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It’s all about the bottom line as we pad our own bottoms (Ferengi Capitalism?)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let me add my voice to those of my fellow sparkers angry about how our health is being disregarded in the search for greater profit.

Recent blogs call our attention to the machinations of the food industry as described in a NY Times article.


LAILATN voices her anger at supermarkets’ efforts to push junk food in our faces

Then there’s the sizing creep of the fashion industry (my personal pet peeve) where the measurements of a size 8 woman of 40 years ago today call her a size 0. Now that we have eaten our way to ever larger bodies, they will promote our self denial by adjusting the sizes of clothes. They’ve discovered that women will buy and pay more if there’s a smaller size attached. The result – greater profits.

I don’t know if there are any Star Trek fans reading this, but in the Deep Space Nine Series we were introduced to a race of beings called the Ferengi who lived by the “Rules of Acquisition.” Earning profit was the highest and main goal of life regardless of the consequences.

I believe in Capitalism, but I fear the policy makers of some corporations have Ferengi DNA.

I agree with TRAVELGRRL who said
“Yes, I know that what goes in my mouth is my own decision. All I want is a level playing field. I want the food industry to stop the marketing that preys on ignorant, poor people AND on children. I want SOMEBODY to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for what passes for food in this country.”

Edit: Kanoe makes a good point about the insurance industry.
In recent years the health insurance companies have charged more to those above the recommended BMI range. Many on SP have compained about it in the past.

They may cite the new healthcare law now to deflect blame from themselves, but this practice predates that. If they were really concerned about our health, they would offer discounts to those to maintain or lose weight not look for another way to penalize those who have enough to struggle with as it is.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
NASFKAB 2/25/2013 5:21AM

  thanks for sharing

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MJZHERE 2/24/2013 10:15AM

    The new healthcare laws are truly unfair. I don't think I should have to pay the consequences for someone else's choices. If someone is overweight or obese because of thyroid condition, etc., the law could require insurance companies to insure them without penalty. However, when people are overweight or obese because of their own choices, why should the rest of us have to pay higher costs for them?
Edit: just read Kanoe's comments. Perhaps this is an effort to make it fairer for those of us who will have to pay higher costs for those who are overweight/obese. I pay my own insurance and under the new laws, it is suppose to be much higher and it is huge already (it is the number one expense for DH and I and neither of us have ever had any health conditions). I believe people should be given correct information, each of us then making our own informed decisions, each of us then reaping the rewards or consequences of our own behavior.

Comment edited on: 2/24/2013 10:26:40 AM

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LILY_SPARK 2/23/2013 12:06PM

    Great share, thanks.

I still wear some clothes from the 80s and they do not reflect the size creep you mention -- not sure if it's a certain store or exactly which brands. I'm guessing more expensive things as I don't know about those!

I've never been a 0 or a 00 but I've mostly kept to size 4 or 6 (got to wear I couldn't fasten size 10, though!). And when I say 'kept,' again, I mean I'm wearing clothing from over 20 years ago! Granted, the larger ones from those days but the labels are still in them.

Like Phoenix, I grew up remotely on a working ranch -- our veg patch (the main one, not the 2 others) was over 3 acres. We raised everything we ate. I moved back some years ago and we no longer ranch. I miss the quality meat, let me tell you! I've bought organic, 'farm-raised' and it still doesn't taste the way our grazed, fresh meat tasted.

I completely agree that it's a load of hooey, all of the 'healthy for you' foods pushed -- worse, the FDA's recommendations (whole grain, low fat) contribute to higher cholesterol, diabetes 2 and heart disease. Whole grain may be better than simple carbs but nobody was buying BOXES of pre-made anything in my childhood (or if it happened, it was a RARE treat). I never went to a McDonald's til I was a teenager! They existed but that wasn't what we did (plus, to be honest, the nearest was a 60mi trip).

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PHOENIX1949 2/22/2013 11:45PM

    Bottom line seems to be that each individual is responsible for what goes into their body from the almost limitless choices. Not a simple matter.

Life was simpler for this SP as a child living in a rural setting where most of our family's food was grown in a large garden without the use of chemicals and my grandparents provided most of the farm-raised animals (cows, pigs, and chickens & fresh eggs) for slaughter and home processing. The introduction of frozen dinners of the 1950's along with other -time-saving meal options, i.e., canned vegetables, coincided with the struggle with excess weight for me -- along with the abundant candy bars & sodas at the newly-discovered grocery stores when we went 'to town.'.

