Scents and Senselessness 

Consumer's Reports' False "Truth about Second-hand Smoke" 
Why the tirade against passive smoking? 
Because apparently the AMA, like the EPA, has decided that the harm done by active smoking is 
so serious that the use of any tool to combat it is justified, even if it means crummy science and false representation 

War On Obesity 

Secondhand Food! 

Doctors Suggest Not Treating Smokers 
(Read more like this) 

An Eye-Opener on Java 

Taking the Offensive Against Cell Phones 

Forces of foolery are at it again with crusade against Big Pop 

Coke Braces for Suit Akin to Tobacco Fight Lawyers Want Vending Banned from All Schools 
The attorneys say the courts sometimes can be the best way to address social change --- and the childhood obesity issue calls for such change. Selling drinks in schools can hook kids on something that can eventually lead to diabetes, Howard said.  

Just what the doctor ordered: A soda tax? 
The American Medical Association, meeting in Chicago this week, will consider a controversial proposal to fight obesity by taxing soda pop.  

A committee of the influential doctors' group is recommending the AMA lobby for a "small" federal tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks... 

Caffeine Targeted 

Salt Assault 

Higher Cigarette Taxes Would Deter Smokers, Study 

Unhealthy way of life is a threat worldwide 
WHO: "The world is experiencing a rapidly spreading epidemic of inactivity, poor diet and increased tobacco use." 

The word "epidemic" should be a red flag to everyone that WHO will mandate exercise and decide what you eat. 

Better Habits Could Slash U.S. Cancer, Report Says 
If people would quit smoking, eat more healthily and exercise, cancer deaths could be cut by nearly a third. 

``What's new here is the growing body of evidence confirming that interventions that get people to change their behaviors do work.'' 

Oh, Oh, "interventions" on all sorts of personal choices.  Be very afraid. 

Study Says 38 Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time 

Those are among the findings of a survey, whose results will help the federal government track behaviors in the American population in the coming decades. 

"We have spent a long time concentrating on smoking, and have made real inroads," Schoenborn said. "We now need to turn our attention to these other activities, to make people realize these really are significant for their health." 

Allergies can be a disability for airline 
passengers: CTA 

The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled allergies can be considered a disability for airline passengers.  

The agency will investigate seven complaints against Air Canada by passengers 
who had allergic reactions 
to dogs, cats, flowers and 

Pending the investigation, the CTA could issue a directive to remove "undue obstacles" for the disabled. This could mean 
restrictions on what passengers can bring on a flight or even the kind of perfume a person can wear. 

Chocolate makers sued for lead content of products 

The American Environmental Safety Institute said it is suing chocolate makers, including Hershey and Mars, for not disclosing their products contain enough lead and cadmium to pose a serious health risk -- a disclosure required by California law, if true.  

The chocolate companies dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous and alarmist, 
saying the amount of lead and cadmium in products like candy bars and 
instant hot chocolate is no more than in other common foods because the metals are naturally occurring.  

Tommy Thompson Floats New Tobacco Tax 

Specifically, [Health and Human Services Secretary] Thompson floated proposals for a new tax on tobacco and for a tax credit that would be granted only to people who engage in healthy behavior as judged by 
government bureaucrats. 

"Next tobacco" watch: gambling 

One of the first state 
attorneys general to sue the tobacco industry told a problem gambling conference Thursday that the gaming business will be the next target for lawyers seeking 
compensation for addicts.  

Got Milk? Sue! 

July 26-28, 2002  
George Washington University law prof John Banzhaf, who got himself so much publicity in the tobacco round, announced that he is working up a possible suit against milk marketers which will charge that the "Milk Moustache" campaign should give rise to liability because it doesn't warn consumers that skim milk is sometimes better for you than whole milk. 

You've Been Had!: How the Media and 
Environmentalists Turned America into a Nation of Hypochondriacs 

Re-Demonization of Alcohol - Call for Warning Labels and Sin Taxes (and using knowingly flawed data to drive the agenda) 

Double drink prices, urge doctors  

Doctors called yesterday for the price of alcohol to be almost doubled in an attempt to reduce the harm caused by excessive  
drinking. The best way to cut the amount people drink is to limit the  
affordability and availability of alcohol, they say.  

Living Longer and Larger: It's in the Size of Cholesterol-Carrying Molecules 

Scientists trying to figure out why just 1 person in 10,000 lives to be 100 have found an important clue in the blood.  Centenarians, a new study shows, tend to have larger than average cholesterol-carrying molecules. 

But wait! Even if you have the genes that will prolong your life no matter what, they still won't abide your "bad habits."  Courtesy of FORCES, they say it best: 

[They] have discovered that heredity is a real big factor in how long people will live. All in the genes, they conclude.   We have no problem, however, with scientific inquiry into exactly why some people live to 100 while others drop dead in middle age.  We do have a problem with the mentality of the director of this study who ruefully muses: 

"I hate to say it but I think it's true. If you have this gene, you can smoke and you can be fat and you can not exercise. This sounds to me terrible." 

Those under the mistaken impression that Puritanism died long ago can take comfort that it lives within the medical community today.  Terrible indeed that stringent exercise, boring diets, restrictive abstinence may not lead to a long life.  Doubly terrible that sinners, who enjoy all that this beautiful and bountiful globe has to offer, may live to a ripe old age without having to suffer pain and deprivations of the pleasures of the flesh.  How distressing for the health zealots who fill the void left by the disappearance of the religious fanatics. 

