Sunday 6 May 2012

Food is the new tobacco (part 94)

I doubt there are many readers who have not noticed that food is the new tobacco, but if you are still wavering, be sure to read this article from USA Today.

Since first lady Michelle Obama made childhood obesity her signature project almost two years ago, the issue has had the kind of highly visible national leadership that it previously lacked.

But that isn't enough, say public health leaders frustrated with the slow progress in stemming America's obesity epidemic.

Something more ambitious is needed, they argue — something more like the anti-tobacco movement.

The existence of this "domino effect" has recently been denied by our own dear Deborah Arnott (thereby providing Dick Puddlecote with many laughs - see here and here and here and here). So what does Dr. Stanton "not a medical doctor" Glantz have to say about it?

"When I look at what's going on with obesity, it reminds me of what was going on with tobacco in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, when there was a lot of emphasis on personal responsibility, voluntary self-regulation, and trying to make safe cigarettes," said Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco.

That approach didn't work, and efforts to reduce smoking didn't really have much success until advocates shifted their emphasis from changing individual behavior to community-based activism and holding cigarette manufacturers accountable for harmful products, Glantz said.

Could this be the same Stanton Glantz who said in 2006: "The whole slippery slope argument is fallacious"? It is.

As public health experts committed to stemming obesity study the history of the anti-tobacco movement and look to it for guidance, it is helpful to consider some key similarities and differences between these issues.

Yes. Let's piece it together. Firstly, there's the "think of the children" angle...

Preventing harm to young people is a central goal of both anti-tobacco and anti-obesity campaigns. "First, let's protect our children," said David Ludwig, a child obesity expert at Harvard Medical School

Secondly, we'll need some denormalisation:

Smoking rates have been cut by more than half, intolerance of smoking in public places is widespread, and anti-smoking policies are in place at hospitals, workplaces and venues across the country. Koplan is convinced the same shift in social norms is called for — and achievable — when it comes to childhood obesity.

Then we need an equivalent of secondhand smoke:

The American public was alarmed when it learned that the cigarette smoke that non-smokers breathed in airplanes, bars and restaurants was dangerous, and that no amount of second-hand smoke was safe.

"The notion that my behavior as a smoker can have an effect on you and can make you sick was critically important in accelerating people's intolerance of smoking and their willingness to see the government take action," said Michael Eriksen, director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University.

There is no equivalent in the fight against obesity. "Your being obese does not affect me in the same direct way," Eriksen said.

Oh, but it does, squire. There is "passive obesity" and our old friend Robert Lustig is about to tell you about it.

The best argument might be that obesity consumes enormous health care resources, driving up the cost of medical care for everyone, suggested Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health Program at the University of California-San Francisco.

Finally, there is the essential prohibitionist trick of painting their crusade as being between "the people"—as represented by bossy, intolerant puritans and quacks—and Big Food/Big Tobacco.

"Some companies are making huge profits off obesity," said Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a public policy research center in Washington, D.C., "and I worry that people who are focused on anti-obesity strategies aren't being tough enough on them."

However, there is an acknowledgement that there may be a few differences between the War on Food and the War on Tobacco.

"Tobacco we can get rid of entirely. We don't need it. It has no intrinsic value. But we have to eat to live and make terms with food as the enemy," said David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center.

You've got to love the glib assertion that "we" can get rid of tobacco entirely, as if eradicating a plant that has grown for millions of years and is consumed by 1.2 billion people is a simple administrative matter—as if prohibition has such a glorious track record that the elimination of the world's second favourite drug is easy and imminent. But as much as I like that statement, I think I like the idea of food being "the enemy" even more. And that's not the only "enemy"...

Throughout most of history, humans lived in an environment where food was scarce and hard to get. As a result, we're primed, biologically, to eat food when it's available and "we're very good at storing calories and defending calories once we've got them," said Stephen Daniels, chair of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "In some ways, you could say that our biology is our own worst enemy when it comes to being overweight or obese."

If food and biology are your enemies and Robert Lustig and Stanton Glantz are your friends, you're probably mixing in the wrong circles. Interesting times ahead...


dearieme said...

If you are middle-aged or elderly, being "overweight" or mildly obese is associated with living longer: the "normal" die sooner and the underweight much sooner. Even the distinctly obese outlive the underweight. Of course, these are only correlations and therefore don't prove cause - but still they fly in the face of the common superstitions.

I think it's plausible that the young, hugely obese people that you see around may indeed be putting themselves at risk - but (i) it's not clear why you should interfere with the whole population rather than focus on this risk group, and (ii) nor is it clear what course of action might be effective anyway.

