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US and Big Sugar challenge WHO Plan
January 21, 2004 5:14 PM   Subscribe

US and Big Sugar challenge WHO Obesity Plan William Steiger, of the US Department of Health and Human Services sent a 28-page letter to the World Health Organization on January 5th. On behalf of the Bush Administration, he writes "rigorous scientific studies do not clearly show that marketing fast foods or high calorie foods to consumers increases their risk of becoming obese. Nor do scientific studies definitively link particular foods, such as soft drinks or juices, or foods high in fat or sugar, to a higher risk of obesity." Attacking the science, protecting the status quo, it's a familiar tactic.

The WHO's efforts to combat worldwide obesity, and the reactions of US Sugar and Food Manufacturers were already discussed here last year. Now that the plan is outlined, after 3 years of work, it recommends "advising people to limit sugar and refined foods, restricting junk food marketing, improving food labeling and raising prices on unhealthy foods". The US, however, is demanding strong changes before it signs off.
posted by kokogiak (62 comments total)

 
Hilarious. Pretty much every leading diet today says to limit sugar intake, correct? (It's not just sugar busters anymore) I've done my best to curtail some of the sugar I take in, but it seems to be in everything that comes in a can, jar, or frozen is loaded with the stuff, even if it's something like vegetables or chili.

Aside from financial reasons, what could the leader of the US' dept of health and human services possibly have against language that says limiting sugar is a good idea?
posted by mathowie at 5:26 PM on January 21, 2004


every steroid addict will tell you: sugar is a gateway drug.
posted by quonsar at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2004


Meanwhile the government's own research says we've got the fattest teens in the world! But that couldn't have anything to do with sugar intake or the ready availability of junk food.

Luckily, the administration does support social programs backed by truly rigorous science. Like the gold-standard concept of the healthy marriage.
posted by BT at 5:38 PM on January 21, 2004


Profit at whatever cost.
posted by the fire you left me at 5:59 PM on January 21, 2004


what do those secular scientists know anyway:


Pre-diabetes is a common condition related to diabetes. In people with pre-diabetes, the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
* Pre-diabetes increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes and of having heart disease or a stroke.
* Pre-diabetes can be reversed without insulin or medication by losing a modest amount of weight and increasing your physical activity. This can prevent, or at least delay, onset of type 2 diabetes.
About 17 million Americans (6.2%) are believed to have diabetes. About one third of those do not know they have it.
* About 1 million new cases occur each year, and diabetes is the direct or indirect cause of at least 200,000 deaths each year.
* The incidence of diabetes is increasing rapidly. This increase is due to many factors, but the most significant are the increasing incidence of obesity and the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles.


also of interest:

Type II Diabetes



and remember children, nicotine is NOT addictive


posted by matteo at 5:59 PM on January 21, 2004


oddly enough, "Big Sugar" was my hip hop moniker before I got on the atkins diet.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:17 PM on January 21, 2004


World: I'll take one WHO Obesity plan please.

U.S.: Would you like to supersize that?


As much as I would like blame my excess weight on manufacturers of junk food my own experience is that it really has more to do with physical activity than anything else. When I got off my ass it shrank. Oh and diet coke. Goodbye 35lbs
posted by srboisvert at 6:22 PM on January 21, 2004


The WHO is a communist conspiracy to crush capitalism and move us closer to one world government and the end of our cherished freedoms.
That's what I've heard, anyway.
posted by 2sheets at 7:07 PM on January 21, 2004


That's what I've heard

Probably from people who eat too much sugar,
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:51 PM on January 21, 2004


This is a issue that rings with me, because of my experience with sugar.

I used to have a massive sugar addicition. And I mean huge addiction. I used to only eat sugar, and I used to be seditary, which led to me being over 300 pounds.

Typically, a day would consist of 3-4 candy bars, 8-10 cans of soda (regular Cola usually, Coke mostly... Vanilla Coke actually), and that was on top of the massive carb load I got from eating pasta every single day, because I do love pasta.

This year I decided that it was time to make changes in my life. So I stopped drinking soda, limited sugar intake, and started working out regularly. I followed a standard regimine of exercise. In 9 months I dropped down to close to 200 pounds, and I feel a whole lot better.

