What’s with all the moral outrage surrounding McDonald’s “better” Chicken McNuggets?

Three weeks ago, McDonald’s released a commercial touting their “better” chicken mcnuggets.

The aim of the commercial was to show how McDonald’s is responding to changing consumer tastes by making their food healthier….because “We all want what’s best for our kids” …so sayeth the commercial’s narrator.

Soon after the commercial aired on tv, people started flipping out.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich claimed McDonald’s is misleading customers about its food.

“I was offended watching this commercial during the Olympics about the preservative-free McNuggets,” Shaich said in a phone interview with Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!” (link to article)

“Grossly misleading,” is how Bill Jeffery describes the commercial. The executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets simply aren’t a healthy choice for children.

“What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable.”

Cue the moral outrage

As a health & fitness professional, this is where I am supposed to jump on the bandwagon and slag McDonald’s for trying to sell us junk food under the banner of health & family & all that good stuff.

And yet…I kinda feel bad for McDonald’s.

Sure, McDonald’s claim/suggestion that their food is healthy is 100% BS. As is their claim that they want the best for my daughter.

mcnuggetsrcrap

What they want is to sell as much “food” to as many people as is possible…just like every other food manufacturer in the world.

And since the fastest growing segment of the food industry is “healthy” food, McDonald’s execs are re-formulating the menu & re-branding their image as quickly as possible.

In regard to their menu, McDonald’s has already stopped using chickens raised with antibiotics prescribed to humans and intends to:

  • switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade,
  • replace the corn syrup in their buns with sugar
  • cook McMuffins with butter instead of liquid margarine, and
  • remove the preservatives from their McNuggets

Which, IMHO, is pretty great for the world’s most popular JUNK FOOD restaurant.

McNuggets-ingredients

Because, we have to remember that since it’s inception, McDonald’s has sold fried meat, white bread, deep-fried potatoes, soft drinks, milk shakes and sugary condiments. And they’ve made billions doing that…because people love that stuff.

Unfortunately, as McDonald’s grew and their restaurants became assembly lines supplied by factory food, the quality of raw ingredients dropped through the floor.

Now, with the public’s shift towards healthier food choices, McDonald’s is responding by improving the quality of their factory food AND introducing healthier new options like kale salads.

Which is a move in the right direction. 

Just don’t expect them to go back to selling beef raised from cattle that eat grass…and fresh potatoes fried in oils that can handle high heat…and milkshakes made with milk from grass-fed cows…and buns baked without preservatives.

brontosaurus-burger

McDonald’s customers aren’t going to put up with a $10 Big Mac. Not going to happen. It would be financial suicide.

McDonald’s sells fast, cheap, sweaty, greasy & salty food…because that’s what humans like best. It’s in our dna.

And as long as McDonald’s is truthful in reporting the nutritional content of their food, even us health & fitness advocates have to cut Ronald some slack and accept that we are the ones responsible for the food we put into ourselves and our kids.

Even if their ads are manipulative & less than honest.

Reference

 

Henry Rollins v.s. McDonalds

A lesson in nutrition from an unlikely source – Mr. Henry Rollins

enjoy

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Junk Food and the Free Market

I wrote an article today for the Medium.com site. Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle. Click through if you want to read the whole enchilada.

An article in today’s Daily Beast (How Washington Dooms Millions of Americans to Premature Death by Nicholas Freudenberggot my brain spinning about food, obesity, junk food, diabetes, the free market, corporate responsibility, politics, personal responsibility and how all this ‘stuff’ has come together to create an epidemic of lifestyle disease.

In his article, NF brings up a number of interesting facts:

  1. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States
  2. 49% of Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
  3. In the United States, tobacco, alcohol and diet cause more than 1.2 million annual premature deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
  4. Chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare—about $1.5 trillion annually in the US of A.

So, how is it, that with all of this available data, the US spends less than 10% of total healthcare funding on health promotion / disease prevention?

  • Is it because public health campaigns don’t work?

Nope….while cases of diabetes have increased 176% in the last 30 years, it is estimated that 8 million ‘premature deaths’ have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking PSAs combined with increased taxes on tobacco products.

Public health campaigns can work…if they are well designed, well funded and receive government support.

So why isn’t that happening?

To find out the answer to that cliffhanger of a question, click through to the full article on Medium.com

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Coca Cola to End Canadian Obesity Epidemic

Today is an important day in the history of Canada. From this day forward, Canadians will recognize April 23 as the day Coca Cola came to our rescue and helped us save ourselves from the medical scourge known as obesity.

Because on this day, Coca-Cola Canada announced the launch of a national campaign to inspire Canadians to come together to find real solutions to this important issue affecting our society.

“This campaign aims to inform people about the concept of energy balance, educate them on our products and inspire Canadians to live more active, healthy lives,” said Nicola Kettlitz, president Coca-Cola Ltd.

Wait a second…that sounds like a big pile of marketing BS to me…let’s check the BS detector…

bullshit_detector4

Yup, just as I suspected…total marketing BS.

If only we could have a little honesty injected into the discussion.

So…what do YOU think?

  • Is Coca-Cola being honest?
  • Or is it just marketing BS?

Reference

The Secret Behind Your Addiction to Junk Food

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Moss spent four years researching the scientific research that goes into each bag, box or bottle of processed / junk food.

And what he found, should freak you out.

