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Education, Not Legislation Is Answer to Obesity Problem

While visiting the Kaiser Family Foundation, New York Senator Hillary Clinton said "At the rate that technology is advancing, people will be implanting chips in our children to advertise directly into their brains and tell them what kind of products to buy." Well, of course we will Hilary. How else are we going to shield kids from your pompous blather and insure our advertising messages get to the central cortex of every child's brain unfettered by your politically-motivated babble?

Clinton has put forth legislation to study "food-obsessed" kids and how advertising keeps them from giving up their Big Mac. Well, Hilary, the answer is easy and you don't need a study to tell how to solve the problem. People need to stop fucking eating. To stop eating shit. Education is the answer. Educate kids on healthy eating habits. Educate parents who'd rather give in to their fat kid's grocery store fit than slap the kid on the ass and tell them those Twinkies have more chemicals in them than a pharmaceutical lab. Yes, education is the answer. And we're not talking about that stupid food pyramid. We're talking about a full blown advertising (yes, advertising) campaign that's as powerful as that crying Indian "Don't Litter" campaign of yesteryear. Or one like that "this is your brain on drugs" scrambled egg ad but with "this is your fat, disgusting stomach bulging out from under that short, tight belly shirt and over those low rise jeans you insist on wearing because you think you are hot when everyone else thinks you're an ugly fat chick."

Money is the only language a food marketer (or any marketer, for that matter) understands. They are going to manufacture and market anything that sells. Should they? Of course not but in a capitalist society, that's how it works. If there is demand, supply will be created are marketed. Stop the demand and the supply of shitty food will dry up faster than that fat McDonald's kid can snarf down another tub of fries. Education will stop the demand. Not policies against marketers and advertisers who will simply find loopholes and continue to supply the uneducated demand. It's easy, Hillary.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (19)     File: Opinion, Policy     Jul-21-06  

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I like your ideas...

How about a campaign aimed at teens that says...

Voiceover: You want to have sex before you die?
[Shows hot girls] [teen boys by lockers, talking to girls]

Voiceover: Then stop fucking eating so much.
[zooms out... fat kid on the outskirts of the group, with no one talking to him]

Voiceover: Kids that exercise and eating right are 1000 times more likely to get laid.

Posted by: Scott on July 21, 2006 02:12 PM

Wow. So ok, obesity happens most often in low-income neighborhoods, right? At least according to the USDA and everyone else.

What do low income neighborhoods have a ton of? Fast food restaurants, which are pretty cheap. And what do they have very little of? Healthy food, farmers' markets, etc, which can be pretty expensive. Everybody knows this.

So essentially, by telling people to stop eating shit, you are asking them to go out of their way, inconvenience themselves and pay more. As the nutritionist Adam Drewnowski has said, "You can tell people to eat mangoes and play tennis, but if there are no decently priced mangoes or tennis courts nearby, they're not going to." Nor should they - why should we hold low-income people to a higher standard than we do ourselves?

Of course, you're arguing that once we educate obese people, they will kick out the fast food restaurants from their neighborhood and demand more soy burgers. If only the market worked that efficiently. Fast food restaurants are extremely profitable brick-and-mortar establishments, backed by huge corporations and barrels of advertising dollars. Do you really think they're going to up and leave?

Environments create behavior much more than behavior creates environments. And markets respond to legislation (or the threat of it) much better than they do one customer demanding a soy burger.

Posted by: JC on July 21, 2006 04:00 PM

Are you saying that we the gov't should build healthier restaurants in those neighborhoods?

Are you saying people cannot afford to buy groceries? I am sure they have grocery stores that serve non-fatty food.

No one has to eat fast food. It is not their only choice. I live in nice neighborhood... and guess what? Mostly fast food restuarants. I have a choice.

Your argument is pointless... they have more choice then just fast food restuarants. Even if they do eat fast food they can eat a cheeseburger or salad vs. double-quarter pounder with cheese. They can get water vs. soda.

So what is your solution?

Are you saying skinny people are rich and eat only Healthy food from farmers markets? WHATEVER!

Posted by: Scott on July 21, 2006 04:25 PM

This article is so disappointing considering how much I like the rest of the site. Do you honestly believe that fat people simply need to be "educated"? Seriously? Because I don't know ANYONE fat, thin, or in-between that doesn't know that fast food is unhealthy or that excercise is good for you. It's just so easy to assume anyone who is fat is stupid, right?

As for your argument that it's all the fault of the consumers (the fat ones, ofcourse) because they DEMAND these products...I have to call bullshit on that too. You hit it right on the head in saying that "Money is the only language a food marketer understands". That is why they (food manufacturers) produce these vile unhealthy foods (they are cheap to produce) and market the hell out of them to try to create the demand. The profit margine is huge and that's all they care about.

Posted by: RS on July 21, 2006 04:34 PM

My comments have nothing to do with stupidity. Either with fat or slim people. All I'm saying is education will give people the information to make a choice. They can still eat shit but at least they'll know they shouldn't.

Posted by: Steve Hall on July 21, 2006 04:49 PM

"Brick and mortar establishment"?!?!. Give me all of McDonald's trademarks and you keep the buildings.

Steve's right. Look at what Crispin did with the Truth campaign, they didn't sue tobacco companies, they just made it terribly uncool to be a smoker, and made non-smoking cooler. Make eating healthy foods cooler than eating unhealthy foods and the companies will either adapt or disappear.