Those in big-sugar who lie like big tobacco need to be held accountable for their crimes. People joke about suing the sugar industry, for making people fat... but they marketed a substance they knew was addictive, life threatening... and they pushed it to kids as well.
posted by benjh at 7:52 PM on January 21, 2004


I wouldn't mind seeing some regulation of the food industry, but I would like to see it done in market terms. I don't think there is enough competition out there to create healthy, quick, and cheap food products. Part of the reason people eat at McDonald's is because its (1) cheaper and (2) easier than eating healthy. Perhaps having a law that requires fast food restaurants to have at least 20% of their menu meet some sort of health standard, would be a decent start at spurring competition into healthy, quick, and cheap food.
posted by nads at 8:02 PM on January 21, 2004


I read about this the other day, with the US claiming that things like weight should be left up to the individual. Well yes, it is ultimately up to the individual to eat properly and exercise. But I do think that if a society is being impacted by a bad trend, it's a good idea to try to curb that trend through advertising and economic incentives. They did that with smoking, and although there are people still smoking there are fewer of them on a per capita basis than there were decades ago, because public attitudes have changed. We don't have to take draconian measures - but we can certainly encourage people to choose A over B.
posted by orange swan at 8:07 PM on January 21, 2004


Meanwhile the government's own research says we've got the fattest teens in the world! But that couldn't have anything to do with sugar intake or the ready availability of junk food.

Not to get all libertarian on everyone (or, for that matter, Emersonian), but it may have more to do with the fact that so many folks eat waaaaaay too much, and exercise waaaaaay too little.

WHO guidelines are nice to argue about at the theoretical level, and certainly offer delicious (hee hee) opportunities to slam big business ... but really ... how many people (even on the relatively poltically aware MeFi) could name even a few of the current WHO guidelines? More importantly, how many of the obese folks WHO is so concerned about do you suppose will even have the foggiest idea there is such a thing as "WHO Guidelines", let alone actually alter their behavior because of them?

In practical terms, I suspect a thousand laws and guidelines will make those who pass them feel good and righteous ... but won't do much of anything in practice. Health (except in rare cases) is almost entirely a matter of self-discipline. Always will be.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:23 PM on January 21, 2004


Little sugar was unavailable for comment.
posted by swerdloff at 9:28 PM on January 21, 2004


At least the Prez didn't say 'obesity is a health problem in the US so I call on the fatties to thin down.'
posted by rough ashlar at 9:32 PM on January 21, 2004


MidasMulligan - the relevance of WHO guidelines to the average person's life isn't what concerns me - in fact they could pass the obesity guidelines or not, and it probably won't affect me (or anyone else I know) one way or the other. That said - where is the harm in affirming in an official manner that overconsumption of sugar is not a healthy thing? For those individuals that strive to build up their self-discipline, it must certainly be more helpful to hear a unison of official voices saying that junk food is bad for you. When an official of the United States makes a public statement that says - "wait now, we don't have all the facts. Candy bars and Soda Pop might not be bad for you", what possible service is that (except a financial service to those who stand to lose money)? What good does that do anyone who might be looking for some desperate comfort when they lack self-discipline... "well, maybe it's not all that bad." So, I completely agree - personal health is an individual responsibility, but a little help and encouragement from those who know better is always welcome, and spreading uncertainty in the service of business, as this lettter does, is completely irresponsible.
posted by kokogiak at 9:56 PM on January 21, 2004


Sugar is very expensive and not a major US crop and it is not in most sweet foods unless its high end or home made. Most sweeteners are corn based. Corn sweeteners are even worse than sugar health wise represents the majority of "sugar" people injest. America is pro-sugar because Corn is its number one crop.
posted by stbalbach at 10:19 PM on January 21, 2004


BTW there is some excellent sugar available that contains the full natural vitamins and minerals and is non-processed if you want to cook with sugar.
posted by stbalbach at 10:28 PM on January 21, 2004


Not to derail, but there was a blues-rock band with a touch of reggae from Southern Ontario called Big Sugar. They were all right, but a bit too smug for their own good sometimes.

