Where's the Beef?

Thank McDonald's for keeping you thin.

Imagine if McDonald’s picked up your bill any time you managed to eat 10 Big Macs in an hour or less. What if Wendy’s replaced its wimpy Baconator with an unstoppable meat-based assassin that could truly make your aorta explode—say, 20 strips of bacon instead of six, enough cheese slices to roof a house, and instead of two measly half-pound patties that look as emaciated as the Olsen twins, five pounds of the finest ground beef, with five pounds of fries on the side? Morgan Spurlock’s liver would seek immediate long-term asylum at the nearest vegan co-op.

Alas, this spectacle will never come to pass. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and the rest of their fast food brethren are far too cowed by their critics to commit such crimes against gastronomy. But you can get a free dinner with as many calories as 10 Big Macs at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, if you can eat a 72-ounce sirloin steak, a baked potato, a salad, a dinner roll, and a shrimp cocktail in 60 minutes or less. And if you’re craving 10 pounds of junk food on a single plate, just go to Eagle’s Deli in Boston, Massachusetts, where the 10-storey Challenge Burger rises so high you practically need a ladder to eat it.

Fast food makes such a savory scapegoat for our perpetual girth control failures that it’s easy to forget we eat less than 20 percent of our meals at the Golden Arches and its ilk. It’s also easy to forget that before America fell in love with cheap, convenient, standardized junk food, it loved cheap, convenient, independently deep-fried junk food.

During the first decades of the 20th century, lunch wagons, the predecessors to diners, were so popular that cities often passed regulations limiting their hours of operation. In 1952, three years before Ray Kroc franchised his first McDonald’s, one out of four American adults was considered overweight; a New York Times editorial declared that obesity was “our nation’s primary health problem.” The idea that rootless corporate invaders derailed our healthy native diet may be chicken soup for the tubby trial lawyer’s soul, but in reality overeating fatty, salty, sugar-laden food is as American as apple pie.

Nowhere is this truth dramatized more deliciously than in basic-cable fare like the Food Channel’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and the Travel Channel’s World’s Best Places to Pig Out. Watch these shows often enough, and your Trinitron may develop Type 2 diabetes. Big Macs and BK Stackers wouldn’t even pass as hors d’oeuvres at these heart attack factories.

Yet unlike fast food chains, which are generally characterized as sterile hegemons that force-feed us like foie gras geese, these independently owned and operated greasy spoons are touted as the very (sclerosed) heart of whatever town they’re situated in, the key to the region’s unique flavor, and, ultimately, the essence of that great, multicultural melting pot that puts every homogenizing fast food fryolator to shame: America!

Instead of atomizing families and communities, dives and diners bring them together. Instead of tempting us with empty calories at cheap prices, they offer comfort food and honest value. Instead of destroying our health, they serve us greasy authenticity on platters the size of manhole covers.

As the patrons of these temples to cholesterol dig into sandwiches so big they could plug the Lincoln Tunnel, they always say the same thing. They’ve been coming to these places for years. They started out as kids accompanying their parents, and now they bring their kids with them.

While such scenes play out, you can’t help but wonder: Doesn’t that obesity lawsuit trailblazer John Banzhaf have cable? Shouldn’t he be ejaculating torts out of every orifice upon witnessing such candid testimonies to the addictive power of old-timey diner fare? And more important: Shouldn’t we thank our fast food chains for driving so many of these places out of business and thus limiting our exposure to chili burgers buried beneath landfills of onion rings? Were it not for the relative restraint of Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, the jiggling behemoths who bruise the scales on The Biggest Loser each week might instead be our best candidates for America’s Next Top Model.

Three years ago, when Supersize Me appeared in theaters and fast food replaced Osama bin Laden as the greatest threat to the American way of life, the industry sought refuge in fruit and yogurt cups and the bland, sensible countenance of Jared the Subway Guy. Today chains are still trying to sell the idea that they offer healthy choices to their customers; see, for example, Burger King’s plans to sell apple sticks dolled up in French fry drag. But they’re starting to reclaim their boldness too, provoking the wrath of would-be reformers once again.

Last summer, when McDonald’s started selling supersized sodas under a wonderfully evocative pseudonym, the Hugo, it earned a prompt tsk-tsking from The New York Times. When Hardee’s unveiled its latest affront to sensible eating, a 920-calorie breakfast burrito, the senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest derided it as “another lousy invention by a fast-food company.” When San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford saw a TV commercial for Wendy’s Baconator, he fulminated like a calorically correct Jerry Falwell: “Have the noxious fast-food titans not yet been forced to stop concocting vile products like this, or at least to dial down the garish marketing of their most ultra-toxic products, given how the vast majority of Americans have now learned (haven’t they?) at least a tiny modicum about human health?”

