Do I Look Fat in These Really Relaxed-Fit Jeans?


According to a new poll, "In an overweight nation, just 12 percent say they are currently on diets."

The AP poll found that six in 10 who qualify as overweight under government standards say they are at a healthy weight. Only one-quarter of those who are obese consider themselves very overweight, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs.

Somehow, this seems in keeping with the 90 percent of Americans who routinely consider themselves "middle class."

There's some tough nuts for the John Banzhafs of the world in the poll, who are threatening to sue food producers for turning us into tubs of lard: "More than three-quarters said individuals bear responsibility for themselves, while 9 percent pointed to family and 8 percent blamed fast-food restaurants." Such attitudes mean it will be awhile before juries start indicting Ronald McDonald and crew for crimes against humanity.

Whole poll story here.

And while we're considering the topic, it may be time to realize that the red vs. blue state dichotomy is no longer a useful of talking about America (if it ever was). This story and this one suggest the third rail of American politics is rapidly becoming carb consumption.

NEXT: Patriotic Gore

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  1. Ah, but as your own quote points out: “who qualify as overweight under *government standards*” (emphasis mine). Is it any surprise, then, that these government standards are… wrong?

    Given that the poll went strictly by height and weight, the “government formula” that cast these folks in judgement was the Body Mass Index, discussed by Soso Whaley on day 14 of her “Debunk The Junk” program:

    Quoting from Ms. Whaley’s article:
    To add to the confusion the BMI scale was mysteriously changed in 1998 instantly creating 39 million ?overweight? Americans. As Consumer Freedom points out on their web site (, “Movie star Will Smith (6?2?, 210 lbs., BMI of 27) went to bed a hunk, and woke up a chunk.” The BMI standard that existed prior to 1998 was equally ridiculous but at least it distinguished between men and women. The current chart does not.

    It seems likely that a large percentage of Americans (including myself) are overweight. But don’t use the BMI to gauge it; it’s pure junk.

  2. I love my 32-inch waistline. Those miserable fat bastards.

  3. In a thread about obesity last week, Joe demanded that every libertarian condemn farm subsidies for contributing to our nation’s expanding girth. Anybody who failed to do so would be a hypocrite.

    Now, many on this forum would argue that I’m not a libertarian. But just in case I somehow qualify as a libertarian, I’d like to go on record as condemning farm subsidies for whatever role they play in America’s obesity problems.

  4. Oh, joe demanded, did he? I didn’t see last week’s thread, but I can’t imagine that there any libertarians here who support farm subsidies (or any subsidies, for that matter). I don’t condemn them for any other reason than that government subsidies are wrong – joe and his Gesinnungspr?fung can go to hell.

  5. Actually, I asked why libertarians didn’t make the obesity/ag subsidy connection more often, since they blame everything else on government interventions.

    But using German to imply an inappropriate authoritarianism – your humility in not taking credit for such an intellectual breakthrough really is an inspiration.

  6. More than three-quarters said individuals bear responsibility for themselves, while 9 percent pointed to family and 8 percent blamed fast-food restaurants.

    Well of course they’ll say that. Their brains have been poisoned by hamburgers.

  7. Farm subsidies, along with all other kinds, are wrong weather or not they lead to extra girth. They are unfair and also get in the way of the communication of, and response to, the message of market demand.

    Judging by your views and advocacies, I can’t imagine that anyone would argue that you’re not a libertarian.

  8. Actually, I asked why libertarians didn’t make the obesity/ag subsidy connection more often, since they blame everything else on government interventions.


    I outlined my reasons before, but I’ll outline them again.

    First, I don’t blame everything else on gov’t intervention. On this forum I have criticized those who put ideology ahead of data.

