Skip

McStatin -- I'm Neutralizin' it!
August 12, 2010 9:31 AM   Subscribe

"The risk reduction associated with the daily consumption of most statins is more powerful than the risk increase caused by the daily extra fat intake associated with a 7-oz hamburger (Quarter Pounder®) with cheese and a small milkshake...Although no substitute for systematic lifestyle improvements, including healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation, complimentary statin packets would add, at little cost, 1 positive choice to a panoply of negative ones." Is having free statin drugs at the fast food counter by the napkins and ketchup packets a good idea? Some doctors think the idea has merit (original paper .pdf). Hmmm... maybe if they were minty flavored.
posted by cross_impact (69 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don't know why she swallowed the fly...
posted by uncleozzy at 9:35 AM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Or of course there is the option of eating real food and not supporting an industry which has caused a host of ill effects, and that way you don't need to take the statins at all.
posted by bearwife at 9:36 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do statins really have no side effects?
posted by smackfu at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2010


This is how we get to the running-screaming zombie future people.
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 AM on August 12, 2010


...and Warren Ellis manages to predict the future yet again:

"There’s a bag of anti-cancer trait in the bathroom. Take some. Cigarettes on the table. Start smoking."
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Are you going to force people to eat real food and shut down the fast food industry? No? Statin in the after-dinner mint, it is, then.

Compliance is always a bear in disease prevention - it's much easier to get compliance with medicine than it is with complete lifestyle change.

Best is the enemy of Good.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


How about if one in every million free statin pills is actually rat poison? In that case, I could get behind this plan.
posted by rusty at 9:42 AM on August 12, 2010


Why don't they just stick a shit ton of laxative in the burgers? Seems cheaper.
posted by spicynuts at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can make "real food" taste like a yummy hamburger for four bucks that I can get on a whim in ten minutes I'm all in for real food.

Until then, the drive-through is a regrettable fact of life.
posted by cross_impact at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wasn't there a recent long-term study that suggested statins don't actually prevent heart attacks in people with high cholesterol unless they've already had a previous heart attack?
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2010


I'm pretty sure that if eating McDonald's-brand statin sounds like a good idea to you, so did eating enough hamburgers to previously give yourself at least a single heart attack.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


And our Wall-E future as meat-blimps carted around our wrecked planet by hovercraft golf carts between mass entertainment and junk food binges - they'll just fry the statins in the burger, like vitamins in white bread - marches ever onwards
posted by crayz at 9:50 AM on August 12, 2010


If you can make "love" feel like a nice blowjob for four bucks that I can get on a whim in ten minutes I'm all in for a relationship.

Until then, the prostitutes are a regrettable fact of life.
posted by rusty at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


Touché, griphus.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:55 AM on August 12, 2010


rusty: How about if one in every million free statin pills is actually rat poison? In that case, I could get behind this plan.

Mr. Burns: Look at that pig. Stuffing his face with donuts on my time! That's right, keep eating... Little do you know you're drawing ever closer to the poison donut! There is a poison one, isn't there Smithers?

Smithers: Er... no, sir. I discussed this with our lawyers and they consider it murder.

Mr. Burns: Damn their oily hides!
posted by paisley henosis at 9:55 AM on August 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Seems to me there's a big ol' moral hazard involved here. Wouldn't some (if not many) people say to themselves, "Well, I know I shouldn't go to McDonald's for the fourth time this week, but hey! They've got those statin doses, so it's all right!"

Why don't they just stick a shit ton of laxative in the burgers? Seems cheaper.

They tried that in the '90s with potato chips, but consumers didn't like it for some reason.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:56 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


cross_impact: If you can make "real food" taste like a yummy hamburger for four bucks that I can get on a whim in ten minutes I'm all in for real food.

Until then, the drive-through is a regrettable fact of life.


If you can't make a sandwich that is yummy, at home, and keep it to eat later, then you might be the kind of person who consumes meal-sized amounts of kcals totally at whim.

If so, the heart-attack is a regrettable fact of lifestyle.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:57 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until then, the prostitutes are a regrettable fact of life.

And if your "solution" to the problem of prostitution, instead of trying to build a civil society where people could easily meet and form healthy relationships or just have mutually-enjoyable casual sex with each other, was to simply go to brothels and hand out condoms, and lube, and viagra, and sex toys, and subsidize prostitute college because really if people are going to go to prostitutes we might as well do all we can to make sure it's as safe as possible...
posted by crayz at 9:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the American word for "incredibly fucking crazy idea?"
posted by Mister_A at 10:01 AM on August 12, 2010


Or of course there is the option of eating real food...