Culinary reformers around the country have been trying to turn such microwaved rhetoric into reality. In New York City, health officials have been attempting to introduce a regulation that will require any restaurant that voluntarily publicizes nutritional information about its fare to post calorie counts on its menus and menu boards. Because most single-unit operations don’t provide such information in any form, this requirement will apply mainly to fast food outlets and other chains. When a federal judge ruled against the city’s original ordinance, city health officials went back for seconds, revising the proposal to comply with his ruling. If this revised proposal goes into effect, any chain that operates 15 or more restaurants under the same name nationally will have to post nutritional information on the menus and menu boards of the outlets it operates in New York City.

In Los Angeles, City Councilmember Jan Perry has been trying to get her colleagues to support an ordinance that would impose a moratorium on fast food chains in South L.A., where 28 percent of the 700,000 residents live in poverty and 45 percent of the 900 or so restaurants serve fast food. “The people don’t want them, but when they don’t have any other options, they may gravitate to what’s there,” Perry told the Los Angeles Times, gravitating toward juicy, flame-broiled delusion. Apparently her constituents are choking down Big Macs only because they’ve already eaten all the neighborhood cats and figure that lunch at McDonald’s might be slightly less painful than starving to death. And how exactly will banning fast food outlets encourage Wolfgang Puck and Whole Foods Markets to set up shop in a part of town they’ve previously avoided? Is the threat of going head to head with Chicken McNuggets that much of a disincentive?

Suppose reformers like Perry get their wish and fast food chains are regulated out of existence. Would the diners and dives we celebrate on basic cable start serving five-pound veggie burgers with five pounds of kale on the side? Only diet hucksters and true chowhounds would benefit from a world where the local McDonald’s gave way to places serving 72-ounce steaks and burgers that reach toward the heavens like Manhattan skyscrapers. The rest of us would be left longing for that bygone era when, on every block, you could pick up something relatively light and healthy, like a Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr.

Contributing Editor Greg Beato is a writer in San Francisco.

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  • Caseworker Alice Pitney||

    Greg Beato should be arrested. Defending fast food? Shame, shame. If mom-and-pop restaurants are just as bad as McDonalds, then the answer is to require them to stop selling dangerously lethal food as well.

  • Fluffy||

    I am as adamantly opposed to "food torts" and to government anti-fast-food intervention as anyone.

    But surely you realize that the true sin of McDonald's, as far as the Travel Channel is concerned, is its homogeneity, and not the fat content of its food? And that the reason the local joint with the 72 ounce steak is lauded as a critical heart of the community is its [relative] local distinctiveness?

    There is something in people that makes them want to travel, and that makes them want the travel to be justified by having things be [even a little] different at their destination. That makes those people hate McDonald's. I bet you could do a study and uncover data showing that anti-McDonald's attitudes correlate directly with the amount of a person's income spent on discretionary travel for pleasure.

  • Toast Labe!||

    Pigou be damned. Sin is not in government's purview.

  • ||

    I've been saying this for 10+ years. Notice how McDonald's has been phasing out Ronald McDonald for this dumbass "I'm lovin' it" campaign?

    I'll bet you a million internetz bucks that McDonald's fears they'd have the next Joe Camel on their hands.

  • ||

    case worker Alice, arrest Greg Beato? call Michael Jacobson and report him.

  • ||

    Small independent restaurants get away with murder, it's true, but what we let people take home from the grocery store is a sin!

    How big does the cookie aisle really have to be? Why can't they put the ice cream up higher in the freezer so the kids can't see it? ...and the way they line the checkout aisle with candy bars!

    We can't just let people go on eating whatever they want--especially if we're going to have universal health care.

  • ||

    Did Ken Schultz forget the "/End Sarcasm"?

    Or is he serious?

    CB

  • Episiarch||

    Yeah, but Greg, these mom-and-pop fathole restaurants are out in flyover country. Since all the people there are fat redneck bigot scumbag warmongers, them getting fat is irrelevant because the enlightened don't have to look at them.

    It's the damn poor people in the coastal cities that won't stop eating McDonalds, and they might just have to be forced to stop to correct things.

  • ||

    To everyone who thinks they know what's best for you why do you read Reason? or, do I have the wrong website.

  • ||

    We all know that this is a form of class warfare on the poor.

    The upscale restaurants where steak tartare and foie gras are served will never be forced to fully disclose their calorie contents, because the wealthy elites frankly don't want to know, and they think they're smarter than them "poor" folks who eat Big Macs.

