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Making ‘Big Food’ Pay For Obesity

With obesity-related health costs soaring, could states take a cue from the tobacco battle and sue “Big Food” to pay for the poundage?

In this June 17, 2013 photo, two women cross the street in Barre, Vt. A group of lawyers have been lobbying state attorneys general to a join a future suit against "Big Food" in response to the growing obesity epidemic. (AP)

In this June 17, 2013 photo, two women cross the street in Barre, Vt. A group of lawyers have been lobbying state attorneys general to a join a future suit against “Big Food” in response to the growing obesity epidemic. (AP)

In the 1990s, the American tobacco industry was reined in and made to pay, big-time, for the health consequences of cigarettes and more.  An epic quarter trillion-dollar legal settlement in a suit brought by states to make Big Tobacco pay.  Now there’s a push on to do the same with Big Food.  To make the American food industry pay for the devastating health consequences of soaring American obesity.  To sue Big Food.  Opinions are all over the map on whether it’s justified.  Whether it can or should be done.  This hour On Point:  the push to sue Big Food for American fat.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Paul McDonald, partner at the Valorem Law Group in Chicago.

Kelly Brownell, professor and dean of the school of public policy at Duke University.

Bruce Silverglade, principal attorney at the law firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Rweman Matz.

From Tom’s Reading List

Politico: The plot to make Big Food pay –”Lawyers are pitching state attorneys general in 16 states with a radical idea: make the food industry pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs. It’s a move straight from the playbook of the Big Tobacco takedown of the 1990s, which ended in a $246 billion settlement with 46 states, a ban on cigarette marketing to young people and the Food and Drug Administration stepping in to regulate.”

Los Angeles Times: Siting markets in ‘food deserts’ no quick cure for obesity, study says — “The latest research, published in the journal Health Affairs, underscores what many on the front lines of the war on obesity have begun to surmise: that reversing obesity will be far more complicated than simply turning back the clock on developments that may demonstrably have led us to a place where roughly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.”

Forbes: How Big Food’s Attackers Are Undermining Their Cause — “The problem is that instead of laser focusing on solving the biggest issue related to food consumption, obesity, hyperactivists bundle a host of food-related problems together and remain unsatisfied if all of them are not solved their way. So instead of zeroing in on obesity, which is a caloric matter, they throw their distaste for ‘Big Food’ company practices into the mix: processed foods; the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms); Bisphenol A (BPA) in bottled water containers; and excess levels of salt, sugar, and fat. Activists’ lack of focus promises only to inflame their war against the industry and wreak havoc with more constructive interaction between the public health community and the food industry.”

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  • Fiscally_Responsible

    This would be a typical “big government can fix everything” kind of response. No one is holding these people down and forcing food and soda down their throats. People need to take responsibility for what they consume. How about giving them a financial incentive such as making the cost of their health care premiums (with no adjustment to their government subsidies) scaled to their body-mass index? And for those on welfare who oftentimes just sit around on their big sofas watching their big screen tvs and eating potato chips and drinking soda, let’s institute piles of dirt that they have to move back and forth if they want to collect their welfare check. This will help them with their weight, reduce the time that they have to find other ridiculous government programs that they can leach from, and give them an added incentive to get off their oversized derrieres and find a job.

    • northeaster17

      You ought to make a visit sometime. It can get chilly but it’s some real nice country with lots of good people. That way your opinion won’t be so influenced by a single photo.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        I’m sure that it is.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        As an observer from across the border and an one-time resident of the state and – elsewhere in the union, Vermont has much to be envied – of this there should be no doubt.

        • Ray in VT

          Aw shucks. Canadia isn’t too bad either, although I do have my doubts about some Quebec drivers (no offense).

    • Ray in VT
      • Coastghost

        Oh great, Ray: so Vermont is among the leading obesity-exporting states, what with Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, and all the other dairy products manufactured there for export. Should other states impose tariffs to keep your cholesterol-rich products out of our states?

        Alternatively, we see and know that Vermont is no stranger to drug consumption, and your governor has warned us all recently about your state’s appetite for heroin. (Drug consumption should not be underestimated for its utility in lowering rates of obesity.)

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/11/22/how-and-how-much-the-50-states-do-drugs-in-4-maps/

        Suffice to say: it’s always something, and when it’s not, it’s always something else.

        • Ray in VT

          http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

          We may be helping keep kids slimmer. I’ll take the issues that my state has any day over the problems of most other states. Lower obesity rates. Low crime rate. Low unemployment rate. Low poverty rate. Plus the cold helps to keep some of the undesirables out.

          • Coastghost

            Be careful, Ray, sounds like y’all may be courting meteorological or climatic racism.

          • Ray in VT

            How so? It seems like plenty of people of all colors dislike the cold. We have quite a few refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa, and they don’t seem to mind the cold, as I have heard several speak about how they were willing to deal with it because of the positive things that they heard about the people here.

            Our status as least religious probably also turns some people off. Also not much of a loss if that makes some people not want to move here.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Whoa ! “health care premiums scaled to their body-mass index” ? Sensible idea but political suicide.

    • geraldfnord

      Yes, noöne is forcing any given individual, some are spending large amounts of money in the full and realistic expectation that many will consume more, and some be harmed thereby. What of _their_ responsibility, or does that notion apply only to the Preterite, and the Elect may do as they will without sinning, or with their sins all covered by someone else’s blood?

      My father delighted in the joke about the lawyer who defended his client accused of shooting a man dead, by noting that all he had done was just to ‘…move a little bit of metal men call a “trigger”.’

  • northeaster17

    The fact that these large companies can sell stuff that we all know causes a multitude of health problems with zero accountability is a big problem. By calling their highly processed garbage food only makes it easier to dupe a public that is mostly uneducated as to what they are really eating. That’s not a free market. It is deception pure and simple.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Everything these days is “buyer beware” . There’s a huge divide in this country between those who are aware of this and those who are not.

      But, while I like to count myself as a careful consumer, I’m continually caught off guard. Seems “two to take him” is in full force and can come from any quarter.

      • northeaster17

        Buyer beware is code for societal approved deception. But that’s why we have lawyers.

        • NrthOfTheBorder

          Sad but true – or small claims court with a limit of … do I hear… $10,000?

  • HonestDebate1

    We are free to be fat.

    • Ray in VT
      • HonestDebate1

        We are also free to be skinny.

        • Ray in VT

          I’m sure that no actions that others take affect you because you are an island.

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s absurd, what’s your point?

          • Ray in VT

            It is absurd, which is why I have always struggled to understand such pronouncements when you have made such similar claims.

            My point is that a variety of factors affect how “free” people are.

          • jefe68

            He is on a island, metaphorically speaking.
            Mendacity island…

          • HonestDebate1

            Do you think people are more free when government sues big food for making products people want?

          • Ray in VT

            If it frees people from the sorts of manipulative marketing and business practices that have led people to “want” these things, then perhaps it could.

            One could argue that people are less “free” now that kids can’t buy smokes from cigarette vending machines and we don’t have the “liberty” to buy leaded gas. Few would argue that such changes are for the worse.

          • HonestDebate1

            Apples and oranges. First. leave the kids and the emotional arguments out of it. Second, products like leaded gas that cause harm to people who don’t use them should be regulated or banned.

            We’re not talking about banning here we’re talking lawsuits. We are free to be fat, you only hurt yourself. And to the extent you are a burden on society then that list of unhealthy or risky behavior will get a lot longer and require a whole lot more lawsuits…. and a whole lot less freedom.

            We are also free to not be manipulated.

          • Ray in VT

            Funny how you try to make arguments that you don’t like out to be “emotional”. Interesting how when policies get down to the brass tacks of causing harm, then it is “emotional”. Better to be a robot I guess. Nothing could possibly go wrong by factoring out “emotional” things like people getting harmed.

            “You only hurt yourself”, and your kids, and burden the health care system, thereby causing economic harm to many others. Also, just look at all of the slip and fall stuff. One of these people falls on you, then that is harming you. That’s simple physics.

            Libruls just wanna steal our freedoms. Oogie boogie! Beware the spectre of big librulism.

          • keltcrusader

            lol you crack me up!

          • Ray in VT

            I do what I can.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, kids are under the jurisdiction of their parents. Nobody wants kids smoking. That’s just bogus emotion baiting.

          • Ray in VT

            No one wants kids smoking? I wonder why the tobacco companies marketed to them and only stopped when big gub’ment stole their freedom? I bet that they wouldn’t do it again if they could.

          • jefe68

            I’m with you, people should eat more apples and oranges.

          • HonestDebate1

            They’re fattening.

          • jefe68

            So are your comments.

          • NrthOfTheBorder

            What’s that definition of freedom? “You are perfectly free to swing your fist, until it comes in contact with my jaw”. Yes, people are free to smoke, drink and eat un-responsibility , but we’re not at the point where we refuse to spend money on them when their bad habits send them to the hospital or force them to quit working.

            But, hey now with Obamacare they’ll have to have medical insurance…and maybe the insurance companies will force them to pay extra to cover their increased risk!

    • Leonard Bast

      And free to murder people too, though it’s a stupid choice with negative consequences for the individual and for society.

      • HonestDebate1

        We are not free to murder in my County.

    • DeJay79

      yes but the deep question at the heart of this discussion should be

      “We are free to eat as much as we want and be as fat as we want but how many, what percent, of obese adult Americans want to be fat?”

