Profiteering: When Food Obssession Meets Unrealistic Expectation

As defined by the online Business Dictionary, profiteering is a derogatory term for “disproportionately large or grossly unfair profit, generated often through manipulation of prices, abuse of dominant position, or by exploiting a bad or unusual situation such as temporary scarcity. There is usually no governmental control over profiteering unless it involves illegal means.” Obesity in American has frequently been cited as one of the major health issues in recent decades with many of the increases seen in the industrialized work especially the United States which has one of the highest rates in the world. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1962 the obesity rate was 13% increasing to 19.4% in 1997, 24.5% in 2004, 26.6% in 2007 and 33.8% in adults and 17% in children as of 2008. In 2010, the same agency reported an even higher number with 35.7% of adults and 17% of children being considered obese in the United States. According to the Wikipedia article on Obesity in the United States:

“According to a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in 2008, the obesity rate among adult Americans was estimated at 32.2% for men and 35.5% for women; these rates were roughly confirmed by the CDC again for 2009–2010. Using different criteria, a Gallup survey found the rate was 26.1% for U.S. adults in 2011, up from 25.5% in 2008. Though the rate for women has held steady over the previous decade, the obesity rate for men continued to increase between 1999 and 2008, the JAMA study notes. Moreover, ‘The prevalence of obesity for adults aged 20 to 74 years increased by 7.9 percentage points for men and by 8.9 percentage points for women between 1976–1980 and 1988–1994, and subsequently by 7.1 percentage points for men and by 8.1 percentage points for women between 1988–1994 and 1999–2000.’

Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year and has increased health care use and expenditures, costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct (preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to weight) and indirect (absenteeism, loss of future earnings due to premature death) costs. This exceeds health-care costs associated with smoking or problem drinking and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the United States.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s The Psychology of Eating, cultural, social and environmental factors all contribute to the eating behavior in the United States. The cultural habits related to food in the United States may be the most significant factor in the fight against obesity as many of the foods consume are high in carbohydrates such as hamburgers, french fries and doughnuts which are easy to make, cheap and deep fried. These inexpensive pre-packaged and high calorie foods have become a part of the American diet as adolescent children frequently demand these food be included in their diet. As early as April 8, 1999, major United States manufacturers of process food met together and discuss the problem of their products contributing to the obesity epidemic, however a proactive strategy was considered and rejected as optimizing salt, sugar and fat in a product makes it more palatable thus more profitable and reducing those elements for purpose of public health would decrease both. As American families become busy with other activities, a formal meal time decreases leading to an increase in snacking all day without a nutritional meal. Unlike other culture who keep a planned meal with the family and the tradition of certain foods for special occasions, Americans have started eating what they want when they want due to the accessibility of prepared packaged foods. Americans see food as a social activity e.g. business meeting and deals are conducted over a meal, catching up with friends, parties, sports gatherings, food concession stands are ubiquitous and funerals or wakes where mourners eat as part of the process. The country has many labor saving devices that may have contributed to obesity with people eat similar amounts of food and reduce the physical demand. As the Toronto Sun article, Three studies link obesity to sweet drinks published September 24, 2012, and Wikipedia article, Obesity in the United States, explains:

“Three studies published in the United States shows a link between sweet soda and fruit drinks to obesity. The consumption of sweet soda and fruit drinks has more than doubled since the 1970s. The first study showed that ‘drinking sugary drinks was affecting genes that regulate weight and increased the genetic predisposition of a person to gain weight.’ The other two studies showed that ‘giving to children and adolescents calorie-free drinks like mineral water or soft drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners resulted in weight loss.’

One of the other two studies was conducted by Children’s Hospital Boston who examined two groups of adolescents. The group who were encouraged to consume water or light sodas for a year gained 0.68 kilograms (1.5 lb) compared to the other group, who consumed sugary drinks, gained 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb). The third study was conducted by Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They studied 641 children ages four to eleven over 18 months. They were split into two groups. One group drank sweet and fruity drinks and the other group drank the same drink with sugarless sweeteners. The group that drank the drink that had sugarless sweeteners gained only 6.39 kilograms (14.1 lb) on average compared to 7.36 kilograms (16.2 lb) on average by the other group.”

Some other foods contributing to weight gain include red meat, processed meats, mashed potatoes, french fries and the consumption of potato chips are strongly associated.

On the flip side of the coin, Bulimia and Anorexia has become a growing epidemic in America especially between the ages of 11-17 years old. The sad reality is of those that experience this illness only 50% are cured and another 6% will die. Bulimia and anorexia can caused a distorted image in a person’s mind making them believe they are overweight even if they only weigh 95 pounds. When the person becomes depressed, professional help is needed as this added element can push many to break. Individual who are bulimic will engage in eating binges where they eat large amounts of food in less than two hours and often feel guilty or shame afterwards causing them to purge by means of vomiting, laxatives, water pills, over-exercising or starving themselves. The process usually occurs more than two times a week for at least three months. Stress or depression can cause people to fall into this cycle especially where dieting is concerned. Eating disorders are conditions defined by abnormal easting habits involving insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and mental health. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by extreme food restrictions to the point of starvation and excessive weight loss. Although the prevalence of eating disorders are increasing globally among men and women, evidence suggest that women in the Western world are at the highest risk of developing them and the degree of westernization increases the risk. The key components in eating disorders include the interaction between motivational, homeostatic and self-regulatory control processes in eating behavior, according to Wikipedia article on eating disorders.

The precise causes of eating disorders are not entirely understood, however it may be linked to other medical conditions and situations, Cultural idealization of thinness and youthfulness have contributed to eating disorders affecting diverse populations. As studies have shown, girls with ADHD and PTSD are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who are not affected. Another study shows that foster girls are more likely to develop bulimia nervosa, while some believe that peer pressure and idealized body types in the media are also a significant factor. Some research has pointed to certain people have genetic factors that may make them prone to developing an eating disorder. In addition, anxiety disorders and personality disorders are common among people with eating disorders. Some studies have even linked patients with bulimia nervosa to substance use disorders. The proper treatment can be highly effective in fighting eating disorders, but the consequence if gone untreated are severe and can lead to death either from the disorder or suicidal thoughts.

While looking at the obesity epidemic and eating disorder epidemic in general, one can see there are many similarities and differences between the two.  The one factor of major concern is the exploitation of both by the media, fitness industry, the food industry and others who profit from these food obsessed individuals. The consequences of these concerns going unsolved is the high number of deaths that result from direct or indirect causes. It is important to understand how deep the problem really goes before diving in deep, so the following are some facts about the obesity epidemic and the other side of the scale, eating disorders, no pun intended. One contributor to the obesity epidemic is fast foods, so here are some facts from the documentary and website, SuperSize Me:

  • “Each day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant
  • In 1972, we spent 3 billion a year on fast food – today we spend more than $110 billion
  • McDonald’s feeds more than 46 million people a day – more than the entire population of Spain
  • French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America
  • You would have to walk for seven hours straight to burn off a Super Sized Coke, fry and Big Mac
  • In the U.S., we eat more than 1,000,000 animals an hour
  • 60 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese
  • One in every three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime
  • Left unabated, obesity will surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in America
  • Obesity has been linked to: Hypertension, Coronary Heart Disease, Adult Onset Diabetes, Stroke, Gall Bladder Disease, Osteoarthritis, Sleep Apnea, Respiratory Problems, Endometrial, Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancers, Dyslipidemia, steatohepatitis, insulin resistance, breathlessness, Asthma, Hyperuricaemia, reproductive hormone abnormalities, polycystic ovarian syndrome, impaired fertility and lower back pain
  • The average child sees 10,000 TV advertisements per year
  • Only seven items on McDonald’s entire menu contain no sugar
  • Willard Scott was the first Ronald McDonald – he was fired for being too fat
  • McDonald’s distributes more toys per year than Toys-R-Us
  • Diabetes will cut 17-27 years off your life
  • McDonald’s: ‘Any processing our foods undergo make them more dangerous than unprocessed foods’
  • The World Health Organization has declared obesity a global epidemic
  • Eating fast food may be dangerous to your health
  • McDonald’s calls people who eat a lot of their food ‘heavy users’
  • McDonald’s operates more than 30,000 restaurants in more then 100 countries on 6 continents
  • Before most children can speak they can recognize McDonald’s
  • Surgeon General David Satcher: ‘Fast food is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic’
  • Most nutritionists recommend not eating fast food more than once a month
  • 40 percent of American meals are eaten outside the home
  • McDonald’s represents 43% of total U.S. fast food market”

According to Abigail H. Natenshon, Myths and Misconceptions: For Parents, Health Professionals, and Educators, there are many myths and misconception involved with food and the subsequent eating disorders . Below is a collection of myths about food and eating disorders as well as factors that play a significant role in the development of eating disorders.