I have to hunt around on the NYT site, but there was an excellent article in the magazine a few months ago talking about the previous time when too much corn was being consumed by Americans. Back in the latter half of the 19th century, corn liquor overconsumption was widespread thanks to the glut of corn being grown in the U.S. The side effects of all that corn liquor lead to prohibition and the institution of the American agricultural price control ...thingie in the 1930s.

Ironically enough, when that price control mechanism was dismantled by Nixon after the cost of milk skyrocketed, corn almost immediately started creeping into the American food system again, only this time, in the form of sweeteners and starch.

Now I have to go hunt that article down again in the morning when I'm less tired.
posted by myopicman at 11:01 PM on January 21, 2004


Wait, our government is terrified that discussion of fucking in public schools will lead to more fucking, but discussion of fatty foods on the television will not lead to more fatties?
posted by subgenius at 11:11 PM on January 21, 2004


(Of course, I mean that in a rhetorical, funny sorta way. No offense intended.)
posted by subgenius at 11:17 PM on January 21, 2004


Back when suing the tobacco companies, banning smoking and restrcting cigarette advertising were the big thing, some wags said that surely unhealthy foods would be next. At the time I thought this was a joke.

I mean come on, are you people serious? You really think the government taxing disapproved forms of food, and restricting what kind of food advertising is allowed, is a good idea?
posted by maciej at 11:29 PM on January 21, 2004


Isn't this the same logic that gave us DARE and the War on Drugs?

I'm seriously bothered by the subtext that people are so stupid that they're just manipulated by marketing campaigns. Of course, people who favor this kind of thing always insist that they are not dupes of "Big Sugar", it's always other people who are stupid and unable to judge for themselves, and need to be protected from evil ideas.

The idea of giving any administration control over public discourse scares me a lot more than any marketing campaign.
posted by fuzz at 12:12 AM on January 22, 2004


fuzz: its not that people are stupid, but things have changed.
(1) The price of food has significantly decreased in the past 50 years -- for the mos part this is a good thing, ,but this also allows people to eat more than they need and get fat
(2) Average portion sizes have increased (1.5-2x) for most items (bagels, burgers, you name it). Take a look at a picture of a 70's bagel and one today.
(3) Fast food - Has become dominant because its economic and fast. However, I have no idea when I'm at McDonald's on what is healthier than what (you can ask, but if you're at a drive through window, there really isn't much of a way to tell).

I agree with you that the toboccao like analogies are silly. However, I don't think some economic incentives to counteract the aforementioned trends would necessarily be ab ad thing. Perhaps, through forcing fast/food food-manufacturers have a certain percecntage of their product line meet certain health standards (and entice competition into creating healthy, cheap, delicous food).
posted by nads at 1:05 AM on January 22, 2004


maciej,


You really think the government taxing disapproved forms of food, and restricting what kind of food advertising is allowed, is a good idea?

absolutely.

The food companies ultimately have one responsibility, which is to maximise profit. They spend a lot of money and time working out ways to make us consume more, particularly targetting kids and others less able to understand the issues and filter the messages.

Government represents the people and I expect the government to act on mine and others behalf and protect us from the behaviour of rogue companies.
posted by johnny novak at 1:19 AM on January 22, 2004


Honestly, these arguments are baffling and scary to me.

nads, are you saying that you would stop going to McDonald's and eating junk food if the prices went up, and that that's the best way to motivate people to lose weight? Are you saying that McDonald's should be forced by the government to sell more salads, which you think would otherwise be unprofitable because people don't want to order them?

johnny novak, are you saying that you are so weak that you need to be protected from companies selling things you don't want, or are you once again talking about other people being stupid victims? Should all of us, thin and fat alike, pay increased prices for certain government-determined types of food? Do you really believe that the government process for determining which foods fall into the "evil" category and which food companies are "rogue corporations" will be free of interference from special interests? Do you really believe that foods can be cleanly divided into "good" and "evil"? Which categories would you put butter, margarine, goosefat and olive oil in? Do you also believe the government should "represent the people" on restricting other types of behavior, such as making violent or anti-family entertainment, advertising motorcycles, or selling contraception to minors? Should there be a tax on televisions so that people exercise more?