Portion sizes have had an interesting evolution. I have a platter my great-grandmother brought over from Germany in the 1870's. It was the family of seven's roast beef platter, used 2 or 3 times a year. It is smaller than a present-day normal dinner plate. Also, a family member's beer stein from about 1908 is really tiny (probably 8 oz).

Above is mostly my self-talk in an effort to get back on track.

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WATERMELLEN 2/22/2013 10:59PM

    What a great blog. You've consolidated a number of important themes in one place and written a compelling account of the consequences of bloated capitalism.

Size creep indeed: it's creepy when today's size 8s are bigger than former size 14s!

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TRAVELGRRL 2/22/2013 9:14PM

    Thanks for linking to my blog! I can't agree with Boilham, because while WE on Spark may be nutritionally aware, many MANY people are not. Children want crap because they are bombarded with commercials and cartoon character touting overly processed foods. Unfortunately, fruits and vegetables don't warrant a marketing budget.

I too share your pet peeve about clothing sizes. When I got married in 1973 I weighed 130 pounds and my wedding dress was a size 14. Now I weigh 160 pounds and I wear a size 12!

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STRIVERONE 2/22/2013 8:05PM

    Such an excellent statement. It's too bad that we are all preaching to the choir here. There are plenty of CEOs who need to be strapped in a chair with their eyelids clamped open like the kid in A Clockwork Orange, and forced to read some of these grass roots consumer opinions.

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ROSEWAND 2/22/2013 2:34PM

    Thank you for reposting this important topic.
I think it is helpful to reframe food as software for
our bodies. When we eat natural healthy foods,
our DNA is activated in a much different way
than when we ingest "foods" that have been
written to trigger unnatural responses in our genetics.

It is also important to comtemplate the economic
system we live under can no long be defined as
free-market capitalism. There is little free flow of
information available to help us make thoughtful
informed decisions.

All corporate marketing is carefully calculated to
activate the unconscious brain to respond
emotionally to advertising. Focus groups and
MRI imaging carefully access the brain's response
to advertising. We are constantly assured that we
live in a free economy.

But that system was conceived as one where we,
the consumers are making clearly rational choices
when making purchasing decisions. The corporations
have carefully changed that with years of brain
research they have put in service of the profit motive.

Our defense is education and awareness. Those of
us here on Spark making intelligent food choices are
the vanguard. emoticon

I am editing my response to add another important
topic to this conversation. Adding dangerous nano
particles to our foods:


Comment edited on: 2/22/2013 3:13:04 PM

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GINIEMIE 2/22/2013 2:02PM

    At work we were being "encouraged" to sign up for an insurance fitness program. You had to go through several hoops to get started and show progress by the end of the year. I knew this was a sign of things to come.
In a way it's irritating and in another it's a shame that we don't stand up and take ownership on our own.
It would be helpful to have a level playing field as you stated. So many of these products come on the market and there is no immediate idea of their effect on us. Yes it's obvious what too much sugar/salt/fat can do. But the finer details like reactions to certain kinds of fat/salt and now artificial sweeteners. I have allergies, and so I am reading more than before-AGAVE syrup is a warning to me, not something to lower sugar ingestion. MSG is another warning label-I really do like breathing. Reading labels is important, knowing what you are reading is sometimes overwhelming, but it is imperative to know what you're getting.
Drugs are another area of unknowingly being duped, where the "cure" can kill you-for instance I'm allergic to statins, but one of my former doctors without finding the reasons for my malaise was going to prescribe me another statin loaded drug. Thank God my Steve was still alive and suspected the problem was the base drug-not which one I was taking. SO NO TO ZOCOR/CRESTOR/LIPITOR etc.
Sorry off on a tangent again!
emoticon emoticon

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CELLISTA1 2/22/2013 12:58PM

    Wow. I just read the NY Times article from beginning to end and it is fascinating. It's been going on a long time, just gradually taking over more and more of the market. It reminded me of when I was teaching in the inner-city in the late 1960s: kids used to buy a bag of fritos with a dollop of chili poured into the bag. They'd eat this for breakfast as they were walking to school.