    Second, the fact is that gov’t agricultural policy is too much of a tangled mess to draw firm conclusions about the effects on nutrition. I oppose giving ADM executives a welfare check for economic reasons, and if somebody can prove to me that their welfare check also expands people’s waist-lines I’ll gladly cite that as one more reason. But the issue is complicated. For instance:

    corn sweetener: Taken in isolation, removing corn subsidies would surely increase the price of corn sweetener and make certain junk foods more expensive. But we also have significant tarriffs on imported cane sugar, and those tarriffs are part of the reason why corn sweetener is frequently used instead of cane sugar. If we went to a free market for food, the cost of cane sugar would go down so the effect on junk food consumption is unclear without more detailed evidence.

    carbs vs. meat: It certainly appears that grain subsidies promote a high-carb diet, and right now we’re told that Atkins is the way to go. But not too long ago (way back in the 1990’s) we were told that pasta and rice was the way to go. The scientific jury has not yet reached a unanimous verdict on that issue. Moreover, grain subsidies can also lower the price of animal feed, potentially reducing the price of meat. The dietary impact is uncertain, but the economic impact is clear: Working families are taxed so ADM executives can enjoy a fat welfare check.

    dairy policy: Dairy farmers are subsidized, certainly, but at least in some states there are also mandated minimum prices for milk. Eliminating one of those 2 policies while leaving the other in place would have a clear effect on milk prices. Eliminating both would have a more ambiguous effect on milk prices.

    As to the dietary effects of cheaper dairy, on the one hand cheaper dairy will definitely make ice cream and pizza with cheese-stuffed crust less expensive. On the other hand, dentists would applaud the results if lower-income children consumed more dairy products (more calcium). The net health effect is unclear.

    However, Joe, just to prove that I’m not being some knee-jerk libertarian here, there’s one place where I firmly agree with left-wing anti-fat crusaders: Public schools shouldn’t be selling junk food in the cafeteria. If kids want to eat junk food they can bring it themselves, there’s no reason why the school should facilitate it. (Yes, yes, I know, public schools shouldn’t exist. But until hell freezes over, there’s no reason why public schools should be promoting unhealthy diets.)

    Anyway, can you say with a straight face that my stance is the result of bias?

  9. But using German to imply an inappropriate authoritarianism – your humility in not taking credit for such an intellectual breakthrough really is an inspiration.

    Oh, joe – your sarcasm is as shallow as my humility. If you made no demands, then I stand corrected, but the idea that you would make such a demand – and that it would be reminiscent of other, earlier times abroad – is no great stretch.

  10. Would you prefer Russian, joe?

  11. And here I’ve always thought that fatness is caused by consuming more calories than you burn off. Silly me.

  12. Jennifer takes the thermodynamics approach to dieting! I actually take the same approach, but you’d be amazed at how even people in my lab refuse to simply apply the first law of thermodynamics and be done with it.

  13. jennifer and thoreau,

    You would think Ruthless would look like Abe in his rail-splitting days, eh? Last time I looked really spiffy was in a leisure suit.

    But to snap back to deadly seriousness as I am wont to do. As thoreau noted, farmer subsidies by first-world countries make citizens of first world countries rotund while causing citizens of third world countries to be their reciprocal.

    The pendulum will swing as pendulums always do. Come to think of it, this first world war on terrorism could be a sign of the apogee of the swing, eh?

  14. True, the obesity epidemic probably has far more to do with sloth than giant Slurpees, but that would involve that deeply unpleasant personal responsibility into the discussion.

  15. My eating habits are irredeemable. I’ve given up on trying to curb my consumption. Instead I just exercise more. I haven’t lost many pounds, but I’ve down-sized my waist. Why haven’t I lost much weight, you ask? Because I’ve gained muscle.

    And I did it all without any help from a bureaucrat.

  16. … but are you “cut,” thoreau?

    Human males need to get out there and keep killing something big if they want to down-size their waist.

    What could that be in this day and age?

    What could be a placebo surrogate for a crusade?

    Paint-ball games hardly seem to qualify.