    I shouldn't even say that; the middle-class's restaurants (Red Lobster, Outback, Applebee's) will never be forced to go through this either.

    The most hypocritical part of that is the caloric contents of fine dining and your middle-of-the-road chains is typically astronomically higher than your average fast-food meal. It (fast food) is hated because it's good, successful and cheap.

  • Episiarch||

    We all know that this is a form of class warfare on the poor.

    Sort of. It's class control, and it does extend to the middle class. They're not eating what the elites think they should eat. They're ugly to look at and screw up national health reports. Solution? Force them to eat "well".

    As pointed out, upscale dining is chock full of calories, fats, etc. Lard adds much more flavor and texture to pastries than oil or even butter. But they're going after McDonalds. Not a surprise. Can't have the peasants getting above themselves and living their own life.

  • ||

    CB,

    1.(/End Sarcasm)

    ...it's hard to parody people whose arguments already seem like parody, huh?

    2. There's no "c" in Shultz.

  • ||

    OK, OK, I may be redneck bigot scumbag warmonger
    living in flyover country but I resent being called fat. I'm barely into the overweight BMI. Other than that, I am a good example of the stereotype. Just don't mess with my pate'.

  • Balloon Maker||

    You mean the French toast with the fried egg on top and the two fried slices of pork roll underneath that I used to get at the budd Lake (NJ) diner was twice as bad for me as a McGriddles? I'll be damned. Good thing it was twice as delicious.

    man, i miss New Jersey diners.

  • ||

    Thanks Ken S-no-C-hultz. That's a relief.

    CB

  • ||

    We can't just let people go on eating whatever they want--especially if we're going to have universal health care.

    Bingo! This is just setting us up for the pending nanny state in health care.

    How long before fast food places are selling food in little pills, a la Demolition Man?

  • ||

    To everyone who thinks they know what's best for you why do you read Reason? or, do I have the wrong website.

    At first glance, I thought this was a "for a mag called Reason" post.

    However, in the spirit of a health thread...

    DRINK ANYWAY!

  • T||

    Episiarch has nailed it. All you fat redneck bigot scumbag warmongers need to do what your betters tell you. You're obviously too stupid to make your own choices, so just shut up and obey.

    As a side note, the wife took me out to dinner Saturday. My appetizer was foie gras sliders. I had to try that, just because of the name. They were fantastic. I now return to my life of salad and cholesterol control.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The dumbest thing about all of this is that exercise would provide a much greater health benefit than diet modification to those who have health problems related to excess weight.

    However, for the vast majority of people who like to control others, it's more fun (and more easily accomplished) to punish large corporations than to get a bunch of lumpy couch potatoes off their fat asses.

  • Episiarch||

    However, for the vast majority of people who like to control others, it's more fun (and more easily accomplished) to punish large corporations than to get a bunch of lumpy couch potatoes off their fat asses.

    That and the fact that compulsory exercise is so blatantly Maoist that even the nanny-state assholes won't try it.

  • ||

    Mandatory Marathons !! The rules will be written by the IRS and Homeland Security, so that all can understand. We're gonna shape up America, it's for the children! Looks like a Nobel Peace Prize comin' Ol' Jimmy's way.

  • Dave Woycechowsky||

    I am as adamantly opposed to "food torts" . . .

    This seems like a bit of a broad brush. If a manufacturer sells you a bottle of cola with rat poison in it, then it seems like there should be a tort there, at least under some circumstances.

    If some new food additive were somehow determined to cause cancer (like smoking cigarettes does), then there should be a duty in tort to get that out of the food, or at least label prominently after the substantial risk becomes known.

    Hopefully you are merely opposed to some food torts and not all. Personally, I am not sympathetic to the ones based on fatness or diseases closely linked to fatness. Other food torts I have an open mind about.

  • ||

    I shouldn't even say that; the middle-class's restaurants (Red Lobster, Outback, Applebee's) will never be forced to go through this either.

    Actually, my agency creates menus for one of the aforementioned chains, we are going through fits right now trying to bring the menu for our NYC locations into compliance.

    I do love the irony of politicians who support anti-fast food legislation campaigning at greasy spoons and diners throughout the Heartland.

  • ||

    I think Fluffy hit the nail on the head wrt the article and its references.

    I found the whole article to be one big "WAHHHHHHHHHH"
    The author refers to fast food chains and television shows as though they're being watched by the same people and draws a connection between a widely available product of fast food and a product on Diners Drive-ins and Dives that 99% of the viewers don't have access to (because it's from a single operation).