Sometimes I like to eat real food. A nice organic, free range, antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed steak raised by a farmer named Mitch and butchered by him and his two boys just three days ago and grilled over coals in my backyard..... With some fresh veggies from the garden, and cold Newcastle in hand.... Yummy.

But other times, a meal is the thing that stands between me and the rest of the shit I have to do today.

Yeah, I'd love to slow down and make every meal out of "REAL FOOD", but I also love paying my mortgage and having time to just fuck around.

I do realize that Food is a moral choice. Whatever I eat, for whatever reason, makes me a very, very, bad person. I should feel bad.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:02 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


because really if people are going to go to prostitutes we might as well do all we can to make sure it's as safe as possible...

I know this was meant as a devastating critique of the whole idea but, yeah, this is actually more feasable than trying to "build a society" where (presumably the government?) can force people to have "healthy, mutually enjoyable relationships" with one another.

Some things the government can do (harm reduction programs), other things (inspire people to saintliness) not so much.
posted by Azazel Fel at 10:07 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is the American word for "incredibly fucking crazy idea?"

Trickle-Down Economics?
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on August 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


crayz: Yeah, following Azazel Fel here -- my little rewrite was somewhat sloppy, but I was trying to critique the mindset of someone who can't see the basic core difference between food and fast food, in the same way as my imagined subject can't see the difference between love and prostitution. It was not to compare the utility of harm-reduction plans in fast food vs. prostitution. Although as it turns out, making that analogy sort of makes me think maybe harm reduction is the way to go with fast food too. It would be especially great if we could get fast food the same kind of "please don't let me wife find out" aura of shame...
posted by rusty at 10:13 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


smackfu: "Do statins really have no side effects?"

They can have side effects. Joint and muscle pain. I was on Lipitor and dropped it for a while because of the pain in my knees. I am now on Crestor. Good to go.

The problem I see with taking statins is that it sort of gives you a get out of jail free card in the back of your mind. Sure, I'll have the extra blue cheese. I just took my statin!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:15 AM on August 12, 2010


If you can't make a sandwich that is yummy, at home, and keep it to eat later, then you might be the kind of person who consumes meal-sized amounts of kcals totally at whim.

If so, the heart-attack is a regrettable fact of lifestyle.


Well, yeah, I can make real food. What I can't do is make real food every day for every meal. Unfortunately our food infrastructure is set up so that healthy food costs more, takes more time to prepare and is considerably less convenient (shelf-life, availability, etc.) For 80% of my meals I have the extra time and money and I am grateful for that fact.

Righteous foodies forget that many people lower down the pyramid have few other options. Should these people just suffer and die until our society gathers the collective will, against strong vested commercial interests, to remake our economy so that healthy food is cheaper than fast food?
posted by cross_impact at 10:33 AM on August 12, 2010


What is the American word for "incredibly fucking crazy idea?"

PATRIOTISM (all caps obligatory)
posted by Panjandrum at 10:35 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


My understanding is that for statins to be effective, you have to take a dose every day -- it's not like you can just pop one after eating a cheeseburger. And it's advisable for statin users to have periodic blood tests to prevent liver damage.
posted by zombiedance at 10:40 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


This sounds very silly and I wonder whether some of the $859 million (in 2005) spent on marketing statins was behind this. To think it's a good idea, you'd have to believe the "lipid hypothesis", which many reputable doctors and scientists question. eg. this paper:

THE FALLACIES OF THE LIPID HYPOTHESIS
Ravnskov, U., Scand Cardiovasc J 42(4):236, 2008

According to the "lipid theory," a high intake of saturated fats is associated with increased cholesterol levels which, in turn, lead to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. This Swedish author suggests that this hypothesis has been largely promulgated by social, political and financial interests that have little to do with science. The most salient question in the cholesterol debate relates not to the effect of diet or drugs on cholesterol levels, but rather the relationship between cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease and mortality. A plethora of studies have failed to support a relationship between consumption of saturated fat and cardiac disease or stroke, or cardiovascular or total mortality, and studies have not definitively established a relationship between high cholesterol and coronary disease in general. Prior to the introduction of statin drugs, trials of other cholesterol-lowering interventions failed to demonstrate an effect on cardiac mortality. Although statins have been reported to slightly decrease cardiac mortality in selected patient populations (e.g., young and middle- aged males and those at high risk), this author points out that most statin drug trials have been funded by the manufacturers of these drugs and suggests that any beneficial effect might be due to actions of these drugs unrelated to cholesterol lowering. The author also cites the high rate of musculoskeletal symptoms with statin therapy reported in studies not funded by industry (about 65-75% in some), and reports of an inverse association between cholesterol and mortality due to respiratory or digestive diseases, as well as infectious disease. This author urges heightened awareness of the contradictions between research results and conventional teaching about lipid-lowering interventions