  17. Forget diet and exercise. We need government subsidized liposuction.

  18. Ruthless-

    I’m nowhere near “cut.” I still have some flab to get rid of. But swimming all those laps has definitely made me stronger than the average physicist….which admittedly isn’t saying much 🙂

  19. “…has definitely made me stronger than the average physicist….”

    My brother’s a physicist, and he could kick your ass!

    On second thought, that’s probably not true. But he could hold his own.

    On third thought, if you’re exercising regularly he probably wouldn’t stand much of a chance against you.

    Please don’t hurt my brother.

  20. J-

    If I want to hurt your brother I’ll use my mind! I’ll simply bombard him with elaborate scaling arguments on localization of light. These equations are quite arcane and unfamiliar, and will hence confuse him. As long as I hit him with equations faster than he can process his brain will eventually explode!

    (insert evil cackling laughter here!)

  21. …unless your brother is also well-versed in some very arcane topic, in which case he might be able to make my mind explode first.

    How about if we just declare a truce. Please?

  22. It is not the intent of McDonald’s to have their customers die from heart disease and diabetes. The product is safe and the consumption of the product is safe – the excessive consumption of the product is another thing entirely, one over which Mickey D’s has no control and which is the sole responsibility of the customer.

  23. thoreau,

    I’m glad you brought this back up, because the last thread dropped off the page.

    Corn Sweeteners – go to the juice aisle in a grocery store, and read the ingredients on a bottle of “cranberry juice.” Corn syrup appears way before cranberry juice on almost all of them. Corn is subsidized, fruits are not. Then, order a nice healthy veggie sub meal at Subway, take your cup, go to the soda fountain, and try to pick a beverage that doesn’t contain corn syrup. Then, drive through McDonalds, and counts the pictures of cokes on the menu. Compare to the pictures of juice.

    It’s not about which sweetener gets added to the swill; it’s about incentivizing the manufacture and purchase of swill over that of juices.

    BTW, my comments were not addressed to you in particular, as you do seem to base your opinions on facts far more than ideology. And you get accused of being a liberal. Imagine that 🙂

  24. “I’ll simply bombard him with elaborate scaling arguments on localization of light.”

    I dunno what you said, physics dude, but yer all right. OK, truce.

  25. “the excessive consumption of the product is another thing entirely, one over which Mickey D’s has no control and which is the sole responsibility of the customer.”

    What about the Supersize promotion, which provides an incentive for overconsumption? Or setting up the menu in such a way that getting a healthy meal is much more complicated and time consuming than eating crap?

    The incentives that were provided, and the bad outcomes that ensued, were a perfectly valid grounds for libertarian complaint was the issue was welfare checks. In fact, I’ve seen quite a few “small government conservatives” blame the federal government for the deaths and ruined lives that allegedly ensued because welfare incentivised family breakdown, crime, etc.

  26. Dabney Braggart,

    Yes, most thoughtful libertarians fully recognize that the limited liability enjoyed by corporations (particularly as it applies to third parties) is a serious market distortion and an undeserved perk. HOWEVER, for the same reasons that opposition to food subsidies does not dovetail into blaming food subsidies for the perceived obesity epidemic as Joe claims it should, there’s no reason to assume that the institutionalization of limited liability for corporations is responsible either. There simply is no principle to follow to that conclusion. Only after much much much empirical study could one determine if it has that effect or possibibly the exact opposite!