Teams of scientists spending millions of dollars researching bliss points and maximum bite force and sensory specific satiety…all with the aim of keeping you eating ‘food’ that is high in calories, sugar, salt & fat and virtually devoid of actual nutrition.

And they are very, very good at it.

And because…

  1. They are very, very good at their jobs.
  2. Their lobbyists are good at influencing politicians
  3. Government heavily subsidizes their industry
  4. They spend billions on marketing to both adults & children
  5. And most of us are equal parts lazy and uneducated about nutrition

…the sales of ‘real food’ continue to drop while the sales of ‘processed food’ continue to rise.

Also rising are….

  1. The rate of childhood and adult obesity
  2. The rate of type 2 diabetes
  3. The rate of heart disease
  4. The rate of obesity-related cancers
  5. The rate of Alzheimers
  6. Healthcare costs associated with these conditions

Something to think about the next time you go to the supermarket.

You really should buy Salt Sugar Fat. Or at least take it out from the library

Reference

How to (not) Make Your Child a Junk Food Addict

Obviously no one wants to make their child a junk food addict.

Unfortunately…a new study out of Australia (conducted on rats) “suggests that pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children. This change results in the babies being less sensitive to opioids, which are released upon consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar.

In turn, these children, born with a higher “tolerance” to junk food need to eat more of it to achieve a “feel good” response.

The Science

Researcher fed one group of soon-to-be-a-mommy rats a normal rat food diet and a second group a range of human “junk foods” during pregnancy and lactation.

Junk Food Diet

  • peanut butter,
  • hazelnut spread,
  • chocolate-flavored biscuits (cookies),
  • extruded savory snacks,
  • sweetened multigrain breakfast cereal,
  • ham- and chicken-flavored processed meat,
  • and a mixture of lard and standard rat chow

After the rat pups were weaned, the pups were given daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker….which blocks opioid signaling. This in turn lowers the intake of fat and sugar by preventing the release of dopamine.

Test results showed that the opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk food fed mothers, suggesting that “perinatal exposure to high-fat, high-sugar diets results in altered development of the central reward system, resulting in increased fat intake and altered response of the reward system to excessive junk-food intake in postnatal life“.

Or in layman’s terms…Garbage In : Garbage Out.

addiction-to-junk-food-fase

Reference

Can my friends make me fat?

Friends Don’t Let Friends Pig Out

Last night, I had a wicked craving for chicken wings.

So, after my last client, I rounded up some of my buddies, hit my favorite wing joint and cleared out my sinuses with excessive amounts of hot sauce.

While we were there, we couldn’t help overhearing the group of 20-something year old women at the next table as they laid waste to a massive pile of wings, fires, deep fried cheese, beer and fruity cooler drinks.

Impressed we were with their eating prowess…those girls could really put away the chow.

Unimpressed we were with how the ladies treated the one who stayed away from all the starchy stuff and only drank water.

  • They kept nagging at her to eat some fries and deep fried cheese sticks.
  • When she declined, they piled some on her plate.

When she didn’t eat them…

  • One of the big-eaters started to get angry and suggested that she thought she was better than them (did I mention they were drinking).

This went on for about ten minutes with all of the cheese stick eaters joining in and bombarding our heroine with different “mean girl” psychological techniques.

In the end, she gave in, ate some fries and order was restored to the group.

But it left me wondering…is this what it takes to fit in in 2012? If your friends eat like crap, do you have to eat like crap to fit in? Back in the 80’s, there was a anti-drunk driving campaign that said…

friends-dont-let-friends-dr

Maybe we need something like this to reverse the our problems with obesity, diabetes, metabolic disease, etc.

Disney Goes To War Against Childhood Obesity

Mickey Mouse is doing what US politicians are too afraid to do.

Stand up against America’s junk-food producers.

Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger and first lady Michelle Obama will be making an official announcement later today that…Walt Disney Co, owner of the ABC broadcast network and a suite of cable channels, will stop accepting some junk-food ads on TV programs, radio shows and websites aimed at children.

Most Mousecular Mickey – Dean Armstrong

WOW.

Mr. Iger said he felt strongly that “companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that,” but added: “This is not altruistic. This is about smart business.”

Taking steps to combat childhood obesity allows Disney the opportunity to polish its brand as one families can trust — something that drives sales of everything from Pixar DVDs to baby clothes to theme park vacations. In addition, Disney has carefully studied the marketplace and executives say they believe there is increasing consumer demand for more nutritious food.

Mr. Iger noted that health food for children had already become “a very, very solid business” for Disney. Since 2006 consumers have purchased about two billion servings of Disney-licensed servings of fruit and vegetables, according to the company.

“Under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals — both current Disney advertisers — along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material”.

Disney said that in adopting the new advertising standards it was largely following recommendations proposed last year by federal regulators. The suggestions were aimed at inducing the food industry to overhaul the way it marketed things like cereal, soda and snacks to children.

[box type=”note”]Ironically, he is talking about the very suggestions that US lawmakers were too scared to make to Junk-Food Industry lobbyists last October.[/box]

This just goes to show how public opinion can influence real change…while government plays politics.

Reference

America's Food FAIL: Pink Slime in your Burgers and Bugs in your Frappucinos

  • Starbucks Strawberry and Creme Frappuccinos are colored with BUGS……instead of strawberries.

Well done America’s food producers……well done.

America’s Food FAIL: Pink Slime in your Burgers and Bugs in your Frappucinos

  • Starbucks Strawberry and Creme Frappuccinos are colored with BUGS……instead of strawberries.

