Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Did This Become OK?


Thanks to Twitter's @teacherace for clipping this coupon for me to see.

Today's post is short and almost literally sweet.

Where did we go wrong as a society such that the foods being advertised to moms and dads up above are the staples that many (most?) feel safe and comfortable feeding their children?

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29 comments:

  1. Unregulated industries and unregulated advertising.

    For-profit entities and incentives for healthcare providers.

    Now I'm too nauseated to think more about this.

    Hey - you can market this as a new and improved appetite suppressant!

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  2. Anonymous6:34 am

    Raising a healthy family is a tedious task when marketers are allowed to target impressionable children with ads for sugary treats, especially when those treats are presented as "part of a healthy, balanced diet". Everywhere my children turn they are presented with information about their diet that directly contradicts our teachings at home. Although they are well educated about the problems with the conventional wisdom on healthy eating, they still feel, from time to time, that they are being treated unfairly when they cannot have the sugary breakfast cereals, pop tarts, and other similar items pictured above. It's certainly overwhelming as a parent, and often a difficult force to overcome.

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  3. One day these were ok too: http://imgur.com/a/Es4wN

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    1. Wow. Just wow. That's quite a collection! Thanks for the link!

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  4. When I decided to study nutrition literature about 35 years ago I also began collecting newspaper articles discussing sugars, fats, and cholesterol. Between 1977 and 2004 I clipped out four articles about sugar and hundreds of articles demonizing cholesterol and saturated fats. Such is the political power of industrial food and the ineptitude of politicians. It is not in the skill set of elected leaders or their policy advisors to discern the harm associated with unrestricted access to industrial food. Both academia and government have failed to address this matter in an effective manner. Excerpt from the Introduction to the 1976 "Edition of "Food for Nought" by Ross Hume Hall, PhD.

    "Nourishment of the American populace has undergone a startling transformation since World War II. A highly individual system of growing and marketing food has been transformed into a gigantic, highly integrated service system in which the object is not to nourish or even to feed, but to force an ever-increasing consumption of fabricated products. This phenomenon is not peculiar to the American scene and occurs in every industrialized country. The United States, however, has progressed furthest in the transformation. Man can never be more than what he eats, and one would expect that a phenomenon with such profound effects on health and wellbeing as a radically changed system of supplying nourishment would be thoroughly documented and assessed by the scientific community. Such is not the case. The transformation has gone unmarked by government agencies and learned bodies. Government agencies, recipients of the public trust, charged with protecting and improving the public's food, operate as if the technology of food fabrication rested in pre-World War II days. Scientific bodies, supported by public funds and charged with assessing and improving the public's health, ignore completely the results of contemporary methods of marketing food...Failure to monitor and to appreciate the results of rapidly moving technology produces a brutal effect that forms the central theme of this book. Technology founded on mechanistic laws clashes head on with the processes of a natural world which adheres to very different laws. Modern industry, ignoring these biologic laws, molds and manipulates natural processes to suit and to promote its own mechanistic and economic goals."

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    1. I would disagree. The Department of Agriculture has worked with the food industry for over a century to bring about changes to the concept of an American diet that would make people think a diet of processed and pre-prepared foods is healthier, easier, and just plain more sensible. They are not ignoring these changes. These changes are their goal.

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    2. Anonymous4:48 pm

      To what end?

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  5. "Balanced" is a license to eat bad stuff apparently. The Big Lie, something like "fair and balanced".

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  6. The reason why nobody is as bothered as you think they should be is because this stuff is, in fact. edible food, and life expectancies keep increasing. No, it's not the most sophisticated food out there and I, personally, don't find most of it particularly tasty. However, eating on a regular basis and getting enough to eat are probably more important to health and survival than eating in any particular way.

    We're omnivores, and the natural, local diets of different groups of human beings vary dramatically. We can thrive on almost any type of food. Compare the diet that Inuits traditionally ate to the white rice and vegetable-heavy diet in east Asia. Nothing in common, yet both groups are/were well adapted to their way of eating.

    Just playing devil's advocate.

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    1. "However, eating on a regular basis and getting enough to eat are probably more important to health and survival than eating in any particular way."