Do you really believe that government should act on the basis that people are not competent to choose their own food? Why wouldn't the exact same arguments justify taxing people based on their weight? That would really hurt the rogue corporations that force them to eat all that lousy food.

I've lived in France and Spain for a long time, and despite what you may think about the big bad corporations, the junk food you can find in local cafes and bars here is cheaper and greasier that American fast food. But people are markedly less obese, because it's completely socially unacceptable. People will lose weight when they want to, and if they do, then fast food companies can make profits by catering to them (witness Subway).

I've got nothing against requiring more disclosure of nutritional information. I've got nothing against requiring food to be non-toxic. But I can't imagine why anyone would favor having the government, rather than individual people, make decisions about what we eat.
posted by fuzz at 2:45 AM on January 22, 2004


Again, I am inclined to ask: what is it really that we have against fatties? I think fatties are sexy, and the fatties I know are generally very fit and active and seem ot have about as many health problems as the skinnies I know.
posted by kalessin at 4:27 AM on January 22, 2004


I'm not going to actually look up what the WHO says on the subject, kalessin, but if they're involved I would imagine that there are significant health risks associated with obesity.
posted by ODiV at 4:41 AM on January 22, 2004


I see many characterizing this as more government regulation on individuals.
It seems to me as more of public education and attempts at behavior modification.
I am opposed to more regulation of individuals and any laws restiricting and/or monitoring individuals but wholeheartedly approve of stricter regulation of corporate activity.

The gist of the debate here seems to be the fact that the aWol administration if given a choice between the best interests of the people or the best interests of corporate profit will choose the corporation every time.

That said, it is the responsibility of individuals to regulate their diet and exercise. So long as the goods provider isn't poisoning the consumer but giving them fats and sugars (that they obviously want) then there's no problem with the service.

Speaking of our food supply there is an excellent article in the new Harpers that I read last night entitled "The Oil We Eat."
posted by nofundy at 5:00 AM on January 22, 2004


I believe junk food is popular because it stimulates the brain through the inclusion of large amounts of fat, salt and sugar. We need all of these things to survive, but they are not common in what we would naturally eat.
Eating foods high in fat, sugar and salt can result in a kind of high that can be addictive, it hyperstimulates the appetite. There is no natural analogue to a portion of chips and a hamburger, accompanied by a half litre of sugary water.
We do not need to eat refined sugar, large amounts of fat or salt (or meat for that matter).
People do not eat simply to survive in our society, food has many different roles in our lives.

The profits of large food companies are linked to the consuption of junk food, which is linked to health problems in the population. The question is, would you like the government to have your health as a higher priority than the wealth of an industry that benefits from your ignorance as to the effects of it's product on your health?

In an increasingly sedatery society, where everything is expected to happen instantly, it is difficult to go against the grain and take control of your consumption of food. In a society where consumption is promoted as a panacea to all human requirements it is difficult to adhere to the alternative, which is often the opposite. A balanced diet, regular exercise and low stress levels are not easy things to attain. A government that promoted such things actively might have some impact on the prevailing lifestyle culture.

fuzz, the argument might be along the lines that governments tax industries that profit from damaging the health of the citizens, which damages society, in order that the taxes be used to the benefit of the society. It is not a question of banning certain behaviours or substances, but informing the public and collecting enough tax to offset the ill-health of the population.

'This includes $45.8 billion in direct costs, such as hospital care and physician services-or 6.8 percent of all health care costs. Further, obesity costs the economy $18.9 billion a year for such indirect costs as lost output caused by death and disability from weight-related diseases. The number of work days lost to illness attributable to obesity amounts to 53.6 million days per year. This lost productivity costs employers an additional $4.06 billion annually'

The French paradox is well documented and studied, with many contributing factors to consider. Cafe food in continental Europe is generally fantastic, although it may appear 'greasy' it is very likely to be nutritionally superior to food from a fast food chain (even the salads can be healthier!) due to the quality of ingredients and the method of preparation, IMHO.

or, what nofundy said
posted by asok at 5:03 AM on January 22, 2004


Look, the WHO can recommend until it's blue in the face, it does NOT make it the law of the land. I don't know why the US is getting all pissed off about a recommendation.