    As for the question of guilt you raise, I concur that any individual or organization can certainly be held responsible (at least verbally, if not legally) for how they may attempt and succeed at influencing others. Now, that’s very different from saying that said individual or organization is directly responsible for another’s actions, but someone who influences others can and should be held responsible for spreading that influence, nothing more and nothing less. This was the point I brought up to one Jean Bart a little while ago when he accused Ronald Bailey of being paternalistic because he drew a link between anti-GM food activists and the reluctance of African nations to allow their farmers to grow GM crops. I defended Bailey saying that since he felt that the activists’ misinformation had influenced the African nations in a detrimental way, it made sense for him to criticize them. So, why not criticize fast food corporations? Well, there’s a few differences. First, as Ellesmere Toothy correctly points out, the corporations never specifically implore their customers to overeat or to eat the worst of their foods exclusively, and obesity surely isn’t their goal. Another difference is that others are already criticizing these corporations, and probably losing track of the all important distinction I’ve made between influence and direct responsibility. Yet another difference is that as businesses, corporations are already suspect, or at least SHOULD BE. That is, we all know (or at least SHOULD) that corporate advertisements are there for the benefit of the corporation, not for the recipient of the advertisment. But activists claim (and surely even believe) that they have the interests of the RECIPIENT of their information in mind. Therefore it makes more sense to criticize activists whose information is believed wrong and harmful than a corporate advertising campaign that might possibly have harmful side effects.

    All that (whew!) said, akin perhaps to Joe’s “snob zoning” mantra, I too wish the Reason staff would take on the institution of limited liability. It would make them seem more “cool” and show leftists they’re not such monsters after all. The one time I remember the topic being addressed was when Jesse Walker wrote an article claiming that limited liability was such a common contractual arrangement before it became instituionalized that (and here I hope I paraphrase accurately) it was no big deal or even perfectly natural that government should ease the process. (I wonder what Kevin Carson would say about that!?!) Jesse did add in a paranthetical aside that THIRD PARTY limited liability was much less defensible. From this I gather that one might say Reason is against third party limited liability, but it is hardly a trumpeted position. Too bad, but oh well. I guess if I want to start my own rag, I could make a bigger stink about it. Meanwhile, that’s what this Comments section is for!!

    And now, I shall apologize for making such a long post and thank anyone who got through it all!!!

  27. Joe-
    As cheap as it is to buy a meal, or meal-like substance, at McDonald’s, it’s even cheaper to go to the supermarket and use that same money to buy a bag of potatoes, some carrots, and other non-exotic and therefore non-expensive fruits, vegetables and legumes. And some cheap cuts of meat. For the cost of five McDonald’s meals you can buy a new Crock-Pot, which takes care of the problem of having to spend too much time preparing a healthy meal. Or, roam the thrift stores until you find a used Crock-Pot for about five or six bucks.

    I was technically poor from the time I moved out of my parents’ house until the time I finished grad school; in fact, considering how much money I have left over after paying my monthly Student Loan payments I probably still qualify as poor, and will continue to do so for at least another year. And yet, I never got fat. How in the world can this be possible?

  28. Jennifer,

    Cheaper how? Time is money.

  29. Joe-
    Does it really take that long to walk into the market, grab a bag of potatoes, pay for it and walk back out? It takes all of five minutes to wash veggies, dump ’em in a Crock-Pot and turn the pot on. A microwave oven will bake a potato in about ten minutes. If even that is too time-consuming, slap a cold cut and some mustard between two slices of bread.

  30. Joe-
    And then, going straight home and eating there will be less time-consuming than stopping at McDonald’s and waiting in line for your food.

    Does McDonald’s even take food stamps?

  31. Joe,

    If McDonald’s was advertising their supersized portion as having the expressed purpose of being GOOD for you, you would have more of a case. (Though, what exactly IS your case? Making big portions illegal or just verbal criticism?) Now, it’s certainly true that McDonald’s doesn’t likely have their customers’ long term in health at the top of their agenda when they create their marketing strategies. That granted, the next question is so what? If your upshot is that we should be careful about what advertising convinces us to do, damn straight! If your upshot is that regulation is called for, well then let’s examine that rather than just grouse about McDonald’s not behaving the exact way you or I might have them behave. I’ll acknowledge that the INFLUENCE of McDonald’s advertising may very well have adverse side effects (side effects because it is not McDonald’s GOAL to make anyone fat), but ultimate control still resides with the customer. But I know we’ve disagreed about this before…..

