Joe Rogan is a standup comic who also produces podcasts. In one of them, he talks about working in a nightclub where a very hefty young woman was in the audience, so he skipped over a “fat chick joke” that would otherwise have been part of his routine. He could have set the whole room laughing, but instead left out the bit and explained later:
… [R]eally obese people are so sensitive, because there are so many people staring at them all the time. It’s got to be so painful…
Rogan’s co-host, Brian Redban, added:
I would go home and eat.
Childhood obesity is a complex issue, and we know that everyone has a role to play in reducing it — including government, industry, schools, the public health community and parents.
Just exactly how diligently has the industry performed its own role in reducing childhood obesity? Answers are in the new report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, quartered at Yale University (with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Some of the answers are, as the old saying goes, “so funny I forgot to laugh.”
Despite the industry’s solemn promises to curb its advertising to the young, teenagers in 2010 were exposed to many more television ads for energy drinks than they had been only two years earlier. The worst offender was — you know, it’s amazing how many childish jests come to mind when considering this topic — “Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.”
That’s right! To the surprise of no one, the worst offender in the area of egregious advertising was (drum roll, please…) Coca-Cola. The Dr. Pepper Snapple group is another baddie. On the positive side, PepsiCo has cleaned up its act, a little.
Apparently, there is no requirement to note the caffeine content of a sugar-sweetened beverage on its label, and consequently, many products contain unknown amounts of the stimulant. No wonder kids have attention deficit disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics frowns very much on caffeinated “energy drinks,” stating that they have “no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”
Another area in which the beverage industry has not changed its evil ways is the concentration of advertising in places where it will reach black and Hispanic kids, who are already more at risk for obesity because of a number of factors.
Another funny thing is how the aforementioned American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can face up to itself in the mirror, when it’s accepting flowers and candy from the very industry that does so much damage to the health of children. The AAP is, after all, America’s most prestigious group of children’s doctors. What’s up with that?
Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune explored that very question quite recently, beginning with the observation that many critics look at the AAP’s actions and see a “serious conflict of interest.” (Some even regard it as selling out, though they may be too polite to say so.)
The industry has deigned to give lip service to the principles of moderation, physical activity, and balance. Big whoop! With its unconscionable accumulated profits, the industry is buying the partnership of such professional associations as the AAP and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This does not bode well for the health of the children.
Proponents of such collaboration say addressing the complex problem of obesity requires the type of public-private partnership advocated by first lady Michelle Obama in her Let’s Move initiative. Rather than working separately, the argument goes, it’s better to use the food industry’s resources, such as its dramatic reach and persuasive marketing skills.
And how’s that workin’ out for ya, kids?
To be continued…
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “American Beverage Association Statement on ‘Let’s Move!’ Anniversary,” Ameribev.org, 02/09/12
Source: “Just give me the FACTS!,” SugaryDrinkFacts.com
Source: “Critics pounce on Coke, Pepsi health initiatives,” Chicago Tribune, 02/04/12
Image by Grace and Lily, used under its Creative Commons license.