(I can't give a direct link as it's at a pay site). As a side note, the majority of patients who report muscle pain on these drugs have been shown to have pathologic changes in their muscle tissue.
posted by kevinsp8 at 10:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you going to force people to eat real food and shut down the fast food industry? No? Statin in the after-dinner mint, it is, then.

False dilemma. How about we not concern ourselves so much with what other people choose to eat*?

*This word is interchangeable with 'fuck', 'believe' and 'wear', to name but a few.
posted by rocket88 at 10:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Buy 'em yourself, lardo

(also we don't really know these things work)
posted by grobstein at 11:15 AM on August 12, 2010


cross_impact: Well, yeah, I can make real food. What I can't do is make real food every day for every meal. Unfortunately our food infrastructure is set up so that healthy food costs more, takes more time to prepare and is considerably less convenient (shelf-life, availability, etc.) For 80% of my meals I have the extra time and money and I am grateful for that fact.

Roasting two, whole chickens takes under 20 minutes of prep, and 5 minutes of attention 60 and 90 minutes after placing in the oven. This results in a huge amount of cooked meat which is delicious cold, easy to use in other dishes, and completely safe to leave unrefrigerated for a while. The same principle applies to beef or pork (or duck or lamb or any other meat) but chicken is especially tasty cold.

Filling up a jar with almonds takes as long as it takes you to count to 20 times as many servings as you want to have on hand. If price is an object, pecans are and also excellent for you, and peanuts are also less expensive though not quite as good for you.

Putting some peanut butter and slices of cheese between two pieces of bread takes less time than washing the butter knife off and dealing with the stupid twist-tie twice. Apple slices are another popular topping. Either one is less messy and less sugar in your diet than jam, jelly or honey.

Any meat you want, in a croc-pot with a can of tomatoes will turn out fairly tasty, and if you know how to cook *at all* it only gets yummier from there; the downside is that these stewed meats are not as portable. Chili can be made this way and stored in a normal storage container, or in a thermos, and is very portable and delicious, though without a thermos you will need to nuke it.

I'm really not on my high horse here, eat what you want. And I haven't said a word about Organic or any such nonsense. But eating out is always more expensive than cooking, no matter where you eat out, and nearly no-one is so pressed for time that they have no option besides fast food.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:21 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do statins really have no side effects?

It means you can't eat grapefruit. (Does McDonald's sell grapefruit?)
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2010


Wait -- why not just feed the statins to the COWS?

Or are they doing that already?
posted by hank at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why not just add a room to each Mcdonalds with a big trough and a dispenser of shrink-wrapped tailfeathers? you could call them eMcMetics.
posted by condour75 at 11:30 AM on August 12, 2010


As a pharmacologist I've fought a lonely fight trying to tell people that statins are not wonderful, miracle drugs. They do have their places and uses, especially for those at high risk for heart attacks and strokes (those with especially high cholesterol, diabetics, those who have had an MI). But the two seminal large studies that looked at them for those with moderately high cholesterol had them reduce cardiac deaths to a statistically significant degree - while increasing overall deaths (to a non-statistically significant degree). I would argue that by any two sided statistical examination, that would mean they increase non-cardiac related deaths. Not to mention other side effects. They have their place, but they are not a panacea.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:35 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Righteous foodies forget that many people lower down the pyramid have few other options.

Righteous fast food fans forget that real food is, with a little thought, actually cheaper than fast food. And that there are very few places where real food is unobtainable. And for that matter that food is faster when you prepare it in advance and take it with you than when you drive to and sit in line at a fast food place.

J
posted by bearwife at 11:46 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Funny that this article is on the HuffPost today.

