere on campus and since instituting these measures there has been a dramatic drop in smoking rates among employees.

This may seem like government intrusion but there are risks to non-smokers and liabilities faced by employers and municipalities that do not take measures to protect them. I am old enough to remember the Tirrany of smokers when anyone who suggested a smoker put out their cigarette in a crowded place or a car got dirty looks or worse. I’ll take a little government intrusion over a return to that kind of “freedom” any day.

[ Edited: 20 June 2013 05:23 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 20 June 2013 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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macgyver - 20 June 2013 05:19 PM

Scott, there is some truth in what you are saying but you are missing the bigger picture. Clearly the biggest factor influencing someone to begin smoking is their peers and family. Kids who grow up in a home where parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke as those who grow up with non-smoking parents and while have I not read the studies on the influence of peers I would imagine they have as much or more influence. On the other hand, to imply that advertising does not influence this decision is naive.

I doubt many teenagers or young adults would succumb to an ad that directly encouraged them to smoke, but more subtle approaches like the commercials that show smokers having a great time, living a successful lifestyle, or being looked up to by those around them can be a powerful form of persuasion. TV commercials were removed from the airwaves in the US in the 70’s also so I am not sure you comparison of US to Canadian smoking rates means very much. Personally I dont think measures removing these commercials go far enough. I think there should be a concerted effort to make smokers look foolish or uncool on shows that teens watch. It’s socially acceptable to single out “nerds” on these shows and make them look goofy or uncool. There should be a conscious effort to subtly make characters who smoke look like the dorks in an effort to decrease smoking rates among teens. Kids are very susceptible to that sort of persuasion.

In regards to taxation of cigarettes and other restrictions, there is clear evidence that these methods are effective. Teenage smoking rates have dropped to their lowest level in history this past year in large part due to the increasing cost. Many employers and municipalities have made it difficult to smoke on the premises. My own hospital forbids smoking anywhere on campus and since instituting these measures there has been a dramatic drop in smoking rates among employees.

This may seem like government intrusion but there are risks to non-smokers and liabilities faced by employers and municipalities that do not take measures to protect them. I am old enough to remember the Tirrany of smokers when anyone who suggested a smoker put out their cigarette in a crowded place or a car got dirty looks or worse. I’ll take a little government intrusion over a return to that kind of “freedom” any day.

I was one of those kids who got seriously sick in the car often when my parents smoked. Saying anything usually just made them roll up their windows to try to demonstrate why I should really complain. I’m not proposing that society learns to be fairer to one another. But education alone is sufficient. In fact, you cannot determine that the sole reasons for the reduction of smoking is due to the high taxation and blinding effects alone. Since education and public awareness increased in tandem with these laws, how can the draconian measures to prohibit and tax be granted the credit. The factors were not isolated.

As to forcing non-reality upon society to ‘learn’ them to adapt to some other people’s idea of what should be, I say go back to watching fifties television shows and rediscover the Christianity you shouldn’t have lost. What’s the difference?

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Posted: 20 June 2013 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Scott, there is some truth in what you are saying but you are missing the bigger picture. Clearly the biggest factor influencing someone to begin smoking is their peers and family. Kids who grow up in a home where parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke as those who grow up with non-smoking parents and while have I not read the studies on the influence of peers I would imagine they have as much or more influence. On the other hand, to imply that advertising does not influence this decision is naive.

I doubt many teenagers or young adults would succumb to an ad that directly encouraged them to smoke, but more subtle approaches like the commercials that show smokers having a great time, living a successful lifestyle, or being looked up to by those around them can be a powerful form of persuasion. TV commercials were removed from the airwaves in the US in the 70’s also so I am not sure you comparison of US to Canadian smoking rates means very much. Personally I dont think measures removing these commercials go far enough. I think there should be a concerted effort to make smokers look foolish or uncool on shows that teens watch. It’s socially acceptable to single out “nerds” on these shows and make them look goofy or uncool. There should be a conscious effort to subtly make characters who smoke look like the dorks in an effort to decrease smoking rates among teens. Kids are very susceptible to that sort of persuasion.

