Monday, November 15, 2010

Junk food isn't all that bad, but the lectures will continue because hectoring people is the real American pastime

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to fight childhood obesity by banning Happy Meal-style kids meals last week, the same week a nutrition professor announced that he had lost 27 pounds on a diet of Twinkies and other high-fat snack foods.

"This is a simple and modest policy that holds fast food accountable," said Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the ban. That's San Francisco for you. Never mind the parents or children; hold the food accountable.

If obesity were the fault of high-calorie, high-fat food, then Kansas State University Professor Mark Haub would have gained weight during his two-month junk food diet. Instead, he lost 27 pounds. He did it by consuming fewer calories. He went from around 2,600 calories a day to 1,800.

Haub proved what most people with common sense already know: it's not the food's fault if you get fat; it's yours. If you consume more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight. If you burn more than you consume, you'll lose weight.

Kids aren't getting fat because McDonald's offers Happy Meals. Kids are getting fat because their parents aren't controlling their food intake. Banning Happy Meals won't reverse that trend. It will only encourage parents to continue shifting the blame from their own behavior to the food.

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