Well done America’s food producers……well done.

Processed Food – Now With 10% More Wood

Earlier this year, Taco Bell faced a class-action lawsuit which alleged that the they don’t put enough real beef in their tacos to accurately call the filling beef.

Two months after the lawsuit went public, the lawfirm which filed the suit dropped it and said that Taco Bell made “changes in marketing and product disclosures.”

Case closed – Taco Bell’s reputation saved.

Until I read that the following Taco Bell menu items…

  • Seasoned Beef Seasoning
  • Southwest Chicken
  • Caramel Apple Empanada
  • Corn Tortilla
  • Enchilada Rice
  • Nacho Chips
  • Red Strips
  • Strawberry Topping
  • Zesty Dressing

…contained wood.

That’s right – WOOD.

As in trees.

You can find it in the list of ingredients under the following names – cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.

And it’s not just Taco Bell.

Lots of processed food manufacturers use “cellulose in food as an extender, providing structure and reducing breakage”.

  • It allows manufacturers to claim high fibre content
  • It extends shelf life
  • And it’s water absorbing properties can mimic fat – great for fat-free products

And it’s also cheap.

And as they say – a penny saved is a penny earned.

 

Referencce

Childhood Obesity, Junk Food Profits and the U.S. Congress

Earlier this year, an interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced that they would be recommending that America’s food producers should voluntarily end all food advertising to children unless they were for healthy choices, such as whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables.

Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

This first draft of voluntary guidelines set  maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium, among other requirements, and asks food companies not to market foods that go beyond those parameters to children ages 2 through 17. The guidelines would apply to many mediums, including ads on television, in stores and on the Internet, in an effort to stem rising obesity levels.

Under the original proposal, salty, fatty or very sweet foods or foods with trans fats would no longer be advertised to children, defined as age 17 or under.

Once again… Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

In response, the food industry, backed by House Republicans, has aggressively lobbied against the voluntary guidelines, saying they are too broad and would limit marketing of almost all of the nation’s favorite foods, including some yogurts and many children’s cereals. Though the guidelines would be voluntary, food companies say they fear the government will retaliate against them if they don’t go along.

Officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who jointly wrote the guidelines, will on Wednesday face the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already made its distaste for the proposal clear. In a letter last month, Republicans on the committee wrote the agencies and called the (voluntary) guidelines “little better than a shot in the dark.”

Following the industry objections, the congressional pushback and a public comment period on the proposal, the government agencies involved appear to be softening their approach.

In testimony released by the committee before the hearing, David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the coalition of government agencies is “in the midst of making significant revisions to the original proposal.

Among the changes he suggested are narrowing the age group targeted and focusing on children aged 2 to 11 instead of up to age 17 and allowing marketing of the unhealthier foods at fundraisers and sporting events. Vladeck also said that his agency would not recommend that companies change packaging or remove brand characters from food products that don’t qualify, as was originally suggested in the guidelines.

“Those elements of packaging, though appealing to children, are also elements of marketing to a broader audience and are inextricably linked to the food’s brand identity,” Vladeck says in prepared testimony. Tony the Tiger is well-known as the mascot for Frosted Flakes and Toucan Sam for Froot Loops, both Kelloggs’ cereals.

So, there you go. Democracy in action.

  • Companies market questionable food-like products directly to children.
  • Parents and special interest groups bring attention to this business practice
  • Government investigates and prepares a series of voluntary recommendations
  • Lobbyists for the affected food producers work hard in an attempt to dilute the voluntary recommendations
  • Congress supports the position of the food lobby
  • Recommendations are watered-down
  • Food producers resume original marketing practices
  • Children influenced by said marketing grow up to be obese adults still affected by said marketing practices
  • Continuing increases in systemic obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome et al drive healthcare costs up and quality of life down

.

Reference

 

Too Fat for White Castle

A 290 lb stockbroker is suing the White Castle fast food chain because it’s booths are too small to accommodate his burger filled belly.

He claims that White Castle has a responsibility under The Americans with Disabilities Act to provide him with seating that can handle his ponderous paunch.

And ever since talk radio got a hold of the story, the response has been overwhelmingly negative towards Mr. Kessman. Callers and hosts have been in agreement that this is a frivolous lawsuit and that instead of blaming White Castle, Mr. Kessman should accept responsibility for his own lifestyle choices.

And while I agree that this lawsuit is ridiculous and should be tossed asap, it does raise some interesting questions.

  • Fast food restaurants make their money by selling mass quantities of standardized food to the average citizen.

And I’m sure that when White Castle designed their current restaurant seating, the average person could comfortably sit in their booths. Unfortunately, the average citizen is starting to look more and more like Mr. Kessman.

New York Post – ANGEL CHEVRESTT

So….I’m wondering if we should look at Mr. Kessman as a sort of canary in the obesity coalmine?

  • Is his lawsuit the beginning of a trend?
  • Will food producers face lawsuits based on disability or that they knowingly sold products that led to obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome?
  • Will obesity become the new smoking?
  • Will major food producers face multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuits?

Instead of trying to placate Mr. Kessman, should the executives at White Castle (and KFC, McDs, etc) see the writing on the wall and begin super-sizing all of their restaurants?

