Not Just a Labeling Problem

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Focusing on food package labels as a panacea for the nation’s overweight and obesity crisis is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic: lots of activity, but no real impact. Too much emphasis is placed on micromanaging acceptable levels of trans fats, sodium or the type of sugar used rather than focusing on the big picture. We need to engage the food corporations to lower the calories.

Labels alone cannot change the fact that for Americans there are 29 percent more calories available to eat than 50 years ago. Obesity is a supply problem and must be dealt with at the source.

A better way to start reducing America’s collective girth is to give food corporations incentives to sell less calories in a way that does not damage their bottom lines. One novel approach would be to adjust the deductions food corporations receive for their advertising expenditures based on their willingness to cut back on calories.

Companies that lower calories get to maintain their deductions. Those that do an exceptional job of cutting calories by more than 10 percent in a year can receive even higher deductions. And those that continue to spew excess calories on their customers would forfeit a percentage of these favorable tax treatments.

Unlike punitive “fat taxes” on soda, candy and snacks, which hurt industry sales, raise costs to consumers, and result in corporate push-back, a better approach would give food companies reason to reduce the calories they sell. It’s time to recognize that the food manufacturers must be a partner in helping to solve the obesity problem.

Do We Need to Know What’s in Junk Food? – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com

11 Responses to “Not Just a Labeling Problem”

  1. Susan Rubin says:

    I wish it were as simple as calories! Both the food industry and most well intentioned dieticians and nutritionists still believe in the mythology of calories in and calories out. That may work in a lab, a closed system, but we humans are NOT so simple. Our metabolic rate changes with time of day, emotional status and much more.

    This pediatric endocrinologist from UCSF makes quite a case against calorie counting and also against fructose. Its worth every one of the 89 minutes to spend understanding the impact of fructose on the liver. Not just HFCS which has been demonized to the extent that now Pepsi and others are touting “cane sugar” as some sort of health food!
    Watch this video and re-think the calorie equation!
    http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=16717

    Susan Rubin, DMD, HHC
    [email protected]

    http://www.drsusanrubin.com
    http://www.betterschoolfood.org

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Susan. The reason I am pushing for invisibly taking calories out of the food supply by the food corporations is exactly to your point – we can’t expect (most) consumers to be counting calories and sticking with exercise regimens. The discipline is not there. Removing calories from the source takes things out of the consumers hands and serves as a “stealth” means to lower calorie consumption.

  3. Thank you for the awesome article. I will follow you via RSS.

  4. llou says:

    It’s not about the calories, and it’s not *just* about the labels.

    It’s about the chemical compounds the labels are obfuscating … and how we don’t know we’re being poisoned because the FDA has permitted several new euphemisms for MSG that are utterly incomprehensible to any citizen without an advanced degree in biochemistry.

  5. pretty helpful info. hope to see extra posts soon!

  6. This web site really has all of the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  7. Neat post! Really like your blog and your experience. we do some cooking recipes, but you have a great deal of expertise! Keep it up.

  8. Robert Sheen says:

    The first time I’ve ever used ASK for questions and actually got a sensible answer. Thankyou.

  9. Food manufacturers should be responsible for what they print on the label of the food products.

  10. You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

  11. Brilliant idea, thanks for the time you took to write out in such detail!

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