Much that's said on this topic smells of mendacious food fascism.

Ben said...

Excellent article - dissecting the anti's brains.
Being "anti-no-matter-what" seems to become a new job profile which needs no specific education, you just need to pick up the template and distort it to your liking.

jredheadgirl said...

..."Part 94"..


Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton

It appears that Glantz et al are slacking on passive obesity.

"Anti-Smoking Tactics Can Squeeze Obesity

August 15, 2010|By DENNIS GOTTFRIED, M.D.

"When people with whom we are closely associated gain weight, such as a spouse, sibling, neighbor or friend, we are also at an increased risk of gaining weight. For example, if your friend becomes obese, you have a 177 percent increased risk of becoming obese. If your friend's brother becomes obese, your risk is still increased. The increased risk goes out to four degrees of separation."

"Business offices and hospitals, for example, could designate "healthy snacks only" areas and discourage people from bringing unhealthy treats for employees.

Instead of coffee breaks, workers should be given "exercise breaks." Health club memberships could be subsidized. It may take time, but we can hope that by using some of the measures we have learned from the ongoing battle against smoking, we can overcome the obesity epidemic and improve the health of all Americans."

Anonymous said...

They're already working on trying to prove obesity is physically contagious and caused by a virus. A few yrs ago I read an article I can no longer find that said that you could "catch" obesity from sitting next to a fat person who has a cold on a bus. Airborne virus.

Here's some studies:

"The nearly simultaneous increase in the prevalence of obesity in most countries of the world is difficult to explain by changes in food intake and exercise alone, and suggest that adenoviruses could have contributed," the study said. "The role of adenoviruses in the worldwide epidemic of obesity is a critical question that demands additional research. Ad-37 third virus implicated in animal obesity"

See also



Mag said...

A little on the “slippery slope” that apparently – according to the antismoking fanatics - doesn’t exist.

The first demand for a smoking ban was in the late-1980s concerning short-haul flights in the USA of less than 2 hours. At the time, the antismokers were asked if this was a “slippery slope” – where would it end? They ridiculed anyone suggesting such because this ban was ALL that they were after.

Then they ONLY wanted smoking bans on all flights.
Then the antismokers ONLY wanted nonsmoking sections in restaurants, bars, etc., and ensuring that this was ALL they wanted.
Then the antismokers ONLY wanted complete bans indoors. That was all they wanted. At the time, no-one was complaining about having to “endure” wisps of smoke outdoors.

While they pursued indoor bans, the antismokers were happy for smokers to be exiled to the outdoors.

Having bulldozed their way into indoor bans, the antismokers then went to work on the outdoors, now declaring that momentary exposure to remnants of dilute smoke in doorways or a whiff outdoors was a “hazard”, more than poor, “innocent” nonsmokers should have to “endure”.
Then they ONLY wanted bans within 10 feet of entranceways.
Then they ONLY wanted bans within 20 feet of entranceways.
Then they ONLY wanted bans in entire outdoor dining areas.
Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire university and hospital campuses, and parks and beaches.
Then they ONLY wanted bans for apartment balconies.
Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire apartment (including individual apartments) complexes.
Then they ONLY wanted bans in backyards.

Mag said...

On top of all of this, there are now instances, particularly in the USA, where smokers are denied employment, denied housing (even the elderly), and denied medical treatment. Smokers in the UK are denied fostering/adoption. Involuntary mental patients are restrained physically or chemically (sedation) rather than allow them to have a cigarette.

At each point there was a crazed insistence that there was no more to come while they were actually planning the next ban and the brainwashing required to push it. There has been incessant (pathological) lying and deception. Many medically-aligned groups have been committed to antismoking – their smokefree “utopia” – since the 1960s. They have prostituted their medical authority to chase ideology. All of it is working to a tobacco-extermination plan run by the WHO and that most governments are now signed-up to.

This has all happened in just 20 years. If it was mentioned 20 years ago, or even 10 or 5 years ago, that smokers would be denied employment and housing, and smoking bans in parks and beaches, it would have been laughed at as “crazed thinking”. Yet here we are. Much of it has happened before and it has all been intentional, planned decades ago. We just don’t learn or we’re going to have to learn the very hard way because it has to do with far, far more than just smoking.

Mag said...