This doctor argues that high-cholesterol is basically an "invented" disease, that lowering your cholesterol is potentially dangerous, and statins are way overprescribed.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:46 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the general population, statins are a terrible gamble. They are only remotely effective for people who have multiple, serious risk factors for heart attack or heart disease. For broader groups, the number needed to treat skyrockets. See this handy chart for details.
posted by jedicus at 11:47 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can make "real food" taste like a yummy hamburger for four bucks that I can get on a whim in ten minutes I'm all in for real food.

I actually freeze turkey burgers and buns sometimes. I can cook one up in about 10 minutes.

Definitely arguable whether it tastes as good as a hamburger, but it is cheap and quick.

I also make healthy baked "fries" at home sometimes but that takes a lot more than 10 minutes.

I'm not a health food crusader though, the pho or lo mein I grab for lunch most days is just as bad for me as McDonalds (but is yummier!).
posted by miyabo at 11:56 AM on August 12, 2010


This is how we get to the running-screaming zombie future people.

So let's do this!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on August 12, 2010


Wasn't the plot of the Harrison Ford remake of "The Fugitive" all predicated upon the fact that the bad guy doctor who was involved in trying to frame our hero working for a pharmaceutical company and they were fudging the data on a drug trial of a new statin drug and the evidence that Harrison Ford had to get was that the drug caused liver damage and was not necessarily actually helping the patient (sure, the patient didn't die of a heart attack, but they died of liver disease or something else)?

Strange...
posted by daq at 12:00 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But eating out is always more expensive than cooking, no matter where you eat out, and nearly no-one is so pressed for time that they have no option besides fast food."

For us, I would totally agree with you. But there are many variables that affect that equation. Access to transportation is a big one. Education, access to knowledge and social capital, having been taught healthy habits by a role model, the kinds and amounts of food marketing aimed at my demographic, availibility and dependability of food storage methods, etc.

If I don't like the price of tomatoes at the local supermarket, I drive on to the one across town. I monitor sales in the paper and have the resources to buy two week's worth of chicken when it's on sale and freeze for later. If I have no car (and no paper or internet) and my cash margin is low, shopping around and buying ahead are less available to me, especially if I have a tiny freezer and three kids.

In Houston if you have no car, going to the supermarket is a multi-hour affair and you pretty much have to pay whatever the nearest market charges. I paid nearly $5 for a gallon of milk once in a grocery store located in an underserved neighborhood I was passing through (needed for a toddler emergency, otherwise I'd have moved on!) The only way stores like that can get away with such ripoff prices is to prey on those that cannot afford the time to walk three miles to the next market.

I don't want to be on the high horse either. But I think the infrastructure and culture we have as comparably well-off MeFites is easy to take for granted. It's not always a simple matter of "just make real food."
posted by cross_impact at 12:02 PM on August 12, 2010


I don't really know where you are getting the idea that people who aren't 'us' (whoever 'you' are) are too stupid / ignorant / immobile / disenfranchised to have access to any food besides a McD's.

Frankly, it seems a little condescending. In fact, the only people I've ever met who didn't know how to prepare a single relatively healthful, quick meal at home were over privileged suburbanites. Anecdote not data, but still odd to see you proclaiming the suffering of some wretched other who cannot fend for themselves without the mercy of the Arches.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:11 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard, and so transparently an attempt by corporations to sell more statin drugs that I can't believe we are discussing it seriously. I'll just quote two tidbits from wikipedia.

While statins are effective in decreasing mortality in those who have had previous cardiovascular disease evidence does not show a mortality benefit in those at high-risk but without prior cardiovascular disease.

With 2008 sales of US$12.4 billion, Lipitor was the top-selling branded pharmaceutical in the world. US patent protection is scheduled to expire in June 2011.

posted by mek at 12:17 PM on August 12, 2010


It's not always a simple matter of "just make real food."

You know, there are a lot of people who live well below the poverty line who do eat real food. Access to fresh food, much less organic food, is indeed more limited for people living in urban poverty. I've lived in and worked in very poor areas myself, so I get that. But nonetheless, the real food is available and considerably cheaper than fast food.

The fast food industry gets away with a lot of victimization of poor people. It starts with the exploitation of undocumented and non-unionized workers in slaughterhouses (and the powerful effect the industry has had on wiping out family farmers), moves along to providing low level service jobs heavily filled by kids in school, which are quite dangerous given how frequently fast food places are targeted by robbers, and sells a product which is marketed very intensely to children and which taps their parents' pocketbooks on every visit. And then there are the health effects of eating very caloric, salty, and sugary food.