Myths about Healthy Eating:

  • “Food is fattening.
  • Fat is unhealthy for the body.
  • Dieting and restricting food is the best way to lose weight.
  • It’s okay to skip meals.
  • Nobody eats breakfast.
  • Food substitutes such as Power Bars and Slim Fast are okay to take the place of meals.
  • Meals are to be served, not eaten, by parents.
  • Exercise can keep a person slim and fit. You can never overdo a good thing.
  • Being fat is about being unhealthy, unhappy and unattractive. It must be avoided at all costs.
  • Fat-free eating is healthy for eating disorders.
  • A meal is anything you put in your mouth around mealtime.”

Myths about Eating Disorders:

  • “Once anorexic, always anorexic. Like alcoholism, eating disorders are not curable.
  • Anorexics are easy to identify. They are noticeably skinny and don’t eat.
  • Once an anorexic has achieved a normal weight, she is recovered.
  • An eating disorder is about eating too little or too much.
  • Parents are the cause of their child’s eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders affect only adolescent girls.
  • People lose weight using laxatives and diuretics.
  • Physicians can be counted on to discover and diagnose an eating disorder.”

Things you need to know about children at risk for eating disorders:

  • “Of the currently more than 10 million Americans afflicted with eating disorders, 87 percent are children and adolescents under the age of twenty.
  • The average age of eating disorders onset has dropped from ages 13-17 to ages 9-12.
  • In a recent study, young girls were quoted as saying that they would prefer to have cancer, lose both their parents, or live through a nuclear holocaust than to be fat. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
  • The US Dept of Health and Human Services task force reports that 80% of girls in grades 3 to 6 displayed body image concerns and dissatisfaction with their appearance. By the time girls reached the 8th grade, 50% of them had been on diets, putting them at risk for eating disorders and obesity. By age 13, 1o% had reported the use of self-induced vomiting.
  • 25% of first graders admit to having been a diet.
  • Statistics show that children who diet have a greater tendency to become overweight adults.
  • Childhood obesity is at an all time high, afflicting five million children in America today, and with another six million on the cusp.
  • Early puberty and the bodily changes that go along with it have become a primary risk factor for the onset of eating disorders. It is normal, and in fact, necessary, for girls to gain 20 percent of their weight in fat during puberty.
  • The number of males with eating disorders has doubled during the past decade.
  • By the age of five, children of parents who suffer with eating dysfunctions demonstrate a greater incidence of eating disturbances, whining and depression.
  • Adolescents with eating disorders are at a substantially elevated risk for anxiety disorders, cardiovascular symptoms, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depressive disorders, infectious diseases, insomnia, neurological symptoms, and suicide attempts during early adulthood.
  • A study of 692 adolescent girls showed that radical weight-loss efforts lead to greater future weight gain and a higher risk of obesity.
  • Eating disturbances in your very young child may be the result of anxiety, compulsivity, or the child’s imitation of significant adult role models. Issues of control, identity, self-esteem, coping and problem solving are what drive adolescent and adult eating disorders
  • 50% of American families do not sit down together to eat dinner.”

Things you need to know about eating disorders and their effects:

  • “The number of people with eating disorders and subclinical eating disorders is triple the number of people with AIDS.
  • Eating disorders are the most lethal of all the mental health disorders, killing and maiming between six and 13 percent of their victims.
  • Increasing numbers of married and professional women in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties are seeking help for eating disorders that they have harbored secretly for twenty or thirty years. Eating disorders are not restricted to the young.
  • Disordered eating is rampant in our society. On American college campuses today, 40 to 50 percent of young women are disordered eaters.
  • Osteopenia is common in adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa. It was found that despite recovery for over one year, poor bone mineral accrual persists in adolescent girls with AN in contrast to rapid bone accrual in healthy girls.
  • In a recent study, it was determined that estrogen-progestin did not significantly increase BMD compared with standard treatment. These results question the common practice of prescribing hormone replacement therapy to increase bone mass in anorexia nervosa.”

As both health issues have grown at rapid rates due to lifestyle and outside influences, obesity is seen by many as the more visible epidemic affecting the world as anorexia is a bit harder to determine by physical appearance alone. What led to the current health crisis in American and frankly the world? With both, there are many contributing factors to each with similarities and differences that encompass a wide range of causes and consequences. Some players in the obesity game are playing both sides by selling their junk or wares to the general public, while simultaneously, advertising and promoting good health even admitting that their products are not entirely good for the public. As Gus Lubin and Shlomo Sprung report, 11 Industries That Are Getting Rich Off Obesity published Jun 29, 2012, nearly two billion people are overweight or obese in the world, however while most see this as a burden on the economy and health care costs, a select few see it as a golden opportunity. The same week this article was published, the FDA approved the first obesity pill in 13 years which caused shares of drug maker Arena to surge 30 percent after the announcement boosting the company’s market cap by $500 million. This is only the beginning as someone has to care and feed these overweight people. Here is a list of 11 industries that are happy to make a profit off of the obesity epidemic, Lubin and Sprung explain:

  1. Fast Food restaurants – “Fast, cheap and delicious, fast food restaurants are more popular than ever. McDonald’s U.S. sales are up 26 percent over the 5 years; Wendy’s U.S. sales are up 9 percent and Subway’s U.S. sales are up 48 percent. And international growth is even hotter. In 1992 when Rutgers professor Benjamin Barber coined the term “McWorld,” there were 12,700 McDonald’sworldwide. Today there are over 33,000.”
  2. Fast food suppliers – “All these enormous fast-food chains have suppliers that sell beef, eggs, vegetables and other similar raw materials at a retail price and it’s a gigantic industry that goes, for the most part, under the mainstream radar. McDonald’s, for example, spent at least $10 billion on food in 2011.”
  3. Snack food“The US snack food industry is expected to soar from $56 billion in 2006 to $77 billion by 2015. This industry benefits from obesity—with junk food to satisfy any appetite—and also from the countervailing obsession with health—with a growing market of healthy snacks. Says industry analyst David Sprinkle: ‘The boundaries between meals and snacks are growing ever blurrier, creating consumer consumption habits that will resonate for generations. The children of today, comfortable with replacing entire meals with snacks, will pass these lifestyle traits on to their children, ensuring that snacking will remain a big part of American life.'”
  4. Health care “Chronic disease accounts for around two-thirds of rising US health care costs; and obesity is the fastest growing chronic disease. Rising health care costs needs have boosted health care pay and employment. For-profit hospitals are making hay too, with industry leader Community Health Systems running an up to 53 percent profit margin. And then there are the risky and expensive obesity-related surgeries.  The average gastric bypass surgery cost $20,000 in 2009 and there were 220,000 of those operations in that year alone, according to Reuters.”
  5. Diabetes drug makers“One of the predominant complications of obesity is diabetes, and the major drug companies are making big money through their sale of popular diabetes drugs. Merck, the makers of Januvia and Janument, saw first quarter profits rise 67 percent this year according to the AP. Januvia and Janumet, made just over $1.3 billion in sales of the two drugs in 2011, according to Bloomberg. A recently published article in The Economic Times reports that India’s diabetic population is expected to soar from 40 million to 70 million people and that $700 million in diabetes drugs were sold in the country last year.”
  6. Cholesterol drug makers“How profitable is the market for cholesterol medications and drugs? Well, Pfizer’s patent on popular drug Lipitor expired last year and the company’s net income fell by $1.45 billion, more than 50 percent as the AP reported in January. Lipitor is the top selling drug ever, according to the article, and Pfizer made $10.7 billion in sales in 2010 alone from the drug.”
  7. Weight loss pills“New pill Belviq is expected to be big business, boosting shares for drug maker Arena by 30 percent when it received FDA approval this week. But there are plenty of other unapproved weight-loss drugs that have and will continue to generate big sales. Popular diet company Medifast, which has diet pills and a small chain of weight loss centers, took in $88.9 million in first quarter revenue, according to AOL Daily Finance. That’s an increase of 20 percent over the same quarter in 2011. A lot of these pills aren’t regulated, so it’s hard to quantify the full scale of how much money is spent on these pills every, but it’s safe to say that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on pills that are far from a guarantee.”
  8. Fad diets and exercises“P90X, the unbelievably popular diet and exercise regimen from parent company Beachbody, has had millions of users who pay hundreds of dollars in videos and equipment to get that perfect body. They made over $200 million in revenue in 2010 and have over 500,000 Facebook likes. This is a shining example of a company benefiting from an image conscious society.”
  9. TV “There is also a clear link between obesity and physical inactivity: and inactive people love watching TV. Indeed, studies have shown that people who watch more TV are more likely to be fat. Obesity has also provided an exciting new subject for reality shows. Over 7.2 million people watched this past season finale for NBC’s reality hit The Biggest Loser, a show where the person who loses the most weight wins $250,000. It just completed its 13th season on the network. The franchise has expanded to international versions of the show, video games and a weight loss resort.”
  10. Energy“More inactivity among Americans is causing us to spend more time indoors. And more time spent indoors almost always means increased energy use. What’s more, obese Americans are weighing down airlines and boosting fuel costs. They are also taking up extra seats or extra-big seats on airlines and other transportation, also contributing to fuel costs. Does this have anything to do with record US natural gas sales and electrical generation?”
  11. Textiles and more “Obese people need bigger things. This concept has birthed whole corporations like the Casual Male Retail Group—owner of Big & Tall—which generates half a billion dollars in annual sales. And that’s just the start. Environmental Nutrition reports:

‘No question, Americans are getting fatter. Nearly two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. In response, companies are accommodating us with larger furniture, oversized umbrellas and towels, clothing with roomier fits. Is this new marketing niche a help or hindrance to the people to whom it caters?'”

While many search for the definitive answer to the obesity epidemic, some contributing factors to the problem have been overlooked and overgeneralized with assumption that the fast food industry is the only one to blame. The American people have been exposed to hundreds of advertisements promoting specific foods that will supposedly make their lives easier and provide the necessary nutrition. The food industry has escaped a lot of the blame for years, while the fast food industry has become a scapegoat, according to Janelle R. Stanish, The Obesity Epidemic in America and the Responsibility of Big Food Manufacturers. Although fast food does contribute significantly to the obesity epidemic, it is not the primary cause in America as numerous studies have proven that personal food choices, lack of exercise and genetic disposition all play a role in a person’s weight along with other elements that influence weight. Stanish explains that: “In  particular, food producers that supply the high calorie, minimally nutritious, and highly processed foods that dominate our market must be examined.” Deborah Cohen’s article , A Desired Epidemic: Obesity and the Food Industry published in the Washington Post, explains: “The food industry spends billions of dollars each year to develop products, packaging, advertising and marketing techniques that entice us to buy more food because selling more food means making more profits.” Stanish remarks:

“If you think about it, we are constantly being enticed to purchase things we don’t need, and that includes food. Big companies like Coca Cola and General Mills make millions of dollars every year using researched methods of advertising similar to McDonald’s and Burger King. While McDonald’s has been accused of drawing in children with their signature play places and happy meals, nobody is talking about the 3 billion bags of potato chips sold in the U.S. annually. The slogan, ‘You Can’t Eat Just One,’ used by Frito Lay to advertise their chips, appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other food companies are using similar strategies, attaching promises of satisfaction paired with happy-go-lucky phrases sure to melt your grandma’s heart. The Blue Bell ice cream company claims their employees ‘Eat all they can, and sell the rest,’ and Little Debbie says you will ‘Unwrap a Smile’ when you open one of their cakes.”

Unfortunately, less time is investing in advertising food that are actually good for us. Frances M. Berg’s book, Underage and Overweight, notes that advertising of fruits and vegetables is almost non-existent and the this statement was confirmed true by a study released March 2007 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. In the New York Times article published in April 2010 by Jane Brody, Risks for Youths Who Eat What They Watch, the above mentioned study found that:

“most of the food ads children and teens see on are for foods that nutritionists and agencies argue should be consumed either in moderation, occasionally, or in small portions. Out of the 8,854 food ads reviewed in the study, there were no ads for fruits and vegetables targeted at children or teens (Brody). Is it a coincidence that according to the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 18 percent of adolescents are considered obese?”

Stanish reveals a similar study was conducted on TV ads aimed a children done by Bill Whitaker, a CBS News correspondent. The results showed American children are exposed to commercials that promote unhealthy foods that contain a lot of salt, fat, and sugars making them easy targets for the food industry. Young children are eager to eat whatever looks or tastes good.

Of course, food companies are quick to defend their position and blame the consumer for taking no “personal responsibility.” Food advertisers take the stance that since they cannot force anyone to eat the food they promote, then they are not responsible for the consequences. However, Stanish points to a February 2010 report given to the Food and Drug Administration by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that contains detailed information about food manufacturers making false or misleading health claims to their products, according to Ethan A. Huff’s Big Food’ Manufacturers Being Called Out for False Nutritional Claims. Kellogg’s, among other food companies, has been sued for their false advertising two years ago in the U.S. District Court of Southern California for unreliable representation of their Nutri-Grain bars, one of their leading breakfast products. According to Brody:

“The advertisement features their yogurt bar in front of glasses of water, salads, and people exercising, suggestion that their product is somehow related to a healthy lifestyle. They used the slogan, ‘Eat Better All Day,’ because of the calcium and whole grains contained in the bar. But the plaintiffs of this case argue that those claims are invalid, due to the existence of trans-fat which contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Although Kellogg’s has dismissed this case as, ‘Having no merit,’ it reveals much about what is going on underneath the surface of many food manufacturers.”

In the Hartford Courant, Sarah Skidmore’s Cereal Giant General Mills To Cut Back On Sugar notes that due to the backlash from misleading labels, big cereal companies as of 2009 have made small changes to their products. The Kellogg Company tweaked their original recipes such as Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks and Corn Pops to reduce the sugar by 1-3 grams and added fiber to many of their other cereals. Post has adjusted their classic cereals by reducing the sugar in Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs by twenty percent. These are just a few of the giant food players who have the influence and power to significantly reduce the obesity problem by cutting fats and sugars in products, offering healthy choices, being more transparent with nutritional information and end false or misleading advertising.

