The Mirage of Blooming 'Food Deserts'

New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata, who has an admirable record of questioning conventional wisdom about health issues, turns her skeptical gaze to the "food desert" hypothesis, which holds that poor people eat crappy diets and get fat because they do not have ready access to healthy comestibles such as fresh fruits and vegetables. As Kolata notes, this idea "has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama," despite a lack of evidence to support it.

The website for the first lady's anti-obesity campaign, Let's Move!, brags that she "is taking on food deserts," which are "nutritional wastelands that exist across America in both urban and rural communities where parents and children simply do not have access to a supermarket." It claims that "some 23.5 million Americans—including 6.5 million children—currently live in food deserts." In a post on the Let's Move! blog, Rayne Pegg, administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, says "this lack of access contributes directly to poor diets which can lead to obesity" and plugs the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which aims to make fruits and vegetables more available by paying farmers to sell them. "For too many American families," says another post, "serving healthy food as part of a regular diet isn't actually an option. That's because, in many communities across the country, there is no place to purchase any groceries, much less fresh fruits and vegetables." The first lady explains that "it's not that people don't know or don't want to do the right thing; they just have to have access to the foods that they know will make their families healthier." That's why "eliminating these food deserts and making sure parents in every part of the country have access to fresh produce and healthy choices is a primary goal of Let’s Move."  

As Katherine Mangu-Ward noted in the February issue of Reason, these grand plans to make food deserts bloom seem to be based on some serious misconceptions. She highlighted a 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine study that found "proximity to a grocery store or supermarket did not increase consumption of healthy food." She suggested one reason geography is not dietary destiny: According to the USDA, "93 percent of 'desert' dwellers have access to a car." Kolata reports that recent research reinforces the case against the "food desert" hypothesis.

In one study, reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers at the RAND Corporation used data on children and teenagers from the California Health Interview Survey to see if there was any association between diet and proximity to "fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, small food stores, grocery stores, and large supermarkets." They "found no relationship between what type of food students said they ate, what they weighed, and the type of food within a mile and a half of their homes." Kolata says Roland Sturm, co-author of the study, "has also completed a national study of middle school students, with the same result—no consistent relationship between what the students ate and the type of food nearby." He tells her "you can get basically any type of food" in almost any urban neighborhood, adding, "Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert." 

Another study, reported in the April issue of Social Science and Medicine, found that poor neighborhoods "had nearly twice as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as wealthier ones," Kolata writes, but "they also had nearly twice as many supermarkets and large-scale grocers per square mile." The author, Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California, reports that "differential exposure to food outlets does not independently explain weight gain over time" in the sample of elementary school students tracked by the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. She writes that "it may thus be important to reconsider whether food access is, in all settings, a salient factor in understanding obesity risk among young children."

Even Kelly Brownell, the Yale psychologist who wants to tackle obesity through a system of taxes and subsidies that amounts to centrally planned food prices, scoffs at the notion that inadequate grocery options explain why poor people are disproportionately fat. "It is always easy to advocate for more grocery stores," he tells Kolata. "But if you are looking for what you hope will change obesity, healthy food access is probably just wishful thinking." When a grandiose social engineer like Brownell dismisses your plan to make Americans thinner as "wishful thinking," you really need to stop and consider whether your scheme has any connection to reality.

The Obama administration does not seem inclined to do that. Responding to Kolata's questions about the evidence indicating that the fight against food deserts is fundamentally misconceived, USDA spokesman Justin DeJong "said by e-mail that fighting obesity requires 'a comprehensive response'"—so comprehensive that it includes half-baked, empirically unfounded projects that are destined to fail. But we're doing other stuff too, says DeJong, such as (in Kolata's paraphrase) "improving food in schools, increasing physical education time, and educating people on the importance of healthy diets." Forcing kids to exercise in school (which is not necessarily what more time for gym would mean) might cause them to lose weight, assuming they do not respond by increasing their caloric intake or exercising less on their own time. But the goal of "improving food in schools" is based on the same questionable premise that gave us federal subsidies for farmers' markets: that people deviate from the government's dietary advice because they do not have access to healthy food, so eating properly "isn't actually an option," as Let's Move! puts it.

Similarly, "educating people on the importance of healthy diets" assumes they do not eat what the government thinks they should because they do not know any better. Yet anyone who shops for groceries can readily observe that some people pass up fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and skim milk, which they surely have heard are good for them, in favor of potato chips, white bread, ground beef, soda, and ice cream—not because the latter items are cheaper (they're not) but because they taste better (to these particular shoppers, at least). Michelle Obama and USDA bureaucrats probably have different tastes, and they certainly have different values and priorities. They are manifestly less willing to sacrifice their long-term health for the sake of short-term pleasure. When the first lady insists "it's not that people don't know or don't want to do the right thing," it is obvious to her what "the right thing" is: People need to eat less of the foods they like and more of the foods they don't. But to people with different preferences, this is not at all obvious, and it never will be, no matter how many fruits and vegetables the government throws at them. 

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  • ||

    The website for the first lady's anti-obesity campaign, Let's Move!, brags...

    That's where you lost me.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Stone Age
    Bronze Age
    Iron Age
    Industrial Age
    Atomic Age
    Space Age
    Bullshit Age

  • ||

    Except we missed the space age. :(

  • Formerly Almanian||

    What's this "we" stuff, Kemosabe?

  • Pro Libertate||

    We had one, it was just very short.

  • ||

    Probably would've lasted longer if mission control had been in Florida. ;)

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or if NASA had gotten out of manned spaceflight altogether.

  • ||

    See, and that ties into the glorious heights of technology bit. Not everything is being sucked into the vortex of bullshit. A few glimmers of hope are out there.

  • ||

    By which I mean, NASA is practically out of manned spaceflight at this point, and we're hopefully at the dawn of a new age on that front at least.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Age of Bullshit is really coming into its own now, so watch out! Probably some bullshit will be used to stop all of that private space activity which scares people. Do you know that some think they should have property rights in space? Egad.

  • SugarFree||

    The Age of Bullshit is The Age of The SugarFree.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I see a strong correlation, yes.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I prefer the Age of the Standup Philosopher.

  • AuH2O||

    Yeah, Orwell was way ahead of this, when he was discussing the poors preference for margarine and white bread(I think it was in Down and Out in Paris and London):

    To paraphrase (because fuck you, comment invalidation), when you are poor and life is shitty, you don't want to eat stuff that is good for you. You want to eat food that tastes good.

  • Zeb||

    The margarine thing still doesn't make sense, though. That stuff tastes awful.

  • AuH2O||

    Orwell was writing about the British, Zeb. You do the math.

  • Restoras||

    Margarine is an abomination.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    You're not supposed to eat that stuff straight. It's supposed to be cooked with in a very select genre of dishes, as a sort of catalyst or lubricant. Its chemical properties are preferable to butter in some cases.

  • Restoras||

    Margarine is an abomination.

  • hotsy totsy||

    So is skim milk.

  • Anacreon||

    But Charlie! Poor people doesn't want food with good taste, poor people want food that tastes good!

  • robc||

    I still dont know how the fuck you and others are hitting the comment invalidation. I have tried everything yall have said without any luck. Maybe the squirrels just love me.

  • robc||

    Ah, I know what is going on, I suggested it yesterday and it just happened to me below.

    You cant copy-pasta something with the stupid microsoft quotation marks/apostraphes in it. You need to use the html standard ones.

    I had a similar thing happen on a project nearly a decade ago (for the Maker's Mark Ambassador emails).

    see that, between the r and s?, that is a the proper symbol. If it leans, it fails.

  • ||

    Yeah, that was my theory yesterday, but I still had the problem when I pulled the bad double quotes. I must have missed an apostrophe.

  • robc||

    I tried to use about 3 lines full of standard dashes - in a row and that also triggered it.