So, poor people don't get much of a deal from fast food at all.
posted by bearwife at 12:17 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny that this article is on the HuffPost today

Unfortunately, pretty much ANY health or science article on Huffington Post is highly suspect. This is a site that allows Deepak Chopra to spout all sorts of meaningless garbage, and anti-vaccination clowns like Jenny McCarthy to lie and misrepresent scientific facts.

Huffington Post may be a good source for political news, but I avoid it for anything else.
posted by dnash at 12:26 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's a lot of hostility towards fast-food eaters in this thread from cast-the-first-stoners.

I love fast food, have eaten a ton of it in my 34 years, struggle to try to change my mindset towards so I can be healthier, and....I'm not a bad person worthy of your contempt.

I welcome this idea, at least in principle, and I while people have tried to draw specific parellels in this thread, the general point is, "Instead of making a risky activity safer, let's not adopt any new safeguards so that people might be scared off by the danger, and won't overindulge emboldened by their new sense of security" is probably one that many of you would find strongly disagreeable in most other contexts.

I think the difference is, again, in the vices you can sympathize with and the vices you can't.
posted by mreleganza at 12:29 PM on August 12, 2010


I ate my share, mreleganza. I stopped the day I read Fast Food Nation, which is why I linked to it. I used to smoke too. I've been overweight. I've failed to exercise. Have had and have many vices. Suggesting some path other than eating fast food is not condemnation or contempt toward people who do, at least not from me, and I didn't pick it up from others on this thread either.
posted by bearwife at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say that 90% of the time we eat at fast food establishments involves one of the following situations:

1) Road trip, not enough money for a "real" restaurant and/or unwillingness to take an hour away from driving
2) Only have 30 minutes between event A and event B, and neither locations have refrigerators, microwaves, or food prep areas.
3) Past 10 pm, exhausted from day, on the way home, grocery store is closed, any food in the house would take > 20 min to prepare

So, you know, if we find ourselves in one of those situations, and there is something readily available that would make the fast food less bad, I'm all for it.
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on August 12, 2010


Huffington Post may be a good source for political news, but I avoid it for anything else.

I agree; it was just glaring that I saw two articles literally back-to-back that were diametrically opposed to each other.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:20 PM on August 12, 2010


mreleganza: There's a lot of hostility towards fast-food eaters in this thread from cast-the-first-stoners.

Personally, it isn't my goal to throw any stones or blame anyone for what they eat. It is my goal to point out that fast food is neither less expensive nor less time consuming than other options. Nothing less and nothing more.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:37 PM on August 12, 2010


I've mostly skimmed this thread, but what I'm getting here is that there's a nice blowjob available for four dollars? That's a pretty good deal!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:44 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


How is it "no less time consuming" for the same amount of food by weight?
posted by griphus at 1:45 PM on August 12, 2010


Well, that's pretty much convinced me I shouldn't be taking Lovastatin.
posted by warbaby at 1:50 PM on August 12, 2010


To me the idea seems to have merit, but not because the statins would actually do any medical good. If fast food places were required to make these available and conspicuous, then people would start associating fast food with medical intervention, which would make it a lot less appealing, which would lower demand.

That's how it plays out in my head, anyway. In reality, perhaps the chicken nuggets with McStatin sauce just sell really well.
posted by gurple at 1:57 PM on August 12, 2010


I am a fast food eater - I've read Fast Food Nation, undertand how many acres of agricultural land it takes to supply a diet heavy in meat, and what cholesteral does the body. I've also read threads like this one.

I 've changed a bit - I rarely eat fries and drink a lot less pop. Thing is, no amount of intellectual discussion of fast food's issues have really stopped me from eating it, or contributed to much decline in the popularity of fast food. It obviously fills some kind of systematic need with a lot of people or it wouldn't be so popular.

There is a class element to a lot of the critiques of fast food consumers, one that looms large in this thread. The other structural problem is that at times in history when fast food was less popular on non-existent we had a lot less single-person and single parent households, most women didn't work outside the home, and food consumption and preperation consumed a lot more household income than it does in North America today.

We can end fast food - I've been to places which really don't have it - it is just a matter of figuring out what other liberties of time, income, career, and personal freedom you want to trade off.
posted by Intrepid at 2:37 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I...drink a lot less pop.

More poop for me!