The worse part of the profiteering of the war on weight is the first lady has had a hand in the fattening of the American people, according to Michelle Malkin’s report Big Momma Michelle Obama: Food profiteer-turned-food cop published in 2010. The first lady since the first term has been on a mission to get American children moving and living a healthier life in order to fight the growing obesity epidemic among children. While she tirelessly fights to get organic foods in the schools and put the pressure on corporations to stp selling and marketing just food to kids, Mrs. Obama has profited from the junk food she now scrutinized. In June 2005, a few moths after her husband became a U.S. Senator, Mrs. Obama got a seat on the corporate Board of Directors of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. even though she has no experience. The company put her on the audit, nominating and corporate governance committees forking over, according to Malkin, $45,000 in 2005, $51,200 in 2006 and 7,500 TreeHouse stock options worth $72,000 for each year in exchange for her on the job training and the privilege of including her on its literature. The gravy train lasted until her husband, Barack Obama decided to boycott Walmart in order to make himself more palatable to Big Labor. Malkin remarks:

“The chairman of the TreeHouse Foods board, Sam K. Reed, was a top executive at Kellogg’s and Keebler Foods, home of that great menace to children, the Keebler Elf. Before that, he headed up Mother’s Cake and Cookie Company. The conglomerate sells cheese sauces, Cremora non-dairy creamer, instant soup, puddings and powdered soft drink mixes. Hardly the stuff of Mrs. Obama’s new vision of nutritional paradise. TreeHouse is also a leading supplier of pickles used in the burgers of evil fast food chain McDonald’s — exactly the kind of corporate restaurants Mrs. Obama is now targeting in her war on urban ‘food deserts.’ The corporation-bashing Mrs. Obama would have continued raking in her TreeHouse cash if it hadn’t been for her husband’s pesky pledge to pander to Big Labor and swear off Wal-Mart. The retail giant, you see, happened to be TreeHouse’s biggest customer. And Wal-Mart is to Big Labor as sunshine is to Dracula.

In May 2007, Obama told AFL-CIO workers in Trenton, N.J., that Wal-Mart was dead to him. “I won’t shop there,” he pledged, with an eye toward embarrassing then-chief rival Hillary Clinton, who had served on Wal-Mart’s board from 1986-1992. The AFL-CIO has waged relentless attacks on Wal-Mart, dubbing it the “Poster Store for Greed.” That, by extension, would make Mrs. Obama — all-too-happy recipient of a Wal-Mart dependent compensation package worth more than $100,000 in 2008, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records — a Poster Child for Ancillary Avarice.”

Instead of addressing the conflict of interest involving his wife’s work, Obama explained to Crain’s Chicago Business magazine before his White House bid that him and his wife are just trying to make a living just like everyone else. In order to further his bid though, Michelle Obama had to step down when her husband’s Wal Mart bashing came up again during the first presidential campaign cycle. According to Malkin, Mrs. Obama made it into a dramatic act of self-sacrifice:

“’As my campaign commitments continue to ramp up, it is becoming more difficult for me to provide the type of focus I would like on my professional responsibilities,’ said Chicago’s Joan of Arc in a resignation statement eight days after her husband declared his boycott of the stores stocked with food items processed and distributed by her TreeHouse colleagues. ‘My priorities, particularly at this important time, are ensuring that our young daughters feel a sense of comfort and normalcy in this process, and that I can support my husband in his presidential campaign to bring much needed change to this country.'”

One thing people can agree on, as Malkin notes, is that Mrs. Obama saw no conflict then and even now as she uses her clout to restrict advertising free speech of the food industry who funny enough allowed her and her husband to line their pocketbooks with large paydays. It is a sad reality when the first lady cannot even call a spade a spade as she is too busy being wrapped up in her own self indulgence as personal responsibility remains elusive on Capitol Hill and the White House. Like Malkin says: “It’s the Obama way.”

As society, technology and lifestyles have changed over the past 100 years, so has the food supply with today’s manufacturers no longer offering the complex vitamins and much needed fiber required for human development. The foods that are now available to the consumer are cheap with the cheapest foods being the least nutritious. Food processors abuse the human system of hunger by adding sugar making it more addictive thus people are inclined to eat more, adding grease and hydrogenated fats to enhance the taste and hunger making more people obese and adding more salt to attract the taste buds ignoring the health risks. Bad foods, high in carbohydrates, lacking in fiber and high in sugar, abuse the pancreas and digestive systems as the body starts to become deficient in breaking down sugars leading to weight gain. The reality is that health is now being sacrificed for taste and price. Many American in the days without electricity slept nine to ten hours a day, however today they only get six hours a night. Scientist have found that a lack of sleep leads to higher cortisol levels and hormonal imbalances. In some cases, sleep disorders affected by weight cause people to put on hundreds of pounds. According to the article on The Real Causes of the Obesity Epidemic by “Victoria” at The Largest of All site:

“Some sufferers of sleep apnea disorders will find that treatment with a CPAP machine, which allows more time in REM, leads to slow, steady weight loss. In the study, ‘Sleep Apnea and Daytime Sleepiness and Fatigue: Relation to Visceral Obesity, Insulin Resistance,’ it says, ‘We conclude that there is a strong independent association among sleep apnea, visceral obesity and, insulin resistance which may contribute to the pathological manifestations of this condition.’ Growth Hormone, which is responsible for controlling the body’s proportions of fat and muscle — and thus keeps obesity more at bay — is released during the first round of deep, slow-wave sleep. Less sleep means a reduction in this hormone. Van Cauter, a sleep researcher at University of Chicago, says in the Time article ‘Sleepless in America,’ that “sleep loss is partially involved in the epidemic of obesity.”

The article also points to the socioeconomic differences  between upper and lower class as part of the obesity problem. The upper class has the resources to make good food choices and start or continue with an exercise program, while the lower class does not have the cash and sometimes even the resource i.e. transportation to access the healthier food choices or even the time to keep up with a proper exercise program. Having no money or time to join an exercise group, no public recreation programs and less access to decent health care has led to higher rates of obesity among the poor. Therefore one can picture a future where social class becomes apparent by body weight as the wealthy become lean with the resources to control obesity and the poor fall deeper into the cycle of obesity due to the fact that they cannot afford proper nutrition and find it harder to make the time to exercise. A major problem in the fight against obesity is there has been no personal responsibility taken for why the nation or even the world has ended up this way. The powers that be, the misleading and the misinformed would rather point to the increasing obesity of the poor as inherent laziness, sloth and gluttony rather than seeing the part industries and social institutions play in the fattening of America and the world.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 2008 there are 1.4 billion adults who are overweight and half a billion are obese with 2.8 million dying each year as a result of being obese or overweight. Among the industrialized world, the problem is more severe with Mexico now the fattest nation followed by the United States, according to a new report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. As of 2013, nearly a third of Mexican adults, 32.8%, are considered obese followed by the United States at 31.8% of American adults. To round off the top three, Syria falls at 31.6%, while Venezuela and Libya tie for fourth at 30.8 percent. Now an industrialized nation, Mexico’s urban lifestyle and rising income levels along with malnourishment among the poor has helped to push Mexico into the spotlight, of course, for the wrong reason. But, as the WHO states, “obesity is now also prevalent in low- and middle-income countries.” While the government has tried many interventions such as fat taxes, soda bans and mandated waist measurements, these efforts to improve health and reduce healthcare costs are part of a larger global effort toward greater state control over all aspects of society, according to Michael Tennant, Globesity: How Globalists Are Feeding Off the Obesity Crisis. The first major move in the global war on obesity was launched by the WHO in 2004 when it published its Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. In the WHO’s opinion, the free markets and individuals are responsible for the rapid increase in the population’s waistlines so the problem must be entrusted to the governments as these other groups cannot solve the problem. Below is a summary of some of the important points made in the report by the WHO:

 “’Governments,’ the Global Strategy maintained, ‘have a central role … to create an environment that empowers and encourages behavior changes by individuals, families and communities, to make positive, life-enhancing decisions on healthy diets and patterns of physical activity.’ Member states are asked to develop ‘national strategies on diet and physical activity’ that ‘include specific goals, objectives, and actions.’ All government agencies, not just those directly responsible for health, should be involved in enforcing these plans. Plans should take a ‘life-course approach,’ i.e., they should cover everyone from cradle to grave. Governments should indoctrinate their people ‘starting in primary school’ and continuing through ‘adult literacy and education programs.’ ‘Messages that encourage unhealthy dietary practices or physical inactivity should be discouraged, and positive, healthy messages encouraged.’ In particular, food and beverage advertisements targeted to children must relay the globalists’ mantra, and producers’ health claims must be monitored lest they ‘mislead the public about nutritional benefits or risks.’ National governments should also align their food and agricultural policies with the Global Strategy. They should ‘encourage the reduction of the salt content of processed foods, the use of hydrogenated oils, and the sugar content of beverages and snacks.’ They should also employ ‘taxation, subsidies or direct pricing in ways that encourage healthy eating and lifelong physical activity. ‘ ‘Monitoring and surveillance are essential tools in the implementation of national strategies for healthy diets and physical activity,’ and thus ‘governments should invest in’ them. Such ‘investment,’ naturally, will require higher taxes; but since the UN has declared that ‘economic growth is limited unless people are healthy,’ these programs ‘should draw policy and financial support from national development plans.’”

The pressure for an international response to obesity followed a similar paths as global warming especially when the United Nations General Assembly held a “High Level Meeting” on noncommunicable disease which many are caused or made worse by obesity in 2011. Before the meeting, the Lancet, a British medical journal, published an article calling for the adoption of the WHO’s Global Strategy by the U.N., Tennant reports. The Study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Health, argues that the common causes of obesity include modern conveniences, big business, and uneven distribution of wealth. When the General Assembly finally convened, it had no problem endorsing the WHO’s Global Strategy declaring that:

“’the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases constitutes one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century’ and ‘may lead to increasing inequalities between countries and populations,’ the world body called for ‘collective and multisectoral action by all Member States and other relevant stakeholders at local, national, regional, and global levels’ to address the problem of obesity.”

Unfortunately, since both groups agreed upon more government intervention and control to combat the problem, it has now caused scientists to claim that the increase in obesity threatens the entire planet. Tennant explains:

“A 2012 study by faculty members of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine argued that heavier people require more energy to be kept alive and, therefore, ‘tackling population fatness may be critical to world food security and ecological sustainability.’ ‘Overpopulation’ doomsayer Thomas Malthus and ‘climate change’ both got favorable mentions in the study; and in case anyone still couldn’t recognize the scientists’ political leanings, lead researcher Ian Roberts told the Daily Mail: ‘Everyone accepts that population growth threatens global environmental sustainability — our study shows that population fatness is also a major threat. Unless we tackle both population and fatness, our chances are slim.’ So the same people who have been warning of overpopulation, climate change, and other disasters that will surely befall humanity if its selfish interests are not reined in ‘for the common good’ now want us to believe that unless government steps in and forces us all to lose weight, Earth is surely doomed.”

The same government that wished to impose a reducing program on their citizens is also a major contributor to their expanding waistlines especially in the United States. Carbohydrate consumption cause the body to release insulin, so the more carbohydrates the greater the insulin level. According to Tennant and Dr. Jonny Bowden, the obesity epidemic cannot be properly addressed until the farm bill is changed:

“’You are never, ever, ever going to see a change in this country’s obesity until the farm bill is changed,’ Dr. Jonny Bowden declared in an interview with The New American. ‘Our government supports, through the farm bill, every fattening crop on the planet, every high-carbohydrate, processed food.’ Bowden, who bills himself as ‘the Rogue Nutritionist,’ is an expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health and has written numerous books on these subjects, including the bestsellers The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth and Living Low Carb. ‘The major fat-storage hormone in the body is insulin,’ Bowden explained, ‘and the higher your insulin, the more difficult it is to burn fat and lose weight.’ Yet the federal government has for years been subsidizing and promoting the consumption of high-carbohydrate foods.”

The farm bill subsidizes five commodities, which are wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and cotton, and three are the primary ingredients of most processed food. Farmers are paid based on the number of bushels of these crops they grow leading to overproduction. Farmers who grow fresh produce get very little from Washington. Michael Pollan wrote in New York Times Magazines: “A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a.k.a. liquid corn) declined by 23 percent.  The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.” A major problem and blow to the obesity battle is the production of high fructose corn syrup from corn subsidies that happens to be the sweetener of choice for processed foods from soda to chicken nuggets to breakfast cereals. Both table sugar and HFCS are made of glucose and fructose with HFCS containing 55% fructose and 45 % glucose compared to sugar which is 50/50. Bowden points out:  “From a metabolic point of view, the damaging part of sugar is fructose.” Bowden argues, according to Tennant:

“Since the difference in fructose content between sugar and HFCS is relatively small, he argues that HFCS is ‘not much worse than sugar.’ What is certain is that by subsidizing corn, the government has made HFCS considerably less expensive than sugar (which itself is made considerably more expensive by high protective tariffs), thereby enabling processed-food producers to add more sweeteners to their products and sell them in larger sizes without having to raise prices. As a result, Americans today consume vastly more sugar than previous generations, with estimates running as high as 156 pounds per person annually.”

Another issue plaguing the war on obesity comes in the form of the government’s dietary recommendations. Bowden believes, “The USDA has two mandates, and they are conflicting. The first is to get the people of the United States good information about nutrition. The second mandate is to build markets and to build business for the agricultural industry. Well, if you’re putting out crap, and you’ve got to build markets for that, you can’t very well tell the people that you’re supposed to be informing that this is crap.”Political influence has long had a hand in the Department of Agriculture’s dietary advice. Michael Tennant’s, Globesity: How Globalists Are Feeding Off the Obesity Crisis, article best sums up the influence of private corporations on government business when it concerns the American consumer:

“Political influence has plagued the Department of Agriculture’s dietary advice for well over a century. In his book Bully Boy: The Truth About Theodore Roosevelt’s Legacy, Jim Powell notes that Harvey Washington Wiley, the chief chemist at the USDA’s Bureau of Chemistry from 1882 to 1912, ‘”‘encouraged Americans to consume more sugar, which he considered the hallmark of an advanced civilization. ‘Childhood without candy,’” he remarked, ‘would be Heaven without harps.’”’ Wiley, as it happens, was tight with the sugar industry. He lobbied for high sugar tariffs, and sugar producers helped protect him from political enemies. The food pyramid, which the USDA introduced in 1992, was greatly influenced by politics. The pyramid recommended six to 11 servings of grains daily — more than any other food group, and more than vegetables and fruits combined. ‘While the government has stood by this regimen for 11 years,’ the Wall Street Journal reported in 2002, ‘ some critics say it’s no coincidence that the number of overweight Americans has risen 61% since the pyramid was introduced — and almost instantaneously appeared on the sides of pasta boxes, bread wrappers and packages of other food products in the pyramid’s six-to-11-servings category.’