    You don't have to be for the regulation of food to recognize that both fast food and some meals provided by local restaurants are fat-laden and should be eaten rarely. We just had this discussion yesterday about how it was consistent for Paul to oppose gay marriage but not think the government should get in the way of it.

    I know that there are people who think it should be regulated, but that's not the primary theme of the article. The primary theme is some very poorly stated argument about how mom-and-pop restaurants are more guilty for the fattening of Americans than fast food restaurants.

    /rant

  • Kolohe||

    and the way they line the checkout aisle with candy bars

    IIRC, there have been actual, real people expressing actual, real outrage at this very thing.

  • Kolohe||

    it's more fun (and more easily accomplished) to punish large corporations than to get a bunch of lumpy couch potatoes off their fat asses.

    "fun" = "remunerative", right?

  • ||

    The author refers to fast food chains and television shows as though they're being watched by the same people and draws a connection between a widely available product of fast food and a product on Diners Drive-ins and Dives that 99% of the viewers don't have access to (because it's from a single operation).

    Every town of a decent size has several of these single operations that locals flock to.I can list off ten within five miles of me not including Tex-Mex joints. The big chains are just an easier scapegoat. Come out against McDonald's and your a crusader. Come out against Rosco's Chicken & Waffles and you're out of office faster than you can say pass the syrup.

  • ||

    However, for the vast majority of people who like to control others, it's more fun (and more easily accomplished) to punish large corporations than to get a bunch of lumpy couch potatoes off their fat asses.

    That and the fact that compulsory exercise is so blatantly Maoist that even the nanny-state assholes won't try it.



    Yet.

  • ||

    "You don't have to be for the regulation of food to recognize that both fast food and some meals provided by local restaurants are fat-laden and should be eaten rarely."

    Reinmoose, don't know about where you live, but around Chicago many of the semi-fast food chains won't serve any meat rare or medium-rare.

  • ||

    If some new food additive were somehow determined to cause cancer (like smoking cigarettes does)

    Smoking cigarettes does not cause cancer. Smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood that some will develop cancer. If they actually caused cancer then everybody who smoked would develop cancer and the product would be banned.

  • ||

    Every town of a decent size has several of these single operations that locals flock to.

    You have several places near you that have food-eating challenges of massive proportions, like a 72oz steak the author was referring to?
    I agree that diner food can be really bad for you, but is it really accurate to say that they are at fault for fat Americans any more than fast food restaurants?

  • ||

    Reinmoose, don't know about where you live, but around Chicago many of the semi-fast food chains won't serve any meat rare or
    medium-rare.


    Umm... I'm missing where this is relevant. Explain a little more?

    And by semi-fast food, do you mean like Applebees?

  • Episiarch||

    Jeebus, Reinmoose, did you lose your sense of humor today? You said some of this food should eaten "rarely" and bigbigslacker made a rare meat joke. Get it?

    Relatedly, bigbigslacker is right that many places won't serve your meat rare even if you ask for it. They'll take the order, and it always comes back medium rare (or medium) no matter what you asked for (I ask for "bloody" or "sear one side then the other and then serve it to me").

    Yet one more reason for me to avoid such places.

  • ||

    Come out against McDonald's and your a crusader. Come out against Rosco's Chicken & Waffles and you're out of office faster than you can say pass the syrup.

    That is it in a nutshell. It's not about America's eating habits, that would indicate an educational/propoganda tactic. It's about anti-corporation bias.

    The first time I pulled into Hong Kong harbor, many of my shipmates expressed genuine joy that there was a McDonalds in the city. There is something to be said for franchises that is missed by the elitists. For a lot of folks, it's familiar, it's comforting, and you know what you're going to get. Not everybody wants a gastronomic adventure when they dine. Many just want to fuel up with something familiar.

  • Dave Woycechowsky||

    we are going through fits right now trying to bring the menu for our NYC locations into compliance

    witty bitty teensy weensy voiwin

  • Conhugeco||

    I saw the travel channel show about the Texas joint, and they actually had a guy eat the 72-ounce sirloin steak, a baked potato, a salad, a dinner roll, and a shrimp cocktail in approx 45 minutes.

  • ||

    Sorry Episiarch, my sense of humor never showed up today. Now I get it, har.

    I guess my problem with the article is that it's not taking the "it's Americans' own fault" line. In one breath he blames the mom-and-pop restaurants and in another he talks about South L.A. and how the prominence of fast food restaurants is all about consumer demand

  • ||

    Wait a sec....we eat 19% of our meals at fast food restaurants? Holy moly, no wonder we're a bunch of fat fatties. What percentage of our meals to we eat at Big Texan Steak Ranches and the like? What percentage do we eat at fern bars (Bennigans, Chili's, TGIFs, Outback, etc.)?