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    "'-'" "'-'"

  • Angus MacAskill||

    — U+2014 em dash
    – U+2013 en dash

  • Suki||

    Michelle needs to be keeping an eye on Bo before he gets cooked up at the next Barry cookout.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It is lean meat.

  • KDN||

    Lean and fragrant.

  • Suki||

    Great after a penguin appetizer.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    It is amazing - albeit disturbing - to watch the end of a civilization take place before one's very own eyes. ProL is spot on - The Age of Bullshit. What astounds me is the number of people not only partaking, but enthusiastically asking for more.

    Fuck you, USA. It was a good ride while it lasted.

  • ||

    It's a weird juxtaposition. On the one hand, we're reaching ever more glorious heights of technological innovation. Meanwhile, our societal foundation is rotting from the inside.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That'll slow down as the Bullshit Age further infects all of the leading commercial powers.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    It was ever thus:

    [WHATEVER] AGE: "Zog! Look! Fire and circle! We go cruise for chicks!"

    INDUSTRIAL AGE: "Those machines tuk rrr jerrrrrbz!!"

    SPACE AGE: "Plastics."

    BULLSHIT AGE: "PC's, smart phones, cars that fucking drive themselves...I'm gonna take more Vicodin and fuck my sister cause I'm bored...."

    We are all Caligula....

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    My vice president's a horse?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Incitatus was a senator. true, we tend more towards jackasses, but isn't that close enough?

  • SugarFree||

    What I love is the significant overlap between the food desert people and the "walking more than a mile somewhere is good for you and the environment" types.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    But "I'd Walk A Mile For A Camel."

    Oh, wait, yeah....

  • BakedPenguin||

    Twain understood that mentality:

    There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

    Walking is good, unless someone has to do it because of economic circumstances.

  • ||

    This sentence is false!

  • Evil Otto||

    We're talking about walking to a grocery store specifically.

    Which implies walking back WITH GROCERIES. Hopefully nothing perishable or frozen if it's a long distance.

  • fried wylie||

    frozen sure. perishable? how long is your fucking walk?

    the big pain in the ass for me as a walker is liquids. fucking heavy-ass water, jeez.

  • Evil Otto||

    That's why I get my water in powder form.

  • fried wylie||

    "Warning: DO NOT ADD WATER"

  • Evil Otto||

    And the rule of thumb is that meat, milk, etc, have two hours of exposure to non-cold temperature before they go bad. So if you have a 45 minute walk to the grocery store, you're in trouble.

  • fried wylie||

    who came up with that rule, the USDA? I'm not buying it.

  • ||

    Um, not.

    In Germany, the people do not even refridgerate milk. They have it delivered daily and drink it warm.

    Meat? Two hours my ass. I leave out all night to unfreeze. Steaks must be left to rise to room temperature for two hours to cook properly.

    Sometimes I think liberals make up lies on the spot to support whatever bullshit their team has most recently inveted.

  • Chadwyck||

    To my knowledge, most other countries pasteurize their milk differently than the United States does.

    They heat it to a higher temperature for shorter periods of time, where we go low and slow. The hotter pasteurization process is more effective in killing bacteria, so it's not necessary to refrigerate.

    It also caramelizes the lactose, which makes it taste too sweet for me, blech.

  • Evil Otto||

    We primarily use the HTST pasteurization here in the US too. The LTLT treatment is mostly done by home pasteurizers.

    Both these types of pasteurization kill off only about 90% of the bacteria in milk, including nearly all of the normal, benign bacteria "designed" to be present in it. This is what allows the remaining pathogens to have free reign in unrefrigerated pasteurized milk. In raw milk left at room temperature the benign bacteria produce lactic acid which renders the liquid inhospitable for pathogens to grow in (though it also makes it very sour to taste).

    There is also UHT/ultra-pasteurization which kills off virtually all the bacteria in milk, and allows it to be stored unrefrigerated, but it gives the milk a weird taste (possibly the sweetness you're referring to).

  • Evil Otto||

    Obviously if it starts out frozen you have a longer time before it becomes bacterrific. I was refering to things that are bought in a refrigerated state.

  • ||

    Regardless, the point of the study in yesterday's NY times is that there is a supermarket within a couple miles in any urban area. It shouldn't take two hours to walk that.

    The previous studies used per-capita measures which made it appear that densely populated urban areas had fewer supermarkets. The new study uses distance to market and travel time.

  • RBS||

    When I lived in DC, in the neighborhood around RFK, I walked to the grocery store all the time and managed to make it home before my food spoiled or even the ice cream melted.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I don't think you could make it two blocks in Texas with ice cream in the summer. Maybe with an insulated bag.

  • RBS||

    I agree, my point was really that walking home with you groceries might be a pain in the ass sometimes but it's doable, even in poor neighborhoods.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Agreed.

    And if you honest to Zod, truly couldn't do without ice cream you could try going early in the morning and packing some frozen veggies around it. Or switch to Otter Pops.

  • fried wylie||

    Maybe with an insulated bag.

    Got an insulated reusable grocery bag from Giant, I think. It's fancy.

    Failing that, buy a cooler to carry your icecream in.

  • ||

    Or you could not eat ice cream. Or get your ice cream from the convenience store.

  • Evil Otto||

    Convenience store groceries cost $$$$. And there's a lot of frozen stuff that is indispensible, like waffles and veggies.

  • ||

    I said you could get your ice cream. JUST your ice cream. ONLY ice cream.

    Is there some sort of law of nature that says you must get all your food stuffs from the same store?

  • Bee Tagger||

    They are manifestly less willing to sacrifice their long-term health for the sake of short-term pleasure.

    This has to be the biggest factor of them all: a large short-term time preference stretched over a wide-range of behaviors. Unfortunately, even if you've identified this, it still leaves plenty of room for know-betters to say these preferences are wrong, in light of some objective way to live a life. Or they can indirectly call them ill-informed or dumb.

  • R C Dean||

    a large short-term time preference stretched over a wide-range of behaviors.

    An excellent summary of why most poor people remain poor, even though it is manifestly possible to escape poverty in this country.

  • SugarFree||

    In life, the path of least resistance leads nowhere.

  • robc||

    they'd chosen always the clear, safe course that leads ever downward into stagnation.

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

  • Formerly Almanian||

    ^^this^^ It's pretty well est. in the research. And hence why the Mike Tysons of the world, and so many lottery winners, end up broke again after accumulating a bank account unimaginable to most people - always thinking short term ===> bad choices for the long term ===> ending up broke.

    "The poor will always be with us." Because the stupid and shortsighted will always be with us...

  • AuH2O||

    But R C Dean, that can't possibly be right. I was told that society is at fault for poor people, not the actual actions of any individual.

  • Doctor Whom||

    "Progressive" statists have told me, with no discernible irony, that it's a myth that anyone escapes poverty.

  • Aresen||

    What I object to is the typical response to pointing out that most poverty is due to self-destructive behavior is to smear the person stating the fact as "heartless" or a "social darwinist."

  • Doctor Whom||

    Ad hominem arguments trump mere facts every time, as you would know if you weren't such a heartless social Darwinist.

  • Zeb||

    But society made them engage in self destructive behavior. You heartless bastard!

  • SugarFree||

    Recent conversation with two of my student workers:

    Her: "My uncle says people are poor because they are all drunks."

    Him: [looks a his libertarian boss expectantly]

    Me: "What? I don't think that at all. I think they are poor because they are lazy."

    Their expressions were priceless.

  • Evil Otto||

    Were you born poor, SugarFree? If not, STFU. You have no idea how much work it takes to get out of poverty.

    Yes, it's possible, but so is swimming the English Channel, and I don't see you doing that either.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Yes, of course - I forgot that in the US today, one can't comment on any subject one has not lived oneself.

    This is Urine Grade Stupid.