At that time the USDA’s dietary guidelines were up for review, ‘an exercise that attracts not only critics from the world of medicine but industry lobbyists and those promoting the virtues of various food groups and diets,’ the Journal observed. The lobbying should not be surprising given that, as the same newspaper reported in 2004, ‘the tiniest change to the guidelines or pyramid can swing food companies’ sales by millions of dollars.’ ‘Every aisle of the supermarket has a lobbyist in town,’ food-industry consultant Jeff Nedelman told the Journal. Some industry groups, such as the National Dairy Council, sought increases in the number of recommended servings of their products. Others sought merely to retain their prominence in the pyramid: ‘There is no doubt that the Food Guide Pyramid in 1992 was a big boost to the baking industry,’ Sara Lee Corp. baking division spokesman Matt Hall told the paper. The resulting guidelines were anything but impartial and scientific. In 2011, the USDA replaced the food pyramid with MyPlate. Most pyramid critics agree that the new guide is an improvement over the old one. Fruits and vegetables now occupy a larger part of the recommended diet, though grains still constitute a sizable portion of it, and dairy — not necessarily harmful but certainly not essential — remains in the recommendations, no doubt reflecting continued industry pressure. And whereas the food pyramid suggested using fats ‘sparingly,’ MyPlate fails to address the issue at all, despite research showing that some fats are actually beneficial.”

According to Tennant, Bowden states that while diet and exercise play a role, “there are enormous genetic, metabolic, biochemical, [and] environmental factors that work together in some manner, shape, or form that is virtually impossible to study because you’ve got too many factors.” Like global warming, the causes of obesity and the consequences of it are not fully understood, but the solutions proposed by those who supposedly know better than the rest seem to be the same e.g. global governance, larger and more intrusive state and further restriction to American liberties, Tennant believes. The bottom line points to the same thing which is less subsidies to the five crops mentioned by the government in order to allow fruits and vegetable to come down in price so much so to make them less expensive than processed therefore unhealthy foods. In addition, if the government got out of the nutrition business forcing people to find their own nutritional information from difference sources with known bias, then it would lessen the hold the state lobbyist word has on the American diet and weight. This by default would create informed consumers who are less likely to accept the claims on products at face value.

Dr Mike Hart believes that the underlying problem to obesity epidemic is the current population’s lack of connectivity to the soil, the environment and food supply. As he explains in his article, A Natural Solution to the Obesity Epidemic, Dr. Hart explains at one time when food was scarce and acquiring a healthy food supply required hard work and sacrifice, however nowadays people can buy a thousand calorie meal with no nutritional value for a few bucks on every corner. Many children and adults do not know where their food comes from or how it is produced due to the fact that a vast majority of it comes in a box or is delivered to their homes. A hundred years ago people knew everything about where and how their food was produced making them connected to their environment and community which today has been lost. Dr. Hart believes reconnecting and questioning where the food has been produced and how will prevent many from eating the unhealthier choices, therefore lead to a healthier population and more sustainable environment. His article outlines the problems and natural solutions to the obesity epidemic:

  • Genes – The issue:As the “No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy” report notes, there are more than 50 different genes that have been found to be associated with obesity, and likely more that haven’t yet been uncovered. Some of these include genes that contribute to people feeling hungry, even when they’re not.” The potential solution: “For some genes, breastfeeding has been found to help stave off these effects. A Harvard study also found that exercise can be another preventative measure.”
  • Physiology – The issue: “Thanks to the way evolution works, our bodies tend to crave high-calorie foods over other types to ensure we have enough to sustain our energy — even when there’s plenty of options around us.” The potential solution: “The answer could start in utero — correlations have been found between women eating high calorie foods while pregnant and children growing up with weight issues.”
  • Sleep – The issue: “Just like for adults, and according to Time, children have been getting anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes less sleep in the past decade.” The potential solution: “Ensure children are getting the sleep they need, according to their age. For newborns (0-2 months), that’s 12-18 hours; infants (3-11 months) 14-15 hours; toddlers (1-3 years), 12-14 hours; preschoolers (3-5 years) 11-13 hours; school-aged children (5-10 years) 10-11 hours; and adolescents (10-17 years) 8.5-9.25 hours.”
  • Mental Health – The issue:While research is still being conducted on the relationship between weight and mental health, some links have been made with medication and weight gain, as well as a lack of self-esteem and less physical activity.” The potential solution:Definitive research is still needed, but there’s a potential for children falling into a vicious cycle of, for example, depression and not eating properly or exercising regularly. Incorporating physical activity can help reduce stress as well as potential for mental illness, while medical professionals can help advise on alternatives to medications that cause weight gain.”
  • Time Crunch For Cooking – The issue: “Parents point to a lack of time to prepare healthy meals, and are serving more fast food and processed food to their kids.” The potential solution: “Ensuring family meals are a regular occurrence, where both kids and parents pitch in with healthy menu ideas and preparing the food. This helps ensure everyone knows what ingredients are going into their bodies.”
  • Cost Of Groceries – The issue: “Fresh fruits and vegetables tend to cost more than fast food or prepared meals, and it can be difficult for families, especially those with less income, to buy healthy food all the time.” The potential solution: “One suggestion nutritionists often make is to buy frozen fruits and vegetables (not frozen meals) to cut down on costs and seasonality, making them an easy addition to most meals. Just watch out for seasonings, which can contain lots of sodium.”
  • Access To Fresh Food – The issue: “For smaller towns and communities, fresh food isn’t available all year round, but fast food is plentiful.” The potential solution: “These so-called “food deserts” are an issue across the continent, but some potential innovative solutions have been cropping up, like mobile markets and fresh food in reclaimed regions like shipping containers, as CBC reported.”
  • Knowledge – The issue: “We might have a ton of information about nutrition at our fingertips, but not a lot of it is sinking in. According to the Panel, parents report not knowing how many calories their kids need each day, or what nutritional information on foods actually means.” The potential solution: “Reading articles about deciphering nutrition labels is always helpful, but giving kids a holistic education in school on their daily needs, and which foods will actually deliver them in a healthy manner, could also change the tide.”
  • Changes In Kids’ Activities – The issue: “There’s no question kids are more attached to electronics than ever before (as we all are), and it’s impacting how much they are moving around. As the Panel reports, kids now spend 62 per cent of their waking hours sedentary.” The potential solution: “The CDC recommends children get at least one hour of physical activity each day, so parents need to make an effort to ensure that’s happening with their children, whether it’s walking to and from school, playing in the backyard or engaging in extracurricular activities.”
  • No Time To Walk – The issue: “Along the same lines of the issues with physical activity, the busier schedules get, the more likely kids are to get around by car and less by their own physical effort, whether that means walking, biking or even being pushed in a stroller.” The potential solution: “Planning enough time to allow children to walk to and from activities and school, and building that into the daily schedule. Stopping the reliance on the car will be good for the wallet, the earth and the body!”
  • Cost Of Activities – The issue: “For kids who want to get involved in sports or extracurricular activities, this can mean a significant financial investment — and often for parents who can’t afford it.” The potential solution: “Looking into secondhand equipment or even scholarships for sports is an option, as are lower-cost leagues or sports that require fewer pieces of equipment, such as track and field.”
  • Changing Neighborhoods – The issue: “Along with busy schedules that compel parents to drive are neighborhoods that do the same thing, thanks to a lack of sidewalks — or other areas that don’t allow for outdoor playing, as when ball hockey is banned on streets.” The potential solution: “Finding open spaces in your neighborhood for kids to play together, whether it’s on playgrounds or even someone’s big front yard. Parents can also band together to talk to town officials about restrictions in order to find a way to get kids moving.”
  • Safety Concerns – The issue: “A combination of potential dangers and parents who are possibly more nervous than those in generations past can make for situations where children aren’t allowed to go outside and play, keeping them from their healthy physical activity.” The potential solution: “Talking to other neighborhood parents about the issue can help create an organization that allows for kids to play safely together, possibly with a rotating chaperone.”
  • Food Marketing – The issue: “The massive prevalence of junk food advertising directed at children — according to the Panel, in one week, 2,315 food-related ads were shown on free channels in Ontario and Quebec, 257 of which aired when at least 20 per cent of the audience was targeted at 2-to-17 year olds.” The potential solution: “The Ontario government is currently taking into consideration the recommendation that junk food ads be banned from being shown to kids, though nothing has yet been set in place.”
  • Social Disparities – The issue: “This massive topic obviously affects everything from health to education to relationships. But when it comes to obesity, lower incomes mean fewer fresh foods, both in supermarkets and restaurants. It could also mean living in an area where such options aren’t even available, and for immigrant families, not having access to (or enough time to prepare) traditional ingredients and meals.” The potential solution: “This issue encompasses almost every factor mentioned in the report, and each step forward from both a personal and governmental level can help alleviate the issues, if not completely correct them.”