Wait, I think I read that wrong.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:10 PM on August 12, 2010


I think if they are going to do this, the words

"MUSCLE PAIN
MEMORY LOSS
NOT EFFECTIVE IN WOMEN"

need to be really, really big on the package.
posted by Leta at 6:38 PM on August 12, 2010


Memory loss isn't necessarily such a bad thing. Anyone who regularly eats at McDonald's probably has big parts of their life they'd rather forget anyway.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:24 PM on August 12, 2010


Well, it's certainly better than putting statins in our drinking water.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:33 PM on August 12, 2010


Thanks for the post, cross impact. I just got angioplasty a couple weeks ago, and put on statins. My cholesterol was never especially high, in spite of eating habits that include plenty of saturated fat. I've been struggling with cutting the tasty fat from my diet, and maybe increasing other bad things as a result!

The information here seems to suggest the smoking is more the problem, and that's been entirely stopped for over a month (no nicotine replacement!). Mind, the renewed ability of my heart to do its job has had an amazing impact, and I'm much happier getting exercise than I've been in a long time.
posted by Goofyy at 12:27 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Intrepid: We can end fast food - I've been to places which really don't have it - it is just a matter of figuring out what other liberties of time, income, career, and personal freedom you want to trade off.

I actually think the way to end fast food (as we know it, mind you -- cheap and loaded with saturated fat and salt and little else) is simpler than that. It's only such a big problem because it's so artificially cheap. End the subsidies that produce such a tremendous oversupply of corn and suddenly feedlot meat is no longer economically viable. The problem isn't really that quarter pounders exist, but that they cost three bucks. How much would fast food consumption fall is a quarter pounder was ten bucks? Or twelve? At that point, a wide range of non-subsidized foods become competitive with the crap.

Could we go further, and subsidize vegetable and fruit production instead of corn? You bet we could.

Food and America's eating problems are not a personal choice issue, really. They're primarily a public policy issue. No amount of treating it like "if only people knew better..." is going to make a real difference. At best we're just paying the subsidy for fast food with one hand and paying the cost for attempts to reduce its consumption and harm, and the medical bills for the harm it does, with the other. It's an insanely stupid public policy, and until it changes, nothing about this situation will really improve.
posted by rusty at 7:49 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, I was prompted by this thread to look up how much my family of four spends on groceries every month. Over the past 19 months, we've averaged $685 a month. My family eats really well. Like, we don't go to restaurants because we're always disappointed and feel like we could have made a better meal at home well. We also buy as much organic and local food as we can. The maximum food stamp benefit for a family of four is $668 a month. So I don't think I believe that cost is what's preventing people from eating real food. There are all kinds of other plausible reasons, but cost is almost always trotted out first and given the most attention.)
posted by rusty at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2010


There is a class element to a lot of the critiques of fast food consumers, one that looms large in this thread. The other structural problem is that at times in history when fast food was less popular on non-existent we had a lot less single-person and single parent households, most women didn't work outside the home, and food consumption and preperation consumed a lot more household income than it does in North America today.

Righteous foodies forget that many people lower down the pyramid have few other options. Should these people just suffer and die until our society gathers the collective will, against strong vested commercial interests, to remake our economy so that healthy food is cheaper than fast food?

I'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit on this. I currently make about half of the poverty line. I couldn't afford to eat fast food more than once or twice a week. If you get one meal per workday for 6 dollars at McD's, that's 30 bucks per week. Per calorie that's much more expensive than if you cooked your own food.

Cooking my own food is the easiest way to save my money. There are a TON of really simple, quick recipes that make moderately healthy food from dirt-cheap ingredients. Rice, beans, lentils, hamburger, chicken etc.

If you're willing to invest slightly more time, there are even tastier things you can make out of the cheap shit. I learned how to make a few different kinds of bread out of all purpose flour that costs like 2 bucks for 5 lbs. Home made veggie sushi costs around 1.50 to make for one person. If I prep stuff for a couple hours on Sunday, I can get a whole week's worth of lunches out of 10-15 dollars.

tl;dr: There are lots of poor folk who make their own food. It's not necessarily health-food, but it's much cheaper than eating out once a day and MUCH healthier than fast food.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I congratulate all of you who either are or or know of great examples of people with little money who eat real food. The examples obviously have other skills and resources to make up for their lack of funds. Your examples would definitely disprove the idea that all poor people can't get real food and must eat corporate fast food crap. If anyone here was actually asserting that irresponsible generalization.