It may be ridiculous to think that a restaurant is responsible for how much food their customers over-eat, but if the average citizen is getting fatter, then companies who cater to the average citizen had better start making changes….before they find themselves in court….or losing market share to their competitors with bigger booths.

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Live Near Junk Food = Eat Junk Food : Live Near Health Food = Eat Junk Food

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, living in a neighborhood loaded with junk food restaurants makes it more likely that you will eat a lot of junk food.

Surprised?

Probably not.

For years now, nutrition “experts” have been telling us that people who live in “food deserts” in which healthy food is difficult to find are doomed to a life of pizza, cheetos, soda, type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity.

As a result, the U.S. federal government has made it one of their priorities to increase access to healthy “real” food in these target neighborhoods. And by priorities, I mean spending big piles of tax dollars.

The idea  is that we spend some money in the short term to:

  1. Eliminate food deserts
  2. Improve the health of people living in food deserts, thereby
  3. Improving their productivity, quality of life, income, thereby
  4. Raising tax revenue, thereby
  5. Getting a positive return on the initial investment of tax dollars

Too bad this same AIM study couldn’t find a similarly strong relationship between the consumption of healthy food (fruit, vegetables, etc) and people who live in neighborhoods loaded with supermarkets.

After crunching the data, the researchers concluded that “there is some evidence for zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants within 3 km of low-income residents but suggest that increased access to food stores may require complementary or alternative strategies to promote dietary behavior change.”

Because it’s not enough to build supermarkets and stock them with healthy food.

People eat junk food because they believe that the short term benefits outweigh the long term costs.

And until that belief is changed, junk food producers will continue to make a ton of money and our population will continue to get fatter and more diabetic. 😦

What to do, what to do, what to do….

Here’s what I think

What about you?

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Reference

Godzilla vs the Meat Monster

Japan has been attacked by a monster more terrifying and dangerous than Mothra, King Ghidora and Megalon combined.

Developed in a secret off-shore laboratory…using a combination of gene splicing, irradiation and a delightful secret teriyaki sauce recipe, Burger King‘s Japanese food-scientists have created….

THE MEAT MONSTER

Comprised of:

  • 2 Whopper sized beef patties
  • 1 grilled chicken breast
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 slices of cheese
  • a fried egg
  • a fish patty
  • that delicious teriyaki sauce
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • mayo
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • pickles
  • onion
  • squeezed between two fluffy white hamburger buns

The Meat Monster is an unholy attack on the waistlines of the proud (yet increasingly corpulent) Japanese people.

We’re talking about a burger loaded with:

  • 1922 calories
  • 126 grams of Fat
  • 82 grams of Carbs
  • 117 grams of Protein
  • and 4400 mg of Sodium – 2x the recommended daily maximum

As a resonse, Japanes Prime Minister Ken Naoto has done the unthinkable and summoned Godzilla n a last gasp attempt to save the country from devolving into a nation of bloated wanna-be sumo wrestlers.

Save us Godzilla…save us.

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FAT BRITANNIA

British Government Abandons War Against Obesity

When London was awarded the 2012 Games, the national government charged into the War on Obesity and promised it would encourage 2 million more Brits to become physically active by the time the Olympic torch is lit.

At that time, their plans included:

  1. Inspiring a million more people to play sport three or more times a week.
  2. Motivating an additional million people to engage in more general physical activity, such as decorating and gardening.

With fewer than 500 days to go, hitting these targets looks highly unlikely.

Especially when we consider that the 2010 coalition government:

  1. Quietly dropped the “general physical activity” program shortly after coming into power, and
  2. Has just announced that it is abandoning the “play more sport” program due to it’s lack of success.

And just how unsuccessful were these programs?

According to national exercise surveys, only about 127,000 more people have become more physically active since 2007.

Yikes!!!

127,000 is a long way from 2,000,000.

Maybe it was a good idea to cancel these programs.

Why continue to throw good money after bad?

Especially when you can actually make money by contracting out the funding of your national healthy living campaigns to a group of international junk food producers in return for a promise to not slap any taxes on fatty, sugary, salty, processed food.

Or how about encouraging Brits to get a prescription for a “miracle weight loss pill” that was suspended by the NHS only a year ago because it’s use results in an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

WTF?

Cancelling ineffective government programs I understand.

Selling out the health of the nation to junk food manufacturers & Big Pharma, I don’t understand.

.

I personally know of small, grassroots weight loss/ healthy lifestyle programs that are highly effective.

Imagine what would happen if a fiscally responsible government was to reward these programs with a tax break in return for helping to slash healthcare expeditures.

Not paying for promises – only paying for results.

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Fast Food, Fat Profits: Obesity in America

Seeing as most of us don’t watch a lot of Al Jazeera, you might have missed this documentary.

Take a look.

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popchips Don't Taste Healthy

Is the phrase Healthy Snack Food an oxymoron?

  • Is it possible for snack food to be healthy?
  • Is it possible for healthy food to be snackalicious?

These are the questions I attempted to answer last week.

When I was introduced to popchips…and decided to conduct a little experiment.

First up – can snack foods be healthy?