    Fuck you, Tulpa, you butthurt prick.

  • Evil Otto||

    SF wasn't merely commenting on the subject of poverty. He was smearing an entire class of people as lazy because they didn't do the work he himself never had to do.

  • SugarFree||

    Fuck off, Tulpa, you sanctimonious shitbag.

  • RBS||

    You know, I've always thought Tulpa was a woman.

  • SugarFree||

    He has always identified himself as male.

  • RBS||

    He has always identified himself as male.

    What JW said.

  • SugarFree||

    What JW said.

    Well, you just have to take people's word for it. Dagny could be a hulking Canadian sea monster for all we know, or Warty a wee Asian grandmother.

  • ||

    Being a hulking Canadian sea monster sounds kind of fun. Show STEVE SMITH a taste of his own rapemedicine for starters.

  • JW||

    You know, I've always thought Tulpa was a woman.

    A reasonable assumption considering all the sand that's always falling out of his vagina.

  • Evil Otto||

    You're calling an entire class of people lazy, most of whom you've never met, and I'm the one who's sanctimonious?

  • SugarFree||

    Since there is no social mobility, I guess you were born rich. And they just handed you your PhD with no work on your part.

    Which makes you the perfect defender of the poor and downtrodden.

  • Evil Otto||

    There is social mobility.

    It's a decades-long pain in the ass to go from poverty to wealth.

    Do these statements contradict each other? (and I'm not particularly wealthy now either, not that it matters)

  • robc||

    It's a decades-long pain in the ass to go from poverty to wealth.

    On the other hand, it takes about 6 months to go from poverty to not-poverty.

  • SugarFree||

    There is social mobility.

    It's a decades-long pain in the ass to go from poverty to wealth.

    And why don't the poor undertake this decades-long pain in the ass? Could it be the same reason they have a revealed preference for stuffing their kids with junk food rather than expending the small amount of effort it would take to make a cheap, nutritious meal? A meal that food stamps pay for and a horde of squishy liberals would beg to teach them how to make?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I was born poor. Now I'm not. Changing that was a hell of a lot easier than swimming the English Channel.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm strictly middle class, but I've known my share of people who came from poverty who are not poor now. The challenge is overcoming the negatives that can surround a kid raised in poverty. Most of those negatives aren't about opportunity but about overcoming bad cultural mindsets and habits.

    I feel for people who suffer because they don't know better, but that doesn't mean that many of them--probably most--aren't in their situations long term because of dumb decisions. And since many do claw their way out, it's obviously not an impossible task.

  • ||

    Most of those negatives aren't about opportunity but about overcoming bad cultural mindsets and habits.

    Totally. I was just thinking about that being the major hurdle. This goes back to the Rich Dad, Poor Dad bit that Goldwater mentioned.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's pathetic is that the progressives running our public education system seem hell bent on doing nothing to overcome those problems. We can't favor any cultural or belief system over any other one, nor can we create more bourgeois minions for the corporate Saurons.

  • JW||

    Fuck off Tulpy-poo. For all you know, Sug was born a poor black child.

    FWIW, we never had any money to speak of growing up, I come from a broken home, single mom, moved frequently, hoodlum friends, lowest to 2nd lowest qunitile in wealth. By all accounts I should be wearing a wife beater under a track suit, while sporting the most beautiful mullet.

    Instead, because I eventually applied myself, I'm solidly middle-class, have a Masters degree, own a home, 2 recent vintage cars, no debt other than the house, saving for retirement and for his kids to go to college. I'll never be "rich" but I'll never be poor either.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Lazy and stupid covers a lot of poor.

    Crazy covers a bunch more.

    And the people who don't fit in those categories often don't think of themselves as poor.

    I grew up in a housing project in NYC. So yeah, I grew up poor.

    You can eat reall good--and healthy on food stamps. There are no urban 'food deserts'. Not one. There are rural food deserts--and things that could be called food deserts in the suburbs(if you don't have a car). But there are no urban food deserts. There is usually cheap food within walking distance--and cheaper food within a short bus ride.

    And 'poor' isn't a class--it's an unfortunate situation--one that no one should identify with but some people find themselves in. The only people stuck in that situation are the lazy, the stupid and the crazy. Everyone else can -- and usually does -- get out.

  • ||

    Only people who've never had any particularly close encounters with actual poor people could honestly believe any differently. So those cries of "heartlessness" are just so much more posturing.

  • SugarFree||

    The Social Work graduate school here estimates that their graduates work an average of 20 months before moving on to a new profession.

    When idealism meets reality.

  • Anacreon||

    Of course. Social work degrees are really just so you can eventually move into a public-health administration position where you go to a few meetings a day, come in late and leave early. It doesn't take long for social workers to jump to that after they see how trying to help most people is hitting your head repeatedly against the same brick wall.

  • Evil Otto||

    I hope you apply this same type of logic when we're talking about leftists who characterize libertarians as heartless loners from encounters with a few actual libertarians.

  • ||

    Somewhere out there, Tulpa, exists objective reality. I have known some actual poor people (not poor in the global sense of "unable to obtain adequate food and shelter," but that's not really what we're talking about here, is it?) and can point to their specific choices and say "this is why you're poor." If they had done X instead of Y countless times over, they would not be as poor as they are. But sometimes X is just plain harder than Y, so let's all have a big ol' cry about it. That sounds productive.

  • Evil Otto||

    And I suppose you've never done X, or a similarly economically unbeneficial thing?

    It's easy to tell someone else they should never have bought things they couldn't afford when you're coming from a situation where you could afford those things.

  • ||

    If they had done X instead of Y countless times over, they would not be as poor as they are.


    And I suppose you've never done X, or a similarly economically unbeneficial thing?

    STRAWMAN

  • SugarFree||

    Did you grow up poor, Joe M? If not, you can't even enter into this discussion.

  • ||

    Latchkey kid, single mom, OPTIMUS PRIME WAS MY DAD.

  • ||

    It's also easy to chivalrously defend the poor and downtrodden when you've never seen the self-destructive and irresponsible behaviour up close and personal.

  • JW||

    I have, having worked in supermarkets in poor neighborhoods for years, before and during college. I can attest to the types of food that made it to the checkout line.

    There were plenty of fresh veggies and fruits available for purchase, reasonably priced, as well as nutritious juices, but the bulk that ever seemed to make it was the Sunny D and snack foods.

    Lots of prepared foods were bought and foods full of empty calories, too. Lots of free pamphlets at the end of the every register about healthy eating, that never, ever, needed to be refilled.

  • Evil Otto||

    The poor don't have behaviour. Individual poor people do. And yes, I ride the bus with them every day and have to avoid the wet seats from them leaving random trash on the bus, so I'm aware of destructive behavior.

  • ||

    Wow, I not only sneaked a superfluous "u" in there, but coaxed one out of you too. :-)

    I actually think in a lot of cases there is a psychological element to it. If one weren't living paycheck to paycheck, one would have so much more responsibility, to make scary decisions about saving, investing, planning for the future. So just when one is on the verge of getting ahead, look, another "unfortunate accident" just happens out of nowhere. I have seen it time and time again.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I've certainly spent money stupidly, but that's hardly the same as doing it chronically.

    When I was growing up my mother sewed bands of material from old shirts into the legs of my pants to make them longer because we couldn't even spare money for Goodwill. I'm pretty well acquainted with not being able to afford stuff.

  • R C Dean||

    I spend money stupidly all the time.

    But it's money that I set aside after paying all the bills, topping off the retirement accounts, etc., that I specifically reserve for spending stupidly.

    Right now, I have a boner for a silencer for my M1A. When I have a grand in my stupid account, I might just get one. But not before.

  • Evil Otto||

    it is manifestly possible to escape poverty in this country

    With a shit-ton of hard work and scrimping and saving, yes. While a person born wealthy can avoid poverty entirely by simply not screwing up his or her finances badly enough.