The US is still free to keep stuffing Sugar coated corn Blasto puffs as long as it wants.
posted by CrazyJub at 5:16 AM on January 22, 2004


I think the US Sugar producers realize that the administration can be bought ("we can give you x number of votes this election, Mr Bush").

unfortunately, you can't legislate social change...

That being said, I'm getting up and going running and lift some weights to combat the eee-vil "big sugar"....muhahahahahh
posted by grefo at 5:25 AM on January 22, 2004


I see many characterizing this as more government regulation on individuals.

Uh... because that's what it is? By your logic we could potentially regulate the food industry until our only choices are soy and tofu, but we won't be infringing on the individual because the individual isn't being "monitored" or directly restricted.

Thank you for so clearly reminding me how fucking insane the left is.
posted by BirdD0g at 6:30 AM on January 22, 2004


Remember, Poison is in the quantity.

In layman terms , if you eat too much of anything it will harm you. How much is too much ? Depends, varies from person to person , but if your eating habits are making you fell bad and look fat you may want to eat -LESS- of everything to begin with.

For the sugar thing I see somebody says "there's no proof of sugar doing xyzk" but they don't give any proof that it does NOT harm you either; when you see that you know that somebody in marketing is trying to sell you a product.
posted by elpapacito at 6:38 AM on January 22, 2004


Screw sugar, what about Big Artificial Sweeteners? Are we so addicted to sugar that even when giving it up we need some sort of analogue? Nutrasweet is a lot worse than sugar, in my experience. It could just be that I always feel nauseated after having food with it, though.
posted by mikeh at 6:40 AM on January 22, 2004


Fuzz,

1) In France and Spain, obesity is on the rise, mirroring what has happened in the UK in the last decade as our diet moved towards the US model.

2) Government represents the people and regulates many areas of behaviour.

3) The concept of personal responsibility can be difficult to get over to a four year old being bombarded with an overwhelming number of adverts for crisps and sweets.
posted by johnny novak at 6:44 AM on January 22, 2004


Thank you for so clearly reminding me how fucking insane the left is.

No, Thank you for giving us a sentence which so generously combines ludicrous extrapolation and sweepingly hyperbolic generalisation.

but they don't give any proof that it does NOT harm you either

Why do you think that is elpapacito? Please feel free to resort to simple rules of logic in your answer.
posted by biffa at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2004


BirdDOg: Soya and tofu? My arse!

Thank you for reminding me that some people are reductivist to the point of absurdity dumb.

On preview:

Thanks biffa....
posted by davehat at 6:58 AM on January 22, 2004


Just a bit of redirect-attention: the point of the link is that the administration is not making the argument "While science shows that fast food may be bad for you, that's a matter for individual responsibility." They are claiming that the mountainous volume of research connecting sugar intake to obesity and health problems to be insignificant -- (though they offer no evidence discrediting it) and they are demanding that an international health organization participate in their deliberate refusal to acknowledge the research that's been done.

Whatever your position about how much or little regulation is in order, the Bush administration is working hard to obfuscate or deny the facts with which we might be expected to have a debate.
posted by BT at 7:10 AM on January 22, 2004


Meanwhile the government's own research says we've got the fattest teens in the world! But that couldn't have anything to do with sugar intake or the ready availability of junk food.

So you're suggesting it should be unavailable? What are we children? Need to have the government lock the cookie jar away? Junk food of one form or another is available all over the world as I recall. I am very tired of the paternalistic notion that citizens are children who need to "watched" by the government.

3) The concept of personal responsibility can be difficult to get over to a four year old being bombarded with an overwhelming number of adverts for crisps and sweets.

Maybe, but it's their parents job to inculcate them with that concept, not the governments, if for no other reason than the fact that I do not want GW Bush or anyother politicain deciding what that concept means for me.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 AM on January 22, 2004


There's a completely natural sugar-free sweetener, that is reportedly up to 400x sweeter than sugar for the equivalent volume - - a sweetener that everybody could grow in their back yards or in pots on windowsills -- a sweetener that has been used safely for hundreds of years with no known negative effects.