Nutritional Info for 1 oz (28 gms) of plain popchips

Energy 120 kcal
Protein 1 g
Total lipid (fat) ~ g
Carbohydrate, by difference 20 g
Fiber, total dietary 1 g
Sodium, Na 280 mg



 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritional Info for 1 oz (28 gms) of Plain Ruffles Potato Chips

Energy 160 kcal
Protein 2 g
Total lipid (fat) 10 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 14 g
Fiber, total dietary 1 g
Sodium, Na 160 mg



 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritional Info for 1 Small Potato (138 gms) – Baked with Salt

Water 103.35 g
Energy 128 kcal
Protein 3.45 g
Total lipid (fat) 0.18 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 29.19 g
Fiber, total dietary 3 g
Sodium, Na 337 mg



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based strictly on the nutritional information, I see three big differences between the popchips & the Ruffles.

  1. the sodium content
  2. calories
  3. the macronutrient profile

Sodium

I was surprised to see that the Ruffles were lower in salt than the popchips.

However, neither small bag of chips is really that big a deal when it comes to salt.

  • The 160 mg found in the small bag of Ruffles = 7% of the daily RDA level.
  • The 280 mg found in the popchips = 12% RDA
  • The 337 mg found on the little baked potato is irrelevant as that sodium is self-applied and can be adjusted up or down as the diner prefers.

So, in regards to sodium, the Ruffles are better but as long as you’re not eating a great big bag of either potato chip, the sodium levels aren’t much of a health threat.

Calories

The popchips have 25% less calories than the Ruffles. However, just like the sodium numbers, as long as you’re sticking to the small bag, 40 calories isn’t going to make or break anyone’s diet. Another non-issue.

Macronutrient Profile

Here’s where I see a healthy difference between the two brands of potato chips.

Without getting into a huge debate about saturated fats, damaged fats, glycemic index & glycemic load, I believe that the high percentages of carbs & fat found in the Ruffles makes them more likely than the popchips to be stored as body-fat.

The popchips have a macronutrient profile closer to the plain baked potato.

But then again, who ever eats a plain baked potato?

Conclusion

When it comes to the healthiness – popchips is the better choice.

But, what about taste?

Can healthy foods taste great?

As I am not a big fan of potato chips, I enlisted the help of some friends who could be considered potato chip connoisseurs.

And they freakin’ loved the popchips.

And not because they were “healthy”. In fact, when I called them healthy chips, it was harder to get them to try them. But when they started, everyone loved them.

But then again, they also loved the beer & Paleo Margaritas.

.

So, there you go….popchips may be healthier than regular potato chips…but they don’t taste healthy.

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Would you vote for a Ban on Junk Food Advertising aimed at kids under 13?

I think that a ban / restriction is a good idea…in theory.

  • Advertisers would be free to continue to market to everyone over the age of 13
  • Childhood obesity is a growing problem around the world
  • Junk food is called junk food for a reason – it’s junk. And it contributes to making our kids fat, diabetic & lazy.
  • We already ban advertisers from targeting children from cigarette & alcohol.

Obviously, the biggest argument against this act is going to be the cry of “Nanny State”.

And while I agree that government at all levels need to be reminded periodically that their job is to serve the public and not attempt to control or re-engineer the public, we should also remember that the job of advertisers, marketers and manufacturers is to sell products & services to the public.

They have no responsibility to care for the health of our kids.

That’s the job of family.

And when Ontario’s families wanted to stop advertisers from targeting their kids with ads for booze & smokes, they used government legislation to ban the practice.

Clear On Calories is proof that Coca-Cola is afraid of YOU

About a year ago, I wrote the article – Coca-Cola & McDonalds Are Afraid of You.

In that article, I made the argument that America’s fast food producers were concerned that America’s parents were becoming a little too health conscious & were starting to abandon their McFood.

So, like any 21st century mega corp, they rallied the troops and prepared to fight back with lower calorie products and an advertising blitz designed to silence their critics.

Since writing that article, America has gotten fatter & more diabetic….but at the same time, America’s fast food companies have been under constant attack from citizens groups and politicians eager to make points with America’s Moms.

One result of those attacks is the decision of soft drink manufacturers to print calorie count labels on the front of all containers.

And just in case America’s Moms are unaware of the new labels, the American Beverage Association (aka America’s soda lobby) is running this commercial on every network numerous times per day.

.

Because they are scared to death of your purchasing power.

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Remember that the next time you go shopping.

If you don’t want your kids to grow up obese & diabetic, don’t buy food that will make them obese & diabetic.

  • Junk food producers only produce junk food because we eat junk food.
  • If you buy real food, they will produce real food.

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<end of rant>

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FAT BRITANNIA

British Government Sells Out to the Fast Food Industry

As part of it’s continuing effort to destroy it’s healthcare system, the British government has invited fast food companies including McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken to help write government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease.

In addition to Ronald and the Colonel, representatives from PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo are also among the businesses that have been asked to contribute to the five ‘responsibility deal’ networks set up by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

And while the details aren’t expected to be released until the government presents it’s public health white paper in the next few weeks, it’s believed that:

  • the Food Responsibility Deal Network will be chaired by one of the above mentioned companies, while the
  • the Food sub-group on calories is to be chaired by PepsiCo
  • the Behavior Change Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the National Heart Forum
  • the Physical Activity Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, and
  • the Alcohol Responsibility Deal Network is chaired by the head of the lobby group Wine and Spirit Trade Association

WTF!!!

In America, they’re banning the sale of Happy Meals.

In the U.K., they’re asking Ronald McDonald to design national policy on food consumption and obesity.

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Is it any wonder why nobody trusts politicians any more?

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Note – If any of my U.K. readers would like to express their displeasure over this decision to the british Secretary of Health, Andrew Lansley, here is his contact info.