    So don't pretend the wealthy are morally superior and the poor deserve their lot.

  • AuH2O||

    I agree with this, but the idea that the poor have different behavior than those who succeed is a socially taboo subject, and yet a truism that people should know.

    Hence things like, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"

  • Evil Otto||

    If you think that's a truism, you don't agree with my comment.

    Some poor people do have economically negative behaviors that would lead them back to poverty if they won the lottery, yes. Some don't. They're individuals, you see.

    And of course, the ORIGIN of those behaviors is fairly important. Does growing up in a poor environment for the first 20 years of one's life tend to develop those behaviors? Perhaps.

  • Ozz||

    Shit ton of hard work? Well that must be relative. I grew up poor and escaping it wasn't all that difficult.

    1. Be personally responsible for your actions.
    2. Surround yourself with good people.
    3. You don't have to be great, but being consistent is paramount.
    4. Have a work ethic.

    If you think incorporating these simple truisms into one's life is hard work, then you sir are a moron.

  • Evil Otto||

    #2 is pretty difficult for people growing up in the ghetto, if we're defining "good" as "economically positive behavior".

    #3-#4 are easy to type out and "incorporate", damn hard to keep fulfilling in real life day after day, year after year, particularly to the degree one must do if starting out with zilch.

    Don't minimize your accomplishment by claiming it's merely a result of incorporating truisms. It wasn't.

  • ||

    #3-#4 are easy to type out and "incorporate", damn hard to keep fulfilling in real life day after day, year after year, particularly to the degree one must do if starting out with zilch.

    OMG, showing up on time for work every day, such an impossible burden. Only the priviledged can handle it.

    I have the same experience. I could take half a dozen poor people I know and observe their habit of blowing off obligations and responsibilites they have undertaken, and say "That is why you are poor."

    Someone offers them a chance to earn a couple hundred bucks on an odd job, and they either don't show up, or show up two hours late. Guess what? That person never asks them to do anything again. What a surprise!

  • Marshall Gill||

    you sir are a moron.

    Ozz, meet Evil Otto, formerly known as Tulpa.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, it's not as if the way out isn't known. It usually is. Some big problems are social stigma in the culture against things like education and certain kinds of work. Also, some percentage of our poor really just don't think much about the future. That's true even among our more affluent classes.

  • robc||

    With a shit-ton of hard work and scrimping and saving, yes.

    Excaping poverty is not nearly that fucking hard. Get a job. Keep it. There, poverty escaped.

  • Evil Otto||

    There are a lot of jobs that will not help you escape poverty, let alone move yourself up the socioeconomic stratocumulonimbus. Unsurprisingly, those jobs tend to be the ones that people with limited education and connections can get.

  • robc||

    limited education? I thought they were poor, not stupid?

    Stay the fuck in school is a good plan too. With a HS diploma, you can get a job above the poverty line.

    $11,170 for a single person for 2012. Full time job at minimum wage tops that.

    Bolding leads to another key poverty avoiding point: Dont get fucking pregnant.

  • robc||

    $7.25 * 2000 hours (50 weeks at 40 hours) = $14500. That is 29.8% above the poverty line for a single individual.

    They can put 15% into retirement and still live above poverty.

  • Evil Otto||

    You're assuming you get a full time job, which these days is not terribly easy... and while $14500 may be nominally above the poverty line for a single person, it's hard to claim that as an example of "upward mobility".

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It's a start. And you could get a roommate.

  • Zeb||

    I think robc has about the right answer here. It's not that hard to get out of poverty if you pay attention inn school, work hard and do what needs to be done. If you fuck around, get pregnant (or get someone pregnant and get stuck with child support), fail to graduate and don't commit yourself to working full time, it is hard.
    Now, everyone is a victim of circumstance to some extent, so I'm not about to blame all poor people for their poverty. What I do object to is trying to pin it on everyone else.

  • ||

    There are a lot of jobs that will not help you escape poverty, let alone move yourself up the socioeconomic stratocumulonimbus. Unsurprisingly, those jobs tend to be the ones that people with limited education and connections can get.

    There are some shitty jobs out there. There also plenty of non-shitty jobs that people with limited education can get that will help them escape poverty. Of course all of these involve keeping the job and eventually turning it into a career.
    If you are constantly getting fired or quitting and going from one minimum wage job to another, it's not a market failure.

  • ||

    Where Tulpa does have a point, however, is that it's a lot easier to say "get a job, keep it" when you've been raised in that kind of culture. You take a neighborhood like Englewood in Chicago. When you're born out of wedlock to a single mother, raised by your grandma, and don't know your dad, there's a damn good chance that you're gonna end up in that same cycle because you don't know anything else.

  • R C Dean||

    True, Suxster. People model what they see around them.

    Of course, as a society, we have spent a couple of generations rewarding the behaviors that reinforce poverty. And you know what they say about what you reward . . .

  • ||

    No doubt... Certainly my observations growing up on the South Side of Chicago pushed me towards libertarianism. I see all sorts of huckster politicians promising the city's poor all sorts of government solutions to their problems. What they fail to realize is that true change has to come from within the community; it can't be forced upon them by the government. To the contrary, every government "solution" has only made things worse. Why a population that has systematically been fucked over by the government for hundreds of years isn't overwhelmingly libertarian is beyond me.

  • Evil Otto||

    I would agree with this. And for the people saying "stay in school"...remember what kinds of schools we're talking about.

  • Zeb||

    This too. Culture does matter. I'd say parents are the really significant factor in whether most children will do well in life. If you don't have parents (or other strong influences early in life) who impress on you that hard work and consistency is important, you probably won't do to well in life.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Also get a high school diploma or GED. Get married to have children. And don't be an alcoholic. Do all four things and you may not be rich, but you won't be poor.

  • Azathoth!!||

    A person born wealthy had an ancestor who did the scrimping and saving and managed to teach his/her descendants how to maintain the wealth despite the garbage that passes for education in this country.

    With a shit ton of hard work and scrimping and saving ANYONE can see to it that their children or grandchildren will be people you'll complain about.

    Grow up poor? Because it doesn't sound like it. You sound like someone speaking from a remove. Like someone who doesn't know what it's like to scrounge for a place to sleep*, but will speak for those who have anyway.

    *poor choices make poor people--and the things that led to this were damned poor choices.

  • ||

    Plus, it's all muddled into the "public health" concept, so if you're not being healthy, you're an irresponsible burden on the rest of society.

  • Aresen||

    Right stick, wrong end.

    If you are not doing healthy things, it is "society's" fault for allowing you to be that way.

  • ||

    Could be both. You're a burden on society, so society has to force you to engage in the right behavior, for your own good.

  • Zeb||

    Only if you can't afford to pay for health insurance.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    No, no - we've got that covered now

  • Ted S.||

    My long-term health would be better if my blood pressure weren't constantly being raised by the Nanny State perverts who get their rocks off on controlling everybody else's lives.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    It's all part of The Plan™

  • ||

    It's all part of The Plan

    The Plan huh? Did they chose this lackluster label because the name "Final Solution" was already taken?

  • AlmightyJB||

    "They are manifestly less willing to sacrifice their long-term health for the sake of short-term pleasure."

    It's nice that people have the freedom to make that choice. For now. Same with "being poor". How many people have dropped out of the rat race at considerable economic cost because the simple life brought more pleasure to them. Let people make their own choices, let them accept the consequences, and most importantly don't excpect me pay for whatever it is they decide.

  • Iamtheeviltwin||

    Amen to this. I know when I was single and had no real responsibility I was quite content to drift along below the "poverty line" because I could still gratify all of my real needs and enjoy myself as well, all while working part time at mindless jobs. I still have many single friends who live like that and I say more power to them if that is what makes them happy.