      I think the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes provide substantial evidence against this statement. Eating "in a particular way" most definitely affects your overall health and well-being. And life expectancy does not consider "quality of life". If you're alive but with significant amputations and blindness due to diabetes with a nice side of paralysis due to stroke from high blood pressure, then you are technically alive, but you might not be particularly enjoying being alive.

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    2. Anonymous3:41 pm

      While humans are able to eat a wide range of diets, any diet is "okay" from an evolutionary standpoint so long as it enables one to reach reproductive age. We used to die from accidents, diseases, parasites etc. well before chronic diseases had a chance to set in. Thanks to improved sanitation, health care, and yes, better nutrition, we are now living to the point when chronic diseases are a major cause of death. As PuffsPlus said, living a long life is not necessarily living well, not if you are suffering.

      That said, we don't really know what the "optimum" human diet(s) is, but you can bet it includes very little highly processed foods.

      Also, there is myriad evidence that the Western diet pattern results in increased rates of chronic diseases wherever the nutrition transition is taking place. Because of this, life expectancies are predicted to be shorter for this generation than for the previous generation - a first in human history.

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  7. If you check the Post cereal coupon for the highly sugared cereals, they call it "Kids cereals".

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  8. Anonymous10:00 am

    @dee.calarco.....yes we can thrive on many different diets BUT humans do not THRIVE on a high-sugar high-processed food-like-products diet. Please look at how introducing our "fast food" joints to places in Asia has affected their health, it has not been in a positive way. Natural, local diets, as you talked about have nothing at all to do with a diet that focuses on the food-like-products pictured above.

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  9. Anonymous10:06 am

    The caption should read "Want little Johnny to fail repeatedly so he lives at home forever?"

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  10. Interestingly enough, I was thumbing through a parenting magazine at the doctor's office yesterday and came across an add with a quiz where Trix cereal was the answer for which breakfast was lowest in calories. Never mind that another option was oatmeal. Never mind that fewer calories does not equal better nutrition. If this were true, we could all simply stop eating and be perfectly healthy.

    Plus lots on Nutella. I know how much you love Nutella.

    I'd cut them some slack on the peanut butter & cheerios -- although I think a good strategy if you like sweet cereal (I do) is to buy a box of the sweetened and one of the unsweetened and mix them. Pop Tarts, though, are pretty appalling.

    I won't argue that these foods have no place in a diet. Even though I eat pretty healthy most of the time, there are times when something processed is just the ticket.

    Would you have less of an issue with it if they marketed them, but not as "healthy?" Promoting Pop Tarts as a treat is one thing, but as a nutritious breakfast is a stretch.

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    1. I'd be way comfier with Big Food if they didn't pretend their products were healthy but instead sold them on the basis of treats/guilty pleasures.

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    2. The thing is, does anyone really believe those health claims? I don't know anyone who does. I almost see them as a joke that everyone understands. That's why I have trouble getting up in arms. Doesn't everyone know that granola bars are candy bars for grownups? Doesn't everyone know that pop tarts are kind of like jelly donuts? Isn't it patently obvious? Maybe if we admitted that there's nothing earth shatteringly wrong with eating a small candy bar (granola bar) for an afternoon snack or having a pastry for breakfast occasionally, then the manufacturers could stop playing that game.

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    3. Anonymous3:44 pm

      @dee.calarco

      What is "obvious" to you is not obvious to everyone. Keep in mind that being a health nut puts a person in the minority (granted, health awareness IS becoming more common). Frankly, not everyone has the time, money, or know-how to evaluate food products and critique labels and health claims.

      --Katherine

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    4. @dee.calarco

      Agree with Katherine. Many people obviously DO believe the claims. That's why these companies use them!

      I used to go to a local TOPS weight-loss group. I eavesdropped on two other members once-- two super morbidly obese women were chatting about how many healthy (sugar-laden) fiber-one fruit bars and (sugar-laden) oatmeal cereal bars they had been eating during their pregnancies. Because fiber was supposed to be good for them and the baby! And make their babies more intelligent too!