Constituency Office
153 St Neots Road
Hardwick
Cambridge
CB23 7QJ
Tel: 01954 212 707
Fax: 01954 211 625

Email: lansleya@parliament.uk

All Hail the Heart Attack Grill Diet

You’ve got to respect the folks at the Heart Attack Grill.

At least they can admit that their food comes complete with a side order of “sudden weight gain, repeated increase of wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis.”

And while Ronald McDonald prepares to defend the health benefits of his Happy Meals in a court of law, the geniuses behind the Double Bypass burger step up and corner the moral high ground in the junk food industry.

And if you’re lucky enough to weigh over 350 lbs, you Eat for FREE!!!

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Is the Twinkie Diet a Success?

10 weeks ago, KSU nutrition professor Mark Haub began eating a reduced calorie diet of Little Debbie Pecan Spin Wheels for breakfast, Hostess Twinkies for lunch, birthday cake for supper and Doritos for dessert.

And as crazy as it may seem, after 10 weeks on his Twinkie Diet, Dr. Haub saw:

  • His bodyweight drop from 200.8 to 174.2 (-26.6 lbs)
  • His body-fat percentage drop from 33.4% to 24.% (-8.5%)
  • His total body-fat drop by 25.25 lbs
  • His lean body mass (muscle) drop by 1.35 lbs
  • His total cholesterol drop from 214 to 184
  • His bad cholesterol (ldl-c) drop from 153 to 123
  • His good cholesterol (hdl-c) increase from 37 to 46
  • His blood sugar / glucose level drop from 94 to 75, and
  • His blood pressure stay around the same – pre=108/71 – post=104/76

So, does this mean that the Twinkie Diet is a success?

Is Dr. Haub correct when he says, ““it doesn’t matter where the macronutrients are derived from as long as essential nutrients are consumed at the recommended levels, and the fuel is consumed at a level at or below energy expenditure?”

Is he right when he says “if somebody can get their nutrients from a supplement and then they get their fuel from whatever is available, does it matter that they’re not getting fruits and vegetables and whole grains”?

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On one level – YES.

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However, as I said back in September,  before people start swarming  their local 7-11 to get the last box of Diet Twinkies, we need to remember that this is a short term experiment that is limited in scope & depth.

It will not measure:

  • The damage caused by the over-consumption of trans fats, artificial colors, petroleum derived flavorings, chemical emulsifiers, chemical preservatives, etc…
  • The effect that the high levels of HFCS & other sugars is having upon Prof. Haub’s  poor ole pancreas
  • Any increase in systemic inflammation and ph levels
  • The increased cravings for sugar…. brought upon by those twinkies and peanut butter oreos
  • The lack of enzymes, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, non-vitamin cofactors, sterols, polyphenols, flavonoids, phytosterols, carotenoids, prebiotics, probiotics, triterpenes, mineral salts, amino acids, etc…

In short, Professor Haub has shown us that when you eat less food, you lose body-fat.

And skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.

Wendy's – You Can't Fake Real

In their new advertising campaign, Wendy’s says You Can’t Fake Real.

Well, alrighty then.

A fast food company that has turned over a new leaf and is going to start making “real” food.

Like this:

Wendy’s 10-Piece Spicy Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Breast, Water, Seasoning (salt, spice, spice extractive), Sodium Phosphates. Battered and Breaded with: Wheat Flour, Water, Bleached Wheat Flour, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Spice, Wheat Gluten, Egg White Solids, Gum Arabic, Paprika, Extractives of Paprika, Yellow Corn Flour, Leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), Spice Extractives, Yeast. Cooked in Soy, Corn, Cottonseed & Hydrogenated Soy Oil. Note: May be cooked in the same oil as Fish Fillets (where available). CONTAINS: EGG, WHEAT.

  • Spice Extractives in products like this are often created by combining Oleoresins with solubizing agents (Polysorbate 80, mono and diglycerided and water soluble gums) to create a liquid seasoning.
  • Oleoresins are derived by a solvent-extraction of whole spices.
  • Sodium Phosphates are used to help the leaving process in breaded foods like nuggets

And lets not forget where fast food poultry comes from.

image: National Geographic

Now…moving on to the Frosty

Wendy’s Medium Original Chocolate Frosty™

Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Cream, Whey, Nonfat Dry Milk, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Guar Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Calcium Sulfate, Disodium Phosphate, Artificial and Natural Flavoring, Vitamin A Palmitate. CONTAINS: MILK.

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Hmmmmmm…that doesn’t seem fake at all.

Until you compare it to my Mom’s recipe for a basic Chocolate Milk Shake

Chocolate Ice Cream + just enough milk to make it drinkable.

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So, whaddaya think…Can Wendy’s Fake Real?

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McDonald's v.s. the Obesity Police

In a letter sent to Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald’s, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), claims that when McDonalds advertises the toys included in their Happy Meals, they are unfairly and deceptively marketing their products directly to children.

The CSPI argues that these practices are predatory and wrong.

They go onto to claim that not only are they morally wrong, they are in fact illegal, because “marketing to kids under eight is (1) inherently deceptive, because young kids are not developmentally advanced enough to understand the persuasive intent of marketing; and (2) unfair to parents, because marketing to children undermines parental authority and interferes with their ability to raise healthy children”.

The CSPI “demands that McDonald’s immediately stop using toys to market Happy Meals to young children.