    Now after I got married and had a kid and have spent a lot of effort raising myself from that lifestyle because I have two other people to be responsible for. I am just glad to live somewhere that, for now at least, I can move into the middle class based on my and my wife's hard work and choices.

  • ||

    They are manifestly less willing to sacrifice their long-term health for the sake of short-term pleasure.

    Bee Tagger: This has to be the biggest factor of them all: a large short-term time preference stretched over a wide-range of behaviors.

    AuH2O: To paraphrase (because fuck you, comment invalidation), when you are poor and life is shitty, you don't want to eat stuff that is good for you. You want to eat food that tastes good.

    I think there's some relevance here. When life is shitty you focus more on short term pleasure. Which could explain the short time horizon driving choices that keep people in poverty. I don't think it's impossible to overcome that though. I think it's remarkably easy to pull out of that short term cycle of thinking, although it may be harder if surrounded by other shitty short term thinkers.

    Secondly, self-destructive short-term focused individuals are almost universally selfish assholes that sabotage whatever long-term plans anyone else has laid around them.

  • R C Dean||

    Even Kelly Brownell, the morbidly obeseYale psychologist who wants to tackle obesity through a system of taxes and subsidies

    Michelle Obama and USDA bureaucrats probably have different tastes,

    I would have to get a look at their waistlines and shopping carts before I leapt to that conclusion. Based on my exposure to bureaucrats, though, I expect Jacob to be disappointed.

  • ||

    I think my subconscious deliberately forgets what Kelly Brownell looks like and prompts me to Google him just to provide a fresh jolt of schadenfreude. Of course he's a fatty. It's just so scrumptious.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It's just so scrumptious.

    That's what he said.

  • Anacreon||

    Is there any explanation why a supposed expert in obesity, one of Time mag's 100 most influential people in the world, is so fat? What's his excuse -- soda isn't taxed enough?

  • Evil Otto||

    Apparently his sphere of influence doesn't include his eating habits.

  • Formerly Almanian||

  • o3||

    the food desert theory is prima facia incorrect considering the majority [FATZ] in the burbs.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Welcome back, Urine!

    [citation needed]

  • Doctor Whom||

    People eat crappy diets because they live in food deserts. Similarly, they engage in risky sexual practices because they live in condom deserts and smoke because they live in everything-except-cigarettes deserts. It all makes perfect sense. Somehow.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Smoke 'em if ya got 'em...

  • Evil Otto||

    The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

    -- Mark Twain

  • The Other Kevin||

    Whenever I read articles like this, I think of that Jamie Oliver show where he takes over a school cafeteria. In the episode I saw, he made an appetizing and healthy meal, and not one kid wanted it. The obese adults I know are the same way. They'd just rather eat the food they like, no matter how bad their diet is.

    I also think food preference is learned. Some people are forced to have an open mind about food as a kid, and some are just an adventurous adults, but other than that people just prefer to eat the food they know and like.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    My tastes changed a great deal from my youth - I eat way more variety now, and some of it's even "better"!

    My son's tastes changed even more radically - nothing but hotdogs and pizza till a couple years ago. Now he's much more the omnivore, and eating much better.

    Of course, he's skinny as a beanpole, and probably always will be. Genetics - sometimes they help.

  • AuH2O||

    Oh, do I hate those shits with high metabolism, especially because I grew up with them.

  • RBS||

    Then you would love my cousin. Until he was about 16 all he ever ate was cereal, bread and cheeseburgers. I remember my grandfather offered him $500 to eat a plate of veggies and he wouldn't do it. Oh yeah, he's been pretty damn skinny his whole life.

  • ||

    Mine too. When I was a kid I hated onions, now they go in nearly everything I cook.

    I also hated mustard. Now it's my favorite condiment.

  • Richard_KY||

    They should show them fat asses hooked up to dialysis machines by their late 30s thanks to Teh Diabeetus. Maybe they'd change their tune about the food they eat then.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Oh, yeah.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Hey, I recently lost twenty pounds, and it wasn't from exercise or massive calorie reduction - or "healthier" food.

    I just cut out the frickin' carbs, including large portions of "healthy" fruit. I eat Taubes style with salads, bacon, steaks, ham, eggs, and the occasional Atkins shake when I get the urge for chocolate.

    I have a fairly obese sister-in-law who is always going on about the healthy whole-grains she is eating. Yeah, a whole bunch of them! That's why you're fat!

  • Evil Otto||

    Good for you. Those diets don't work for most people, though.

  • Lord Humungus||

    it's working wonders for my wife... she's skinnier now than when she was in college.

    The only time she ever approached her current level of skinniness is when she taught ballroom dancing and was on her feet 5-6 hours a day.

  • LC||

    Actually, you're wrong.

    Carbs increase blood sugar, which results in the production of insulin, which results in fat tissue. Insulin also stops the body from using fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon.

    Eating healthy whole grains is no different to eating pure sugar, from a fat creating standpoint.

  • LC||

    Actually, you're wrong.

    Carbs increase blood sugar, which results in the production of insulin, which results in fat tissue. Insulin also stops the body from using fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon.

    Eating healthy whole grains is no different to eating pure sugar, from a fat creating standpoint.

  • LC||

    Actually, you're wrong.

    Carbs increase blood sugar, which results in the production of insulin, which results in fat tissue. Insulin also stops the body from using fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon.

    Eating healthy whole grains is no different to eating pure sugar, from a fat creating standpoint.

  • ||

    3pm squirrels, nooooooooooooo.

  • LC||

    Oh man, they got me gooooood

  • R C Dean||

    Whole grains metabolize slower, so they are (a little) better than refined sugars/starches.

    For me, it came down to (a) portion control and (b) eating slower. Most Americans bolt their meals in around 5 minutes. If you eat slower, you wind up eating less, and you don't snack as much.

    I'm 25 lbs down from my peak weight, and holding. I don't really watch what I eat at all (other than restraining my urge to eat chips and cookies), just how much and how fast I eat.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I can't imagine living without chips and salsa.

  • ||

    Yeah, I know my biggest problem is inhalation. That and being confined to a desk 40+ hrs a week.

  • Lord Humungus||

    this is worth reading about "calorie-in-calorie-out"
    Linky

  • Marshall Gill||

    The doctor says I swallow a lot of aggression....along with a lot of pizzas

  • Evil Otto||

    Can you identify a food that contains calories and doesn't increase blood sugar?

    Cause the conclusion you seem to be heading toward is that a person on a 0-carb diet would have no blood sugar at all.

  • SugarFree||

    Protein is broken down into glucose, but so slowly that it makes little impression on your blood sugar level in respect to extreme swings. (Fat breaks down into ATP.)

    Type I diabetics can't stop taking insulin on a zero-carb diet, for example, but they take greatly reduced amounts. If I have, say, grilled chicken breasts and stir-fried kale for dinner, I would take only about 25% of my regular nightly dose.

  • ||

    Seriously, SF, why are you bothering? Text parsing is trivial, after all.

  • Evil Otto||

    You mean parsing mailing addresses, and I didn't say it was trivial, only non-intractable when you guys were claiming that it would be impossible to figure out local sales tax rates from an address.

    But often these distinctions get lost in the Glib Filter, which seems to have a strange bias toward making me look like a hoary sanctimonious prig.

  • benji||

    If the shoe fits.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Exactly. I gained some weight when I (finally) quit smoking. Just started eating a little less (i.e. "trying" and paying attention to what I ate). Mostly it was not eating the carbs, cause I GOTS to have my beef and fish and pork.

    Boom - 20 lbs, gone. My wife hates me. "Stop eating bread and rice pudding..."

  • Richard_KY||

    Unfortunately for a lot of people it's not 20 pounds they need to lose--that's not really a big deal--we're talking about people who are 100, 200 pounds overweight. That's the real problem.