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    5. I wish I shared your faith in people, Dee. I parted ways with a wellness coach when she tried to convince me that dried, unsugared fruit was bad for me and that I should eat one of those processed cereal/protein bars (like Special K) instead. I also witnessed the beginning of the dietary fatphobia craze when people shunned avocados and nuts yet stocked Fat-Free Snackwells in their larders.

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    6. I remember that too, FatChickinLycra. I always figured that is was just an excuse to eat cookies, and since I don't think that eating cookies is morally wrong, I didn't have strong feelings about it one way or the other. Snackwell, Keebler, whatever. It's packaged cookies. Whoop-de-do.

      People who love meat are the ones who go whole-hog on Atkins or whatever they're calling it these days. People who love carbs are okay with going low fat. People who have no interest in cooking love packaged foods (with their handy nutritional labels) and Jenny Craig, if they're dieters.

      People buy the foods they enjoy and adopt dietary philosophies to match their tastes and preferences. I don't even think there's anything wrong with that, as long as they're trying to tell me what to eat. And I, personally, try to eat a varied and balanced diet.

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  11. I wonder if it has to do with "brand advertising?" People don't seek out "brands" of apples, lettuce, meat, etc*. General Mills (and other Big Food companies that sell brands) are subsidizing the coupons, so of course they want to promote brand recognition of their products.
    *Though I do remember Chiquita Banana ads back in the '70s. LOL

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  12. Anonymous3:13 pm

    I agree those foods are mostly bad selections, though honey nut mixed with regular cheerios might be ok. I stay away from all cereal because they cause blood glucose to spike, but while attending all the diabetic clinic classes here in NS, I'll say they do push peanut butter, don't really push low fat cheese and as a diabetic trying desperately to drop lbs, have had no help from the hospital nutritionist. In the end I put myself with my GP's supervision on a pre-op diet for bariatric surgery...it's the only thing to work...the min I eat bread, rice, pasta or spuds, I pack on the pounds even in the small quantities on the 'diabetic' diet. Frankly I just don't know what to eat anymore and find the lack of help & support from the medical community pathetic especially when they are the 1st to criticize.

    If it weren't for you Yoni, I would feel totally hopeless, now I only feel 90 % hopeless.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words.

      Just to add one piece....there are no nuts in Honey Nut Cheerios"

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    2. Nuts as part of breakfast are great, though. I like regular Shredded Wheat (actually, I buy the cheaper, generic stuff) and I eat it with with cut up fruit, a handful of walnuts or almonds, and milk. I love those individual paper packets the shredded wheat comes in. Keeps it fresh. Great packaged product, awesome breakfast.

      I wonder why there's so much less advertising for something like that. It's the same company, and it's a tastier and healthier breakfast. Maybe it's the fact that you have to add things to it, and that brings up the cost and takes a few minutes of work?

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    3. My guess, Dee, is that it's not as profitable to make & market healthy food. Enough salt, fat & sugar and you can make cheap, poor quality ingredients not only palatable, but almost addictive. It's what people grow up on and are used to these days. Plus, convenience foods steamroll over time as more people become convinced that actual cooking is some great mystery or an all-day affair.

      I've mostly lost my taste for processed food, but it was a gradual transition over time. Big into nuts, fruit & cereal myself here. :)

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    4. Anonymous1:12 pm

      @FatChickinLycra: Agreed - a large part of the food industry's processes involve "adding value," which allows them to charge more for their products. They only care about health so far as consumers care about health - to them, taste, quality, and shelf life will always come first. There's a reason that processed foods contain so many additives and stabilizers - otherwise they would be totally unappealing (and most of them couldn't exist, frankly). This is why some manufacturers are still using trans fats - they are fantastic from a food science perspective. Terrible for health, yes, but profits must come first.

      --Katherine

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  13. "If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face." Anonymous

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  14. I would say that this is just yet another example of the shift that has occurred over the past generation or two from feeding children the same food adults eat to feeding kids a special diet of sweets, junk food, and fast food. So many parents think that the appropriate diet for kids is one that includes quarts a day of highly purified and processed "100% fruit juice", supplemented with daily rations of chicken fingers, french fries, and pizza.

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