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And, if they can’t resolve this matter in the near term (30 days), CSPI will bring a lawsuit that seeks an injunction preventing McDonald’s from providing toys with purchases of any or all Happy Meals.
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In specific, CSPI claims that McDonald’s practices violate state consumer protection laws, such as Massachusetts G.L. c. 93A, Texas Business & Professions Code § 17.41 et seq., District of Columbia Code § 28-3905 et seq., New Jersey Statutes Ann. 56:8-1 et seq., and California Business & Professions Code Section 17200.
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And because they detest government encroachment into our lives (sarcasm) and believe in a free market, CSPI will postpone filing suit if it can obtain McDonald’s agreement to stop its use of toys to market Happy Meals. This offer of settlement will remain open for 30 days from the date of this letter, after which yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah.
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So, here are my questions for you:

  1. Is McDonald’s practice of advertising Happy Meal toys morally acceptable?
  2. Is that practice legally acceptable?
  3. If you agree with the CSPI that McDonald’s marketing practices are unacceptable, do you also agree with their lawsuit?
  4. Or, would you rather see concerned parents express their displeasure via complaints and/or choosing to eat at competing restaurants (without Happy Meal toys)

Mexico Declares War on Obesity with a Ban on Junk Food

mmmmmmm tortas - mmmmmmmm childhood obesity

The Mexican government is getting serious in it’s battle against childhood obesity.

As part of the anti-obesity campaign launched this past January by President Felipe Calderon, Mexican schoolkids will soon have to say adios to their morning champurrado and their daily lunch of an ultra greasy torta washed down with a Boing! soda.

Under the new guidelines only water, unsweetened but flavored water, or pure fruit juices will be sold in schools. No soft drinks or sugary fruit drinks, and only low-fat milk, will be allowed.

But, it’s not just the junk food.

Last month, the Prez passed another anti-obesity law that mandates daily phys-ed for school age children.

According to Calderon, “the incidence of obesity among youngsters has tripled in Mexico over the last three decades.

About 4.5 million Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 are overweight. That’s 26 percent of all Mexican children.

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Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordoba said nationwide consumption of fruits and vegetables has declined 40 percent over the last 10 to 15 years, while consumption of sweetened drinks has risen 40 percent to 50 percent.

Mexico’s Health Department says it hopes to have the rules in place when the next school year starts in August.

The guidelines would cover all 220,000 public and private primary and middle schools serving 25 million students.

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Now that sounds like a Food Revolution.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Just in case America isn’t fat enough…

taco bell fourth meal

As the debate over President Obama’s healthcare proposal rages on, Taco Bell continues to give Americans exactly what they crave….melty, crunchy, spicy and heart attack inducing.

I especially love the tagline at the end…

taco bell it's not just food fourth meal

Of course, I would change it just a little bit.

taco bell not real food

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Super Bowl Buffet – The Healthy Way

I know what you’re saying…Is it possible to eat healthy on Super Bowl Sunday? Did you know that:

  • Nearly one in eight or 13% of Americans order takeout/delivery food from a restaurant for a Super Bowl gathering.
  • Most popular choices of takeout/delivery items on Super Bowl Sunday are pizza at 58 percent, chicken wings at 50 percent and subs or sandwiches at 20 percent.
  • Approximately one in 20 (4 percent) Americans watch the big game at a restaurant or a bar, over 9 million Americans.
  • On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans will eat an estimated 20 million pounds of potato and tortilla chips and eight million pounds of avocados.
  • Sales for antacid increase by 20% on Super Bowl weekend.

After all these stats and being the Healthy guy that I am, I just had to throw out ideas that wouldn’t bust your gut.

After all, the beer consumption alone will do that!

So here’s some healthy Super Bowl ideas perfect for a hungry (wo)man’s buffet:

BAKED PITA CHIPS WITH HUMMUS & GUACAMOLE:
Recipe: Serves 6. Adjust accordingly.
1 packet whole wheat pita bread
olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Begin by cutting each pita bread in half and then into 12’s. Toss in a large mixing bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp cumin. Place on oven tray in single layer and bake for 10 minutes approx. or until crispy but not burned. Remove from oven and set aside. (Yes, it’s that easy!)

Hummus (Smashed Chickpeas)
1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lemon – zested & juiced
1/8 tsp chili powder
2-3 tbsp cold water, divided
S&P to taste
Hummus is traditionally made with tahini but in my version I omit it as I prefer the simple taste of the chick peas and lemon. Tahini also has a high fat, high calorie content so in order to cut calories I do without it.

Drain the chickpeas and put in food processor. As they’re pureeing gradually add cold water & olive oil, alternating 1 tbsp at a time to blend. You want a smooth but not a runny consistency. Remove to a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 of the lemon juice, all the lemon zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and chili powder. Taste and add more lemon juice if preferred. I like my hummus zesty so tweak it to your taste.
Party Buffet

A couple of other ideas for you are:

LAVASH PIZZA. This is a great healthy alternative to your regular thick crust pizza we all know. I’ve used both white and wheat lavash (fancy word for flatbread) so check your local grocery or specialty store.  In the version above I made a roasted red pepper and tomato sauce and used part-skim mozzarella & fresh basil. If you want this recipe leave a comment here or on my site.
I’ve also made this with fresh basil pesto and blistered cherry tomatoes, click here for recipe. Both versions are damn tasty and perfect for adult or even kid gatherings.

