Ultimate Junk Food — One No-Brainer, One Shocker


The classic, original Hostess brand cupcakes and Twinkies are both sadly missed even, says Maggie Fox (with tongue in cheek), by some nutritionists. She quotes Marion Nestle, an expert in the field:

I am mourning the death of Twinkies. I would say Twinkies are an enormously important cultural icon. It is the epitome of American processed food, made from ingredients lasting forever, chemically based.

Fox also mentions the Twinkie Diet, the Twinkie Defense, and “a book about Twinkies that sources their 39 ingredients — many of them not normally recognized as food.” Fifteen years ago, the Deep-Fried Twinkie was a San Diego County Fair innovation, described thusly:

This ultimate junk food offering serves twinkies dipped in cake batter, deep fried, and topped with powdered sugar, and for fifty cents extra get a drizzle of chocolate or raspberry sauce. This heart attack on a plate will set you back three bucks, and actually isn’t half bad.

The big reveal

In the title of this post we promised a shocker, and here it is, the substance that writer Brian Fulton describes as “a food product that most people hold in great reverence, simply because it comes from vegetables.” This miscreant in disguise is….. drum roll…. olive oil! He calls it “the Ultimate Junk Food that you never even knew was a junk food.” Junk food is pretty generally seen as stuff that has a bunch of calories with little or no redeeming nutritional content.

Fat, Fulton explains, is the densest variety of food in terms of calorie load. Oil is fat in liquid form, and that goes for nut oils and vegetable oils, including the venerated olive oil. Calorie load is a metric similar to parts per million of a toxic chemical in drinking water. A hundred grams of fat contains around 885 calories.

If a person consumes 100 grams of olive oil, that’s about one-third of the day’s caloric requirement for the average woman, and Fulton has a firm opinion:

A food that supplies 1/3 of our calories should also supply 1/3 of our micronutrient needs as well.

… Which olive oil fails to do. One hundred grams is about 3.5 ounces, and for comparison purposes, that amount of potato chips provides almost 550 calories, while an equal weight of sugar yields just short of 390. The same weight of soda has at least 40 calories.

(Just for grins, and perhaps more shock, Mark Bittman, lead food columnist for The New York Times, reminds us of a quotation from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine president, Dr. Neal Barnard, who says, “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

Let’s return to Fulton, who writes:

After eating fast food, our arteries become somewhat paralyzed (unable to dilate) for several hours. The saturated fat in fast food has shouldered most of the blame for this phenomenon, however this same arterial paralysis also occurs after consuming vegetable oils…

Some have suggested this arterial congestion as the reason why 62 million men all over the world pay for a certain type of medication that relieves a condition experienced by at least that many; a problem which might be alleviated at much less expense by merely cutting down on the dietary fat.

To compensate for ratting on olive oil and upsetting some cooks, Fulton offers links to 15 cook-without-oil websites. He also holds out an olive branch to the offended, by conceding that vegetable oils might be good for the skin. But they should, he believes, stay strictly on the body’s surface.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Twinkies: Even nutritionists mourn the ultimate junk food,” Today.com, 10/13/16
Source: “Fabulous Fair Junk Food,” SanDiego.com, 06/19/03
Source: “The Ultimate Junk Food (that you never even knew was a junk food),” FultonMassageTherapy.com, 08/30/16
Source: “Got Milk? You Don’t Need It,” NYTimes.com, 07/07/12
Photo credit: Paul Kamberis/Light Writer Digital on Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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