      And if they don’t want to be that way then why are they and what is stopping them from changing their body fat percentage?

      • HonestDebate1

        A lot of things can keep someone from losing weight. I think most people experience a change in metabolism at some point, for me it was about 37-40 ish. Before that I could eat anything and my weight stayed the same. After that I just kept slowly gaining until I got a hold of my eating habits. I took the weight off and changed my lifestyle to find an equilibrium. That’s hard, and the older you get until you figure it out the fatter you are and the harder it gets.

  • John Cedar

    What the government did to the tobacco companies was absolutely disgusting. In my state, it is the government who makes most of the profits from tobacco sales. If its that bad, then they would ban it like they do crack.

    But food does not cause illness to nearly the degree that tobacco does. The Voodoo science of nutrition drastically over emphasizes the importance of what we eat. The granola crowd makes propaganda films such as Super Size me and pushes it through our school systems. Several people then prove they can lose weight and improve their cholesterol by eating McDonald’s every day but it gets no more press than the page two headline in a 24hr news cycle.

    Fat people are fat because they EAT TOO MUCH, too often and move too little too often, not because of what they eat. Although eating low fat or high sugar diets can decrease satiety, as can getting too little sleep. Perhaps we should file suit against the mattress companies.

    • northeaster17

      You need to read “Fast Food Nation” and learn about how tastes and the taste of food itself is manipulated by so called food manufacturers. An Apple may be an Apple but so much more of what is sold to us is not what it seems or what we want.

    • jefe68

      Really?
      Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction), and diabetes.

      For every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more people suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.

      More than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking.

      Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death.
      Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.

      Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.1 This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

      On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

      If smoking persists at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today.

      • John Cedar

        Gee, thanks for that…an’ here I always thought smoking was good for your health.

        • jefe68

          Then why did you post that inane comment?

          • Salvor Hardin

            You seem relentlessly hostile. Do you have some problem you need to talk over?

          • John Cedar

            Perhaps I used a few poorly chosen words.
            I believe the government is unjust and hypocritical by enjoying tobacco taxes and regulating tobacco but then raiding grandma’s RJR Nabisco stock, to retroactively compensate…the state. They did not use the money to compensate the people who voluntarily suffered the health effects mind you, but gave the money to the state who voluntarily chose to pay to treat those health effects.

            The state did not give back any of that ill-gotten tax revenue they collected from tobacco sales. AL Gore’s tobacco farm family did not pay a penny toward that retroactive kangaroo court fine. Walmart did not pay back any of the profits they made off from tobacco nor did Visa or the drug stores and convenience stores.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      re you’re last paragraph… I agree the problem with obesity is the simple math of calorie consumption vs expenditure. Some manage to get the diet part right, but queue up to take a down escalator, let alone walk up four flights of stairs.

      But I disagree with some of your other points. Seems to me the weight American consumers is plenty costly – and will accelerate as the fat generation enters late-middle age.

  • TFRX

    The entire intro:

    Making ‘Big Food’ Pay For Obesity

    With obesity-related health costs soaring, could states take a
    cue from the tobacco battle and sue “Big Food” to pay for the poundage?

    Nothing about “socializing the costs and privatizing the profits”, as many economists have been saying for years?

    I was wondering where NPR got the framing for the headline of this hour’s show. Then I saw the pull from Politico.

    Once more, Tom, I have to mention: Politico is not about policy.

    PS I don’t know what “Forbes leadership forum” is, but it ain’t media crit or public health. Is there implicit pressure for a link to some savvy Beltway Inbreds to punch hippies on this show?

    • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

      … And get Big Info to pay for incomprehension.

  • andrewgarrett

    We are the richest people in history with living standards far higher than those of everybody else who ever lived. By nearly every standard our lives are far easier than those of our ancestors. Compared to our income food has never been cheaper. Because we can afford it, we drive everywhere. There are a lot of factors for obesity, including choices people make, so it is absolutely absurd to present a conspiracy theory of evil corporations making people fat. Even the “food desert” idea has been shown to be a myth. Almost everybody in the country could, if they desired to, live on cabbage, carrots, beans bought dry and prepared at home, a bit of rice, some eggs and milk, spinach, sweet potatoes. What could be cheaper and healthier?

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      We suffer not from hunger, but appetite.

  • Markus6

    Don’t like the term “Big Food” because of how simplistic and loaded it is, but I understand that accuracy is not something activists care much about – it’s winning. Also, I agree that there is lousy info on what makes us fat. For example, all calories are not the same. Finally, the legal industry is always looking for another set of deep pockets to make money off of regardless of the ethics and states will happily go along with this.

    All that said, food companies seem to have gone too far in manipulating the tastes of people … well, maybe. A casual dining chain dropped their unlimited sodas policy and was hammered by customers. They put healthy alternatives on their menus and few bought them. Should we punish them through lawsuits if they don’t create menus that their customers will punish them for? And how much healthy is needed to avoid a suit? Can they offer desserts? How many carbs can an italian restaurant offer before being sued? Or do we just pick on Pepsi and Coke? Well, apple juice has about the same amount of sugar – should they be a target too?

    Great topic. Unfortunately, this is one that advocates, lawyers and politicians will do a terrible job with. Too complicated and too many opportunities for demagoguery.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Well said. The issue is complex. Unfortunately many bad eating habits start in childhood and are very hard to undo.

      At one time I was a mentor to a young adolescent and we’d have lunch from time to time in a salad bar. As much as I encouraged him, he’d walk right past the salads and pick exclusively from the pizzas and cakes. Why? Because his mother was single, on welfare and “had to” feed him on carbs. The poor kid was obese and the social consequences from this drove him nuts – but still those fatty / sugary foods were what he was used to and so the cycle repeated itself.

  • Matt MC

    Part of the reason these unhealthy foods are so cheap is because we subsidize corn and other food products that become the high salt, high fat, and high sodium items that contribute to obesity. In a sense, we have already tilted the scales, so I see no good reason why we couldn’t tilt it back. Rather than taxing fast food or suing fast food companies, I would suggest removing the subsidies which support the processed foods industry and subsidize healthier food choices. If there is a tax, it should be modest, and the proceeds should go to encouraging healthy choices in other areas.

    • Coastghost

      Most unfortunately, practically every nation on earth subsidizes its domestic agricultural producers (are there any exceptions?).
      Granted, the Feds no longer subsidize tobacco production, but then, the Feds collected taxes on tobacco product sales each and every year after the SG’s report in the early 1960s. Presumably, the Feds get fat at least in part from collecting taxes on the sales of sugary drinks, high fat/high sugar/high salt fun foods. What if the Federal appetite for tax revenue is driving domestic obesity in fair measure?

    • davee44

      This needed to be addressed for over 40 years, the food makers are largely responsible for the obesity epidemic

      Here http://100poundsdiet.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/diet-to-lose-100-were-you-set-up-to-fail/

      Attach

  • northeaster17

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-06/business/chi-subway-restaurant-removing-yoga-mat-chemical-from-bread-20140206_1_bread-subway-chemical

    Here is an example of chemicals in our food that should not be there and yet we are kept ignorant that they are. Bread has been made for millennium and suddenly this garbage needs to be added. Why? Big Food finds that it can keep consumers in the dark and profit from the deception. Big food gets away with murder under the guise of free will. But if so much of what they say is food, is not really food, then they are out of business. Hence the deception within trade secrets and proprietary information. How big is this iceberg?

    • geraldfnord

      Well, many are in love with what I think were ‘burglar’s logic’ and ‘burglar’s morality’, in which failure to adequately lock one’s door ‘in any serious way’ justifies one’s being robbed.

      • northeaster17

        That may be true but disguising the robbery as free market capitalism is a bigger crime that causes consumers to finance the continued pillage.

  • geraldfnord

    I I think it too easy to make it seem as if personal responsibility on the part of consumers precluded personal responsibility on the part of the real people who control the artificial persons behind whom they in turn hide. Perhaps the law should encompass the concept of ‘statistical responsibility’: if I pay one million dollars to marketers and advertisers in full expectation of reaping two million dollars more profit from the consumption of my unhealthy product, I have not forced any given individual to so consume but I cannot reasonably be accounted free of responsibility in the matter when they do.

    The Ideal Gas Law holds well over large domains of its parameters even though volume and temperature are not attributes of individual, real (non-ideal), molecules; humans feel freer than gas molecules, but because our needs and our natures are not infinitely malleable, we really can be manipulated en masse to some observable extent, else Most Holy Market would have chewed-up and spat-out the Bernayses and de la Feminas of this world rather than making them wealthy.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Perhaps a tax on “bad food” – like the levy on tobacco in California that’s used on very a visible anti-smoking campaign.

      But it baffles me to see the contents of many people’s grocery carts – just stuffed with the wrong kind of food (if you could call it that). Why don’t they get it? But then again, there’s a recent survey somewhere that 1 in 4 Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth so go figure.

      Great comment Gerald.

      • Ray in VT

        That gets into politics, of course. I think that Maine taxes “junk food”, but excepts potato chips because of in state business in that area.

        • geraldfnord

          ‘The perfect’ is an enemy of ‘better’.

          • Ray in VT

            What is that quote about missing out on the better because one is seeking the perfect? I’ll take better when I can.