There have been extensive studies of the effects of peer pressure (check out Harris’s book “TheNurture Assumption”) relating to group behavior. Both of my parents were smokers as well as several members of my extended family and I became a heavy smoker while in my midteens. I quit by age 35 which probably saved my life. Remember subliminal messages? I recall seeing them on movie screens as well as the adverts for snacks at the Drive in theater. They were very effective. And as to adverts showing the downside of smoking, they’re all over the TV. I just saw one before we left for vacation. That plus taxing cigarettes (sin tax) is making them more and more unpopular. Fast food can’t be regulated in the same way though unless government intervention prevents the fast food industry from selling what we now call junk food. Picture McDonalds selling a quarter pounder soy burger with faux cheese or a soy milkshake. The only way that scenerio would work would be to replicate the taste of the original junk burger but the producers aren’t about to put millions of bucks into R&D then extensive testing. Then how would you advertise the product? “Oh, it’s big Mac LIKE”! better to convince the consumer to change his/her eating habits. We could start by reminding Americans that we are now the most obese humans on Earth and are literally dying from overeating. And Scott, my bad.


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Posted: 20 June 2013 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Scott Mayers - 20 June 2013 05:46 PM

But education alone is sufficient. In fact, you cannot determine that the sole reasons for the reduction of smoking is due to the high taxation and blinding effects alone. Since education and public awareness increased in tandem with these laws, how can the draconian measures to prohibit and tax be granted the credit. The factors were not isolated.

As to forcing non-reality upon society to ‘learn’ them to adapt to some other people’s idea of what should be, I say go back to watching fifties television shows and rediscover the Christianity you shouldn’t have lost. What’s the difference?

Education alone is clearly NOT sufficient. Adults don’t always respond to logical arguments but teens may be even worse.

Take a look at this graph from the CDC.

trends_2011b.jpg

Adult smoking has been on a gradual downward trend for decades but educational programs clearly did nothing during that time since teen rates actually increased significantly during the 90’s before taking a dramatic downturn around the time more aggressive efforts like taxation and graphic public service messages became popular. Its always hard to apply cause and effect in these situations but common sense would tell anyone that when a pack of cigarettes costs $9 instead of $2 teens with very limited funds won;t be able to afford this habit, and if you prevent people from starting to smoke in their teens most of them will never begin to smoke at all. I meet very few adults who are happy with the choice they made to begin smoking. I think society has an obligation to do everything they can to counteract societal influences that encourage teens to start smoking.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Given the population as a whole and dividing it evenly by numbers of individuals from their wealth status, either (A) There’s an even number of wealthier people who smoke as the poorer people, (B) The wealthier subset have more smokers, or (C) The poorer subset have more smokers. Without checking off-hand, I’m guessing that the answer is (C).
Since the population is evenly divided and assuming no significant birthrate differences, there will be an equal distribution of teen population above and below the midway point.

If (A) is true, since taxation should demonstrate a burden to the lower wealth than the higher ones, this should indicate that the causes for reduction of smokers is not due to its taxing. It would, however, suggest that the society as a whole is either better educated or that restrictions on locations are the most effective.

If (B) is true, I’ll eat my hat. Well,.... first, I have to go out and buy one because I don’t own any. This would definitely indicate that smoking is a social trend of high status. It would also prove the effectiveness of taxation because poorer people simply cannot afford to smoke. It may also indicate that restrictions on locations in the general public arena are strong because poorer people depend on them more. In fact, since the renters are more likely from the lower end, they will be imposed their freedoms to even smoke at home.

If (C) is true, then taxation is absolutely superfluous since it has no reason to discourage the wealthy but certainly for the poor. This would also indicate that education has the highest effectiveness because the wealthier are generally more educated which justifies their reason not to attempt smoking.
******

Assume that the high financial costs to teenagers is the effective reason for not smoking.
Then why tax the adults? In fact, why not tax the teenagers more. Oh, wait, they are already taxed by virtue of age restrictions! So how are they obtaining these smokes? Let me guess: parents who supply it for them? Then this is a parenting problem. So why should all adults be punished for their selective inability to say no to their children?

If taxation is meant to discourage children from starting, should I not be able to provide I.D. that selectively gives me a reduction for taxed tobacco products? Why not make it a crime with heavy penalties for parents or other adults to dispense them AND enforce it?

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Posted: 21 June 2013 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Scott Mayers - 20 June 2013 06:28 AM

This really irritates me. The movements and documentaries that push the ideas that there is a conspiracy of industries to induce normal foods to be more “addictive” for profit. I have a better theory. The documentaries are made by the same industries to induce a false fear in us that more is bad and the taste quality of food is bad so that the industries can later respond to a demanding public by these notions to reduce the quality and costs of production while increasing profits in the name of ‘health’. I saw Michael Moss on Dr. Oz (I know, the guy’s a quack!) and he claims that the industries are dosing our foods with special forms of salt (Kosher) and sugar in order to increase our addiction. The problem with this is that even if industries experiment with ways to find something more tasty, desirable, or irresistible, how would you differentiate the function of such a cause as being any more evil than you purposely choosing to cook or bake with these ingredients for your own purposes?

