Gratuitous substance-abuse observation

Can any marketing folk explain the reasoning behind Budwesier calling its new 30-can product a “family pack”? I mean, not all of the United States resembles rural Georgia. In fact, only rural Georgia does, although there are rural Arkansas and rural Kentucky to consider…okay, that’s not very nice, but if you’ve ever been to these places…
Anyway, this nomenclature seems to clash not only with common sense but with Anheuser-Busch’s own “drink responsibly!” campaign (although to brewing and distilling companies this message, when you get right down to the truth, is probably tantamount to “Throw back a case of beer every night, but go to work and stay out of trouble”). I’m thinking that next we’ll see Trojan produce a one-gross “promiscuity pack” of ultra-thin, self-unrolling, edible ribbed condoms and Phillip Morris offering 100-pack cartons of unfiltered brands with labels that boast “second-hand special.”

One psychological problem I’ve dodged

This one.

New research suggests that men feel pressure to have muscular bodies, and that influence can lead some to symptoms of eating disorders, pressure to use steroids, and an unhealthy preoccupation with weightlifting … men who were not happy with their muscles were more likely to say that their weight-training schedule interfered with other parts of their life, that others think they work out too much, that they used protein supplements, and even that they thought about using steroids.

Then there’s this:

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“Instead of seeing a decrease in objectification of women in society, there has just been an increase in the objectification of men. And you can see that in the media today,” [study author Tracy Tylka] said. “Women still get objectified more than men, but men are feeling the pressure too.”

Ha! I’d like to be shown an example of one post-pubertal heterosexual (or gay, for all I know) male in the United States of America who doesn’t feel he isn’t “objectified” nearly enough. The respective perceptions of men and women in this realm simply aren’t the same.

Soft drinks, indeed

After reviewing 40 years’ worth of scientific literature and analyzing data from 30 key nutrition studies, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that sugar-sweetened sodas are the primary culprit in driving up rates of obesity and overweight in America during this time frame. The full text of the article, which appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is here.
That slugging back a sixer of regular Pepsi, Mountain Dew or Coke every day can lead to weight gain isn’t a shocker. What is surprising is the number of people who do it. Given that diet varieties of every popular soda are available and that the advent of aspartame and Splenda has made their taste virtually indistinguishable from that of sugary versions, you would think that more people — especially those aware of gaining weight — would switch to the no-calorie renditions. This option isn’t available when it comes to Big Macs and pepperoni pizza, so I find it odd that so many Americans continue to obtain so many additional calories from soda when they have viable alternatives. Maybe more people than I realize are truly hooked on sugar itself and not just the taste of their preferred soda.

Get ’em while they’re young

As reported in the July issue of Obesity, a study of 120,000 Massachusetts infants over the past 22 years reveals that children aged 5 and under are nearly 60 percent heavier than they were 20 years ago. Perhaps the most startling finding was in the six-months-and-under age group, where the incidence of overweight rose by a robust 74 percent.
It is easier to speculate as to why older children and adults are, on average, considerably heavier than they were two decades ago. Restaurants have offered larger and larger portion sizes as part of a culinary arms race, and menu selections now border on the absurd, with the 1,410-calorie, 107-grams-of-fat Monster Thickburger from Hardee’s epitomizing this trend. (Hardee’s features at least four other sandwiches that provide over 1,000 calories.) But infants aren’t cruising the fast-food joints any more than they were in the mid-1980s, and it seems unlikely that mothers are feeding their babies that much more than they were 20 years ago or that infant formulas (or breast milk) are significantly more energy-rich than in the past.
Evidently, maternal factors lie at the root of this “baby boom,” with increased caloric intake on the part of pregnant or perhaps even pre-pregnant mothers being propagated to offspring, who are overnourished in the womb (a situation previously limited chiefly to women with gestational diabetes). That’s not good news, since the earlier in life children become overweight, the more difficult it becomes to maintain a leaner weight as adults, as children can add fat as a result of both the hyperplasia (increased number of cells) and hypertrophy (increased cell size) of adipocytes; adults increase body fat only via the latter mechanism.

Heavy Hitters, epilogue: Stampfed, sealed and delivered

Meir Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H. is a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. His work focuses primarily on the causes of chronic disease, particularly in the areas of nutrition, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. He co-authored a study published in the December 23, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, “Adiposity as Compared with Physical Activity in Predicting Mortality among Women,” which undermined the increasingly common refrain that fit and active people are just as healthy as leaner persons with similar activity levels. I put to Dr. Stampfer several questions germane to the claims of fat activists.

Continue reading “Heavy Hitters, epilogue: Stampfed, sealed and delivered”

Heavy Hitters, Part 5: The Big Picture

(This is the fifth and final installment in a five-part series about fat acceptance.)
It is not difficult to surmise why one of the chief characteristics of the pro-fat movement is how militant its constituents appear. Overweight people are bombarded daily with unsavory messages both internal and external: Fat is unhealthy, fat is ugly, fat signifies sloth. In the meantime, many have long been waging unsuccessful battles with the scale and with self-esteem. Having become convinced that weight loss is simply not in the cards, many of them, in an understandable quest to allay cognitive dissonance, maintain a jaundiced world view, regarding doctors as plunderers in cahoots with fad-diet peddlers, thin people as deluded souls propelled by self-loathing and insecurity, and anyone with the temerity to insist that obesity harms as either uninformed or a victim of media brainwashing. It is easy to see how anyone harboring such a mindset can — in the manner of creationists who scoff at carbon dating — simply discard facts about health and medicine with potentially unsavory consequences.

Continue reading “Heavy Hitters, Part 5: The Big Picture”

Heavy Hitters, Part 4: Losing it

(This is the fourth installment in a five-part series about fat acceptance.)
To be sure, the idea that weight loss is simply a function of calories eaten versus calories burned is an oversimplification of the complex interrelationships between biochemistry, genetics, physiology and motivation. But while it’s unquestionably true that some people – some with clinical endocrine disorders, many others without – have a more difficult time keeping off excess pounds than do others, a glance at the data comparing 1960 weights with those of today shows that eating behavior has clearly played the greatest role in the rapid and continued bloating of America, with the food and restaurant industries – which, like any other businesses, exist not to serve public-health concerns or encourage people to make careful lifestyle choices, but to turn a buck – being the chief broker in this ongoing transaction. Indeed, that fat advocates all but omit from their list of enemies the offerings of a food industry with a clear, insistent and successful aim of encouraging Americans to ramp up their food consumption is glaring in light of the repercussions.

Continue reading “Heavy Hitters, Part 4: Losing it”