This Just In: U.S. Obesity "Epidemic" Due Solely to Overeating!

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fat tax

Straight to the press release reporting the new findings:

The amount of food Americans eat has been increasing since the 1970s, and that alone is the cause of the obesity epidemic in the US today. Physical activity—or the lack thereof—has played virtually no role in the rising number of expanding American waistlines, according to research presented at the 2009 European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam last week.

The finding is contrary to the widely held assumption that decreased physical activity is an equally important driver of overweight and obesity in the US, said lead author Dr Boyd Swinburn (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia).

If Americans want to get serious about winning the battle of the bulge, they are going to have to cut down on the amount of food they eat, Swinburn, who is director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, told heartwire.

And whose fault is it that Americans are turning into porkers? The food industry, of course.

But, he warned, that won't be easy. "The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it's almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors."

Well, as a Southerner I can tell Swinburn that there's very little food in funeral parlors, but post-funeral feasts, well….

So the implied solution seems to be that food industry must be forced to make their products tasteless and unattractive. Of course, some nutrition puritans are now agitating for sin taxes (as in "gluttony tax") as way to get us to step away from the all-you-can-eat buffets. 

Whole press release here

NEXT: Conservatives Against Sin Sales Taxes!

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  1. The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible

    They’re irresistible! I’m not a human being who makes choices, I’m just a thing being pulled by irresistible forces! I have no free will at all!

  2. Well, as a Southerner I can tell Swinburn that there’s very little food in funeral parlors

    As a fellow Southerner, I’m amazed you never went back to the parlor kitchenette to have a ham, American cheese, and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread. Every viewing I ever went to had food. My parents weren’t fans of mayo or Miracle Whip and it was the only time I had it growing up. It is the condiment that has the most mental associations to me with death.

  3. irresistible? jesus people are so weak-willed.

    i regularly turn down food because i know i dont need it. people look at me with nonplussed faces.

    i love this part: “The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation

    so let’s punish them for being awesome!

  4. there’s very little food in funeral parlors

    That’s what you think.

  5. Of course this Dr. comes from the land down under where Vegemite is the national condiment. To me, his judgment of the Food Industry “making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible” is highly suspect.

  6. Americans should eat like 18th century serfs, dining “on perhaps a pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots a day.”

  7. They’re irresistible! I’m not a human being who makes choices, I’m just a thing being pulled by irresistible forces! I have no free will at all!

    A bit exaggerated, but the evil corporations use advertising to control what we do.

  8. I learned a new word today. I always thought that nonplussed meant indifferent, inert. Apparently it means confused or bewildered.

  9. A bit exaggerated, but the evil corporations use advertising to control what we do.

    I love how this new John-spoof is the polar opposite of that other John. That’s, like, meta-something-or-other.

  10. “But, he warned, that won’t be easy. “The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.”

    I’ve mentioned this before here, and I’m about to mention it again.

    At my heaviest, I used to weigh in at 574 pounds.

    I’m an average person.

    You know how much I weigh now? 256 pounds.

    I lost the weight by exercising, eating healthier overall,

    AND BY CUTTING BACK ON THIS SUPPOSEDLY IRRESISTIBLE FOOD THAT DR. SWINBURN IS OH SO FUCKING CONCERNED WITH!!!

    So apparently I’m far above average.

    I very much understand the (supposed) concern that Dr. Swinburn and people like him have but when you start talking like this, it begins to sound incredibly offensive and outright disturbing. I’m not a child. I’m not mentally handicapped. I’m a human being who has the control to make choices in my life that I wish to make. The path that it seems Dr. Swinburn would like to follow seems to rob me of that control and my freedom. I will NEVER support this and I hope that I’m not alone.

    And another thing…

    Fuck you Dr. Swinburn for insulting me by saying that I’m too weak to control my life and it’s course. Fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU!!!

  11. These fucking people. I have a theory that a lot of people just spend too much time with statistics without actually understanding statistics. So they think that something like obesity is at all the same as a communicable disease because the numbers look similar. Thus, they are convinced that such issues, while not actually public in nature at all, are proper subjects of government public health operations.

    Either that or they are just nosy twits and fat-asses who can’t take responsibility for their own shit and need to blame something else.