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APPLE JICAMA SLAW. What exactly is Jicama? This is a light refreshing slaw that’s the complete opposite of a regular coleslaw that’s mayo based. The sweetness of the apple and the crunchiness of the jicama work brilliantly together and you can snack on this all day if you wanted.

So to answer my own question, yes it is so no excuses here people. I’ve got more football food up my sleeve at  thehealthyirishman.com.
One step ahead of me? Let me know what healthy Super Bowl dish you’re planning.

 

The Healthy Irishman Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

A BAN on Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends

fat_kid_tv

In the past few years, childhood obesity has grown from being a personal health issue to a public health issue.

And today, it is fast becoming a political issue.

the-goonies-chunkWay back in the 1980s, this is what a fat kid looked like.

(Bonus points to anyone who recognizes Chunk from “The Goonies”)

Today, Chunk would almost be slim by comparison.

Not only are today’s fat kids fatter than ever, their numbers are swelling as well.

In 2006, the CDC said that “the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5% in 1980 to 17.0% in 2006.

The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.6%“.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, research also shows that there is an 80 percent chance an overweight adolescent will become an obese adult.

But maybe, you’re not a numbers person.

If that’s the case, and this data isn’t enough to grab your attention, take a look at this train-wreck:

Clearly, we have a problem.

What to do, what to do…

Well, according to researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18%.

brain_socialistShould the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children’s programs.

This new research builds onto the findings of the 2006 report issued by the Institute of Medicine.

That report:

  • Indicated that there is compelling evidence linking food advertising on television and increased childhood obesity
  • Recommended congressional regulation of television food advertisements aimed at children
  • But also said that the link that would definitively prove that children had become fatter by watching fast food commercials could not be made.”

Michael Grossman, co-author of the NBER study, say that “our study provides evidence of that link.”

The Link between Fast Food TV Advertising and Childhood Obesity

Alright, problem solved.

TV fast food advertising is the villain.

So, what now?

Now we just need a champion to step in and kick a little corporate butt.

Let’s see, who can we get….hmmmmm, who would be a good choice?

Wait, I know!!!

Tipper Gore

fat-kid-loves-cakeThat’s perfect!

Let’s unleash Tipper on those evil fast food and television executives and our childhood obesity problem will disappear faster than the cake at a fat kid’s birthday party.

Okay, I just happen to have her private number right here….dialing……it’s ringing…….someone’s answering…..and…but….but….I see….well..but….ok…thanks anyway…

Sorry people, Tipper’s too busy helping her husband eliminate global warming to help us eliminate childhood obesity.

We’re on our own.

So what do we want to do?

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bagel-fuls health kraft food nutrition healthhabits junk-food fast-food processed-food

Re-name the Bagel-ful

While I am sure that Kraft spent a bazillion dollars coming up with the perfect name for this engineered food-type product, I think I can do better.

How about you?

Here is what I came up with:

Bagel-ful-of-goo
Bagel-ful-of-artificial cheese product
Bagel-ful-of-chemicals & preservatives
Bagel-ful-of-impaired insulin sensitivity
Bagel-ful-of-why-is-my-butt-so-big
Bagel-ful-of-my-mom-is-to-lazy-to-even-make-a-real-sandwich

Bagel-ful-of-crap?

Newsflash! – Junk food advertising is misleading!!!

The BBC has reported that 83% of U.K. consumers “believed irresponsible marketing was making it harder to encourage children to eat well”. The survey was conducted by Which?, the U.K.’s largest independent consumer organization.

The survey also found that “most of the 2,000 questioned want the government to do more to control the marketing of unhealthy food to children”.

Currently, the Brits have banned television commercials promoting junk food programmes aimed at children under 16.

Supporters of this survey are now calling for complete ban on junk food advertising on ALL programmes aired before 9 p.m. Additionally, they are requesting the government impose rules addressing junk food advertising on the internet and on packaging.

The ‘icing on the cake’ argument was offered by Clare Corbett, a food campaigner at Which? Corbett said “With childhood obesity and diet-related health problems on the increase, the government must take serious action and soon.”

health-fitness-obesity

To summarize:

  • Junk food is bad
  • Advertisers brainwash children into wanting junk food
  • Children pester their parents
  • Parents feed their children junk food
  • Children get fat eating junk food while watching television ads about junk food
  • The U.K.’s largest consumer protection group asks parents if the government should be doing more to keep their children safe from obesity
  • Parents overwhelmingly agree, demanding that the government solve childhood obesity by removing the offending advertisements.
  • Advertisers produce another survey indicating that “76% of UK adults believe that introducing a 9pm watershed on food advertising would not reduce the level of childhood obesity”.
  • The government is left to decide if banning all junk food ads on t.v. before 9 p.m. will win them the next election.

Your daily dose of reality

  • Junk food is bad
  • We are genetically disposed to prefer sweet, salty, greasy, calorie dense foods. We crave these things as a mechanism of survival. Genetics. Millions of years.
  • Advertisers know this. Food manufacturers know this. They sell us what we want. If we don’t want it, we won’t buy it. If we don’t buy it, they won’t sell it.
  • Every parent knows that feeding your children junk food while sitting them in front of the t.v. is guaranteed to make them fat.

What to do, what to do

  • Parents set the example for their children.
  • Stop buying junk food. Not just for your children, you too.
  • Stop watching t.v. Get outside and exercise. If it’s too cold, read a book.
  • Stop expecting the government to do everything for you.

The rant endeth.