  32. “Time is money.”

    Only if you would be making money with the lost time. Otherwise it is leisure or convenience.

  33. Don’t get thoreau angry.

    You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.


  34. Fyodor: Would you draw a difference, at least in degree, between limited contractual liability and limited tort liability? Is the latter the same as what you mean by third-party liability?

  35. Fyodor: Would you draw a difference, at least in degree, between limited contractual liability and limited tort liability? Is the latter the same as what you mean by third-party liability?

  36. Jennifer: You are absolutely right about the time. You can go to the market and buy enough supplies for a week and cook a stew that will provide a week’s worth of lunches. Much more efficient than going to McDonalds 10 times a week.

  37. Joe-

    In regard to corn sweeteners, your basic contention seems to be that in the absence of gov’t intervention various sweetened foods would be more expensive and less common relative to healthier foods.

    If gov’t intervention in sweeteners was limited to subsidies for corn producers then I would agree 100%. These subsidies make corn syrup artificially cheap. If these subsidies were removed and all other variables were held constant then various sweetened foods would be more expensive and less common.

    However, the geniuses in the federal gov’t also impose heavy tariffs on imported cane sugar. If I recall correctly, in a recent issue of Reason, John Stossel pointed out that agribusiness executives who make corn have lobbied for these tariffs, because cane sugar is a major competitor of corn sweetener.

    So, if we went a step beyond eliminating corn subsidies then things become less clear. Corn producers clearly believe that eliminating sugar tariffs would cause food producers to make sweetned foods with cane sugar instead of corn sweetener. So a free market for food won’t necessarily remove incentives to make sweetened foods, it will simply remove incentives favoring a particular sweetener.

    Of course, my analysis would change if you can point to other gov’t policies that favor sweetened foods over healthier foods. However, all you’ve pointed to thus far is subsidies for corn. And my point is that while one sweetener is indeed being promoted by regulations, another sweetener is kept artificially expensive.

  38. The reasons for the abolition of agricultural subsidies: that 1) they are inherently unfair and 2) they distort the communication of, and response to, the message of consumer demand (of course these two apply to all subsidies)

    I was going to add a third; that in some instances they encourage consumption that might be unhealthy, as it seems that they might with corn subsidies. (this is a politically powerful argument for their elimination; anyone who is motivated to do so could contact her/his congressional representatives)

    Of course sometimes subsidies might encourage consumption that is healthy too, and as thoreau pointed out at May 29, 06:15 PM the effects of a subsidy free, tariff free food industry on healthful consumption is unclear.

    The points I really want to make:

    I don’t need to add a third reason for abolition of subsidies; that they might encourage consumption that might be unhealthy, because this is just part of reason 2) that they distort the message of and response to consumer demand. But, as it relates to health.

    If consumers have the desire to consume more foods that they think are healthier, but less healthy foods are artificially cheap via subsidies then the message of this desire to the purveyors of food in interfered with and not as much healthy foods get produced as would in a subsidy free situation.

    This is why I think that, although it is not for certain, a totally free market food environment would lead to heather consumption because, the information concerning the healthfulness issues of food, which flows so freely, would also always be allowed flow in the supply and demand mechanism.

    Look at how well it can work. Check out the response to consumers demand for antioxidants as a result of the antioxidant scientific and information revolution. This seems like a very healthful result. The same with the response to the low carb demand.

  39. Rick-

    Or, to put it in terms that even a Democrat would like, why should working families be taxed so that wealthy corporate executives at big agribusiness conglomerates can get welfare checks?