  • Coastghost

    Don’t launch suits against “Big Food” WITHOUT suing “Big Media” for fomenting Americans’ appetites for non-nutritious foods: our media outlets are the ones responsible for selling all this junk. Sue the advertising firms first, then sue every media outlet that runs ads for the junk food producers.

    • OnPointComments

      Why limit the lawsuit to Big Food? Others, like big media, are complicit in increasing obesity. Let’s bring in big media (TV, Internet, video game manufacturers, elevator companies, to name a few) to the lawsuit for encouraging idleness and lack of exercise. Maybe the lawsuit should include fork manufacturers too.

      • Coastghost

        While we’re dreaming out loud, let’s see if we can discover some way to sue the American Bar Association (monopolistic practice or intent?).

  • OnPointComments

    I wonder how much Mr. McDonald’s interest would wane if there was tort reform and limits on the amount of money lawyers make from such lawsuits.

    If you looked in the pockets of the trial lawyers, you’d find lots of money and democrats.

    • geraldfnord

      Well, if the state _did_ so limit ability of individuals to be made whole (insofar as that were possible), and he continued to pursue what he considers a good cause at the expence of his revenue, some callow reactionaries might opine that this marked him for a fool and so his opinions were worthless.

  • northeaster17

    Food may not be tobacco but calling Big Food produced garbage actual food is a big problem. @ 15 after the hr

  • James

    I’m too young to remember the Tobacco lawsuits, but my understanding is that Big Tobacco got in trouble because they tried to downplay the health problems, but on TV and to Congress. Is anybody arguing that process foods are a “health product” Beyond Gatorade, Vitamin Water etc.

  • Dave Bevis

    This guy is just looking for a way to grab a share of a huge settlement. Tom, don’t let him get away with this. Go after him.

  • OnPointComments

    TRIAL LAWYERS LINE UP THEIR NEXT TARGET: BIG FOOD
    http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/021414-690213-trial-lawyers-want-to-sue-food-industry.htm

    Excerpt:
    Legal Racket: When lawyers were shaking down the tobacco industry in the 1990′s, it was clear that it was just a matter of when they’d loot again. The only question was who would be the next mark. That picture is clearing up.

    If the state attorneys general take on this crusade, it will become a shakedown that merely lines trial lawyers’ pockets in the mold of the $246 billion tobacco settlement.

    A little more than 15 years after the tobacco companies surrendered to Big Law, Americans are still smoking. They are still getting sick and still dying. What happened to all that money the industry paid out?

    Of the more than $100 billion already distributed, much has been misused on unrelated spending by states that were expected to spend it on cessation and prevention programs, and public health. In at least one case, settlement dollars were spent on financial assistance for tobacco farmers.

    Meanwhile, the lawyers hit the jackpot, raking in $8.2 billion in legal fees while tobacco company costs were passed on to undeterred smokers. Makes one wonder how much lawyers would be paid for fleecing Big Food — and how much our food costs would rise.

  • DeJay79

    1. Remove farm subsidies for corn.
    2. Remove any and all subsidies and tax loop holes for health INSURANCE companies
    3. slightly increase tax support for Health Care providers.
    4. Reduce tax load on Americans
    =
    Bad food cost would be corrected closer to actually cost, healthier food would cost less by comparison, poeple would have more income to purchase better food. We would not be shifting the cost of bad food to the health industry and Insurance companies would have a motive to increase health habits of Americans to reduce their costs.

    I’m sure there are many holes and problems with this idea, please share your fixes for it, not just reasons to tear it apart.

    • Futureboy68

      Yours is a brilliant approach. The only hole in the idea is the fact that these poison pushers (corn and sugar) have bought their way via Congress into yet another farm bill. Congress should be listed on any and all (frivolous or not) lawsuits as well because they are the ones who have financed bad… food(for lack of a better word).

  • Michiganjf

    This is silly.

    Even the government has had to revise the “food pyramid” again and again, only recently coming out with the most modern version based on the most up-to-date research.

    There is a lot of research about food and eating habits which is only now coming to light.

    Humans didn’t evolve to eat even modern grains and many of today’s relatively “harmless” foods… if research eventually comes out showing how harmful wheat (for instance) is to the digestive tract, are we going to sue every company which ever sold bread??!!!

    Tobacco companies sold a product long after it was PROVEN to be detrimental to health… the main reason, however, that I believe tobacco companies (and smokers) were at fault, was second-hand smoke to individuals who were innocent by-standers.

    Poor food ingestion choices may indirectly affect the innocent, but they don’t directly affect the innocent the way tobacco smoke does.

    • jefe68

      There is a similarity to the tobacco industry in that the junk food industry does a lot of research in how to get their products into your hands. Scientists and marketers in the employ of such food giants as Frito-Lay, Coke and Kraft have manipulated the American consumer into buying more and more processed food by adjusting both the recipes and the messaging around the foods found on the shelves.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?_r=0

      • Salvor Hardin

        Wow, it is just unconscionable that food companies would try to keep adjusting recipes to make foods that people would like and to changing consumer desires and try to create a demand for their products.

        This should not be allowed. Companies should only produce foods that people don’t like or desire and hopefully will not sell very well.

        • jefe68

          You don’t have a clue do you. Are you so caught up in your right wing dogma that somehow these huge corporations, which are only interested in their quarterly returns, trump any sense of what is good for people?

          And yes it’s unconscionable that food companies use every means at their disposal to make their useless products more addictive. Highly processed food products, such as the kind that McDonalds is selling, is designed to work on our brains pleasure receptors. If you want to deny that, well I would ask what other science are you apt to deny.

          • Salvor Hardin

            There is no evidence that the any of these foods are “addictive”. The human body has a natural craving for both fat and sugar and that has been shown in babies.

            McDonald’s mostly sells burgers and fries. The human desire for animal meat and fat and salt have been with us since the beginning of civilization – I guess even before civilization. McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants did not “create” this desire.

            Foods that McDonald’s has introduced recently have been mostly to meet consumer demands for healthier items – salads, chicken sandwiches, etc. The consumer has plenty of healthy choices if they want to eat at McDonald’s or unhealthy choices if they so choose. And there is no problem even with those unhealthy choices if they are made in moderation.

            Somehow I and millions of other Americans have managed to resist our addiction to McDonald’s by just visiting occasionally or not at all. So they need to step up their efforts since their nefarious plans to addict us don’t seem to work.

  • Coastghost

    The Feds’ first step in curbing tobacco consumption consisted of BANNING ADVERTISEMENTS, first on TV and radio and then in print.
    Point being: our MEDIA are directly responsible for driving consumption of junk food. (I’m sure our media outlets all are willing to sacrifice their lucrative advertising accounts out of regard for public health.)

  • Coastghost

    BTW: how often are law firms sued successfully? Just curious.

  • mrtwilight23

    You had Robert Lustig on 2 years ago saying sugar is toxic. At least put a warning label on the suagry stuff. It’s shown to cause type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Even cancer according to Nobel laureate Otto Warburg.

  • northeaster17

    It’s all about the chemicals

  • Unterthurn

    Many of these products appear across the globe. If is was the food industry the same statistics should be global. Italy? Germany? Japan? Singapore? England? Brazil? France? Australia? Does everyone have an obesity health problem like the democratic free choice country USA? There is more to this. It sounds like someone looking for a simple answer to a complicated problem.

    • Ray in VT

      I’m sure that different countries have addressed such problems very differently. I’ve heard some stories about how Finland took the issue on, and this talks about some of those ways:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3451491.stm

  • northeaster17

    My contention is that when you eat that Dorito Taco you really do not know what your eating. They do not want you to know.

    • Ray in VT

      Is it people?

      • northeaster17

        No Ray it’s not people. It is the additives and chemicals that are not food that you would never eat if you knew about them let alone add to food prepared in your own kitchen. For the most recent example see the Stuff that Subway has decided not to put in bread anymore.

        • Ray in VT

          I know. I was just trying to make a bit of a Soylent Green reference for some levity.

          • ToyYoda

            In fact, you can by Soylent Green.

            https://campaign.soylent.me/soylent-free-your-body

          • Ray in VT

            I have other plans for my physical remains once I shuffle off of this mortal coil.

          • northeaster17

            I had to look up Soylent Green. I get it. My movie moxie has been in a sorry state for years.

          • Ray in VT

            I’ve never actually seen it myself, but it’s just one of those references that I just assume that people know. Sorry for any confusion.

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — no, but perhaps it’s Stolen Energy.

  • James

    What is Mr. McDonald’s endgame? Other then a big one time payout to the states?

    • OnPointComments

      A big time payout to the trial lawyers.

      • James

        The thought crossed my mind, but I was hoping Tom would read my question to Mr. McDonald

        • OnPointComments

          There’s a bit of irony that the lawyer who wants to sue Big Food is Mr. McDonald. If the lawsuits commence, will he be joined by his partner, Ms. Taco Bell?

          • Ray in VT

            I think that Ms. Taco Bell is working on another case. Dewey, Cheatem and Howe are likely replacement candidates.

          • ToyYoda

            The food industry will be defended by a famous Vietnamese lawyer named Ho Foo.

            Get it? “Whole Foods” ? OKay, groan groan groan…. :)

  • Coastghost

    Tom, dispense with the intellectual miscegenation, please: is ANY food physically addictive? Seriously, according to medical science? Really? Truly? ADDICTIVE FOODS??? Physical addiction to food? Hunh? What? Dispense with the legal sophistry long enough to THINK.

