Obesity

Michelle Obama and Wal-Mart Are Salt-Free Low-Fat BFFs

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When I was a kid, my mom used to get me to do what she wanted by offering false choices. Her favorite: You can do it happily, or I can make you. While this is a pretty effective strategy for dealing with a dumb 4-year-old, it's less optimal as a mode for interaction between government and a massive corporation. 

Wal-Mart man looks sad

Today First Lady Michelle Obama joined Wal-Mart in announcing a healthy food initiative. And she's just thrilled that the nation's biggest food retailer has decided to make some tweaks to make low-fat and low-salt options cheaper and more appealing in its stores.  

Obama said that when she first decided to take on the issue of childhood obesity, she was skeptical as to whether it could work or whether anyone was interested in making the needed changes.

"But today, when I see a company like Walmart launch an initiative like this, I feel more hopeful than ever before that the answer to these questions is yes," she said.

Obama has been pushing food companies and grocers to change their practices for over a year now. And while the first lady doesn't have regulatory authority, the subtext of every speech like this one to the Grocery Manufacturers Association last year is the same false choice: You can do it happily, or I'll make you.

A sliver lining: Wal-Mart has probably found a way to make money on these tweaks. But even if they're essentially making unfavorable changes to stave off future regulation, there is an upside: Watching Michael Jacobson of the ultra-paternalistic, lefty Center for Science in the Public Interest applaud Wal-Mart through gritted teeth (unmarred by soda, of course):

Walmart doesn't exactly conjure up warm and fuzzy feelings among many of us who call ourselves progressives….The liberal in me doesn't like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart. But the scientist in me requires that I put the laudatory things that Walmart is doing on the scales as well.

More on Wal-Mart here. More on Michael Jacobson here

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  1. Hypocrisy is fun!

    1. She must have a really boring life if she spends so much time worrying about what other people eat.

      Of course everytime you see her husband eat something it is always junk food–pizza, hot dogs, etc. I saw on the news where the menu for dinner with the Chinese dude is surf-n-turf, apple pie, and ice cream.

      1. Chinese dude?! Fuck Hu!!

  2. The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart.

    Agreed. So let’s give that power to the government!

    1. The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart freedom of choice.

    2. He may not like WalMart, but I bet he loves him some Target.

  3. Katherine, you put the C in stupid cunt.

    1. Max, you put the “x” in the chromosome you’re missing.

      1. This is the best one. But consolation prizes to the others.

        1. When you’re making fun of Max, everyone’s a winner.

      2. I’m pretty sure Max has an extra 23rd chromosome.

        1. Works better, since there actually is an ‘x’ in extra.

    2. Edward, you put the F in narcissistic autofelcher.

      1. Narcissist calls the narcissist narcissist.

        1. Just thinking that gets my tongue twisted in my head.

    3. You put the Max in Maximal Stupidity.

    4. That’s indefensible.

      1. Who the fuck wants to defend it, asshole?

        1. Edward, are you a virgin?

          1. That’s a yes.

    5. No, no, bad Max, bad! Don’t do your banalities on the carpet, I just had it steamed! Bad Max!

      Somebody get me a rolled-up newspaper… There’s a lot of muzzle-rubbing required here.

    6. Your inflammatory rhetoric is causing me to see red. I will now find you and brutally ass rape you.

    7. Hey, Max, I dare you to call Rachel Maddow a stupid cunt.

      Go on, you fucking coward. Do it.

      Oh, that’s right… you only use that word when defending Team Blue. Stay classy.

  4. The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart. But the scientist in me requires that I put the laudatory things that Walmart is doing on the scales as well.

    The scientist in me says that none of this has anything to do with science. It also tells me that Michael Jacobson tarnishes the reputation of science every time he opens his mouth.

    1. You know how “krab” is used when it’s not really crab meat? I think we should start referring to pseudo-science like this as “psience.”

      1. I’m stealing this.

      2. I like this.

      3. I’m in.

      4. Shouldn’t that be “pscience”?

    2. Center for Science in the Public Interest has nothing to do with science–their phobia of fat and salt has no scientifc support. Nor do they have anything to do with the public interest–if the public followed their suggested diet of bread and fruit and vegetables, serious health problems would ensue. But I’ll grant that they may be a center.

      1. That’s why the proper name for the group is the “‘Center’ for ‘Science’ in the ‘Public Interest.'”

        1. Air quotes are mandatory when peaking their name.

      2. I was reading this article on “vegan athletes,” and the one thing that stood out is that they all took supplements of some kind. In general, that wouldn’t be such a big deal–most athletes do. But if you’re supposedly getting “everything you need” from a plant-based diet, why would you need to take supplements?

