Yesterday, we covered new findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that youths are consuming fewer calories now than they did ten years ago. However, obesity has only plateaued, not fallen. Even for William Dietz, the CDC’s former director of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity and no stranger to food regulation, this leaves only one available conclusion (emphasis added):
The only way that we can explain the decline in calories and the increase in obesity in boys, flat in girls, is that physical activity has declined. And if that’s the case, that’s a real concern, because physical activity plays a major role in the prevention of chronic diseases, including obesity.
We have warned of the harmful effects of declining physical activity for years, and it’s nice to see that obesity professionals are beginning to see that controlling “calories in” can’t fix the problem by itself. To her credit, the First Lady has already recognized this, as she heads back to her hometown of Chicago to promote physical activity in schools. Maybe politicians will come around too.
Of course, Dietz’s co-panelist on PBS, Michael Moss, is more interested in fevered fantasies of conspiracy inside food companies. Moss claims that food is designed to addle us with a hardcore drug-like addiction, and we are all helpless to resist it. Cambridge University researchers however have found that the “food addiction” theories of Moss and “political scientists” like Kelly “Twinkie tax” Brownell are “unsupported by existing evidence.”
The goal of that food attack is described, tongue planted firmly in cheek, in today’s New York Post:
Fried foods, oh please. Junk foods, oh please. Cakes, cookies, crullers — nein! Ketchup, mustard, chili sauce? Think oatmeal.
Junky burgers will soon come on an asbestos bun. Go for grief counseling before your server serves in a paper hat, hairnet and decontamination suit. Switch to vegetarian. Fiber from granola, sprouts, raw carrots, broccoli, wheat germ, bran, oats, tofu. Second helpings, and you double as wicker furniture.
Yes, today, bans on burgers, cakes, cookies, and ketchup are all the stuff of satire. But if the nation’s food police have their way, they could all come with warning labels, age restrictions, and bans on eating them at work. And the sad part is, none of it will make us any skinnier.