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BOOKAPHILE 2/22/2013 11:59AM

    I read that Times article last night. I'm not impressed with those who don't care how adversely they affect others as long as THEY are making money.

I REMEMBER when sizes were different. I have some clothes that are so old, the size labels are 2-3 sizes larger than the same size these days. In my youth, the lower priced stores had smaller size labels on the same size clothes. This is something that is not new. It sure makes it easier for us to lie to ourselves.

That said, WE are responsible for what goes into and onto our bodies (and out of our wallets.) If the vast majority of us refused to buy their products at their prices, they would change. After all, they believe they are giving us what we want (vs. what we say we want) as proved by the way we spend our dollars.

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LOVESTOWALK49 2/22/2013 11:42AM

    Thanks. I now know no one commented about my reading of Dr. David Kessler's "The End of Overeating." A lot of people on SP have talked about it. I'm just a voice in the crowd. I really hate the taste of most 'hyperpalatable' foods. I think most snack foods and soda taste really bad. I get full on less than half a restaurant size burger. The large food companies aren't interested in my stomach share.

I get angry with the assumption that all 'overweight' people overeat. I mean it doesn't take that many more calories for me to regain the weight that I lost. It just takes me reducing my regular exercise. With a slow metabolism, I don't need many calories to gain weight. Overeating in my case might be one more bowl of cereal or an extra piece of toast. It's very rare for me to eat a bag of chips. I can easy have only one handful of candy or just one cookie. emoticon

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DONNA5281 2/22/2013 10:36AM

  Thank you for sharing!

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BARBARAJ73 2/22/2013 10:30AM

    Thank you for passing this important information along. Consumers must beware and be informed.

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BOILHAM 2/22/2013 10:09AM

    That is a wonderful educational blog. I think people should be aware of what is going on in the food industry, to help them perhaps think more clearly.

Having said that, I am afraid I am going to be the voice out there who kind of disagrees that we are being manipulated. It's difficult for me to explain my position without seeming harsh, but after all, we are all the masters of our own destiny. If we cannot deduce that the food industry is manipulating us, can we not listen to our own inner voice. Surely we know this stuff is intrinsically bad for us (like cigarettes, in an earlier blog).

Perhaps you are not the personality type who likes to dig deep for the truth, just an easy going guy or gal. Is there not someone in your life that is a truth seeker, that has whispered in your ear, to beware of what you are doing? Someone who loves you and cares about you, and in whom you trust. You don't have to see it for yourself, but you don't have to ignore that inner voice, or the wisdom of those who do seek the truth and surely have advised you to take a better course in your life.

I'm thinking we just may be looking for a villain in the food companies. To remove from us the guilt of what we are doing to our own bodies, and to take some of the responsiblity away from us. To put it simply "Hey, it's not my fault, they made me do it".

This is a pretty smart group of folks here on Sparkpeople. Most of you way smarter and educated than I. I think we just choose not to think clearly sometimes.

Perhaps I am being harsh, and need to be corrected. I am always open to being educated further. We're here to help each other, right?

Thanks for listeing to a dissenting point of view.

Comment edited on: 2/22/2013 10:14:52 AM

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CELIAMINER 2/22/2013 9:36AM

    Thanks for posting! I looked at all the blogs and articles except for Cheryl_Ann's (link is same is for Lailatn). It does make me angry to feel duped and addicted to support corporate greed. So glad I could break that cycle.

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SUZYMOBILE 2/22/2013 9:32AM

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I've bookmarked the NYT article and will read it when I have more time.

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COCK-ROBIN 2/22/2013 9:11AM

    You hit the nail right on the head with this one. Good show!

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KANOE10 2/22/2013 8:33AM

    Great articles but somewhat depressing. Now to make matters more complicated, the new health care law which goes into effect next year, allows companies to fine people who do not lose weight. Companies can charge up to 30 percent more on their health care benefits to people who continue to be overweight and don't stay on a company wellness exercise and diet program. This can be 1500-3000 dollars more per year for the employee.

The food industry is interested in making money..not in health.

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NANNABLACK 2/22/2013 7:28AM


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BLUENOSE63 2/22/2013 7:25AM

  Well said!

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WELLNESSME09 2/22/2013 7:18AM

Thanks so much for sharing. emoticon

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