America fattens on snake oil
I like to think of myself as someone who acknowledges trends but is not ruled by them. For example, I know the 1980s are back in fashion, but I didn’t tease my bangs the first time around, so it’s even less likely to happen now. And yes, pegged pants make your (and my) butt look big. Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and are American, there is a greater than 65percent chance that your butt is actually big. The obesity epidemic is saturated with duplicity. Fat people lie about how much they eat; diet gurus fudge the facts about how much people can actually lose; and food makers spin and bend the truth about their products. All the while Americans have themselves become the elephants in their own living rooms: “I’m not supposed to deny myself.” “Lose 10 pounds in a week!” “Eat all you want and lose weight.” “I’m big-boned.” “Healthy menu options.” “Low-Carb.” “Low-Fat.” “Burn more calories.” “All-Natural.” “Healthy.” “I don’t eat that much.” “All the stars in Hollywood are doing it.” This health crisis is lies agreed upon. As much as I would like to blame the food industry for its sexy commercials about cuisine that one should rarely if never eat, the “forbidden fruit” that has never seen a tree, it’s not all industry’s fault. As much as I would like to blame the individuals for being junkie hedonists hell-bent on feel-good food consumed with reckless abandonment, it’s not all their fault. As much as I would like to paint all those diet-hysteria gurus as snake-oil salesmen cult leaders preaching the tenets of grapefruit this week and Grape Nuts the next, it’s not all their fault, either. It’s all of their faults. A case in point is the recent call to phase out trans-fat usage in Los Angeles restaurants. It sounds like a radical change. Anything that requires a decal must be accomplishing something! And it sounds good enough: “All food will be fried without using trans fats!” Uh, yeah, but all your food will still be, well – fried. Remember, Kraft took the trans fat out of Oreos in 2003. It didn’t magically make them into carrot sticks. They’re still a high-calorie, high-sugar sandwich cookie. They’re still Oreos. So we are still in this haze of misnomers, denial and omissions. We’re still fat. The battle against trans fat is like a trendy diet calling for little sacrifice and yielding little results. It’s like plucking your eyebrows in hopes that you won’t need to get your teeth straightened. Will it make people consume less trans fat? Sure. Will it make people less fat? I won’t hold my breath (unless that’s the next miracle in weight loss – then I may consider it). Not that I like the idea of the government, local or national, banning things. But a real radical change in the general public’s waistline would be a ban on high-fructose corn syrup. Since its introduction into the American food supply in 1980, we have gotten fatter and fatter. HFCS is called “natural” because it presumably started out as corn. The same argument can be made for heroin: “It can’t be bad for you; it’s just poppies. Think of this smack as a lump of concentrated flowers.” Nutritionists generally agree that the HFCS is bad news for weight control. Take that out of Oreos, and then I’ll be impressed. In this sea of dishonesty, I tend to believe the least popular answer has a higher probability of truth. The truth: Being thin is hard work. On a daily basis, you have to burn more than you consume. When there’s a choice, it’s more engaging to do less and eat more. The truth: The food industry is successful if consumers are consuming, and it’s been very successful. Making products you want to eat more of is just a good business model. The truth: Reasonable and sound advice about eating doesn’t start the newest diet hysteria, and that doesn’t sell any snake oil. And the truth is also this: People don’t want to hear sound advice. We’ve been told it. We just don’t listen. We want to hear that if you hold your breath, you’ll burn twice as many calories than if you breathe normally. It’s the latest trend in weight loss … all the stars are doing it. Tina Dupuy is a stand-up comic and a writer living in Los Angeles. She’s the author of the blog www.sardonicsideshow.com. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!