  • Ex Nihilo||

    Unfortunately for a lot of people it's not 20 pounds they need to lose--that's not really a big deal--we're talking about people who are 100, 200 pounds overweight. That's the real problem.

    If it works to lose 20 lbs, it will work for 100lbs, it will just take longer.

  • Evil Otto||

    not necessarily... monotone convergence is a bitch.

  • Evil Otto||

    Yeah, but the question is whether it was the carb avoidance or the calorie reduction that was responsible.

  • robc||

    Well, its the calorie reduction. Joules in/Joules out is a law of nature. To lose weight you must excrete/burn more joules than you bring in.

    Whether the carb avoidance led to changes in chemistry that enabled him to avoid calories is a good question (and probably "yes").

  • R C Dean||

    Some of each. Your metabolism isn't a machine. Carb avoidance reduces the insulin spikes that lead to fat deposition (and snacking).

  • acidovorax||

    Yeah, but the question is whether it was the carb avoidance or the calorie reduction that was responsible.

    It's a combination. Higher protein intake decreases ghrelin and fat intake increases cholecystikinin, both of which lower appetite.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I ate more salads and explored the wonders of something called portion countrol. My waist is two inches smaller than it was when I was in high school.

  • fried wylie||

    I developed diabetes last fall. Cutting my carbs to manage my blood sugar caused me to loose most of my beer belly. I'm wearing an old pair of shorts that hadn't fit since my mid-20s.

  • Plisade||

    Looking at a picture of Kelly Brownell and knowing how adored he is by the Central Planners, the term Doublespeak comes to mind.

  • Richard_KY||

    Why don't we start with all the crappy school lunches? French and Japanese students learn to eat real food at school, not pizza and nachos, and their obesity rates are several magnitudes of order lower than ours.

    Fattest country in the world, with the possible exception of Samoa. Downright embarrassing and shameful. Talk about a market failure.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Urine, Dick.

    Dick, Urine.

  • Richard_KY||

    WTF are you babbling about?

  • Formerly Almanian||

    market failure

  • Richard_KY||

    When people are eating (really poisoning themselves) to death voluntarily, sounds like a market failure to me. Similar to cigarettes.

    Advertising of food to children should be banned, just for starters. This is already done in Scandinavia and its plain common sense. The first amendment is to protect political speech, not commercial speech.

  • Doctor Whom||

    When people are eating (really poisoning themselves) to death voluntarily, sounds like a market failure to me. Similar to cigarettes.

    Similar to alcohol, so the federal government should step in and do something drastic about that. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Richard_KY||

    Alcohol is very highly regulated, actually. Try again.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Try standing on a stepladder while posting, so that the point won't go quite so far over your head.

  • Richard_KY||

    Yes, you were implying I was for some kind of total legal ban on unhealthy food, like alcohol prohibition.

    Actually I'd be thrilled if it sugary foods (sugar and refined carbs are the culprit here) were highly taxed, regulated, and their advertising restricted to adults, exactly like we do with alcohol and cigarettes.

    How would you feel if Smirnoff vodka was advertised on the Disney Channel? So why do we let them advertise Coco Puffs?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    There's a pretty easy way to keep your kids from eating Cocoa Puffs if you don't want them to: don't buy Cocoa Puffs.

  • Richard_KY||

    HFCS is highly addictive. A person who eats coco puffs every morning despite having type II diabetes is an addict and has lost any ability to use "personal responsibility".

  • RBS||

    Wrong. Parent's don't parent anymore. Only our benevolent government and kindhearted, compassionate citizens like Richard can keep us from harm and make decisions for us.

  • Restoras||

    There's a pretty easy way to keep your kids from eating Cocoa Puffs if you don't want them to: don't buy Cocoa Puffs

    Yes but Night Elf, Dick_KY can't say no to his precious Snowflake, that would make him a meanie.

  • Doctor Whom||

    So are cigarettes an example of market failure or of the sort of regulation that we need? Make up your mind.

  • Richard_KY||

    Cigarettes were a market failure that was corrected with a vigorous public health campaign and government action.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Please present your evidence that it was "corrected."

  • Restoras||

    So, you are saying if Smirnoff and Marlboro started advertising on Nickelodeon all of a sudden kids would be purhcasing and consuming alcohol and cigarettes?

  • ||

    Actually that sounds like a person failure to me. Unless you think people are stoopid and need benevolent guardians in government to protect them from their own freedom. If so, then fuck off, slaver.

  • Richard_KY||

    I think we have a social duty to stop people from killing themselves, yes. Their unhealthiness effects us all and costs us all, whether its as close as the fact that we lose a personal friend due to obesity when they're in their 40s, or skyrocketing medical insurance costs, or even increasing jet fuel consumption on airplanes thanks to everyone's fat ass.

    It's a public problem that needs a public solution. Sugar and HFCS are addictive poisons to be used only in moderation by adults. Period.

  • ||

    I think we have a social duty to stop people from killing themselves, yes.

    Actually no, we don't. But there is this radical thing called parenting and personal responsibilty, you know, where you control what you feed your children and yourself.

  • Restoras||

    I think we have a social duty to stop people from killing themselves

    Ding Ding! Here is the true "progressive", mandating behavioral changes for the better of society!

    I can think of several societies that have mandated behavioral changes for similar reasons, and I wouldn't want to live in any of them.

  • RBS||

    It's pretty clear from his post @2:30 that he does think people are stupid and need protection from their horrible choices.

  • Richard_KY||

    Yes, I believe people should be protected from public health dangers. What we did with cigarettes we need to do with sugary foods and soft drinks.

    Starting with banning all advertising and sales to children. Period.

    Want a coca-cola? We're going to need to see some ID.

  • ||

    Yes, I believe people should be protected from public health dangers.

    What I consume is not a public health danger as it only concerns me and no one else.

    Want a coca-cola? We're going to need to see some ID.

    I really hope this is a sockpuppet.

  • Richard_KY||

    I pay for your choices through increasing health insurance costs and skyrocketing medicare costs, pal. Sorry, but shoving poison down your gullet effects me too.

  • ||

    Then let's not socialize healthcare anymore. Pay for service. There, I have magnimoniously freed you from your responsibility for me, now screw off.

  • Richard_KY||

    Even if healthcare was a 100% free market, preventable disease epidemics like obesity would drive up the cost of insurance.

    Healthcare will *always* be socialized in one form or another. Even private insurance is a kind of socialism.

  • Anacreon||

    I think his name proves he is a sock puppet. C'mon, Dick in KY Jelly?

  • ||

    Unless you think people are stoopid and need benevolent guardians in government to protect them from their own freedom.

    That sounds exactly like what he's saying. Citizens are children and we need to be grounded by Uncle Sam!

  • Ex Nihilo||

    Advertising of food to children should be banned, just for starters. This is already done in Scandinavia and its plain common sense. The first amendment is to protect political speech, not commercial speech.

    Strange but my copy of the constitution doesn't mention anything about political vs. commercial speech in the 1st. If you don't want your kids watching food advertisements, don't let them watch them. But who are you to tell someone else what their kids can watch, or eat?

    Fucking statist sicken me.

  • Richard_KY||

    So you're cool with mickey mouse telling your kid how much fun drinking vodka is?

    We ALREADY BAN cigarette and alcohol advertising to children and teens.

  • Doctor Whom||

    When I was a child and a teen, my father encouraged us to read grown-up news media. Can you guess what was heavily advertised in them? Walls of information have the annoying habit of being permeable.

  • Richard_KY||

    TV advertising is a much "hotter" medium than print advertising.

    We've banned joe camel. Why do we still allow Fred Flintstone to peddle poison to our kids?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    My kids don't buy Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, or Kidz Bop CDs. Even when they see the ads on a mot medium.

  • Ex Nihilo||

    We ALREADY BAN cigarette and alcohol advertising to children and teens.