    And as a very skinny person, I am very dismayed by the idea of a sin tax on fattening food. I need all the calories I can get!

  12. “pricing their products just right”

    You mean, food is inexpensive, so people eat more of it.

    In other words, if there was less food and it cost more, we’d be skinnier because we couldn’t afford to eat as much.

    Yay for starvation.

  13. This just in:

    Wiley artists paint pictures which are aesthetically pleasing.

    This also just in:

    Hollywood casts attractive people in movies.

  14. Side Note: Ending farm subsidies would probably make food prices rise. Why are we subsidizing food production if we’ve got an obesity problem?

  15. Architects keep designing houses which make people want to live in them.

  16. Its the HFCS!

  17. A new cabon tax . . We must double the price of food so that we can all be skinny . . We will return to those golden years when the poor were skinnier than the rich not fatter than the rich.

  18. Yeah, I’m no fan of this.

    Except it would be excellent if the good Dr. could just ban those little bags of fritos.

    Seriously, there’s a bag in the vending machine right now, calling my name. It’s close. I must steal change from a co-worker’s desk and have them.

  19. The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation.

  20. Side Note: Ending farm subsidies would probably make food prices rise. Why are we subsidizing food production if we’ve got an obesity problem?
    I thought the good subsidies were for non-production.

  21. Has anyone studied what food would cost absent subsidies?

  22. In other words, if there was less food and it cost more, we’d be skinnier because we couldn’t afford to eat as much.

    Works in Africa. We should definitely strive to be just like them. They have it made.

  23. I’ll say it again — Health insurance companies should be permitted to rate based on risk and performance (like auto), then there will be an incentive to be healthy and the healthy won’t have to subsidize the unhealthy.

  24. Hey, I thought there was snacks on this thread. Where da the snacks?

  25. They’re making their food taste good? And then marketing it?

    Those fuckers!

  26. The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.

    Those evil bastards, giving the consumers what they want.

  27. “Will we be having any side items with our frozen waffles this evening?”

    Seriously, food tastes good, it’s available everywhere, and it’s cheap. This is a problem in need of government intervention? People are morons. How on earth did we leave the forest?

  28. The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible…

    Wow, it sounds like food is addictive. We need to follow the same laws we do with other addictive substances, and throw everyone who eats food in prison.

  29. I’ve heard this arguement since the 70s. Quite frankly, lack of will-power needs to be treated like a mental disease. If you have gone through 12 years of school, even shitty feelings-based US public school, and are INCAPABLE of resisting the allure of a TV ad for burgers or the faint moist sheen of a Devil Dog day after day after day, then you cannot be trusted to operate a car, hold a job in the public sector, or anything else that requires a degree of free will above the level you are admitting to.

    Mmmm, Devil Dogs…

  30. “The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.”

    This was snark right? It HAS to be snark!

    I mean no one can seriously be putting forth the argument that food companies are bad because the make food tasty, affordable and accessible.

    Seriously, WTF?!

  31. I could be wrong here (rarely am, but it’s been known to happen) but I’m going out on a limb and guessing that Dr Boyd Swinburn is a current or previous “fat tub of goo”.

    David Letterman, referring to Terry Forster, coined the phrase. Unlike certain VPs and editorial writers, I give attribution when possible.

  32. The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation

    Say what you will about North Korea, but at least they are not in the pockets of the food industry.

  33. I would LOVE to see how they came up with their conclusions. Before I injured my foot last fall, I lost over 30 pounds in less than 2 months by spending an hour a day on the treadmill but not changing my eating habits. I injured my foot, stopped exercising and all but 10 pounds came back. Come ON folks!! It’s a simple equation: Weight gained or lost = Calories consumed – Calories used.

  34. Ending farm subsidies would probably make food prices rise.

    Not neccessarily. The subsidies have been distorting the markets for a while now, encouraging food to be grown in place of other grains or crops, such as has been done with corn. And then there are the indirect subsidies, like with sugar, where we aren’t allowed to buy from foreign suppliers, driving the price of sugar up and pushing producers to use HFCS instead (and driving up the cost of corn, again).

    It’ll be a mixed bag as far as prices go, since other products should come down in price as subsidized crops are forsaken for crops with better market value, but then you know as well as I do that subsidies will *never* be eliminated.