  5. Only idiots and Michelle Obama think that fat is bad for you. But I repeat myself.

  6. Walmart doesn’t exactly conjure up warm and fuzzy feelings among many of us who call ourselves progressives….The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart.

    Selling products to poor people that poor people want at lower prices than anyone else is evil.

    If we could just get rid of big box discount stores like WalMart, the poor would be buying quality products at upscale boutiques.

    What a fucking idiot.

    1. “the liberal in me” seems to imply that there’s something else in him, something far more sinister and maybe not a dildo.

      1. “the liberal in me” seems to imply that there’s something else in him, something far more sinister and maybe not a dildo.

        Maybe he was having gay sex while he wrote that, and was just quoting what he heard the other dude say.

  7. Low-salt is unnecessary unless you already have hypertension. Also, if you’re an endurance athlete, you should probably exceed the RDA for sodium. This is why Gatorade (and Brawndo!) have electrolytes.

    Low-fat is just stupid. Olive and fish oils are some of the best (healthiest, anyway) things you can eat. Limiting saturated and trans fats is probably a good idea, but limiting simple carbohydrates is a much better one. Also, limiting trans fats will mean that those foods will spoil faster, so more preservatives will be used, and / or more waste incurred.

    Limiting government asshatery about what we eat is the best idea of all. If people want to eat crap, they’re going to eat crap, and they have every damn right to.

    1. But we have to follow the current nutritional fads right now; after all, they’re going to change in a few months!

      1. Yeah, like “Eco-Atkins” – a vegan low-carb diet. Unreal.

        1. For every one of those tools there are 10,000 people eating bacon and ribs. Revel in the glory.

          1. And plenty of us are stoned as shit while eating bacon and ribs. Authority is over, if you want it.

        2. …a vegan low-carb diet.

          Jesus. I don’t want to even imagine the foods that are on that.

          1. You don’t even want to know…to consume enough protein to stay healthy a 200 lb. man would need to eat 6 cups of beans a day. Peee-ewww.

          2. No one follows a diet like that, at least not for any significant period of time. You can’t get enough calories from leafy vegetables and fake soy “foods” to survive. Sooner or later anyone on that diet goes on a massive food binge until they reach equilibrium.

            1. Not true — people that have no control over their diet, like children, can simply be compelled to remain on it until they die of malnourishment.

              1. Like PETA fuckers who makes their dogs eat vegan until the starved little pooches use their last ounce of energy to eat the pretentious bastards who’ve been depriving them of protein. And the can always catch them, because vegans are weak, easy prey, even for starving domesticated canines. It’s the “humane” way.

    2. Nothing wrong with saturated fat, esp. from minimally processed foods–grass fed beef, ex. virgin coconut oil, etc.

      Worst fats are the trans fats and other fats (e.g. vegetable oils) high in omega 6 and low in omega 3. The excessive 6-to-3 ratio in most processed foods is scary.

  8. The low fat, high carb bullshit still sells. If one ever wanted to find an example of a flawed consensus manufactured by politicized science (outside of GW of course), this is it.

    1. Bull shit is high in carbs?

  9. I don’t think I’ve recommended Good Calories, Bad Calories in a while. All of you degenerates should read it.

    1. I’m too fat to read.

      1. But are you fat enough to stop a trolley?

    2. calories consumed – calories metabolized = bad calories

      1. No. Absolutely wrong. Read the book.

        1. calories consumed*pi()*BMI^2+IQ-calories metabolized = bad calories

        2. It’s funny; I’ve never read that book but I already eat exactly like he seems to specify: meat and cheese and vegetables and some non-refined carbs (potatoes, for instance) with no concern over the fat content.

          1. My big weakness, philly cheese plus spanish olives on wheatthins. Carbs in wheat thins are a bit too refined to be good for me but so long as it stays in the arteries and not on the gut, I’m okay with that.

    3. Warty, I have his new book Why We Get Fat and What to do About It.

      It’s the same stuff as GC/BC but distilled and not as weighty. Good reading for the less scientifically minded.

      Of course, Taubes and his ilk go against convention, and dietary recommendations based on the debunked-but-still-hyped lipid hypothesis would go against the Food Pyramid scheme to reinforce commodity agriculture. Horror!

      1. It’s the same stuff as GC/BC but distilled and not as weighty.

        I see what you did there.

  10. “But today, when I see a company like Walmart launch an initiative like this, I feel more hopeful than ever before that the answer to these questions is yes,” she said.”

    There really is something very important there, and it’s government types taking credit for the good things rabid capitalists like Wal*Mart do.

