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Don't Eat Fatty Foods if You Don't Want To Be Fat

I recently read Don't Eat This Book, by Morgan Spurlock. It's a follow-up to his film Super-Size Me (when he ate McDonald's food for 30 days to see what would happen). And in related news, I've been sucked in by the train wreck of a show that is Honey, We're Killing the Kids.

On the book. It confirmed many suspicions I had and reaffirmed things I already knew about not just the health effects of junk food, but the business practices behind the "big food" companies, like the "cradle-to-grave" ad campaigns designed to suck kids in as toddlers and keep them as brand-loyal consumers through adulthood, until they die of heart attacks or diabetes. Spurlock's book doesn't go into as great detail as Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation did a few years ago, but it's a quick, easy read and a good primer on the subject. I consider it a refresher course, and it renewed my spirit in eating fruits and veggies. It also gave me the perversely delightful feeling of being "better than average," since I apparently do a lot more walking and eat a lot less junk food than "average" Americans. I do watch a lot of tv, though, so I'm not wholey terrific.

Speaking of tv: On Honey, We're Killing the Kids (Monday nights on TLC, also re-run about 100 times on weekends), a doctor uses space-aged technology to predict what couples' children will look like at the age of 40 if they continue eating junk food and watching too much tv. The parents are always horrified by the grotesque images, and they agree to follow Dr. Lisa's plan. At the end of the show, Dr. Lisa re-predicts what the children will look like, and they always, of course, look more attractive. I can't stop watching, even though I have a number of concerns about the show:
1. Dr. Lisa is not mean enough. Most of the parents are fat, and she never comes out and says, "Look, you fat parents. You've been living this lifestyle for 30 years, and look at yourselves. Why are you so surprised that your kids will look just as bad if they follow the same lifestyle?" I'd like to see Dr. Lisa really lay it on when the families detour from their healthy plan.
2. These parents can't be that clueless. It seems like common sense that high fat, high sodium, high sugar diets followed by too much tv and too little excerise results in fat kids. These parents always seem surprised that candy and chips are bad for their kids. They are always surprised that eliminating sugar and increasing excercise reduces behavioral problems in their kids.
3. At least one of the parents gets mad at the cameras following them around. Why did you volunteer yourself to be on a tv show????
4. The editing is done to show all the ways the families are "bad" and do not stick to the healthy plan. But at the end of the program, Dr. Lisa always shows positive results. Wait a minute... I saw that kid eat one vegetable. I'm supposed to take your word for it that he's eating 5 servings of veggies a day now? The results are inconsistent with the images the producers choose to show the audience.

Sometimes Mike and I find it hard to believe that we are that far off from being "average" Americans in terms of our eating habits. We look at our peers, who are mostly relatively healthy, fit youngsters like ourselves, and think we're right on track. Then we drive through the Midwest. Or watch tourists waddling around the National Mall. And we see a lot of people who are the targets of junk food empire. Are we actually being snobs? Is this post incredibly un-PC?


Stephanie said…
PS. My diet is no where near perfect and I hate to sound holier-than-thou. I involuntarily skip the cookie, cracker, cereal, pasta, and bread aisles in the grocery store (and by association, Mike's diet has been greatly reduced of these now). I love sugar, especially chocolate. I eat a lot of dairy with a lot of fat in it. But I'm conscious of my fruit and vegetables and work hard to get at least 4 servings a day (I can never make it to 5). I try to choose low-fat dairy options when they're available. Except for half-and-half in my coffee. I drink water. I walk a lot. I can count on one hand the number of times I go to fast food restaurants per year. We don't even go to chains like Ruby Tuesday's or Applebees unless we absolutely must. Part food snobs, part informed consumers, part dietary necissities, I guess.
Vicky said…
Dom & I are junk food freaks, BUT we also are the same as you guys. We know what it does and are constantly amazed by shows/people like that in the same way you all are. We do the same thing- look around us and can't believe that we are that different but I guess we are. And we too think- are we snobs?

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