    • Ray in VT
      • Coastghost

        HIGH TIMES was asking decades ago whether sugar can be construed as a drug rather than as a food. A good question, a fair question: but I’ve never been an “addiction fatalist” enough to believe that human beings have to consent to the addictions they dabble with. (I learned to resist all kinds of pharmaceuticals back in the day, without therapeutic interventions.)
        Biochemistry may one day decide the issue for us, but in the interim I cannot believe that sugar is as addictive as nicotine. Nor do I think salt and fat and cholesterol qualify as “drugs”, simply because of chemical composition.

        • Ray in VT

          I don’t think that choosing whether or not believe in something has much place here, given that you asked whether or not “ANY food is physically addictive”. Are you now siding with belief over empiricism? ;)

          • Coastghost

            To say “I believe in empiricism” would be neither true nor helpful. (And even though I pause to think on occasion, I’m no thoroughgoing rationalist, either.)
            Tentatively, we agree that sugar MIGHT be construed as a drug, or more specifically, a drug with food properties (sweetening); but sugar is the only candidate here, and again, I don’t think (N. B.) that any of its purported addictive properties are themselves irresistible. (I point out again how passively Americans accept the notion that addictions HAVE TO BE maintained and CANNOT be resisted short of therapeutic intervention.)

          • Ray in VT

            I think that relatively quite few of us can claim to be wholly one or another of anything in general. I think that the world is too complex and full of uncertainty for that.

          • Salvor Hardin

            I would say all food and water for that matter is physically addictive since it is required to sustain your life and you will always want more for some reason. So I’m addicted to water for instance and I have to get my daily fix. Sugar is present in fruits as well as in junk foods. The human body has a natural craving for certain foods, fats and sugars. Attempting to classify these food items containing these as “addictive” is just simply absurd since by definition “food” itself is inherently addictive as in it is a substance that is required for life.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that biologically necessary and physically addictive are two different things. We need some level of say salt or fats, but if they are ingested in more than necessary quantities and then the scaling back of such levels creates the sort of physical reactions that, for instance, drug users experience when going through withdrawal, then I think that that does make them addictive in the sense that the body may be negatively reacting even if it is receiving more than enough of an input than it needs in order to survive.

          • Salvor Hardin

            But isn’t that the case with any food item. If you regularly eat any food item and it is removed then you would certainly crave that item. Whether it was potato chips or broccoli.

          • Ray in VT

            Maybe some more than others. I’m not sure. The research cited in the link that I provided merely makes a case for at least some foods or ingredients.

  • PaulDT

    A more direct way both to collect off-setting funds to address the obesity epidemic and to begin to dissuade the public from overindulging in foods that contribute most to the problem is to tax such foods based on, for example, nutritional value [more nutritional value, less tax] or proportion of salt, sugar, or fat in the contents.

  • bilbo44

    why not sue the utility companies, auto industry ,entertainment industry for ruining our morals and creating violence, coal mining companies. Let me see who also cause some problems in our society. This is ridiculous. In our current society everyone is a victim. People need to be responsible for their own actions.

  • Unterthurn

    So many people use food to numb their feelings. therefore the other products that are causing people to be so unhappy are just as guilty. The magazines that photoshop the already stick thin models? Entertainment industry creating such fiction ideal love stories? …. etc….

  • Vivian Templeton

    Vivian

    • DeJay79

      DeJay

      • Vivian Templeton

        Nice to meet you.

        • OnPointComments

          Next stop for Vivian and DeJay79: Match.com.

  • Vivian Templeton

    Obesity doesn’t happen overnight and there was a point in time where we weren’t aware that these convenient foods weren’t safe or addictive. It is similar to tobacco in that people were told that they were healthy. When I was a child in the 1960s and 70s we didn’t know what we were eating. Today, at least the information is available, but it is often disputed by “food scientists” as to what is unsafe or healthy.

    • Patro321

      I’m sorry, you position is that people didn’t know Doritos were fattening? Seriously?

      • Vivian Templeton

        Yes, Seriously. The Astronauts drank Tang, so it must be good for you. Wonder Bread was enriched with Vitamins, Carnation Instant Breakfast had all the vitamins and minerals of a wholesome breakfast. Even today people are sold Protein Bars, yogurt, & whole grain cereals as health food when they are sugary junk. In the 60′s families put more trust in the large food companies; a trust that was undeserved.

  • James

    Wait, is big food not taxpayers? Don’t mega corporations may more in taxes then everyday joes?

  • AC

    this is slippery slope to persecution of fat people….

    • OnPointComments

      This is a slippery slope to the government controlling every aspect of our lives.

      • jefe68

        Right wing meme alert.

      • AC

        i don’t believe that at all. you should see other places….on that note, i have recently thought to myself how nice it would be to be king….but in any case, i think the danger here is fat, then chronically ill people, being blamed for far too much. did you hear that angry man talking about ‘tax-payers’. i only caught the last 15 mins of the show tho, so i really can’t comment until i hear the whole thing.

  • OnPointComments

    If Big Food has engineered food to make it irresistible, how is it that some people are able to resist?

    • ToyYoda

      Maybe in the same way that some people are able to resist addictve-proven drugs? Some people can resist; some can’t.

  • Emily

    One hole in the personal responsibility argument that has not been discussed is how incredibly hard it is to decipher what foods are healthy versus what foods are laden with salt, fat, and sugar. Salad dressings, coffee drinks, pasta sauces, breads – many households would not categorize these as unhealthy but most brands are loaded with highly caloric additives. These problems are compounded by deceptive marketing practices that suggest foods are healthy or health promoting that are indeed not. This is where the government and food industry do have a responsibility to make changes.

    • northeaster17

      Exactly. Good info helps make good decisions. Just don’t look to the processed food kingdoms for the info to help make the decisions that are needed to stave off many food related problems.

  • Melina

    Heck yes for the lawsuits! It is called ‘junk food’ for a reason. The only way to get the food industry to change is by hitting them financially. I’m even for suing the FDA at this point. The chemicals they allow in our foods is killing us and poisoning the environment. Subway was just called out for the chemical azodicarbonamide in their bread which is illegal in other countries. It is used for yoga mats and shoe rubber. There are 15-20 common food chemicals that are banned in Europe & UK that are allowed in our food. Don’t get me started on corporate farming practices. This is a big can of worms, but it needs to be open!

  • Mary

    People have to eat, they didn’t have to smoke! Big companies are adding high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. High fructose corn syrup makes food sweet but doesn’t satiate sweet tooth. Sounds addictive to me?!? Also, in poor neighborhoods (aka food deserts) you can’t find any products with out high fructose corn syrup and GMOs. Diabetes is driving up health care costs for everyone, and especially tax payers! We need reform but why not recoup some money in the process? Sue them!!!

  • Patro321

    The point of Mediaid itself is to absolve a small subset of tax payers of personal responsibility, foisting the results of their poor life choices on the citizenry at large. Now that it can’t be paid for the irresponsible are just looking for another pot of gold to plunder.

    If you really want to insulate the tax payers from the costs of the voluntarily obese disqualify them from Medicaid coverage on those grounds. The same goes for smokers. I am not responsible for your willful gluttony and neither is any company out there.

    • northeaster17

      That is not the point of Medicaid.

  • Andrew Farkas

    Not everyone has an obesity problem. On the contrary, some of us need a lot of calories, particularly those of us who have taken pains to be in good shape, or people who have various illnesses. It can be difficult to find foods that are not “diet” or reduced fat/reduced calories. It can be extremely frustrating to be responsible for your own health.

    • Ray in VT

      Diet or reduced fat items can also be loaded up with sodium, which can cause its own set of problems.

      • northeaster17

        Diet products also use synthetic sugars that are not so good either

  • northeaster17

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”M Pollen. Also, shop the outside aisles of your grocery store. Fewer processed foods there.

    • Ray in VT

      One thing that I think is a good sign is the re-emergence of farmers markets and such. There were always farm stands and things around here, but I think that more people are getting involved in producing and consuming these locally grown foods.

  • Give_Me_Liberty_92

    it seems to me that the analogy to tobacco is faulty.

    no amount of tobacco smoking is safe or healthy, while even for the junkiest of foods there are nutritional principles that are safe or even essential in small amounts (even a Twinkie in an emergency situation can be life saving….that is not true for any amount of tobacco or street heroin). The converse is true as well: even the healthier of foods can become nutritionally unhealthy in large doses.

    then it becomes a dosage problem, that one can apply to both junk and good food, without a clear demarcation line.

    if you are addicted to eating 10 pounds of bread per day you are not holding the baker responsible, but if you eat 10 pounds of McDonald french fries you are blaming the franchise company? is the old fashion and timeless increase in salt and oil in bread to make it better tasting a form of “engineering for addiction”? how do you separate such purported “engineering fro addiction” with traditional and universally accepted concept of”great-tasting food preparation”? do we apply that thinking to restaurants? are good restaurants that make you go back over and over again liable for you belly girth? do you apply it to my kitchen and my genuinely addictive food when I have friends at dinners? is any prepared food other than basic ingredients then subject to liability? and even with basic ingredients, how do you draw the line? is the potato farmer liable for producing addictively crispy potatoes that never brown in storage?

    if it so chooses -and we can debate that, as I do not agree-, society has already a mechanism for protecting itself: consumption taxation.

    but these liability lawsuits seem frivolous, at best…

    • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

      Consumption taxation is the best strategy–along with a ban on TV and radio advertising. Make ‘em have to actively want the Big Mac without any external suggestion instead of passively having the TV ad make them crave one.