    20% at fast food restaurants? Wow.

  • x,y||

    Mandatory Marathons !!



    Let's not give them any ideas. But in the spirit of being generous, I recommend a $1,500 tax deduction for anyone who completes a state-approved half-marathon.

  • ||

    Lamar, that was part of my beef with the article too.

  • x,y||

    we eat 19% of our meals at fast food restaurants



    I eat that percentage in McRibs alone.

  • ||

    What we really need in these restaurants isn't something showing how many calories are in each item, what we need them to do is put a big food pyramid in the middle of their display menus.

    ...and let people know that there are food choices out there that both taste good and are good for you! Take apples for instance,...

  • ||

    You have several places near you that have food-eating challenges of massive proportions, like a 72oz steak the author was referring to?

    Well, I do live in Texas. But, no there are no eating challenges I'm aware of. I can however dine on all you can eat fried chicken and endless sides at Babe's. The biscuits and gravy at the Ballard St. Cafe is a larger portion than any mad fast-food scientist would dare to create. A double chili-burger at Burgerhouse with a side of jalepeno cheese fries can be had for less than a value meal - including the bottomless Coke. The number #12 plater at Hererra's is a cardiologists worst nightmare. All these places are always packed.

    I agree that diner food can be really bad for you, but is it really accurate to say that they are at fault for fat Americans any more than fast food restaurants?

    Nope. But it is accurate to say that there is a ridiculous double standard when it comes to the scrutiny fast food chain menu's endure while just as many Americans are packing on calories at locally owned joints.

    Dave Woycechowsky

    witty bitty teensy weensy voiwin


    Not looking for sympathy. Just saying that the middle-scale chains are facing the same music.

  • Episiarch||

    Take apples for instance

    Apples are just sugar, water, and cellulose. Try again.

  • robc||

    Im probably about the 19% just because of lunch at work.

  • ||

    Well, I do live in Texas.

    This explains a bit. Near me the locally owned restaurants are also usually packed, but they offer up more interesting fare. Pizza is a big fatty, but we have buckets of italian places, "diners," greek places (that aren't also diners), health-food restaurants, etc. I don't know if I can even think of an individually owned burger joint near me. So that might explain a bit.

    I agree there is a double standard.

  • BakedPenguin||

    That 20% figure must be 20% of the meals Americans eat out.

    300,000,000 Americans * 356 days * 3 meals / day = 320,400,000,000 meals / year.

    320,400,000,000 * 20% * $5 (average meal cost) would mean that Americans spend 320 billion dollars on fast food a year.

    McDonalds yearly gross was $21 billion, BK & Wendys about $3 billion each.

    While there are many more fast food restaurants, I find it hard to believe they have $300 billion in annual food sales, despite how good Checkers' fries are. (Also, keep in mind that the above mentioned sales figures are world-wide).

  • ||

    Well, for starters, it's 365 days...

  • BakedPenguin||

    Reinmoose - you haven't converted to the metric year yet?

  • ||

    Also, the article doesn't say anything about pricing. McDonald's is a lot more unhealthy (from a public health viewpoint) at $5 a pop than the 24 oz. deep fried porterhouse frites with bacon and pork rind sammich if that sammich costs $20.

    That said, the Gemini Diner on the corner of 35th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan serves an excellent Texan Burger (with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar).

  • ||

    there are no eating challenges I'm aware of.

    It's at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. You can even watch it LIVE.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    Oh we have Greek, Italian, Thai, Indian - you name it. But, you pick apart those menus and you'll find plenty to make your heart stop. I'd wager that an order of Pastsiso at Greek Isles puts a Big Mac to shame in caloric content.

    But, you're right. It comes down to choices. I always plan on getting grilled fish, but those asshole Greeks make that Pastsiso so fucking good. I should sue their asses.

    I don't know if I can even think of an individually owned burger joint near me.

    You have my condolences.

  • ||

    "I should sue their asses."

    You should sue them personally.

  • Episiarch||

    That said, the Gemini Diner on the corner of 35th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan serves an excellent Texan Burger (with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar).

    Have you gone to any Jackson Hole? Those burgers are fucking downright scary. There's one right near Gemini at 35th and 3rd. Don't believe them when they say 7oz burger; the one on 2nd Ave used to make the patties so big that it looked like the burger John Cusack makes to bring to life in Better Off Dead.

  • LarryA||

    That and the fact that compulsory exercise is so blatantly Maoist that even the nanny-state assholes won't try it.

    Yet.

    Little by little the water gets warmer and warmer...