What *I* was saying is that, for a very large population, it's just not as simple as you make it sound. There are many factors, including intangible social capital factors, that contribute to the problem. Plus the food industy infrastructure is stacked against healthy food. Just look at the distribution of crop subsidies by our own government as an example.

So I'll say it again -- It's not as simple as saying "Just eat real food." Even if you add "If I (or XXX) can do it, everyone else should be able to," it's still not that simple.

(Did anyone hear the NPR story on Food Deserts yesterday evening, by the way?)
posted by cross_impact at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I actually think the way to end fast food (as we know it, mind you -- cheap and loaded with saturated fat and salt and little else) is simpler than that. It's only such a big problem because it's so artificially cheap. End the subsidies that produce such a tremendous oversupply of corn and suddenly feedlot meat is no longer economically viable. The problem isn't really that quarter pounders exist, but that they cost three bucks. How much would fast food consumption fall is a quarter pounder was ten bucks?

I am not sure really how much impact that corn subsidies make on the fast food problem.

Canadian corn production/use isn't really all that high - our primary carbohydrate crop is wheat and beef-on-the-hoof generally doesn't eat corn in Canada. This does make fast food a bit more expensive (A Quarter-Pounder combo in Canada is about six bucks) yet we have comparable problems with fast food diets and bad nutrition when one uses Canadian (mostly) grain-fed beef.

The corn subsidy is really more of a US issue, substitute products could be at play here but Canadian food production doesn't use much corn - yet we have the fast food problem.
posted by Intrepid at 12:20 PM on August 13, 2010


It's not as simple as saying "Just eat real food."

Why not? The other day it was "just learn to swim (dumbass)."

But yeah, what cross_impact said. My mom's idea of teaching me to cook was teaching me how to put Domino's on speed dial. Much of the time I ended up making peanut-butter sandwiches or mac and cheese for myself because I didn't know what else to do. (In her defense, she had an untreated mental illness which has since been dealt with.) So I go from that to college, where food is provided in the dorm cafeteria, and from there to a decent-paying job that lets me eat out almost all the time. And then I got married to a guy that likes to cook. But left to my own devices, I have hardly any idea what to buy or what to do with it. Sure, I can read stuff and watch cooking shows. Right now I have the time because I'm unemployed. If I were a single mother with a full-time job? It'd be a lot harder.
posted by desjardins at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Intrepid: Imports maybe? I have absolutely no knowledge of what the Canadian food production landscape looks like, so that's about the best I could guess. The US corn subsidy issue is much broader than fast food, really -- it's responsible for all of our processed food being so cheap. I'd actually guess that Mickey D's probably uses higher quality ingredients than anything you'd find in a box in the freezer aisle.

I'm also not entirely convinced that Canada and the US have food-related health issues on the same scale, but again I don't have any numbers at hand on it either way.
posted by rusty at 6:42 PM on August 13, 2010


from NHS Choices:


The study’s comparison of the risks associated with a high-fat diet with the risk reduction for statins is interesting. However, there is no evidence to support its main contention that a statin taken every time someone has a fast-food meal would reduce the risk of heart disease. This argument is based on the following unproven assumptions:

* In an unhealthy diet, each unhealthy meal eaten contributes directly to the increase in CVD risk.
* Each statin tablet taken individually provides a reduction in CVD risk.

However, statins are designed for use in long-term cholesterol management programmes and virtually all studies on statins have looked at regular, rather than one-off use.

The way that lifestyle, in addition to other medical and genetic factors, affects the risk of heart disease is more complex than this study suggests. For example, there are several established risk factors for heart disease, including lifestyle habits such as diet, exercise and smoking. In turn, medical risk factors that may in part be influenced by these lifestyle factors include high body mass index, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Further complicating these relationships is the influence of factors that cannot be modified, including family history, age and gender. Doctors usually consider all of these, as well as the risks attached to particular medications, when deciding with their patients whether drug treatment is appropriate.

When all of these things are taken into account, it is unclear how the researchers can conclude that statins taken only occasionally (rather than prescribed regularly) might help anyone. Dishing out a statin with every burger also does not seem to be a responsible measure when you consider that they are not suitable drugs for everyone, including those with liver disease, those who drink alcohol excessively, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Statins are also not without adverse effects, which can be severe in rare cases.

posted by vacapinta at 2:34 AM on August 16, 2010


« Older "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer -...   |   What Happened at Yahoo Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post