    Notice, Michelle Obama is doing absolutely nothing here. Somehow it’s supposed to be her achievement–but she’s doing nothing.

    Add this to the list of good things Wal*Mart does for the American people–as if staying up late every night trying to think up new and better ways to make higher quality products available to America’s poorest people weren’t enough.

    1. Doing nothing? Why, for the second time in my life, I’m proud to be an American.

  11. Fuck you Jacobson. “Scientist”, clever.

    1. Daddy: Oh, watch out, Melinda! Once a woman is introduced to Colonel Angus, she’ll settle for nothing less.

      Melinda: Daddy, they say all the womenfolk just love Colonel Angus!

      Daddy: Hmm.. I don’t know why people make such a big fuss over Colonel Angus!

      Miss Anabelle: I myself never much cared for Colonel Angus! He rubs me the wrong way. I’m not sure why.. can’t put my finger on it..

      Daddy: Colonel Angus is an acquired taste!

      1. SNL didn’t steal my joke, I stole it from SNL. Of course, I haven’t watched it (or any late night “comedy”) in years.

      2. SNL probably did steal it from somewhere else though.

      3. Oh, great. Next he’s gonna tell me that Camper Van Beethoven stole my handle

  12. The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart. But the scientist in me requires that I put the laudatory things that Walmart is doing on the scales as well.

    For some reason all I can think of is Tobias Funke’s “The Man Inside Me”.

    1. A liberal inside of him, a scientist inside of him. . . .

      What is this, some kind of double-penetration deal?

      1. Hey, exercise is important too.

  13. I had a liberal good friend get on my case for buying a calculator at the dollar store. “Cheap junk made in China – you’re not really getting a good deal, etc”. It was two bucks or less and I could use an extra calculator or two lying around the labs at work (hate using a PC or, even worse, a cell phone to do some basic cyphering). Where exactly should I go to buy a calculator? Walmart is certainly out of question. Radio Shack? Sears? The American-Made Calculators-R-Us store?

    1. you shouldn’t be so hung up on possessions, man.

    2. Fuck calculators, buy an abacus.

    3. [engage hippie dumbass]
      You should do it in your head, man, keeps your brain healthy
      [/disengage hippie dumbass]

    4. Ask him why he’s so racist against the Chinese.

  14. But even if they’re essentially making unfavorable changes to stave off future regulation

    It won’t. It never does. As Big Tobacco.

  15. I’m a reasonably fit (work out 4-6 days a week) 38-year-old who passes for 10 years younger when not getting carded. But even if I was a 350-pound slob who never saw the sun, my answer to WalMart’s newest initiative is the same.

    I fucking see 1 goddamn “Better Choices” sign when I’m loading up on chips to watch my Ravens choke in Round 2 of the playoffs, they’ve lost me as a customer, and I will buy exclusively from Costco, Asian markets and online.

    I spend thousands of dollars of my money at your store each year, you’re suddenly gonna talk to me like I’m a 3-year-old? Fuck off.

    /I refuse to go to one local grocery store chain anymore after a similar “Better Choices” renovation, though I will load up on loss-leading sodas when the price gets low enough.

    1. Who cares about you?

  16. The liberal in me doesn’t like the idea of a company as big and as powerful as Walmart.

    The liberal in you would also really appreciate it if you’d shut up so he could finish and pull out without your incessant yammering breaking his concentration.

  17. Has anyone noticed salt has nothing to do with obesity… Or that the research is showing eating fat is better than eating carbs? (“Carbs Against Cardio,” Scientific American, May 2010)

    1. The science is settled!

    2. My prediction: 2012 – The year of turbinado sugar as a ‘superfood’.

  18. The cognitive dissonance, it’s painful.

    Is there a supermarket in the entire country, Walmart or no, that does not already sell plenty of healthy food? Can you not even walk into the local Kwik-E-Mart and find a couple of healthy items, if that’s what you want? Is there a supermarket with no produce section, no meat, no whole grains? Have (admittedly annoying people with whom I don’t truck) health-conscious people been having difficulties finding healthy foods all this time? No. They haven’t.

    So what’s the point of this complete waste of time, again?

    1. That’s the problem I’ve been thinking about since seeing the blurb above with no details. When I visited Nancy in Jonesville, Mich., the closest place for major produce shopping was the Wal-Mart just south of town on the road to Hillsdale. The prices were actually rather high — so what are they going to do, lower the produce prices? And gain some p.r. points in addition to market share, so Nancy wouldn’t go to markets on Route 12 some miles to the east?

  19. I don’t understand why the period set for the implementation of these changes is so long? Do they really need 5 years to get rid of hydrogenated fats? I hope they will reconsider it and introduce the changes sooner.

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