    Well, I do live in Texas. But, no there are no eating challenges I'm aware of. I can however...

    Here in my small Texas town (pop. 20k, plus another 10k out in the county) we have four all-you-can-eat places, including pizza, Asian, faux Creole, and cowboy food. (Cowboy food: it's hot, it's brown, there's plenty of it.) Any other restaurant we eat at we take home enough leftovers for the next day's lunch. The only places we clean our pasteboard containers are the fast food chains.

  • ||

    That said, the Gemini Diner on the corner of 35th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan serves an excellent Texan Burger (with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar).

    As a Texan I can assure you that only a New Yorker would put egg on a hamburger. Not saying I wouldn't eat it. I'm just saying.

    The price thing doesn't hold up. Most diners, greasy spoons, Mexican and BBQ joints are no more expensive than a trip through the drive through. The Big Texan is a shitty comparison (and a shittier steakhouse) but by and large (mostly large) the people that frequent local joints aren't well-heeled foodies. They are average income locals.

  • ||

    Oh we have Greek, Italian, Thai, Indian - you name it. But, you pick apart those menus and you'll find plenty to make your heart stop.

    One word: Ghee

  • ||

    One word: Ghee

    AKA: Concentrated Evil

    Damn you! Now I want Indian for lunch. You'll be hearing from my attorney.

  • x,y||

    Also: Fatburger ... mmmm.

  • ||

    See, the thing about Vegan Jihadists is, like the Muslim variety, they really love stereotypes and simple, brainless, knee-jerk answers to complex questions.

    They also like terrorizing people into living by their rules, and feeling superior to all we "infidels".

    Fast food restaurants are an easy target for these fanatic lunatics and their sychophants in the U.S. press, but the fact is, legislating morality has been tried, (see: Prohibition), and all it did was create a black market where none had existed before, and enrich/entrench the Italian Mafia in the U.S.

    Food is not "dangerous". Making it into a controlled substance? That's another story entirely.

  • ||

    Oh yeah...the fast food industry is such a bunch of victims, I have just sooooo much sympathy for their plight. Stay tuned, next subject of sympathy: White Christian Males 40-60 yrs old.

  • Mike M.||

    I wonder how much of our obesity "epidemic" is due to unhealthy junk food, and how much of it is due to the evolution of our wealthy deindustrialized society (more of us sitting around in offices surfing the internet all day, and fewer of us working on our feet).

  • Fluffy||

    James logic:

    "That criminal defendant is white, therefore he should not get to complain if he is not treated justly. Poor white guy, I have soooooo much sympathy for your plight."

  • ||

    I'll just sound the echo chamber here. My take is that, the morbidly obese five-meal-a-day types apart, the problem is entirely a lack of exercise and not the diet we eat. The human body is remarkably adaptable regarding diet, but it does need exercise.

  • ||

    I think my logic is closer to the idea that feeling sorry for companies which make enormous amounts of money selling food that is unhealthy is a long way down my sympathy list...I might get to them but there are a lot of people ahead of them.

  • ||

    Let's not forget that most of these evil fast food joints are owned by local franchisees. Why should a local businessperson that owns a McDonald's be forced to jump through more hoops than the guy that owns the all-you-can-eat Catfish buffet around the corner?

  • SPD||

    It's simple: just don't eat at fast food restaurants. Make your own meals if you're concerned about calorie/fat intake.

    I can't waste my time worrying that other people aren't smart enough or don't care enough about what they're cramming down their gullets.

    My main argument against nationalized health care is that I'll have to subsidize treating the effects of their stupidity and lack of discipline later on.

  • ||

    Pan the movie if you want, but Fast Food Nation is right about one thing: The McGurgles exist.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Curly Smith,

    Smoking cigarettes does not cause cancer. Smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood that some will develop cancer. If they actually caused cancer then everybody who smoked would develop cancer and the product would be banned.

    I begin to see why you find the AGW thing so confusing...

    A causal chain can include a primary cause, such as cigs, for an outcome, such as cancer, and still include many other factors that mediate or moderate the effects of that cause for the outcome (genetics, level of exposure, other exposures, etc...). Certain combinations of these other factors may eliminate the outcome entirely.

    The relationships between elements in the causal chain and final outcome should be defined based on parameters relatively robust to the effects of misclassification: precedence (e.g., A precedes B), correlation, and dominance (predictive potency: if maximized by using A alone, then A dominates B; if best when using A and B simultaneously, then A and B codominate). There are five basic relationships that traits A & B may have in terms of O are defined: Mediators, Moderators, and Independent, Overlapping, & Proxy Risk Factors:

    1) Mediator: mediator variable B explains how or why another variable (A) affects the outcome (O). This kind of relationship is fundamental to the development of causal chains. A precedes B, A and B are correlated, and either B dominates A (total mediation), or there is codomination by A and B (partial mediation).