      And if they want it badly, they will have to pay a tax which probably doubles (or triples) the cost of the item, which in well-governed states (not all of them are) will be reserved for anti-obesity campaigns and proper nutrition programs.

  • Linda Parry

    Enough with regulations and lawsuits…Let’s deal with food deserts, nutritional education, support of family farms and community gardens, stop subsidizing crops (such as corn)
    and support truth in labeling so that people know what they are
    putting in their bodies. Let’s work to make wholesome food
    less expensive and “junk food” more expensive and let’s
    emphasize common sense.

    • Jake Mendell

      Yes, I agree, and a great way to promote that change would be via a very public lawsuit on the trickery and greed of big food. But you’re right, we can’t lose sight of the end goal, being more “real” food, more widely available, and more education on the subject.

    • Sy2502

      Recent findings show that the “food desert” is a myth. Even when stores that sell produce were opened in “food deserts” people simply didn’t buy there. People make their own choices, you can’t force them to do what you want. Too many do-gooders insist in thinking people are some kind of robots steered around by “big food”, TV ads, etc, and so they think THEY can steer people around too like cattle because that’s really what they think of people. Well guess what, people aren’t cattle, they make their own decisions, and sometimes their decisions aren’t good for them, but they make them anyway.

      • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

        Price the fast food according to its (proven) negative health effect–remove the cost of obesity from the government (hence the taxpayer) and place it on the fast food company–which will of course pass on the cost to the fast food consumer, the same as happens now with tobacco.

        If a Big Mac and fries costs $15.00 instead of $5.00, due to federal/state/local taxes, and other fast food alternatives are just as expensive, then the decision in large part becomes a matter of “how bad you want it.” If the dollar menu effectively becomes a 5-dollar menu, the demand will decrease. Fast food will become less profitable, and the number of fast food restaurants will likely decrease.

        For those who can’t afford the fast food, they will choose fresh food that doesn’t have any tax except sales tax (and perhaps should be exempted from sales tax at the same time that “sin” taxes are added to fast food).

        • Sy2502

          Why? Because, again, you think people are cattle and should be steered here and there?

  • Human2013

    On a personal note, I’m 5’7 and 149 Ibs. My comfortable weight is a 140Ibs. I run no less than 12 miles a week, stretch nightly and incorporate light weights. The reason I can’t make my goal weight is because I surrounded by inferior food everywhere I go. When I’m rushing around as I usually am, I need just need somethin, but everything is loaded with sugar an salt and is highly processed. It’s not so much about not taking personal responsibility as it is about the human requirement to eat and no options available.

    • Sy2502

      I am sorry but that’s a terrible excuse. I commute 2 hours a day, work 9 hours a day, and work out 1 hour a day. I still find a way to not eat junk. Nobody says it’s easy, but then what gave you the impression life was supposed to be easy?

  • Rebecca Jones

    The analogy with tobacco is perfect becaues in both cases industry has knowingly created addictive substances: in the case of big food fat, salt and sugar have been proven to be addictive. Addiction is not a choice, especially when the target is a child. What more effective business model than to create customers who need your product? We as a country need to consider re defining food as a ratio of nutrition to calories. Anything under that ratio is regulated and taxed. you can eat it but it is not food. And yes, we have some making up to do: the industry owes us money for their deceptive practices.

    • Sy2502

      Fat, salt, and sugar are natural ingredients, not addicted substances created just to hook you. Nobody is pointing a gun to your head. Take responsibility for your own choices already!

      • spiral007

        refined sugar, hydrogenated fats are not natural ingredients….you may want to pay attention to the foods that cause obesity…not come up with onelines that are inane and make you feel good. Read Rebecca’s post carefully or is asking you to read too much!!

        • Sy2502

          Rebecca’s post was, and I copy and paste to make sure I am quoting her correctly, “fat, salt and sugar”. There’s nothing inherently wrong in any of these substances. Also YOU are responsible for what enters your mouth. Nobody else is.

          • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

            Who is responsible for what enters a 10-year old child’s mouth at home? How about at school?

            Who places fast food ads on TV during hours of peak viewing for children?

          • Sy2502

            The parents are responsible OBVIOUSLY since a kid doesn’t buy his own groceries nor does he cook his own food. What kind of question is that?

          • jefe68

            fat, salt and sugar are bad for you if you eat them in the quantities that are in processed and fast foods. If you took the time to comprehend the idea in Rebecca’s posts you might get it.

            Sugar is bad for you on a daily basis.
            Salt, and boy do we eat to much of that, will cause high blood pressure and eventually lead to stroke.
            Saturated fats will cause heart disease and stroke.

            Add all three together and consume it everyday, and over the years the most people will develop a disease related to the consumption of these products.

          • Salvor Hardin

            I think no one needs reminding of the dangers of consuming large quantities of fat, salt and sugar. But these are also in every day food that people have always consumed and not just in processed and fast foods. And they will have the same effect over time if consumed regularly. Foods high in fat are common staples of the American diet and have been for many decades which is why heart and artery diseases have been common.

            People have been eating healthier but processed and fast foods are not a problem when that isn’t a large portion of your diet and there is no difference between consuming fat and salt in fast foods and eating a baked potato slathered in salt and butter.

            Death due to Coronary Artery Disease is been largely reduced by Statins and other medications. It is a myth that modern fast and processed foods are the most common causes of these diseases since they have been with us since the beginning of the world.

          • Sy2502

            No to all of the above, and I am sorry to see you are just the last of a long list of people who have fallen victims to fads unleashed by people out there to make money. In fact if there’s anyone we really should go after is these quacks that fill the brain of uninformed folks like you with idiocies.

  • mrtwilight23

    This is far bigger than tobacco. Smoking rates around the world are pretty high but other countries don’t have the levels of heart disease and lung cancer that we have. Wait until those countries further adopt the conveniences of the American diet. They’ll have rising rates of both of those diseases, and it will be hard to ignore the toll of big food on the world.

    • northeaster17

      It is already happening.

    • Human2013

      Yes, I watched a special on obese chinese children…it was quite a sight…not use to seeing them weigh so much

  • John_Hamilton

    The discussion has been engineered to be addiction versus no addiction, sue versus not sue. It should be a hint that other corporations do similar things to manipulate customers into buying their products uncontrollably. If that is the case, then maybe it is something in the nature of the corporation that guides them into creating addicts.

    The human species evolved biologically to have two arms, two legs, and a relatively large brain. It evolved socially to live in small groups, then tribes, then clans, and now into mass systems that go beyond nations. We haven’t evolved psychologically and socially in ways that are compatible with what we have evolved into biologically.

    Whether it is big corporations or big government, mass human systems are characterized by groups of individuals making decisions for the masses of people in the society – the few controlling the many. In both corporations and government they find it necessary to have certainty of results in order to maximize their income, power and influence. Thus, we have unlimited NSA spying, consumer research, making products that manipulate the customers into addiction, hyping of products, and participating in the political process to further their interests unhindered.

    Corporations like oil and other energy companies can do many things to keep masses of people dependent on their products, largely by controlling who gets elected to state and Federal legislative bodies, and by election derived appointments, the judiciary. By a harmonizing of interests with other corporations, the costs involved in this control is kept relatively low. As we are seeing in West Virginia and North Carolina, it is necessary that corporations have impunity in order to thrive, no matter how much harm they do. They would poison the entire planet if it meant higher profits, and indeed that is what they do.

    Because society has evolved to this point, and evolution keeps moving, as the mass economy approaches ecological glut and a breakdown of life support systems, in response to physical circumstances there will be different forms of social organization. The only real question is whether the species will survive to make these changes. We’ll find out soon enough. If we’re still here, that is.

  • tbphkm33

    Beyond the issues associated with whole foods (non-processed) not being available in many areas, is a larger dilemma of a lack of skills in how to prepare food. A telling statistic is that the peak of repair calls for ovens come the week after Thanksgiving. People don’t cook, so it is at Thanksgiving they realize their oven died sometime in the past year.

    A large percentage of the population grew up in households where the parents never cooked, the result is that today you might have to go back to grandparents or great grandparents who knew how to cook.

    Big food is taking advantage of this situation, relabeling food as “healthy” or “diet.” Any marketing propaganda to make people believe processed foods are better for them than other processed foods.

    It is nice to see that farmer’s markets are becoming more popular. What we need now is more efforts to teach individuals the basics of cooking. Family cooking, not baking fancy cakes, etc. Don’t need chefs, do need mom’s and dad’s that can make a healthy dinner for their kids.

    • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

      Guessing that home econ classes were among the first to be cut when school districts had to reduce “costs”. Physical education not far behind. Student progress isn’t measured on whether they can cook or if they’re fit; those skills apparently can’t be monetized the same way STEM knowledge can be.

      And where one or both parents used to actively involve the kids in both cooking and outdoor exercise, in most cases now they’re both working (probably more than 80 hours a week put together) and not cooking. Kids follow the example of their parents.