Yeah, I want tastier foods, if they can make them. Yeah, if they can give me ten pounds of food product for the price of one, I’ll take it without complaining. It seems like they are trying to use the same tactical reasons against illicit drug traffickers for the reason why people can obtain certain drugs. Sure, if you eliminate supply, it’ll be harder to obtain. And eventually, if no one from then on learns of what those drugs are or feels like in the first place, maybe you’ll never miss them. But I ask this: If it were possible to get all our nutrients in one all-purpose pill or meal, like dog or cat food, would or should we force society to eat it for the sake of extended life? Personally, I’d enjoy a short but tasty life over a life ten times as long that was dull and boring.

The market here in Canada likes to respond quickly to things like “Super Size Me”. Now they’re pushing tiny burgers as if they’re cute and interesting. The coffee has gone from $4.99 average three years at 907g to $15.99 for the same amount and then they offer us a new reduced size, 875g for 11.99!

That Michael Moss seems to understand that there is no solution to industry being able to replace salt, sugar, and fat, and yet he expends energy to insinuate by innuendos that they are out to get us! What a bunch of crap.

This attitude apparently started with the cigarette industry, which was found to be adding nicotine to cigarettes in order to get more people hooked.  I think it made a lot of people suspicious of the consumer products industry as a whole. “What else are they up to?” they must have said to themselves.  Any ideas on this topic?

Lois

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Posted: 21 June 2013 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 20 June 2013 03:53 PM

Also, the price of coffee has nothing to do with food ingredients being manipulated to get people hooked on junk food.

Yeah, well that too Darron! And while we’re on the subject the original intent of junk food peddlers was to provide cheap food to people on the go who didn’t have the time or inclination to patronize a sit down restaurant. The McDonald brothers wanted to take advantage of mobile patrons with their concept of a quick meal in a bag. They had no intent on getting customers hooked, just to make a fast buck. Now Ray Kroc however… .


Cap’t Jack

Well, there is more than one way to get people to buy a product.  It doesn’t have to include deliberately adding things in to get people hooked, physically.  But, apparently, too few food manufacturers care much if their product undermines people’s health.  Is it the place of the government to step in when it’s obvious that something is detrimental to people’s health? It does contribute to the cost of public health, which the government is responsible for in a large way.  Should the government stand aside and do nothing about commercial foods that are undermining people’s health in a big way and costing increases in taxes?  The FDA is supposed to be watching and acting upon such things.  Do people on this forum think government should stay out of people’s food choices despite the known consequences?

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Posted: 21 June 2013 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Well, there is more than one way to get people to buy a product.  It doesn’t have to include deliberately adding things in to get people hooked, physically.  But, apparently, too few food manufacturers care much if their product undermines people’s health.  Is it the place of the government to step in when it’s obvious that something is detrimental to people’s health? It does contribute to the cost of public health, which the government is responsible for in a large way.  Should the government stand aside and do nothing about commercial foods that are undermining people’s health in a big way and costing increases in taxes?  The FDA is supposed to be watching and acting upon such things.  Do people on this forum think government should stay out of people’s food choices despite the known consequences?


You’re right; you must advertise the product first, hand out samples then build a test store in an area with a population large enough to sustain the business, e.g. Long John Silver’s Fish and Chips. The first one was built In Lexington when I attended UK. My friends and I met the owner who took a chance on introducing a British fast food. It worked and caught on quickly becoming one of the fastest growing fast food chains in the U.S. His intent was to franchise the idea, make his money and return to England. It was later bought by Jerrico and the quality of the food rapidly declined. Profits for the shareholders became the paramount reason for expansion, not the health interests of the consumers.

As to government regulation of the food industry, we might remind those small government proselytizers that over twenty percent of the budget is spent on national health care programs. Promoting healthier eating habits will certainly help. The AMA now recognizes obesity as a disease as the number of obese Ameicans has grown by fifty percent since 1997. The govnment should promote programs that stress healthy foods and full disclosure of junk food ingredients. Ultimately however, the individual will have to make the decision to Iive healthier or die earlier from the combination of fat, salt, and sugar.


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