  40. Garym,

    By third party I mean someone not directly involved in a particular transaction (and I trust that’s what Jesse meant, too). For instance, if I pay a corporation to do something, me and the corporation are the two directly involved parties. But if someone ELSE feels damaged by something that happened during my transaction with the corporation, then that someone else is a third party (perhaps also called an external party). While I had a choice whether or not to transact with a corporation enjoying limited liability protection, the third party would not have had that choice. Jesse argued (I believe) that in lieu of the institution of incorporation, the business in question would have likely made limited liability a requirement for its contract with me, making incorporation merely a formality that eases such contractual arrangements. I imagine that Kevin Carson would argue that this remains a nefarious distortion of the market, while others (Joe?) might argue that big businesses are involved in a great many transactions that are too small to invite such negotiation so that realistically speaking incorporation still makes a big difference even for directly inolved parties. Either way, the protection corporations enjoy from third parties who never even chose to be involved with the corporation clearly goes further than this.

    Did I answer your question?

  41. thoreau aka “physics dude”:

    “I’ll simply bombard him with elaborate scaling arguments on localization of light.”

    Gee, that threat worked so well with J; could you please try it on the government folks whenever they look to increase its size and scope?

    “…Because I’ve gained muscle. And I did it all without any help from a bureaucrat.”

    Not only “with out help from a bureaucrat”; until recently the government was publishing height/weight optimization advice that didn’t even consider percent body fat!

  42. thoreau,

    Colloquially expressed, as Mr. Spock might say, but you hit on Rick’s misssing third reason: that if taxes should exist at all, they sure as hell shouldn’t be extracted from people to support particular businesses or industries, regardless of what would happen to them without the stolen tax money. If they can’t survive without MY money, then sorry but down they go. Unless MAYBE if you could make some sort of VERY credible national security argument….

  43. Just wanted to say that I am eating right now. I boiled some store-brand pasta and topped it off with some Ragu-brand tomato sauce (since the store-brand sauce is admittedly nasty). Total preparation time: eight minutes. Total cost, not counting the electricity to cook it: about sixty cents.

  44. As the topic is food, I thought I’d post my own recipe. Last night my wife declared it to be the best thing I’ve ever cooked:

    Mango pork chops

    2 lbs pork loin chops
    4 cups mango joice
    2 tbs garlic powder
    2 red bell peppers sliced into strips
    2 mangoes peeled and sliced
    1 small jar of mole paste (that’s pronounced mo-lay, not “mole” as in the rodent, and it’s available in the Mexican section of most grocery stores)

    Whisk the mole paste into the mango juice until well-mixed. Stir in garlic powder. Put pork, mango slices, and peppers in a large baking dish and pour the sauce over it. Refrigerate overnight.

    Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pork, peppers, mango, and sauce for 90 minutes. Serve over rice.

    Calories per serving: Who knows? Make sure you do some exercise the day you eat it, and take a walk after you eat it, and you’ll be fine.

  45. Thoreau-
    You cook, too? Wow. Without having ever seen you, I’m willing to bet you are THE sexiest physicist posting on Hit and Run. (Don’t tell your wife, as I’m sure she’s capable of kicking my skinny little butt. All I could do in self-defense is throw some Ragu-scented belches her way.)

  46. fyodor,

    The explanation that you and thoreau so adeptly laid out is the justification behind my reason #1 “they are inherently unfair”. Brilliantly done Captain, as Mr. Spock might say.

  47. Mango joice? What, are you from Brooklyn?

  48. I just looked at my bottle of Diet Coke and I was shocked…shocked…to learn how much corn syrup was in this unkown and unpopular drink. Wait…there’s none? And it, or its equivalent, is available in every fast food restaurant at the same price?! But soda’s evil and the result of subsidies. I guess I’ll go back to having that afternoon beer with my bread before returning to plow the fields.

  49. thoreau,

    While imported cane sugar’s price is kept artificially high, domestic sugar’s price is kept low via subsidy.

  50. thoreau,

    Is that mango juice in a can or a jar, pure or with other stuff, or what? Not sure if I’ve ever seen just pure mango juice. But maybe I’ve never looked for it…?

    And what kind and brand of mole? They differ pretty radically.