On the opposite side of the war on weight spectrum, Obesophobia has led to an abnormal fear of gaining weight which has persisted in cultures that value thinness. This phobia was listed as a rare disease by the Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institute of Health and defined as a desire to lose weight that turns into a compulsive desire to avoid all things that can cause weight gain. Gaining weight, according to the Wikipedia article on this subject, is seen as a failure therefore Obesophobics experience an abnormal fear toward anything that causes them to fail. The phobia is also known as a weight phobia due to Arthur H Crisp’s perception of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by obsessive fear of gaining weight. Some psychologist see weight phobia as a required precursor for a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. According to the article:

“The etiology is similar to that of most phobias in general, namely environmental, evolutionary, and neurobiological. Phobias arise from a combination of internal predispositions (heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry) and/or external events such as trauma and can usually be traced back to an early age. Specifically obesophobia is associated with an obsession with weight loss. It can be triggered by negative media perceptions, children comparing themselves to other ‘popular, skinny’ kids, parents who struggle with weight or die of complications from weight, and parents conveying to their children a negative attitude regarding weight. The media plays a large role in people’s opinion of what a perfect person is to look like. Media portrayals of models, celebrities, and athletes with ‘perfect’ bodies paints a false picture of what bodies are supposed to look like. The media has also put a major emphasis on calorie counting, dieting, and weight watching, causing many women (and men) to become obsessed with being thin, dieting and watching their weight.In the United States, our society is set on the notion that ‘thin is in’ and that being fat is a cultural liability. Those who suffer from obesity issues are then discriminated against in accessing education, economic opportunity, social networks, and other forms of capital. Documentaries such as Super Size Me paint a grotesque picture of what our society values as far as fat is concerned and the need for change that is associated with it. This film persuaded McDonald’s to eliminate the Supersize option, though its image as an unhealthy fast food restaurant persists.”

People who struggle with obesophobia will place restrictions on daily activities including going to school, changing jobs, buying clothes, dating, enjoying sexual relationships an sometime even seeking medical care. They also obsess over weight and weight loss techniques as a result of beliefs that a person can function off a minimum amount of calories, there is an ideal weight for each height and a person can control their fat distribution. They commonly share the attitude that others will seem them as disgusting and wrong for eating fat causing obesophobics to restrict their fat intake. The person may suffer from malnutrition from not getting enough fat in their diet as well as irritability, depression and anxiety. Some complications of this phobia include anorexia, bulimia, laxative abuse, compulsive exercise disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Treatment occurs through intervention and therapy treatments dealing with the anxiety and phobia. It is tough treat the phobia sometimes as most anorexics along with other weight disorders do not see a problem with their weight loss. Sometimes the use of medications is employed to balance out other measures like therapy. The Fat Phobia Scale was created in 1984 to determine and measure fat phobic attitudes on a scale from 1 being the least and 5 being the most fat phobic. The scale has been changed recently from 50 items to 14 items that are effective in measuring fat phobic attitudes. According to Nola Rushford’s, Fear of Gaining Weight: It’s Validity as a visual Analogue Scale in Anorexia Nervosa in the European Eating Disorders Review, the 14 items are as follows: Lazy/Industrious, No Will Power/Has Will Power, Attractive/Unattractive, Good Self-Control/No Self-Control, Fast/Slow, Having Endurance/Having No Endurance, Active/Inactive, Weak/Strong, Self-Indulgent/self-sacrificing, Dislikes Food/Likes Food, Shapeless/Shapely, Undereats/Overeats, Insecure/Secure and Low Self-Esteem/High Self-Esteem. Both scales are used in research by students, psychologists and physicians to study, measure and treat fat phobic attitudes, fat prejudice and body image and stigmatization caused by obesity. The fat phobic scale, through many different studies, has shown how it can be used to assess fat attitudes among many different kinds of demographics and people.

One complication from obesophobia comes in the form of an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia where the causes vary from person to person and involve biological, psychological and/ or environmental abnormalities. Many people who are afflicted with an eating disorder suffer from body dismorphic disorder altering the way they see themselves. In addition, there are many more possibilities such as environmental, social and interpersonal issues promoting and sustaining the illness. The media has been under fire for years as the incidence of eating disorders has risen due to the fact that the media images promote and idealize slim physiques such as those of models and celebrities who are motivated or forced to achieve the slimness themselves. This has contributed to the distorted reality portrayed by the media who does not represent normality or unnaturally thin. Over the years, a pro-ana subculture has developed where individuals can communicate as a group about how to maintain their eating disorder as many believe that this is the only thing they can control in their life. These pro-anorexic websites are interactive and have discussion boards where people can share their ideas on dieting and exercise plans that help them to achieve dangerously low weights. Evidence suggests that gender bias of clinicians means diagnosing bulimia or anorexia in men is less likely despite similar behavior. Men are more likely diagnosed as depressed with associated appetite changes than a primary diagnosis of an eating disorder. A road block to studying these disorders in men is a lack of research and statistics that are current and appropriate. The message that there is no ideal size, shape or weight has mainly been focused on women and those campaigns aimed at men still feature gendered iconography raising the barrier to treatment for men. The psychpathology centers around body image disturbance e.g. concerns with weight and shape, self worth being dependent on these factors, fear of gaining weight even when underweight, denial of how severe the symptoms area distortion in the way the body is perceived by others. Other organic causes of an eating disturbance should be ruled out prior to diagnosis of an eating disorder or other psychiatric disorders.

As of May 2013, according to the BroadBlogs website, Why’s Anorexia the Feminine Ideal?, modeling scouts are recruiting ar easting disorder clinics or as Katy Waldman at Slate’s XX Factor says bluntly in her article, The Most Infuriating Thing You Will Ever Read About the Modeling Industry:

“Modeling scouts—known for weighing young girls in public like cattle and targeting down-and-out families, but perhaps not for exploiting the life-threatening delusions of sick teenagers—were gathering—in the plural, so more than one person thought this was okay—outside of Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic.”

The BroadBlogs report that agents say they want healthy normal women and do not encourage weight loss, however one girl at this clinc was approached who was so weak she had to be in a wheelchair and many are hospitalized. The said reality according to Waldman is that 40% of models have eating disorders, while about 1 in 5 anorexic girls and women die. BroadBlogs believe that as women gain equality in status and opportunity, images of men ad women are changing in such a way as to exaggerate their natural physical differences. Men, by nature, are more muscular or bulky e.g. images in movies, professional wrestling and magazines even toys have gotten more muscular over time. Images of women have grown thinner and frail, while their breasts have gotten bigger and more exaggerated. Of course, there is a motive behind this which is the bottom line as these impossible images become the ideal for a majority of people causing them to spend endless sums of money trying to attain it through diets, exercise, gym memberships, surgeries, miracle bras, fashions that create optical illusions, and a variety of magazines selling others wares and magic remedies. So in the process of selling products and reinforcing these unattainable gender differences idolized by society, society and business creates a sick feminine and for that matter male ideal.