But thanks to the sweetener industry in the US, it is illegal for anyone to market this simple plant as a sweetener. It can be marketed as a "dietary supplement" but not as a sweetener. If you try to market it as a sweetener, expect the feds to raid you as if you were a drug lab. It is a similar case in the EU.

Here's a web site. The plant is stevia. Start growing some today.

So for those of you who say that dietary choices are individual responsibility, not the governments ---- remember that it is the same government that is limiting our dietary choices by making the industrial use of a natural sweetener illegal.

Whose interests are being served?
posted by yesster at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2004


The worst part about Fast Food (McDonalds) are the buns. Look at the ingredients list. It's where they add all the weird chemicals and sweetners that make it addictive. If I must eat fast food I simply eat the meat and veggies and not the carbs. The frys are bad too because they fry it in oil that has the shelf life of liquid plastic.
posted by stbalbach at 10:07 AM on January 22, 2004


Sugar is very expensive and not a major US crop and it is not in most sweet foods unless its high end or home made. Most sweeteners are corn based. Corn sweeteners are even worse than sugar health wise represents the majority of "sugar" people injest. America is pro-sugar because Corn is its number one crop.
Bingo..unfortunately it will not change, as it has been the primary crop through most of US history. So no administration will change it. Think about all the revenue the movie industry makes off of corn alone; the concession stand's profits selling over priced: popcorn, h2o & syrup, candy...
Can't recall all the details, the wheat industry is suffering from the governments support of corn.

PS, still feel breakfast adds the largest problem in obesity. Breakfast full of sugars, cereals and then the lack of it. Not eating breakfast will lessen the amount of calories you body may burn during the day. As it stimulates your metabolism soon after waking up, thus burning more calories while your awake during the day.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2004


So for those of you who say that dietary choices are individual responsibility, not the governments ---- remember that it is the same government that is limiting our dietary choices by making the industrial use of a natural sweetener illegal.

That's an argument for getting the government the hell away from making these sorts of determinations for people, not for allowing them reign to make more.
posted by Dreama at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2004


Good point yesster.
Why the hell is it that governments prohibit stevia being promoted as a natural sweetener?
Is this a wrong we can expect aWol to correct?
Would Archer Daniels Midland have the answer?
Perhaps the Sugar Growers Association would know who bought whom?
Will we ever see something done to promote the best interests of the individual instead of the corporate profit?
Will Ken Lay tell or go to jail?
posted by nofundy at 10:33 AM on January 22, 2004


Why do fools fall in love?
Who let the dogs out?
Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?
Who's Crying Now?
What's with all the fucking questions?
posted by jonmc at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2004


As always, Crowded House said it best:

I saw Elvis Presley walk out of a Seven Eleven
And a woman gave birth to a baby and then bowled 257
The excess of fat on your American bones
Will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone

posted by signal at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2004


This is a joke right?
The Bush administration alleges that the WHO plan, under development for three years, relies too heavily on questionable science ...

This statement would be hilarious if it wasn't so damn sad.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2004


Here is the article myopicman mentioned on the business of corn and sugar, an op-ed in the NYT by Michael Pollan, author of "Botany of Desire." It's interesting.

The problem in corn's case is that we're sacrificing the health of both our bodies and the environment by growing and eating so much of it. Though we're only beginning to understand what our cornified food system is doing to our health, there's cause for concern. It's probably no coincidence that the wholesale switch to corn sweeteners in the 1980's marks the beginning of the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in this country. Sweetness became so cheap that soft drink makers, rather than lower their prices, super-sized their serving portions and marketing budgets. Thousands of new sweetened snack foods hit the market, and the amount of fructose in our diets soared.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:31 PM on January 22, 2004


What's with all the fucking questions?

SUGAR RUSH!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:57 PM on January 22, 2004


I'm thinking I should edit my original link to say "Big Corn" instead of "Big Sugar", but they're both so damn funny sounding, can't figure out which I like better. Maybe "Big Fructose", or better yet "Big Sweet" - sort of a Nyawlins feel to that one.
posted by kokogiak at 1:09 PM on January 22, 2004


Maybe "Big Fructose", or better yet "Big Sweet" - sort of a Nyawlins feel to that one.