  51. Er, I think I will write a companion piece to the Da Vinci diet titled: “The Da Vinci Lifestyle” in which people would shut off their T.V.s (bcse in the Renaissance they did not exist), walk most everywhere including to the market every single day to procure fresh produce, and therefore have to eat fresh food, do all the prep and cooking in order to enjoy a meal, wash everything by hand, engage in an occupation involving some form of manual labor (no computer-assisted tasks for you!), and generally go a little hungy much of the time….. Of course this would be a Lifestyle for the average person of the period. For the lazy amongst us I would include a chapter called “The Medici Lifestyle” which would no doubt be very popular.

  52. joe at May 30, 01:53 PM :

    “In fact, I’ve seen quite a few “small government conservatives” blame the federal government for the deaths and ruined lives that allegedly ensued because welfare incentivised family breakdown, crime, etc.”

    There indeed seems to be a lot of evidence for these harmful effects of welfare, which is another good reason to abolish it.

    “What about the Supersize promotion, which provides an incentive for overconsumption?”

    But people can go somewhere else, or order salads at McDonald’s . People don’t have to over consume, just as they don’t have to smoke, which is really very bad for you.

    We aren’t forced to support McDonald’s as we are the welfare state, except for any subsidized products that they sell, which is why I’m glad that you raised the issue.(whenever that was)

    BTW, I remember in a thread a while back about McDonald’s ending the option to Supersize, you made a persuasive case that it was a profit driven consideration.

  53. Joe-

    True, domestic sugar is artificially low via subsidy, but production costs overseas are even lower (even when you factor in shipping costs), hence the domestic sugar producers “need” those tariffs. The fact remains that a cheap sweetener is priced artificially high. If we had a free market for food it is possible that sugar would simply replace corn syrup with minimal change to the price of junk food.

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong. The point is that we need more data before we can assess the impact of a free market for food.


    I got the only kind of mango juice available at Albertson’s. I’ll have to check the next time I go there. As for mole, sorry I can’t recall what kind I got. Get whatever kind you like, I guess. If I had planned this in advance I’d’ve put more thought into the recipe, but I just posted it on the spur of the moment.

    If you try it, let me know how it works.

  54. Jimbo:

    “I just looked at my bottle of Diet Coke and I was shocked…shocked…to learn how much corn syrup was in this unkown and unpopular drink. Wait…there’s none?…But soda’s evil and the result of subsidies.”

    No no no. The subsidies are for the corn, which is a component of corn syrup, so Diet Coke is not subsidized. Enjoy that ethical beverage!

  55. thoreau,

    Atkins claimed that the half-witted “Food Guide Pyramid” was designed by university researchers who got most of their funding from agribusiness. There’s another guy, Robert Cohen of the website, who I heard on the radio describing the major nutritional “authorities” behind the pyramid and how much money each one got from various corporations.

  56. Larry, you’re certainly right about the BMI. Any serious weight lifter with a higher than average lean body mass will have a misleadingly high BMI.

  57. Why is it that “personal responsibility” is _exclusively_ the provenance of the overweight (or drunken, or sotweed-besotted) consumer, and not at all that of the producers, marketers, and advertisers who tried their hardest to get them to use their product as much as possible?

    You can’t “make” any given consumer do anything with ads, dependably, but if your intent is to get N consumers to do something injurious to themselves without being plain as to the likelihood or extent of the injury possible, and you get roughly N consumers to do it, how can you _not_ be guiltless? And why isn’t “Reason” more critical of that statist collectivist institution, the limited-liability corporation, that works to obscure the locus of responsibility and (probably) ease the consciences of those responsible?

  58. Wow! Atkins is being sued, just like Lonewacko predicted.

    (I’m not Lonewacko, just a satisfied bloggee).