While most people place the blame squarely on the fashion industry with its emaciated paper thin models and the media has played its part in cultivating the ideal and idolized women and men, there are other factors that are not being discussed. According to Something Fishy’s The Media, a website on eating disorders, 10 million people are suffering with some type of disordered eating and one in every 100 girls may develop an eating disorder. Early on, children are taught that image matters through the television and video games they play as a result they form a superficial sense of who they are. Images on television spend countless hours telling people to lose weight, be thin and beautiful, buy more stuff so people like them and how it will make them better. Programming rarely depicts women and men of average body types or even wearing crappy clothes reinforcing the image that this is what people are suppose to be. The overweight characters are usually portrayed as lazy, a person with no friends or a bad guy, while women and muscular men are successful, popular, sexy and powerful. Modeling agencies are notorious for recruiting Anorexic models who keep getting thinner and thinner. According to the article, the average model weighs up to 25% less than the typical women and maintain their weight at 15 to 20 percent below what is healthy for their age and height. Some models go to the extreme of plastic surgery, some tape up their bodies in order to mold it into something more photogenic and photos are airbrushed before going to print. These images  and body types are not the norm and unobtainable to the average person, however society believes these images are.

Diet advertisement present another problem as television, magazines and newspapers constantly promote the next best thing in losing weight that will supposedly make a person happier. It has been proven over and over again that diet plans do not work over the long term, but society continues to buy into the idea. The diet industry has profited enormously from the diets they peddle and the need for a majority of people to reach the ideal at all costs. From the About-Face organization reported in the article: “400-600 advertisements bombard us everyday in magazines, on billboards, on tv, and in newspapers. One in eleven has a direct message about beauty, not even counting the indirect messages.”While these factors may contribute to the problem, it is a number of factors that play into a young man or woman developing an eating disorders such as life situation, environment, and/ or genetics.

The facts are unquestionable especially in the modeling industry where modeling agencies make an enormous profit by provifing the thin models that are popular with designers who are often gay men with a physical standard of beauty that does not exist naturally. Designers take no responsibility at all for the skeletal frames they frequently dress on the runway.  Advertisers and manufacturers of a vast spectrum of products profit from these standard as well, according to Libby Rodenbough’s article Killer Fashion: An Industry in Denial. Models live in fear that they will be easily replaced by thinner alternatives if they don’t fit into the sample sizes which is sometimes an American 00. Rodenbough reports, “The CFDA’s tight-lipped response to questions from In These Times was echoed by fashion magazine editors, designers and modeling agency representatives. All declined request to comment.” The CFDA has been scrutinized for not ensuring model health with stricter regulations, however it is not properly equipped to address the issue on its own. Claire Mysko, former director of the American Anorexia Bulimia Assoiciation, has this to say: “The CFDA is not a union. They don’t have the resources to enforce guidelines, and it would take a system to be in place for that to happen.” The problem remains that with no regulatory authority to enforce or implement the directives of the CFDA, the eating disorder epidemic running through the fashion industry will continue. Other advocacy groups such as AED and EDC have offered their help to the CFDA to no avail as the industry has not responded.

Rodenbough believe for the fashion industry to fulfill its responsibility, both to its models and the public that consumes its products, it will have change dramatically and in the process fight against inherent beliefs about the role and purpose of fashion models. Rodenbough reports, “Mysko and model Magali Amadei, authors of Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?, suggest that models form a union that could empower them to negotiate the terms of their contracts without fear of losing jobs to an endless stream of ever-thinner–and more desperate–hopefuls” Besides this form of action, many want to see direct government intervention to regulate the industry like it does with cigarettes and alcohol. Fashion images do not cause eating disorders or other health conditions, in the same way cigarette ads or liquor ads do not cause lung cancer or alcoholism. However, governments do recognized that their influence is detrimental enough to the public to warrant regulation. As Rodenbough explains, “In the United Kingdom, Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that warning symbols be placed on airbrushed images of models alerting viewers to their deceptiveness. And in 2007, Bronx Assemblyman José Rivera proposed legislation that would create a state advisory board to establish standards for the employment of models under the age of 18, in part to help prevent the development of eating disorders.” While many wait for government action, the fashion industry must start to take some action to prevent more models from following this dangerous path or at least acknowledge the fact it continues to perpetuate it.

While obesity and traditional eating disorders are on opposite ends of the weight spectrum, they both stem from the same source with the fundamental problem stemming from American culture that has affected the way Americans think about food, exercise and their bodies. As Brooke Kantor and Hannah Borowsky explain, The Obesity-Eating Disorder Paradox: “American society is not suffering from two distinct health problems. It is experiencing two symptoms of one serious cultural disorder.” American adults and children are eating themselves to death due to meals that are supersied, food items that are highly processed and inactive forms of recreation e.g. watching TV and playing video games. America’s obesity problem has engulfed the healthcare industry and has been exploited by the mainstream media exposing the nation for its gluttony and addiction to junk food. While the nation is dealing with one epidemic, an unhealthy obsession with weight and body image persists due to what experts believe is rooted in the nation’s anti-obesity effort. As a result, Americans are vulnerable to a wide range of mental health issues including eating disorders. Some statistics from the article reveal:

“According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. alone. Even more, anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents and its mortality rate is higher than any other mental illness. These are startling figures, particularly as twenty-five percent of college-aged women report using binging and purging for weight management. Even amongst those Americans who don’t suffer from eating disorders, pressures to be thin complicate relationships with food.”

The root of the problem originated with government foreign policies during the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, according to Kantor and Borowsky. Due to government foreign policy exports fearing that Americans were see as “flabby” compared to the rest of the world, President Kennedy created the President’s Council on Youth Fitness in order to get American to change their lifestyle. This led to more Americans investing in fitness and going to gyms eventually leading to fears of weight gain and health obsessions. These events led to the reason behind the obesity and eating disorder problem. To capitalize on the body conscious public, products and services for dieting and exercise were developed and turned into a billion dollar industry. The media has taken the wheel turning everyday programming, television and movies into billboards for weight loss programs, healthy meal plans and ways to achieve the “ideal” body. As the authors note,”the ‘war on fat’ has actually extended beyond public policies and has seeped into American culture. In an interview with the HPR, Dr. Cynthia Bulik, a professor of eating disorders and nutrition at University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, pointed to ‘Big Fashion, Big Diet, and Big Media’ as the basic components of a ‘culture of discontent that makes [Americans] continually dissatisfied with [their] bodies.’”

Whether the issue is underweight or overweight, both life threatening, it is important to have a healthy relationship with food that encompasses the way they approach and perceive the food they eat. Starting earlier in the process such as education in schools, training children to listen to their body and being aware of what they put in their body, will help to prevent unhealthy behavior later in life. As a whole, society and attitudes will need to change dramatically with regards to diet and exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stop promoting the unobtainable body image it has been promoting especially to children. As Kantor and Borowsky point out, ” Failing to deal with the reality of America’s obesity problem for fear of perpetuating an unhealthy obsession with body image would be a disservice to the public and perilous for the health of the nation. However, it is equally detrimental to attempt to tackle obesity by promoting restrictive diets and extreme exercise regiments.” By taking a multi-pronged approach to the problem with lifestyle and attitude changes, the solution to the obesity and eating disorder problem are one in the same.

3 thoughts on “Profiteering: When Food Obssession Meets Unrealistic Expectation

  1. Read More

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  2. Anthony Robbins teaches that we’re all pushed from the feelings of discomfort and pleasure. As people, we constantly seek pleasure and keep clear of discomfort whatsoever costs. If an action, dieting as an example, is linked with discomfort and distress inside your mind, then you might be heading to discover it very difficult to institute any good quality, thriving nutritional program unless of course you adjust the way you really feel about it.

  3. Camilla says:

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