Posted by: Tom Tom on July 21, 2006 06:15 PM


[jumps on soapbox] ... and while you're at it, use your considerable audience reach to start spreading the message about the mess we're all making of this small, blue planet. Ditch the SUV. Turn off the A/C. Turn off the lightbulb that you don't need. Stop spraying your yard with chemicals.

Sorry. Got excited for a moment. :)

Posted by: Bubba Pook on July 21, 2006 06:32 PM

I'll ask again ... who the hell is the kid in the picture? Is he scarred for life yet by being the poster-child for obesity? Does he at least get any money whenever someone uses his picture as an illustration of a lardass child?

That said, I live in a nearly perfect test environment. We have 85 restaurants on the island, roughly 10 elegant/high-price, 20 medium-price/family, 53 snack/low-cost, and one Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC does business hand over fist, and does so with a grand total of one ad: a sign in the airport showing the Colonel swilling a bottle of Amstel while he eats his chicken. No television ads, no radio ads ( which are great here ... someday I'll record the ad for the local brothel for people to listen to), no newspaper ads ... just the one poster.

It's not the media, folks ... KFC sells well because people like to eat it. People like to eat it because it tastes salty and has fat, and you get to wash it down with sugary pop.

Posted by: KW Williams on July 22, 2006 09:36 AM

Ha ha, that picture just never gets old!

Posted by: Peter Verkooijen on July 23, 2006 04:28 PM

I think you're right Steve. An major education campaign could make a little dent in this problem. It's worth trying. I know some people are working on that right now in association with some big brand corporations. Let's hope the message gets through without getting diluted and eviscerated by the weight of the dollars involved.

Posted by: owen on July 24, 2006 11:12 AM

Holding advertising agencies responsible for their clients' bad food is like holding criminal lawyers responsible for their clients' murders.

Point the finger somewhere else Hil'.

Say, where are we at with that brain chip technology?

Posted by: Jessie Birks on July 24, 2006 11:21 AM

Good article. A little angry, but good.

I don't think that ensuring everybody *knows* exercise is good and over-eating is bad is really the point of this argument. That's not the type of education that maximizes the talents of great marketers.

The key to making a campaign like the one outlined work is to make eating well trendy, to turn it into the stock characteristic of a more balanced (and, while we're at it, attractive and witty and fun-having) person.

It's the type of thing that will take a great deal of time - hell, changing the way an entire society relates to food has taken most other countries hundreds of years, which is an advantage they've got over our fine young country. But you can't say it hasn't begun already. Even Wal-Mart's been forced to start carrying organic fare.

Posted by: Angela Natividad on July 24, 2006 06:09 PM

Desperate times call for desperate measures. From 1980 to 2002, obesity prevalence has doubled in adults and overweight prevalence has has tripled in children and adolescents. We are on the verge of an obesity epidemic! Curbing the obesity rates will take more than a clever advertising scheme and a little parental ass-slapping. It will take legislative action in conjuction with education to keep people from eating fatty foods.

Giant production companies will not go out of their way to lessen their emissions without firm government legislation, just as fast food restaurants will not go out of their way to make a very profitable product of theirs harder or less desirable to obtian.
Raising taxes on cigarettes was a good deterrent for potential smokers. I say, tax fatty food! Make it less cheap and convenient for people to poison their bodies and their childrens bodies!

Posted by: El Doucho on July 24, 2006 10:55 PM

Since fatty food is bad food (shit), and that can cause death, the slogan for the campaign should be EAT SHIT AND DIE.

Posted by: Jonathan Trenn on July 26, 2006 04:25 PM

Ad campaign?
Hire the same people who promote BK stackers to promote obesity education. Money talks and talks louder when it leaves. You won't get agencies to sign on.
As far as what CP+B did for smoking was the equivalent to the lasting effects parachute pants had on American style- Here today and gone tomorrow.
Legislation lasts longer and will be the only way to enforce the will of the people (How? I have no clue). As far as the ad campaign 'The Truth' advertising budget is now really tiny; the only thing it is used for is a resume highlight for CP+B, while the cigarette companies just reload with another Joe Camel or Mickey Marlboro.

Litter doesn't pay bills, Brains on drugs affect the bottom line of our economy, fighting food will take a new line of thinking and battle plan that will open the eyes of America.

Posted by: Kale Kidney on July 29, 2006 10:42 PM

Parents and Education are the key. Not because people are stupid, because they are ignorant and lazy. When I was a kid I hated my parents. I never had junk cerial in my house, never had chips or Pizza. They cooked with pam and I had plain oatmeal more times than I care to mention. When I moved out over time I gained weight. I didn't blame anyone else but myself for eating crap. The difference is when I decided to lose weight and get healthy, I went back to eating the way I did when I was a kid. WOW it worked. People that have been eating shit there whole lives have a bigger problem. They don't know how to eat right. Then comes the excuses. Nothing is worse than a Fat person with Excuses. The only acceptable excuse is they eat to much. Anyone can lose weight if they cut the right amount of calories back. Even a person with the imfamaus Thyroid problem. Their problem is the Thyroid is the name of the Special down at the ALL AMERICAN HERO.

Posted by: Choapee on July 31, 2006 03:17 PM

Banning advertising of fatty foods might meant that less attention is paid to these foods. Out of sight, out of mind. WBR LeoP

Posted by: Health System on March 11, 2007 06:17 PM

The normative effects of group obesity are very important. People feel little pressure to lose weight if their friends are similarly fat WBR LeoP

Posted by: Pharmacy Association on March 11, 2007 06:21 PM

I think we may be looking at the next "Jared" here.

Posted by: SNavarro on May 16, 2007 03:19 AM

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