  59. hopefully this isn’t too off topic, but did you know that the sundance-winning director of ‘supersize me’ ran a website and later an mtv show where he paid homeless and other desperate people to eat dog feces, their hair mixed with butter and jars of mayonaisse

    when asked at the time whether he had any bad conscience as a result of these activities, he replied: “No way. Everybody knows what they’re getting into. Everybody has a good time. If somebody walks by and doesn’t enjoy it, hey, it’s a free country. Just keep on walking, man.”

    he apparently now refuses to appear on any program that might raise this past behavior to counter his suggestion that government action and lawsuits are reasonable methods to curtail excesses involving mcdonald’s

  60. The very udea behind “Supersize Me” is bullshit. Eating nothing but apples for thirty days will probably make you sick, but that doesn’t mean apples are inherently bad for you.

  61. “The very udea behind “Supersize Me” is bullshit. Eating nothing but apples for thirty days will probably make you sick, but that doesn’t mean apples are inherently bad for you.”

    I saw Supersize Me and enjoyed it; but you?ve got to take it for what it?s worth, and it obviously doesn?t reflect the experiences of most people eating at McDonalds (although he did talk to a guy who?s eaten a couple Big Macs a day for years and, amazingly, is not overweight and has low cholesterol).
    Obviously it would be stupid to draw a bunch of broad conclusions about diet and obesity from his particularly extreme 30-day diet and his related health changes. I thought of the whole McD-only diet thing as an interesting starting point for him to more generally discuss issues related to fast food, diet, socioeconomics, legal responsibility, etc. (not that all of these things are given a complete treatment, but then again it?s only a 100 minute movie). Going in with that mindset, I enjoyed it.

  62. sigh. ok, fine. EPA lifeguard? 🙂

  63. Leave fat people alone. The more fat people around, the less competition for me.

  64. jc doesn’t specify what kind of competition, but somehow I’m guessing he’s not talking about space on the bus! 🙂

  65. I’d say we need more fat people. Then they’d have to make airline seats at least large enough for normal people. Maybe we should stop subsidizing corn, and subsidize the makers of corn syrup directly.

    I’d also like to start subsidizing HGH in school lunches, or maybe just flat screen LCD monitor manufacturers. That way I wouldn’t bang my head on the damn TV monitors on the way out of the plane.

  66. Rick sez:

    “But people can go somewhere else, or order salads at McDonald’s . People don’t have to over consume, just as they don’t have to smoke, which is really very bad for you.”

    Yes, just as able bodied people receiving an AFDC check can pound the pavement to get a job. My point was, welfare can incentivise unemployment and family breakdown, and incentives influence people’s behavior.

  67. “”…Because I’ve gained muscle. And I did it all without any help from a bureaucrat.”

    you know what would be hilarious? if you were a libertarian going to a gym regularly, and ended up being spotted by one of the regulars, and he turned out to be with the EPA or DEA.

    you would then have to say “i lost weight and gained muscle, with the help of a bureaucrat, but not in the way that you’d think”

    that’d be funny.

  68. “incentives influence people’s behavior.”

    No argument there. But once again I ask you Joe, what do you want to do about it? If all you want to do is point out that McDonald’s is more concerned with their bottom line than their customers’ waist lines, I agree wholeheartedly (though naturally I would add, well duh). But if what you want is legislation, which by nature is coercive, then the fact that no one is forced to eat bad shit, at McDonald’s or elsewhere becomes highly relevant.

  69. I’m a process man, fyodor. I don’t know what the outcome should be, but I do know that a dishonest conversation about the issues isn’t going to achieve a good result.

  70. Joe,

    But when someone says you’re not forced to eat bad and you say you’re influenced to, the two of you may be perfectly right but are talking past each other. Until we know what’s relevant, it’s an entirely moot debate. Essentially, I say sure McDonald’s makes it (a little bit) easier to overeat than if they didn’t offer big sizes. But so friggin’ what?

  71. dhex-

    I swim. Great for the upper body. No spotters involved. Sorry.

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