    2) Moderator: A does not influence B directly. Predictive power of B for O depends upon the value of A, which changes the relationship between B and O without directly affecting the level or probability of B (i.e., A precedes B, A and B are not correlated, and A and B codominate).

    3) Independent Risk Factors: no temporal precedence, A and B are uncorrelated, and codominant.

    4) Overlapping Risk Factors: no temporal precedence, A and B are correlated, and codominant.

    5) Proxy Risk Factor: B is a proxy of A for O, if A and B are correlated, B does not have temporal precedence (A may or may not have precedence), and A dominates.

  • ||

    How about being against McDonald's because the food tastes ghastly?

    I mean, even my dog refused to eat food from there. And he loves Arby's.

  • ||

    Mike M. wonders:

    ". . . how much of our obesity 'epidemic' is due to unhealthy junk food, and how much of it is due to the evolution of our wealthy deindustrialized society (more of us sitting around in offices surfing the internet all day, and fewer of us working on our feet)."

    The latter plays little or no role. The epidemic began in the 1980s. In the 1950s through the 80s, middle class, middle-aged people did not get significantly more exercise than they do now, yet they are much fatter today.

    I believe the epidemic is mainly caused by public policy, mainly federal and local laws, and by food corporations. The following factors are important:

    Federal government agriculture and food policies favor bad health and high corporate profits. Fattening food is subsidized; healthy food such as fresh vegetables and fruit are not.

    Cheap food. Food costs are now the lowest they have ever been, but not for long. The British "Economist" reports that the ethanol boondoggle has caused the biggest rise in food costs ever recorded. (Ethanol is a gift to OPEC: it converts 1 gallon of oil into the energy equivalent of 0.7 gallons of ethanol, throwing away 30% of the energy and polluting hundreds of gallons of water.)

    Fast food restaurants sell much larger portions than they used to, because food is cheap.

    Grocery stores sell much more junk food, because it is highly profitable. This is especially true in poor neighborhoods.

    The U.S. public health system is a shambles.

    U.S. schools sell junk food to the students, and no longer require P.E. Bad habits are ingrained from childhood, thanks to the Coca Cola company.

    For more information, see Farley and Cohen, "Prescription for a Healthy Nation," Beacon Press, 2005

  • ||

    The latter plays little or no role. The epidemic began in the 1980s. In the 1950s through the 80s, middle class, middle-aged people did not get significantly more exercise than they do now, yet they are much fatter today.

    Perhaps you're right, but that was a smaller percentage of the population before America became deindustrialized. Even in the '70s, I think people did do more walking and moving about compared to today. I'm shocked when I see how sedentary some people are.

    No doubt, though, that Americans consume more calories than before, on average. But the greasy spoons out there haven't changed appreciably since I was a boy in the '70s. And fast food joints weren't any healthier then, either.

  • ||

    ChrisO wrote:

    "And fast food joints weren't any healthier then, either."

    That is true, but they served much smaller portions. Researchers have shown that people will eat as much as you give them.

    Look up "portion inflation" to see examples. Hamburgers have gone from 1.6 oz to between 3.2 and 8.0 oz. The average soft drink has gone from 6.5 oz to 20 oz. That's 190 extra calories of sucrose. You are eating an extra 13 teaspoons of sugar with each drink, and people drink this stuff more often than they used to.

    If you have a genetic inclination to diabetes, this is an insane thing to do.

    People think that modern medicine can ameliorate the problems of diabetes and obesity, but they are wrong. I have seen people in their 40s and 50s lose limbs, go blind, and die, despite the best medical care.

    This is a society wide problem, affecting the U.S. and many other countries, especially Mexico. It is caused by government policy, corporate marketing, mass media, food pricing, and many other factors, including -- of course -- individual choices. There is plenty of blame to go around.

    Our education, public health and healthcare systems are a shambles, as I said, and that is why many people do not realize they are ruining their health by overeating. They think it is normal to be far overweight.

    People who scoff at this trend, or who blame it entirely on individuals, such as the author of this article, fail to appreciate how serious and pervasive this problem is. We will eventually deal with it, just as we eventually dealt with cigarettes, automobile safety, and many other problems, reducing the damage they cause. But in the meanwhile, before we act, millions of people will suffer and many lives will be cut short.

  • ||

    Scoff.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican,

    I begin to see why you find the AGW thing so confusing...