Both of those would be terrific names for the first gay professional wrestler.
posted by jonmc at 1:24 PM on January 22, 2004


The thing is, the WHO is not trying to force the U.S. to these standards. They are simply trying to make sensible health recommendations. The WHO wants to point out that a diet largely consisting of sugar and other refined foods is bad for you.

Now, this seems like a commonsensical observation. After all, it is widely considered to be funny that someone would sue McDonalds for making him fat. So why the fuss when the WHO takes this common-sense understanding, backs it up with scientific studies that bear the results out, and makes it official?

It seems pretty obvious that the reason the U.S. is getting involved is not an interest in the purity of science or protecting the health or right to personal choice of it's citizens.
posted by moonbiter at 1:40 PM on January 22, 2004


The fact they are using FUD in order to protect corporate interests at the expense of your nation's health doesn't ring alarm bells?

I am against regulating what people eat the same as most people, but surely the US Dept of Health should be primarily concerned with, you know, health.

I thought it was by the people for the people or something.
posted by fullerine at 1:59 PM on January 22, 2004


Peoples' diets should be none of the government's concern. If people want to be stupid enough to get themselves fat and die of heart attacks, you're not going to cure that too easily.

What next? We're gunna get told how many times to take a crap each day because otherwise we might get bowel cancer? Or told how much we should have sex to keep the population growing at the right rate?
posted by wackybrit at 9:11 PM on January 22, 2004


OK so the government needs to protect us from "bad" food. Should it also protect us from "bad" sex, "bad" books, "bad" ideas, "bad" dangerous activities like rock climbing or whitewater rafting? This is more totalitarian than any 20th-century despot could have imagined, and here you are clamoring for it! I mean, I am so taken aback by this line of argument that I don't even know what to say.

By the way, I am 5'11" and 145lb, my diet sometimes includes food high in sugar and fat at times. So clearly junk food is no more an instantly addicting one-way slide down the road to hell than alcohol, pot, or the Internet. All of these things are abused by some people, but anything that can be used can be used to excess. I for one would rather have freedom than a government forcing me to be 100% safe against my will.
posted by maciej at 9:42 PM on January 22, 2004


Should it also protect us from "bad" sex

You mean like making it a crime for people who know they have HIV/Aids to sleep with uninfected people unaware of their status?
posted by biffa at 2:04 AM on January 23, 2004


biffa: No, making it a crime for people to have sex with someone else who has HIV, even if they know it and are aware of the risks, would be a more apt analogy.

Obviously fraudulent representation is bad, and for example selling cyanide labelled as nutra-sweet would be wrong. But if there is anyone who doesn't understand the risks of eating too much high-energy food, then they have been living in a cave.
posted by maciej at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2004


No, making it a crime for people to have sex with someone else who has HIV, even if they know it and are aware of the risks, would be a more apt analogy.

The proposed WHO recommendations do not make anything a crime. They will be nothing more than a recommendation to limit intake of certain foods which can be harmful in large doses. What on earth is wrong with that? You oppose the WHO giving recommendations about how to live a healthier life? Why?
posted by Ptrin at 3:55 PM on January 23, 2004


Peoples' diets should be none of the government's concern.
Agree, but our tax dollars support corn crops. Tired finding corn in "ingredients" that you wouldn't think that it would be found in. Like some spices, lemon pepper. Yes, we have the freedom of choice, but the gov needs to quit pushing it. Then making studies that blame another reason.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:59 PM on January 23, 2004


yeah you're right maciej - bad analogy.
posted by biffa at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2004


I do have a bit of a problem with the "leave it up to the parents to tell their kids what's good for them" argument.

We don't think it's a good idea to leave it up to the parents to teach their kids about protected sex or how to read. Good nutrition is one of the tools people need to be contributing and healthy members of our society. We ought to be educating everyone on how to eat properly.
posted by orange swan at 8:33 PM on February 20, 2004


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