  • Coastghost

    To my provincial ears an “On Point” program or two could treat the extent and depth of fatalism in American discourse.
    To hear so many people opine here that addictions HAVE TO BE understood to be utterly irresistible, or that physical addiction cannot be distinguished helpfully from mere habituation, suggests that we have been robbed of ALL volition and that we all must flounder in helplessness until the State can intervene for us. Fatuous AND ludicrous notions that merit disparagement AND repudiation.

  • Markus6

    Even if the food industry is partially to blame, is any of this practical? Assuming someone could figure out the cost of damage, how do you allocate them? Do you go after grocery stores, delis, restaurants, sports teams and all the rest for distributing a dangerous substance? Or maybe you go after the manufacturers. Do you then go after donut shops, fast food restaurants and, well, anyone who combines things like sugar and flower into something tasty and sells them? Maybe it’s just the makers of packages goods. Ok, how do you match the costs to them? You probably have thousands with Borden’s, Ben and Jerrys, Pepsi, Kellogg and all the little shops who are also guilty. But how do you divide up the damage?

    And as others have said, we throw the word addiction around without any real definition. There must be 30 shows on TV encouraging people to make, often unhealthy food, tasty. Are they trying to addict us or just make that food desirable. Is there that much of a difference within the brain to a great pasta dish vs. a bag of Doritos. Does one give off more dopamine than another and how do you quantify to make an award.

    Finally, who else should we sue. Gambling seems addicting and is certainly damaging to many. Should we sue the Casinos for making it attractive. Course, we’d need to also sue the States for the Lottery. A lot of slippery slope arguments seem suspicious to me, but I could see people measuring the damage of a lot of things we buy that are not in our long term interests and determining that our brains have been manipulated into needing these.

  • Sy2502

    “Daddy, what is ‘personal responsibility’?”

    “I am not sure son, some old stuff they used to think was important. Like VCRs and horse carriages.”

  • spiral007

    For starters I will be satisfied with if the food companies and other companies (shampoos, toothpaste etc…) would provide truthful and complete labeling i.e. the list, quantity and origin of ingredients……

    TRANSPARENCY is the key, something against which the food, chemical and agriculture industry are fighting tooth and nail. Then I can make an informed decision and we can have a proper discussion of ‘personal responsibility’.

    • Sy2502

      Obesity is clearly caused by eating too much toothpaste.

      • spiral007

        Looks like mental retardation setting in from too much BS.
        Plus you totally ignored the question of transparency!!!

  • Paolello

    Thank you for bringing this up. It pisses me off to no end, I can’t afford to eat as healthy as I like. With fast food offering junk food for a dollar, how can I afford to have a $7.00 salad? I live on a very tight budget, I do not receive any type of state help. Some weeks I can’t afford to go food shopping and the only thing I can afford is a dollar menu item. The food industry (fast food, sit down meals, and supermarkets) take advantage of us people who can’t afford to eat healthy.

    As far as children being obese, look at the parent’s income! Can they afford to feed a family organic foods? Are they working multiple jobs to try and pay the bills? Stopping at a fast food restraint is their only option. When kids are only served junk food at home that’s all they want to eat. No parent want’s their kids to go hungry and, if that’s all they can afford that’s what they will feed them.

    The whole hour of discussion upset me! Everyone wants to place, or look to place blame everywhere else. All we have to do is lower prices of healthy foods, and raise the prices of the junk and unhealthy foods.

    I know how to eat healthy. I know what I have to do to try and keep my weight in control. I just literally can not afford to lose weight! Last week I worked 2 jobs, 7 days, for a total of 75 hours. Out of the 7 days I worked, I didn’t eat two of them. 4 of the days I spent under $4.00 on value food. One day I splurged and had a salad with chicken. With that all said, I still had to skip a couple of my bills and hope I can pay them this week.

    How often to you see very successful people who are obese? How many politicians, CEOs, actors, people who have disposable income looking obese?

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math here!!!

    I wanted to call in so bad today!

  • Paolello

    Steve Conway said it right!!!! Look for his comments!

    Thank you for bringing this up. It pisses me off to no end, I can’t afford to eat as healthy as I like. With fast food offering junk food for a dollar, how can I afford to have a $7.00 salad? I live on a very tight budget, I do not receive any type of state help. Some weeks I can’t afford to go food shopping and the only thing I can afford is a dollar menu item. The food industry (fast food, sit down meals, and supermarkets) take advantage of us people who can’t afford to eat healthy.

    As far as children being obese, look at the parent’s income! Can they afford to feed a family organic foods? Are they working multiple jobs to try and pay the bills? Stopping at a fast food restraint is their only option. When kids are only served junk food at home that’s all they want to eat. No parent want’s their kids to go hungry and, if that’s all they can afford that’s what they will feed them.

    The whole hour of discussion upset me! Everyone wants to place, or look to place blame everywhere else. All we have to do is lower prices of healthy foods, and raise the prices of the junk and unhealthy foods.

    I know how to eat healthy. I know what I have to do to try and keep my weight in control. I just literally can not afford to lose weight! Last week I worked 2 jobs, 7 days, for a total of 75 hours. Out of the 7 days I worked, I didn’t eat two of them. 4 of the days I spent under $4.00 on value food. One day I splurged and had a salad with chicken. With that all said, I still had to skip a couple of my bills and hope I can pay them this week.

    How often to you see very successful people who are obese? How many politicians, CEOs, actors, people who have disposable income looking obese?

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math here!!!

    I wanted to call in so bad today!

    • OnPointComments

      Do you think those two women in the photo at the top are saying to each other “I wonder where we can get a salad.”

      • Al_Kidder

        You might find that they are.
        I have 2 obese sisters and they both eat healthy food. Salads, “artisan” bread, plenty of home cooking. They just eat too regularly. Unless you are doing a lot of exercise or physical work, 2 meals a day, on rising and in the evening is enough. Apple and a coffee is enough for a midday snack

      • Paolello

        Honestly, I think that they are posing (walking) for the photo. Funny how it looks like they are walking past a closed restaurant with the sidewalk chairs stacked up on the left.
        I wonder how much they were offered by the photographer to be called obese on the internet?

        • OnPointComments

          I don’t know how much the photographer paid them, but I’ll ask the next time I fly somewhere. One of them is always in the seat next to me.

          • Paolello

            It sounds like you travel frequently. You probably make a very good paycheck, eat healthy, probably even have a gym membership.
            Try living just enough money to pay your bills. Lets see what you do for food. How will you feed yourself? What will you give up? The gym? The travel? Renting a movie at Redbox? Will you give up your apt. or house and move into a room with 3 other people because that’s all you can afford? Will you work 2 part time jobs for little pay and long hours?
            I bet you would live off the value menu! I bet your weight would go up! You would realize how much it cost to eat healthy.

    • warryer

      I call BS on this.

      I can buy a 1lb bag of beans and a 1lb bag of rice for under a dollar each and it will last me the span of 5 meals.

      Learn to cook and you will be making meals for much less than you buy them for.

      • Paducah72

        That bag of beans and rice will still make you fat if you’re insulin resistant.
        That’s how you get fat teenagers and skinny teenagers. Both groups eat lots of junk food, but some have insulin resistance and others don’t.

        • Emily4HL

          While I agree that more rice and beans is a good idea, I also get that it takes a lot of time. To use the cheapest beans–dry ones–requires several hours of prep, which is really hard if you’re working 2 full-time jobs. The price, and the sodium, jumps substantially if you switch to canned beans for convenience.

          Tuna fish, peanut butter, potatoes, yams, frozen veggies, and rice and beans are great affordable options, relatively healthy options, but I can see that its hard to get to the store and then spend time preparing them if you have to spend half your waking hours at work.

      • Paolello

        I know how to cook! You can only live on rice and beans for so long. Why can’t I afford to purchase the rest of the healthy, organic food in the supermarket? Why should I live on rice and beans? What am I a prisoner?

        Rice and beans 2 times a day if I’m lucky. Why don’t you try that diet?

        • warryer

          Rice and beans are a staple of the east asian diet. How do they survive as long as they do?

          You can’t purchase that food because you are making/made poor economic decisions for yourself. Live within your means. You don’t have to go all organic to eat healthy.

          You are a prisoner only to your own choices.

          I am saying that it is an active choice to go buy McDonald’s burgers for dinner vs spending the 30mins to prepare a healthier and less expensive option.

          And if I had to pick between rice and beans and a fast “food” “meal” i would pick rice and beans.

          • OrangeGina

            staple of a diet doesn’t mean EXCLUSIVE, just a building block.

    • HonestDebate1

      I can make about 4 jumbo sized salads for $7.

      • Paolello

        Show me where you buy all the fresh vegetables, chicken and dressing for $7.00 and I will start shopping there!

  • OnPointComments

    What causes obesity?

    I suppose I should be surprised that some answer “food companies,” but I’m not surprised.

  • MattCA12

    The entire premise is preposterous. If these foods were addictive, EVERYONE who ate them would be obese! THINK people, TAKE responsibility for your own life. Nobody is forcing you to eat this garbage, just as nobody is forcing you to feed it to your kids. Shameful, really.

    • OrangeGina

      nope, your logic is faulty. Not everyone who tries heroin or cocaine or the slots gets hooked either. No one ever sets out to be an addict of any kind. Sugar really is the first drug you get, in the sense that human milk is very sweet.