    I'm not confused at all, it's a scam.

  • ||

    "bad public policy" causes fatness? Does this imply lack of regulation? Too many drive up windows? Would "good public policy" eliminate the opportunity to make bad choices?

    The answer to childhood obesity is a BB gun, a fishing pole, fewer video games, and don't stock the fridge with soda. Active kids cannot eat enough McDonalds to get fat.

  • ||

    "Portion inflation" in restaurants is described by the NIH as "portion distortion." See:

    http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/

    http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/oei_ss/PDII/download/ppt/PD2.ppt

    Increase in the average portion size over the last 20 years:

    Coffee: 45 calories => mocha coffee 350 calories

    Muffin 210 cal. => 500 cal.

    Pepperoni pizza 500 cal. => 850 cal.

    Chicken Caesar salad 390 cal. => 790 cal.

    . . . and so on.

  • ||

    bigbigslacker wrote:

    "'bad public policy' causes fatness?

    Yes. As I said, so does individual choice. But millions of people did not suddenly decide to ruin their health starting in 1980. You can't blame it entirely on the individual.


    "Does this imply lack of regulation?"

    No, it is mainly a case of the federal government giving huge sums of money to food producers, and crafting laws that ruin people's health to protect corporate profits.

    Also, it is caused by public health and education budgets being gutted, and by our schools stuffing our children with junk food and soft drinks.


    "Too many drive up windows? Would 'good public policy' eliminate the opportunity to make bad choices?"

    No, but it would not reward corporations for poisoning people and selling children soft drinks. It would promote healthy foods such as fresh fruit, or at least stop punishing fruit producers by tilting the playing field against them.


    "The answer to childhood obesity is a BB gun, a fishing pole, fewer video games . . ."

    This is how I grew up, but it is not an option in most of modern America, alas.


    ". . . and don't stock the fridge with soda."

    Right! That's very important!

  • ||

    Look, I don't like fast food, but this article is, well, just silly:

    Britney Spears' (fast food) diet making her nuts?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22206614/

    Oh dear. To whoever wrote this article--no, darling, I'm afraid she's a fruitcake totally on her own.

    (The Twinkie Defense Lives Again!)

  • Nicolas A||

    GOD BLESS REASONS MAGAZINE!

    PLEASE, let me be FREE TO FAIL!!!!!!


    Nicolas Adjuder
    nic@thepoorarenottrying.net
    ThePoorAreNotTrying.net
    Author of The Poor Are Not Trying

  • ||

    Didn't anybody read the latest Center for Disease Control report that showed that being fat is healthy?

  • ||

    Also worth reading is, Gary Taubes "Good Calories, Good Calories"

  • ||

    I have been travelling to the US for over 2 decades on business and last few years to meet my sons.what usually undid me always is the difficulty in getting passable vegy food.I cannot go to french joints and end up paying for bland and unspellable fare and feeling a groan in the belly.It was impossible to stomach more than a few pieces of fries in the fast food places and the salads are simply portions of greens fit for cattle.The concept of finer taste and flavor is uncommon knowledge and I siply pity the generations that survived on nearly raw meat ground or not.I think people should try other safer and friendlier cousines so that wardrobe and waist belt changes are avoided

  • ||

    My life was saved by a seatbelt. It shouldn't be unlawful not to wear one. But I'm glad that the government increased awareness to the point where I thought it was a good idea, and now I wear one all the time.

    Same with cigarettes. I used to smoke. Now I don't, and (here comes the food-related connection) I'm glad that smoking in restaurants is pretty much outlawed. We were in Germany recently right before a ban was to go into effect, and-- health risks aside (and I think they are significant)-- a smoky restaurant really interfered with our enjoyment of (all that delicious, fatty) food.

    Sometimes, mild government regulation for the public well-being or safety is good, proper and no obstruction to liberty. "Nanny State"? Sometimes your nanny decides it's not a great idea for you to walk in front of that truck.

  • ||

    the "anti-mac" campaign is nothing new.
    Compare it with the prohibition movement.
    There's a long American tradition of passing laws to stop people from doing what they want to do.

  • larry r||

    Everyone commenting here should read this article, and the book it is about:
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/119736.html

  • ||

    In invoking monstrosities such as the 72-oz steak and the Challenge Burger, Mr. Beato proves himself woefully ignorant of the difference between a product and a gimmick.

    Products, especially those in fast food restaurants, are carefully crafted to sell as many units as possible, regardless of calorie content.

    Gimmicks look like fun on a menu, but everyone -- including the restaurant and the diner himself -- knows that whoever orders them is either a clown or a sucker.

  • nfl jerseys||

    look

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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