  35. “Side Note: Ending farm subsidies would probably make food prices rise. Why are we subsidizing food production if we’ve got an obesity problem?”

    Chuck Grassley.

  36. Covered with really big fat and meat.

  37. Works in Africa. We should definitely strive to be just like them. They have it made.

    In Marxist Africa, food eats you!

    I tend to believe the study, BTW. Health clubs are full of fat people. The only people I know (including myself) who lost a significant amount of weight did it through portion control, and none of them cranked up the exercise that I know of.

  38. At least the ridiculous hypothesis that Urban Sprawl and resultant reduction in walking are to blame for obesity can be laid to rest.

  39. At least the ridiculous hypothesis that Urban Sprawl and resultant reduction in walking are to blame for obesity can be laid to rest.

    Quiet you, you’ll get Chad in here.

  40. “So the implied solution seems to be that food industry must be forced to make their products tasteless and unattractive”
    I know! Let’s put Detroit in charge of the food industry. They’ve been turning out tasteless, unattractive products for years. In turn, we should put the food industry bigwigs in charge of auto manufacturing, because they’re used to giving us more than is “good” for us.

  41. Chuck Grassley.

    Hey, Tom Nutsack Vilsack deserves some credit, too!

  42. Eating is an inherently pleasurable activity for most people. When people have more money, they eat more for the same reason they are more likely to drive sports cars and snort coke – it’s FUN. It’s not a matter of marketing, or portion size, or availability, or even the tastiness of the food – the process of filling the stomach until the sensation of “fullness” is inherently enjoyable and will be sought out as long as people have the resources to do so. Any anti-obsesity initiative not rooted in the realization that reducing wastelines is almost exclusively a matter of convincing people to exercise self-control and deny themselves pleasurable activities (eating) or engage in unpleasurable activities (exercise) in the name of their long term health is hopelessly unrealistic and doomed to fail. And I predict even with that realization such intiatives will fail, because when forced to chose, most people would rather be fat and full than skinny and hungry.

  43. Replace food with sex in the second paragraph:

    “But, he warned, that won’t be easy. “The sex industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making sex so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Sex is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.”

  44. This PDF is the 2nd link when you search Google for “soda consumption”. The following two points stood out:

    Soft drink consumption has more than doubled since 1971. The average teenage boy drinks two 12 oz sodas per day or more than 700 cans per year. The average teenage girl drinks 1.4 twelve oz sodas per day or more than 500 cans per year.

    and

    Every additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soda increases a child’s risk for obesity by 60%. Regardless of demographics and lifestyle, sodaconsumption is an independent risk factor for childhood obesity.

    For the love of god, stop subsidizing corn. Billions, perhaps trillions could be saved over ten years.

  45. Say what you will about North Korea, but at least they are not in the pockets of the food industry.

    Full of win!

  46. It’s the pretext for government portion control.

    Here in NYC, it’s a law for many places to post their calorie count. That’s begging for a lawsuit about how one’s burrito had more calories than advertised.

  47. It reminds me of a very funny routine about dieting by Richard Jeni.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7GnOyd_z1w

  48. Obesity “Epidemic” Due Solely to Overeating!

    This must be why six-egg omelet eating Michael Phelps is such a fat ass.

  49. So the food industry has made America fat by creating products that people like at a price that they can afford. Why arent’ these same executives being tagged to run Chrysler and General Motors?

  50. “So the implied solution seems to be that food industry must be forced to make their products tasteless and unattractive.”

    Ever been to England? A lot of the food there could be considered tasteless and unattractive, but the Brit’s aren’t exactly a nation of skinny waifs.

  51. Still waiting the study that links the raise in the number of non-smokers to the rise in fatties. The way a large fraction of the populace kept thin was having a cigarette rather than a snack. The nicotine kept the appetite away and boosted your energy, and the cigarette gave you something to do with your hands.

    No doubt it’s healthier to over eat than it is to smoke, but it’s still an unintended consequence. One wonders what the replacement for snacking, when it’s controlled will be?

    Drugs?

  52. Obviously the cause of obesity is because of food consumption increased.
    So this article is not credible because it is a very obvious statement and it needs to be revoked from the internet.

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