      At some point in the future, we will marvel at how it was OK to market junk to children, like we marvel at the lack of concern decades ago over maternal smoking (before and after birth).

      • Salvor Hardin

        Perhaps it would be helpful if you came up with some of these actual “addicts.” I have never seen or heard of a person with this addiction that you claim is real. Because instead of taking your word for it I would like to see the people that are claiming they are addicts of a produced food product.

        I don’t say that the food industry wouldn’t use something like that if they had it but I’ve never heard of a person addicted to a particular food. If the food industry had such a magical addictive food I’m sure they would love to hear about it themselves.

        Or is this magical addictive substance something called “sugar”, or “salt” or “fat”? Things that the human brain has craved for all of human history. Substances that have been shown to be desired even in babies. I’ve certainly heard of people craving sugar but they are certainly willing to try a large variety of products to get it. I don’t know of a particular food producer’s version of any of the substances above that is so desirable and addictive that consumers are irresistibly, overwhelmingly compelled to purchase their product.

        • TJPhoto40

          You’re confusing various elements of this and just plain wrong about several facts here. You obviously haven’t read the literature on this or seen interviews with people like Dr. Robert Lustig (also featured on the 60 Minutes segment about sugar, which would be enough education in itself). The brain is wired to find sugar appealing, but that dates to a time when we had few natural food sources with such properties and couldn’t overdose on the sugary substances as we can now. The situation today is radically different, and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming that sugar in any substantial quantity is unhealthy, virtually toxic and addictive.

  • Paducah72

    If you’re overweight and reading this, please listen:
    All your life, skinny people have told you to eat less and exercise more, but here’s the thing:

    Calories count, but HORMONES count even more.

    High carbohydrate foods will spike your insulin and put your body into fat storage mode, regardless of how much you’re eating.

    Skinny people will tell you it’s about eating a “balanced diet”, but their bodies are more insulin sensitive than yours, and that’s why they don’t gain weight as easily as you do.

    Bottom line: Eat Paleo and lift weights

    (If you don’t know what I mean by “Paleo”, google it.)

    And stop listening to people who tell you to semi-starve yourself while exercising more. They may mean well, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • Jono

    The states claimed that they needed to sue the big tobacco in order to take care of the people who ended up in hospitals because they smoked. They further talked about mounting anti-smoking campaigns.

    When the money started rolling in it was made part of the general budget and went to increasing the number and salary levels of state employees. Now the states are dependent on Big Tobacco and are partners with them in wanting people to smoke.

    But in order to find fresh revenue, now that the tobacco money is fully allotted, something else must be declared “addicting.”

    • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

      Differs by state (according to one of the interviewees on the air just now). California has resisted the urge to use the money for the general budget. Not sure, but I’d think that the rate of teenage smoking is lower in California than, say, Texas.

  • Spe Matt Spewak

    Food companies should bear some responsibility because they take advantage of hidden external costs in order sell unhealthy food dirt cheap, while at the same time lobby congress to loosen government oversight. Furthermore they knowingly perpetuate disinformation about nutrition through misleading marketing and labels. Most big food companies are not in the business of selling real food anymore, it’s all processed junk — which they KNOW triggers the same pleasure areas of the brain as does heroine.

  • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

    “In April 1970, Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banning the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio starting on 2 January 1971.”

    Time to bad advertising of fast food (at the very least) and possibly any prepared food whatsoever (includes chips, soft drinks, etc.), but allow PSA’s describing the health effects of such foods (in the same way PSAs about tobacco still run today).

    Combine that with taxation, similar to the tax added to tobacco products, which should specifically be directed to health programs addressing obesity, proper nutrition, etc.

    There will be a lag of about 10-20 years, as there was with tobacco. But eventually the obesity epidemic will work its way through the population demographically, and in about 30-40 years only the elderly will be sticking with their fast food habits.

    • Salvor Hardin

      Glad to see you have your National Socialist utopia planned out for us. With any luck you will get to implement your master plan to control the pricing and advertising of all food that doesn’t meet your nutritional standards and eventually put most restaurants out of business. I assume we will of course all have to become vegans in your new world order.

      It is really scary knowing there are people such as you in the United States who are just itching to take total control of our lives.

      • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

        They can stay in business if they market to the rich (you know, the ones who run the economy); but something tells me the rich don’t want a Big Mac. Wonder why…

      • OrangeGina

        say that with the subject of tobacco in mind and hear how backwards it sounds.

        • Salvor Hardin

          You are talking about controlling the prices, the advertising and the content of all food in the United States with the goal of putting restaurants and processed foods out of business which is probably the biggest employer in the United States.

          Keep that in mind and hear how nutty and radical it sounds.

  • outdoor_michael

    I think Americans should calculate what percentage of all consumer goods’ costs can be attributed to frivolous lawsuits and file a class action lawsuit against trial lawyers

    • http://live.xbox.com/en-US/MyXbox/Profile?gamerTag=FinderKeeper FinderKeeper

      I see what you did thurr. (takes one to sue one) ;-)

  • Wesley

    Of course people should take personal responsibility for their health choices. But that is not what this conversation is about. The question is whether states should be able to recoup medical costs that are being paid by ALL tax payers, not just the obese and/or unhealthy people.

    We are not talking about individual lawsuits over being fat. No one is trying to get rich or sue for eating too much McDonalds. This is about the larger picture.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001
  • Alchemical Reaction

    If science is to be believed, we are all products of socialization and genetics (nature and nurture). The idea that we have free will is naive. Only the strongest willed individuals – the top 1% in terms of willpower – have a modicum of free will. This is science.

    The only reason the revolutionaries fought for freedom is because they were told they couldn’t have it. Once they said – yay! we have freedom now! the majority lost interest in freedom.

  • Salvor Hardin

    People have been eating fast food and “unhealthy” snacks for at least the last 50 years. I don’t recall hardly any obese friends or schoolmates in my generation growing up.

    The difference between when I was growing up in the 60′s and 70′s and now is the lack of activity in children. Children I know nowadays simply play video games or are on the computer or phone doing social networking and texting and are mostly sedentary compared to previous generations. When I was a kid I drove my bicycle for miles almost every day. There is no way I could convince my grandchildren to do something like that.

    Eliminating “unheathly” foods will not stop obesity. There is no magic to eliminating obesity. Consume more calories than you take in. Exercise, get out in the world and do things. The kids nowadays that are not obese participate in school or neighborhood sports or still do some old fashioned outside activities.

  • Agnostic58

    No pun intended, there are no free lunches. Any awards won from the food industry will be paid for by their customers.

  • Duras

    We could stop subsidizing preservatives and go back to subsidizing healthy foods. I’m a little too young to remember when healthy foods were cheaper, but I hear it happened.

  • Duras

    Yeah, I think people should take responsibility and not eat that crap. But, who the hell cares if fast-food goes under? The fast-food industry is more than a threat to public health, they provide terrible jobs. The tax payer is not only picking up the tab for the increased healthcare, but subsidizing the employees’ wages.
    The government should ban them as if it were heroine.

  • Lawrence

    The fast food industry is deceptive and should not exist. However, remember the show you did a year ago, from the authors of the book, Willpower? That’s what it’s all about. Americans have become lazy, simplistic minded, TV watching, fat and obese. The real problem is parenting, and our society in general.

  • OrangeGina

    good for you. you must have had enough resources to have the time to do that. not all fat people eat unhealthy. not all fit people eat healthy. I’m sure your little diatribe here makes you feel better, but it sounds like a temper tantrum.

    • JustMe

      You are correct not all fat people are unhealthy…in fact some of them are very strong and healthy. Resoursces…I use to have more. It is unimportant more or less resources. At one time in my life I was flat out broke and could not put 2 nickels together to make 10 cents. I pulled myself out of poverty years ago working 80 hours per week. I am semi-retired I have more time. Yes, my diatribe makes me feel better. I am just working to make this world realize that it is not all about the INDIVIDUAL it is about the COLLECTIVE WORLD. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER – WHAT I DO PERSONALLY AFFECTS EVERYONE ON THIS PLANET. Read the comments above. I do not want to see our beautiful planet go to hell while we all eat from garbage cans. Time is the only irreplaceable resource…do not kill time as you murder eternity. When I was a child in the 1950′s and 1960′s people use to be the correct weight to height ratio. That as long since passed. Why? Something has gone wrong with our food supply.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        “When I was a child in the 1950′s and 1960′s people use to be the correct weight to height ratio. That as long since passed. Why? Something has gone wrong with our food supply.” If you don’t know what happened, you’re a lot less informed then you appear

  • OrangeGina

    I’m leery of subway, since the annoucement they will be taking the plastic filler out of their bread products . . . eww.

  • Jasoturner

    Absurd. There is no solid consensus on what causes obesity, and the quality of nutritional “science” that might tell us is appalling. Until there is serious evidence of causality, lawsuits are inappropriate and uncalled for. Remember, five years ago whole milk was a no-no, Now it’s linked to reduced weight gain. Margarine was recommended over butter. Now trans-fats are seen as killers. Rather than sue, let’s fund some real scientists to figure out what’s going on. Here is a model:

    http://nusi.org/

    • Lawrence

      But everyone knows that fast food is low in nutrition and high in FAT. And everyone can see in places in Asia like So. Korea, a once “thin” country had marked obese rate once KFC was introduced.