    That must be why I never see teens smoking or drinking alcohol. And if you are letting mickey mouse run your kids lives, then you are a failure as a parent. Still doesn't give you the right to tell other parents how to raise their kids.

  • Richard_KY||

    Teen smoking has plummeted since the 60s, thank God. And all because we decided to wage a war against tobacco.

  • Richard_KY||

    Teen smoking has plummeted since the 60s, thank God. And all because we decided to wage a war against tobacco.

  • ||

    Sure, if Mickey wants to advertise vodka to my kid that's fine, you know why? Because the outrage from parents would force Disney out of business in a heartbeat. This is what happens when parents take responsibility for rasining their kids instead of letting statists like you do it because you must be self-actualized from taking all those liberal arts classes and have taken it upon yourself to save society.

  • Richard_KY||

    Funny, they used to have Fred Flintstone advertise cigarettes, and it didn't put them out of business.

    You know what stopped practices like having cartoon characters peddling drugs? Government policy.

  • ||

    Funny, my dad used to watch the Flintstones with his dad when he was a kid and he never started smoking, mainly because my grandma would have beat the shit out of him. It's called parenting, dipshit.

  • RBS||

    I had no idea chewable vitamins were poisonous.

  • Evil Otto||

    We ALREADY BAN cigarette and alcohol advertising to children and teens.

    I heard the slippery slope is a fallacy.

  • NeonCat||

    Mickey Mouse Vodka sounds awesome.

    I'd rather see drunken toddlers stumble down the street than read statist horseshit like yours, Dickey. Wahhh, people are weaklings who won't do what makes me happy, wahhhhhhh.

  • SugarFree||

    Mickey Mouse Vodka sounds awesome.

    It has the authentic mouse flavor that kids crave.

  • LauraB||

    If I had a kid and mickey was telling him to drink vodka, I WOULDN'T LET HIM WATCH MICKEY.

    When my imaginary child was older, I would explain about advertising, that they show you pleasing images to get you to buy their products but YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT. You are responsible for your own behavior.

  • robc||

    Markets never fail. They dont provide the solution we want sometimes, but they provide the solution based on the inputs.

    Markets cant succeed or fail, they just are.

  • Trespassers W||

    A "market failure" is when people decide to do one thing but you'd rather they do something else. It's a perfectly cromulent concept.

  • R C Dean||

    Richard, you don't really know what the term "market failure" means.

    Hint: it doesn't mean "people don't buy what I think they should buy."

  • Anacreon||

    You're always after me Lucky Charms.

  • Charlotte Falcon||

    We're fat because we are rich. We'll work it out without you and other nannies controlling our lives.

  • Richard_KY||

    Where I live, btw, the obesity crisis is even worse. Welcome to Louisville, Kentucky, electric scooter and diabetes capital of the eastern US. Companies have even said they won't relocate here because people are so damn fat they can't afford the health costs!

  • robc||

    Health care is fucking cheap in Louisville.

    And we are a net importer of incomes.

    You are a fucking moron.

  • fried wylie||

    When I visited France, my host's favorite lunch to pack for our outings was a buttered baguette filled with ham.

  • Richard_KY||

    Why don't we start with all the crappy school lunches? French and Japanese students learn to eat real food at school, not pizza and nachos, and their obesity rates are several magnitudes of order lower than ours.

    Fattest country in the world, with the possible exception of Samoa. Downright embarrassing and shameful. Talk about a market failure.

  • Evil Otto||

    Those healthy school lunches may help cut calorie intake by encouraging kids to skip lunch.

  • Richard_KY||

    So?

  • ||

    Kill the hot lunch program entirely and replace it with a sandwich line and a salad bar.

    The hot lunch program indoctrinates kids with the absurd notion that you should eat a three course meal for lunch, complete with a hot entree, when any nutritionist will tell you that lunch should be a light meal or a snack.

  • ||

    I alwasy wondered that if the food desert theory is true why liberals are so hell-bent on keeping Targets and Wal-Marts out of poor neighborhoods? Both Target and Wal-Mart are expanding into the grocery sector because there is a demand for cheap groceries. That sounds like it would solve a bunch of problems for poor people.

  • BakedPenguin||

    There was a huge fight in Orlando over this Walmart. The neighborhood where it's located is ~95% black, and relatively poor. East of 441 (about 3/4 of a mile from the Walmart) is a yuppie / hipster neighborhood. They fought like hell to keep the Walmart out of there, ostensibly due to "traffic" concerns. The poor black neighborhood was almost unanimous in wanting Walmart, as a place to shop and for the jobs.

  • ||

    They don't want them buying food at walmart. They want to force them to shop at local organic coops.

    Or, failing that, they want to force Whole Foods to open branches in their neighborhoods and distribute arugula below cost to the natives.

  • SugarFree||

    When you are dealing with Richard, please remember all the people from KY on here who aren't idiots.

  • Richard_KY||

    God, if you live in this state you should know first hand how bad the problem is. Go count the number of electric scooters at Kroger sometime.

  • NeonCat||

    Perhaps you should find a more exclusive grocery store so your tender eyes aren't offended.

    You know all that outrage you're carrying around isn't good for your heart.

  • Richard_KY||

    Utterly impossible. The average weight in this city is about 280 pounds.

  • SugarFree||

    Stop your utter bullshit lying.

    Average weight of males in Jefferson Co. is 201, females 171.

    That's 11 pounds more than the average weight for US males and 7 pounds for females.

  • tarran||

    Sugarfree, go easy on poor Richard.... he's emoting!

  • RBS||

    Damn, maybe John should move to Louisville.

  • robc||

    Damn it, SF. I was gonna offer him a $100 per lb bet. You cost me about $10000.

  • SugarFree||

    Sorry I had to go and get my statistics on.

  • robc||

    eh, no problem, I was wasting time trying to find the answer first.

    Like with Tebow, I like to make bets I cant lose. [15 yard penalty, taunting the Penguin]

    So, what google terms did you use, or did you use some magical librarian skill?

  • SugarFree||

    google searches really well with plain phrases nowadays. It was something like "average weight in Louisville KY" which kicked me to to a city-data.com page that had the weight of females only but that lead me to the county level info.

    If only google would let me fully unleash the power of full boolean searching, my librarian skillz would be at their peak.

  • robc||

    I tried something like that and got weights for a variety of animals.

  • SugarFree||

    I looked at my search history, "resident" was the key:

    [average weight of louisville KY resident]

  • tarran||

    I would think you would be the king of Wolfram Alpha... that's the sort of question it excels at answering.

  • SugarFree||

    tarran, I've played with it, but I can usually fire questions into google so fast I rarely reached WA in my search hierarchy.

  • Randian||

    God damn, that statistical smackdown happened so fast that i think there was a sonic boom.

  • ||

    Never get involved in a data war with a librarian, dude. But you don't seem all that bright.

    On another note, you should talk to a professional about your severe cacomorphobia. A life lived in fear (of fatties) is a life half lived.

  • RBS||

    I don't think he's scared of fatties. I think he is a fatty and is scared of his own lack of self control. Or, he's a former fatty, but still lacks self control.

  • ||

    See, I get the feeling he's one of those people that is viscerally offended and disgusted when he sees a fat person. Like, down to his bones.

  • RBS||

    I can see that too. I bet he really hates it when he sees fat people eating messy food like ribs and footlong chili cheese dogs.

  • ||

    ZOMGZ! Maybe he's the Quahog Fat Guy Strangler!

  • R C Dean||

    Ewww.

    Seriously?

    That's so gross.

  • Evil Otto||

    We need a leftist troll for every state in the nation. Then Reason can sell kits where you insert the troll's post into the state on the map, like those collector's kits idiots bought for the state quarters.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Richard = Dick

    who apparently needs KY to fit all of the BS inside the little brain he wields.