Fanatics like Stantonitis “The Mechanic” Glands and Big Jarn “The Slob” Banz½ the ⅓ have played the “outrage” card concerning the slippery slope for the last few decades. They are pathological liars. And their fanatical peers are also pathological liars: They parrot from the same propaganda sheet. These miscreants need to be called out for the incessant lying. The deception concerning their motivation (i.e., de facto Prohibition – Godber/WHO Blueprint), and the hazards of smoking and, particularly, SHS is an assault on public health. It promotes superstitious fear and hatred, discord, and social division – at the very least.

Mag said...

Chris, when you are confronted in interviews with “we need to do something about smoking”, e.g., Sandford, Arnott, etc., you should ask – who is this “we”? This “we”, also to be found in the earliest ranting of Godber, obviously believe they own the world. Yet who authorized them to fix up anything? Who put them in charge of everyone or anything?

Extremists/fanatics (Temperance/Eugenics) did much damage earlier last century in America and Nazi Germany. Ken Burns’ documentary “Prohibition” documents some of the damage done in America from the “noble experiment”. At the end of Prohibition, the sanctimonious fanatics that still pushed social engineering were met with a question that can well be asked of the current crop of extremists/fanatics – “Who do you think you are?” Who do you think you are that you can use society for your social-engineering experiments, however “noble” you have concocted them to be? Who do you think you are that you gather with your fanatical buddies (e.g., World Conferences on Smoking or Health), pontificating about those who smoke in the third person – a dehumanized object in the distance – as a “problem” that must be “solved”? Who do you think you are that, through fear and hate-mongering, you should turn ordinary people into a reviled third-class citizenry, if not even criminals? Who do you think you are that the objects of your “benevolence” must sit there in silence, accepting all the bigotry, control, and extortion that are tossed at them? Who do you think you are that you deem it perfectly acceptable to sow the seeds of discord, social division, and economic hardship through your baseless, poisonous slogans? Who do you think you are that all must be made to conform to your [medicalized] world view?

So, to the antismoking fanatics, who do you think you are? Really, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? God? It may come as a shock to such massive egos but they ain’t God, not even a god – not even remotely close. It is these fanatical bigots who should be apologizing – profusely – to many that their vanity and stupidity got the better of them, even believing themselves to be gods.

Chris, you can even ask by what authority these fanatics believe they need to [forcibly] “fix up” smokers or [forcibly] reduce the smoking rate? The reply will typically be “medical authority”. You can then point out that when the medical establishment ventures into social engineering, it becomes a dangerous, destructive entity. You can remind the fanatics that [deranged] medical authority was responsible for the eugenics insanity in America and Germany earlier last century. And the contemporary medical establishment is venturing again where it should not be, targeting the very same behaviors it did earlier last century, using the same repugnant “denormalization”/propaganda techniques.

Mag said...

Fanatics are so rigidly fixated on their questionable goal that they are unable to comprehend much else. Utterly obsessed with their “world fixing”, anything is deemed legitimate for its accomplishment – the end justifies the means; the inflammatory lies come thick and fast in the manipulation of the public, the media, and politicians. And when fanaticism infects government health bureaucracies and politicians succumb to the fanatics’ seductive promises, then there is much damage to come.

There is more than ample evidence from the current “crusade” and the history of antismoking that antismoking fanaticism is a mental disorder with at least this cluster of dysfunctions: acute fixation (monomania), obsession with control (megalomania), self-absorbed (Narcissism), and a “god complex” – delusion of grandeur, delusion of benevolence, delusion of omniscience. This cluster of dysfunctions is held together by pathological lying (rationalized lying for "the cause"). The result is sanctimonious supremacists/bigots.

Anonymous said...

"If food and biology are your enemies and Robert Lustig and Stanton Glantz are your friends, you're probably mixing in the wrong circles."

Well said.

Jonathan Bagley said...

"Food is the enemy". He's been looking at too many anorexia web sites.

smokervoter said...

Chris, I'd like to take this opportunity to urge your California readers to turnout en masse on June 5 and Vote No on Proposition 29. Stanton Glantz has a nasty habit of reaching into the pocketbooks of California smokers and absconding with their money to feed his cancer research projects at the various University of California campuses. He then denies treatment or even their physical presence upon 'his' property.

His larcenous modus operandi is the ballot initiative and referendum process whereby he exploits the captive minority status of smokers to feed his habit.

Do not sit this one out as some esoteric form of political protest, every vote will count. And have a heart-to-heart with your progressive friends while you're at it. Ganging up on a minority group for the purpose of robbing them of their cash certainly isn't very progressive. Nor is the regressive nature of this tax. Remind them that progressive and regressive don't mix.

Anonymous said...

see the Boston globe today.