      I mean ya know? Ya gotta have at least some common sense.

      • Salvor Hardin

        The thing about common sense is that it seems to be so uncommon; particularly your superficial analysis seems to be devoid of it.

        Fast food has been around all of my life but obesity rates have been increasing in the last few years. So the difference is not in the food but in the society. The use of computers, cell phones, video games have increased greatly along with a great decrease in activity by children and adults. Today children can do “social networking” by just spending hours on your phone and not doing the old fashioned social networking when you had to walk or ride a bike to someones house to do it.

        @Jasoturner has a good point in that what is considered proper nutrition changes but what doesn’t change is that physical activity is the only way to beat obesity. You can get obese on a diet of bean curds and salads if you don’t burn off the calories you consume.

        • Lawrence

          You’re right about one thing. That activity levels of lazy Americans has a lot to do with obesity.

          There is a HUGE increase of caloric intake of fast food in one meal compared with a meal consisting of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Therefore it takes much more activity to burn those of fast food. And it also takes more intake of food to obtain enough nutrients as the HUGE caloric intake is of empty calories devoid of nutrients.

          To be sure, activity levels are one half of the equation.

          My niece lost 40 lbs just from avoiding soda alone. Without changing activities at all.

          • Salvor Hardin

            It certainly will help to lose weight by lowering your caloric intake. But calories alone doesn’t explain the increase in obesity. Everyone I know drank Coke or Pepsi or Sweetened Iced Tea (since I’m from the South) when I was a kid. Soft drinks in the 60′s were certainly no better for you then than they are now.

            Fast food restaurants in the 60′s and 70′s had no nutritional offerings at all (which they do have today). But obesity is far worse today than it was 30 or 40 years ago. My point is that the primary cause of this is not the fast food industry but in society. The lack of exercise or external activities. So it can’t be fixed by going after the food industry.

            And apparently your niece wasn’t so addicted to soft drinks that she couldn’t cut them out of her diet. Everyone has that same capability.

  • Paducah72

    Saying no one has the right to be fat in a world where people are starving is like saying no one has a right to be sick in a world where people are healthy.

    You seem to be one of many who think obesity is a symptom of poor character, but our bodies are like chemistry labs in which different foods have different effects on people with different body types.

    We’ve been told to lose weight as if everybody metabolizes food in the exact same way, but it’s not true.

    I wish I had more time to go into detail. All I can recommend is that you read Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes to learn more about why so many people are obese.

  • J__o__h__n

    I noticed that the lawyer wasn’t interested in preventing obesity by ending government subsidies to foods that contribute to the obesity problem. Prevention doesn’t result in contingency fees.

  • Kelly Johnston

    The underlying belief here is, of course, that obese people are victims and assume no responsibility for the consequences of their lifestyles, habits and food and beverage choices. The reality here is that the trial bar needs a new source of revenue, and “big food” looks appetizing. Nobody who advocates for this approach is genuinely serious about tackling the problem of obesity and overweight. If they are, they would instead focus on re-instituting nutrition classes and mandate physical aerobic activity in schools and find ways to incentivize consumers to want healthier lifestyles. The agri-food community will always provide what consumers want.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      Eating healthy food in the U.S. is often more expensive than eating fast food and that’s not because healthy food is more expensive to grow. The opposite is true. If they succeed in removing all the subsides that that fast food corporations receive , then the economics will change and fast food places will be less commonplace as cheaper, healthier food options replace them.

      P.S.”The agri-food community will always provide what consumers want.” You really aren’t subtle about being a paid social media marketer for the agri-food community (yeah, a regular consumer would use the word community to describe an industry) (more like cartel) . You get paid to write astroturf. You work in marketing. It’s your job to keep the bottom 90%, particularly the gullible and agreeable ones, believing that eating unhealthy food is what they want.

  • Lawrence

    You are aware and informed and present an intelligent argument.
    Unfortunately, with big money from the food industry going into the corrupt hands of the politicians I fear not much will change. Unless of course we take matters in our own hands like Occupied Wall St. for instance.

    • ninasreality

      Thank you, Lawrence for your kind and thoughtful comments.
      You are so right about us taking it into our own hands… if only we realized “WE DO HAVE THAT POWER”.
      Look at how fast Subway caved in last week over Azodicarbonamide and removed it from their bread under public outrage.

      Several times I have protested GMO’s at Monsanto’s World Headquarters in St. Louis… where we should have had thousands, we numbered only in the hundreds. But, I do believe that will soon change. The sleeping giant has begun to stir and then my dear sir, GAME ON.
      Look at every nation that banned GMO’s… it was the massive, public demonstrations by the thousands upon thousands that did it. GAME OVER.

  • Lawrence

    We are still having the debate because the problem still occurs. And the “veggie” laws are unconstitutional.

    And because the documentaries, like Food Inc, and Super Size Me continue to demonstrate how corrupt the food industry is in this country.

  • TJPhoto40

    Most of your premises are exactly right (from seed to corrupted food-like substances), but your suggestions about remedy (charging the bastards with murder) are for most of us pretty extreme. I’m all for holding all companies and people responsible for actions they know to be contributing to health problems including serious diseases. I also like your idea of putting warning labels on many food products.

    We have a long way to go in educating people about nutrition and the harmful effects of processed and corrupted food. And clearly, some people either won’t listen or find their addictions too powerful for their limited will power to overcome. Pretty sad.

  • The poster formerly known as t

    You got it all wrong, doc. They aren’t exploiting nobody. They’re just “giving people what people WANT.”

    Yet, drug dealers claim the same thing and no one believes them.

  • TJPhoto40

    I think it’s crucial to educate children from the earliest possible age–in school, because it’s vital and many parents aren’t doing it–and encouraging them to experience growing your own food, exploring various tastes and their properties, understanding what fantastic life exists in good soil, etc. And nutrition is as vital as any subject we could have in the curriculum. I applaud what Michelle Obama has been doing, but even she has pulled back at times to seemingly placate big industry or other players. The efforts so far are piecemeal and hardly making a dent in many parts of the society, so we have a long way to go in getting back to healthier food for most of our population.

    Too many people complain about the high cost of organic or healthier food choices, but I think most of that argument is wrong-headed and even factually mistaken. Sure, some vegetables and fruits are more expensive than others, so you make food choices based on priority while still getting nutritious food. But why don’t more people prioritize other purchases they make and decide that food deserves to be a higher percentage of their budget? Why is the latest cell phone, TV, clothing item or other goodie considered more important than what you put into the miraculous machine of your body every day?

  • TJPhoto40

    Think of the four-person family featured in a documentary some years ago who drive through a fast food restaurant once a day to insure that their children get filled up enough to not feel starved. Then we find that the husband has been diagnosed with diabetes and is paying for expensive medication as well as jeopardizing his health further by continuing to consume the very food that made him sick to begin with. Do they not see the mixture of their culpability and that of the businesses that keep supplying them with poison in the form of cheap food, which the government itself has subsidized? Is this vicious cycle something unique to the poor and incapable of changing for them? Is this the kind of food industry and health crisis we want to live with?

  • ExcellentNews

    I’m between a rock and a hard place on this issue. On one hand, we all know the Republican solution – give a tax cut to the food corporations, and to the hedge funds behind them. But there is also something not quite right about punishing the food industry on the basis that they make the product intentionally addictive. We can all see the rationale for burgers, tacos, and packaged food, but if you go this way, where do you stop? Chocolate? Ice Cream? Honey? Food IS addictive even without a bunch of corporate malfeasants in the boardroom planning to make it so…

  • Sam Vance

    It’s intellectually dishonest to talk about the rising costs of obesity, because it’s very hard to tell if a particular ailment is caused by obesity. All these estimates of costs and deaths are just that, estimates.

    Those estimates are based on assumptions. Until you can accurately predict what specific ailments are predictably caused by obesity and at what specific weight these ailments can be accurately predicted to occur, then you have nothing but supposition and correlation without causation.

  • Coastghost

    Postscript on efforts to litigate against “Big Food” because of purported “food addictions” the industry allegedly promotes: surely, just before or just after such efforts begin to gain momentum, surely a distinct push to begin litigation against “Big Media” has to come to pass: all these internet addictions, all this mindless technophilia, the pandemic of passivity that has ensued, hours/weeks/months spent on fruitless gaming, daily addictions to television/cable/satellite fare . . . American tech addicts cry for relief!

  • Regular_Listener

    I have some mixed feelings regarding this. On the one hand, I agree with the caller from Madison. People make the choice to eat this stuff. At least 80-90% of the public is aware, has been aware for some time, that eating food filled with fat, sugar, salt, et cetera is not good for you. THIS IS NOT NEWS. Scientists have been saying it for decades now. However, I think that when you are talking about children, or patients, or mentally disfunctional people, then that is a different matter.

    However I am not a fan of the fast food & processed food manufacturers. They feed people junk. I hardly ever eat it myself, and that is my choice. How about this as a different approach to the problem – instead of mking McDonalds and Kraft pay for a certain percentage of medical bills, how about requiring stores and restaurants to provide a certain percentage of their spaces or menus to healthy food. Many times I have walked into a food store or a restaurant, and it is wall-to-wall unhealthy, fast food. I have had to go hunting for a bag of peanuts or carefully checking the menu for something that isn’t factory farmed crap. Since the customer can choose, how about making sure there is a selection to choose from?

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