  • Richard_KY||

    I have a feeling if it were up to libertarians we'd have zero regulation or taxes or health warnings on cigarettes, and over half the adult population would still be killing themselves by smoking, just like in the 60s.

  • Trespassers W||

    I literally just did the Picard headpalm.

  • Doctor Whom||

    On the off chance that you're not trolling us: I am old enough to remember the sixties, and we learned about this little thing called personal responsibility.

  • Richard_KY||

    So obese three year olds (which we're getting an epidemic of) need to learn "personal responsibility"?

  • Evil Otto||

    That epidemic has more to do with the revision of the BMI chart than anything else. Well, that and the foolishness of using a statistic intended for populations on individuals (like IQ).

  • Richard_KY||

    Why is it so much worse here than in any other developed country, even using the same BMI standards?

  • Evil Otto||

    Because food is cheaper here and your appetite isn't ruined by seeing dog shit all over the sidewalk?

  • Doctor Whom||

    You tell us. What laws are in place in the entire rest of the developed world (not just a few cherry-picked examples) that would solve our problem with obesity?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Three year olds need government - not their parents. Gotcha.

  • R C Dean||

    I have a feeling if it were up to libertarians we'd have zero regulation or taxes or health warnings on cigarettes,

    yes, yes, go on.

    and over half the adult population would still be killing themselves by smoking, just like in the 60s.

    Sigh.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    I know I wouldn't have quit if it had't been for the fact that I was incentivized by my employer to do so voluntarily in order to reduce my health insurance costs.

    Oh, wait....

    Fucking markets - how do they work?

  • D.D. Driver||

    If you like Gina Kolaaahta...

  • Richard_KY||

    Also, food policy should be decided by the HHS Department, NOT the USDA. The goal of the USDA is to sell our food, not help us be healthy, which is why the food pyramid is so fucked up and useless.

  • ||

    Let's also mandate exercise while we are at it. Should we mandate private gym membership or create a public gym option? Once we install a telescreen in every home to monitor what people eat we'll just have them work out at home.

  • Richard_KY||

    To summarize:

    We need a vigorous, concerted public health campaign against sugary foods, soft drinks, and fruit juices to combat childhood and adult obesity, similar to what we did with cigarettes in the 1960s.

    1. Require people to be 21 or older to purchase soft drinks and sugar foods

    2. Ban all advertising of soft drinks/sugary foods to children

    3. Highly tax sugar foods and drinks

    4. End government agricultural subsidizes for corn

    5. Put nutrition policy under the HHS instead of the USDA

    6. Launch a nationwide campaign of "negative advertising" against sugary foods and drinks to make them disgusting, unattractive, and low class

  • Richard_KY||

    Also, healthy school lunches and convenience stores which sell candy and soft drinks banned within three miles of a public school.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Parody fail. Much better trolls have come and gone before you.

  • Richard_KY||

    Google Robert Lustig. This is a serious proposal--restrict soft drinks and sugar to adult consumers.

  • AlmightyJB||

    This isn't our first rodeo. Have fun while it last.

  • JW||

    I wish that fascist idiots like you were always a spoof. It would be funny, that way.

    BTW, my apologies to real, old-timey fascists. The new ones make you look bad.

  • KDN||

    Also, healthy school lunches and convenience stores which sell candy and soft drinks banned within three miles of a public school.

    And the game is given away. Good trolling, sir.

  • R C Dean||

    Also, healthy school lunches and convenience stores which sell candy and soft drinks banned within three miles of a public school.

    I think its sex offender bans, with a much smaller radius, that essentially cover the entirety of any populated area.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    #4 makes you 1 for 6, so at least there's that.

  • robc||

    End government agricultural subsidizes for corn

    Something we all agree with you on, although I can improve it.

    End government agricultural subsidizes for corn

    There, better. Oh wait, I can improve it again.

    End government agricultural subsidizes for corn

  • Trespassers W||

    You lack ambition. How about this?

    1. Require people to be 21 or older to purchase goods of dubious social value.

    2. Ban all advertising of goods and services deemed socially unnecessary.

    3. Highly tax goods and services deemed socially unnecessary.

    4. Put lifestyle policy under newly-formed Ministry of Mutuality.

    5. Launch a nationwide campaign of "negative advertising" against unmutual behavior.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I have no problem with negative advertising, provided that it's privately funded and non-fraudulent. You will contribute to such a worthy cause, will you not?

  • ||

    One out of six is.....pretty bad, actually.

  • ||

    "4. End government agricultural subsidizes for corn"

    Being right one out of six times is a pretty good rate for a Progressive.

  • oncogenesis||

    We need a vigorous, concerted public health campaign against

    Shall the campaign be vigorous and concerted? Or shall one or the other suffice? And how will we know if the campaign is sufficiently vigorous and/or concerted? Perhaps we will need a government committee of some sort to monitor and regulate the campaign, just to be sure...

  • Chupacabra||

    Maybe if we had a 5 Year Plan.....

  • hotsy totsy||

    To sum up: No we don't.

  • NL_||

    The standard nutritionist model of healthier eating is more carbs, more starch, more calcium and more vitamin C. None of which has anything to do with losing weight. For some reason people think "more vitamins = weight loss."

    People also suffer from the ridiculous assumption that dietary fat and dietary cholesterol somehow transmute directly into fat and cholesterol in your body. Which is ridiculous. Your body is just as good at turning starch into body fat as turning animal fat into body fat. You think cow lipid cells are just moving from your digestive system next to human lipid cells in your gut?

    But as a result, people wrongly assume that pasta, bread and fruit are healthy because they don't contain animal fat. Making them susceptible to dumb ideas like losing weight by eating sugary fruits like bananas and oranges.

  • Evil Otto||

    Your body is just as good at turning starch into body fat as turning animal fat into body fat.

    There may be a different energy expenditure in those two conversions though. (I'm not sure if there is, but it's not obvious that there wouldn't be)

  • R C Dean||

    Its not just an energy expenditure. Its the metabolic pathways. And sugar, starch, and carbs are in the HOV lane for fat conversion.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    One thing I do know about nutrition choices, is, if I didn't have Crohn's Disease, I will after I ate this Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa. I just couldn't stop.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Ha, I used to know the heiress to the Mrs. Renfro's empire.

    The Ghost Pepper version is about the same taste but a little hotter, so I go with that.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    God DAMN - Urine from Ohio, and now Dick from Kuntucky! Good times!

    The stoopid is especially stroooooong with this one.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Also, I'm not convinced that Tulpa's not Mung, and verse vice-a. Cause they argue EXACTLY the same.

    U b teh Juj.

  • ||

    Their styles of being insufferable know-it-all assholes are close enough to be indistinguishable. The question is, why haven't you filtered them both by now? We have the technology. There can be an end to the pain.

  • Evil Otto||

    I can see how intellectuals all look alike to a glibster.

  • Evil Otto||

    No, Sevo and Libertymike were MNG.

  • LibertyShovel||

    "Yet anyone who shops for groceries can readily observe that some people pass up fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and skim milk, which they surely have heard are good for them, in favor of potato chips, white bread, ground beef, soda, and ice cream...."

    There's nothing inherently wrong with ground beef. Preferable is that any cut of meat be derived from grass-fed cattle. Likewise, 'whole grain' products are not very good. Better than refined grains, yes, but people eating "whole grain" pasta, bread, cereal still causes spikes in blood insulin levels which is not good for the waistline, and not good for the heart. Go primal/paleo/low-carb.

  • Evil Otto||

    How the heck did "primal" and "paleo" make it through the GambolLockdown filter?

    In any case, do note that most people on earth are eating a diet skewed heavily toward carbs, and have eaten a carb-heavy diet throughout most of recorded history... yet obesity is not a common occurrence in most of the world or most of history.

    The difference is the sedentary lifestyle we enjoy now. There's nothing wrong with carbs if you're burning the energy they produce.

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