Obesity, smoking danger for TV kids 

Children who watch two or more hours of television each day are much more likely to grow into overweight smokers with high cholesterol, New Zealand researchers have found. 

"We believe that reducing television viewing should become a population health priority."  

United States obesity specialist Dr David Ludwig said the study strengthened the case for a ban on food advertisements aimed at children. 

"In an era when childhood obesity has reached crisis proportions, the commercial food industry has no business telling toddlers to consume fast food, soft drinks and high-calorie low-quality snacks, all products linked to excessive weight gain," he said. 

"Measures to limit television viewing in children and ban food advertisements aimed at children are warranted, before another generation is programmed to become obese." 



It's not about smoking, it's about control. 
And when they are proficient at controlling people who 
smoke they will continue on to controlling what you eat, 
drink, participate in and wear.
    By Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran priest who spoke out against Hitler: 
    When the Nazis came for the Communists, 
    I kept silent: 
    I was no Communist. 
    When the Nazis locked up the Social Democrats, 
    I kept silent: 
    I was no Social Democrat. 
    When they came for the trade unionists, 
    I kept silent: 
    I was no trade unionist. 
    When they came for the Jews, 
    I kept silent: 
    I was no Jew. 
    When they came for me, 
    there was no one left to speak up for me. 

    by Tom Graves 
    When the health-Nazis came for the smokers, 
    I was not a smoker, 
    therefore, I was not concerned. 
    And when the health-Nazis attacked the obese, 
    I was not obese, 
    therefore, I was not concerned. 
    And when the health-Nazis attacked the drinkers and the alcohol industry, 
    I was not a drinker, 
    therefore I was not concerned. 
    Then, the health-Nazis attacked me and the freedom loving Americans who remained, 
    and there was nobody left to be concerned. 

    The World Health Organization's Orwellian Plan For Global Control

    Defining the choice to smoke as a "chronic disease" and declaring "no value" to the use of cigarettes, the panel proposed an Orwellian "blueprint" for "control" of the problem on a 
    global basis. The commission recommended the immedicate implementation of what clearly must be seen as totalitarian means, backed fully by the power of police state enforcement, to achieve an almost classically totalitarian goal, a kind of mandated behaviorism. Or, to use their own words, "the goal is to change the behavior of smokers." Everywhere in the world. 

    Their presciptions, as presented in their final report, included (but were not limited to) the following: smoking bans in all public places in America, indoors and out. And eventually in all public places in the world (indoors and out). Smoking bans, too, in the homes "where," such fiats to be legitimized by "legal protections" designed "to protect children from parental tobacco smoke." "Sustained" antismoking "educational programs" not only for children, but also for adults, not only "in the schools" but also "in homes." ("All aspects of society," said their report, "need re- education.") Research to be done on "the effect of subliminal messages in early childhood." For current smokers, "a mix of intensive services provided to patients in hospital settings, psychiatric and drug treatment facilities and inpatient nicotine dependence centers." Political surveillance "at all levels of government" to "expose tobacco campaign contributions, tobacco lobbyists and ethically compromised government officials and lawmakers." An executive order from the President to all cabinet depts and trade reps instructing them essentially to blackmail foreign governents into accepting, embracing, enacting and enforcing these "tobacco control standards" within their own countries. Implementation to be paid for with US government funds. Also paid for with US funds, the "surveillance, prevention of" and punishment for, illicit international trade in tobacco, including smuggling. 

    NYC C.L.A.S.H.:  "Welcome to 1984 in 2001." 
    Read WHO's Manifesto:  "United for a tobacco-free world"

    They have yet to understand that the risks individuals choose to take are none of their business! 

    People who live unhealthy lifestyles penalize rest of us

    Editor of The News Journal (Delaware) writes: 

    People who smoke, are obese or drink to excess are all at high risk of seriously illness or premature death. 

    Federal and state governments have struggled for almost 40 years to make the public aware of smoking's danger to change behavior. Still, an extraordinary number of people smoke even though they know that cancer, heart disease and emphysema are likely outcomes. Alcoholism and other substance abuse continues to plague society too. 

    Smokers, alcoholics and obese people strain health delivery systems. They place a financial burden on everyone who must share the costs. 

    Recent disclosures about the extent of obesity in this country have prompted discussion about how to reverse the lethal trend. We can preach about eating well-balanced meals and getting regular exercise but that's unlikely to inspire change in couch potatoes or those who live on junk food. 

    On the previous page Dr. Gregg Sylvester, of Christiana Care's Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute, offers sound advice for the 60 percent of the population who are overweight. Some will heed it. We fear most will not. 

    It's time that government, which has an enormous stake in the cost of health care, and insurance companies join forces with the medical professions to establish guidelines for healthful behavior that can be enforced 

    (NYC C.L.A.S.H. must interrupt:   Heil Hitler!)

    The annual medical cost of smoking is more than $76 million, according to one estimate now a couple of years old. The latest figures on obesity released this month contend it brings medical bills in excess of $93 billion. Why should people who don't smoke and who eat right and exercise pay increasing amounts for those who ignore the warnings? Perhaps health insurance premiums could be based in part on how healthy a lifestyle one leads. Life insurance companies already adjust premiums for smokers. Why not for obesity too? 

    This is not something that can be achieved quickly or easily; it could take years to design and implement. But the work should begin now. Financial incentives have a way of getting people's attention. Discounts for health insurance for those who don't smoke and live right could be the motivator. 

    And "live right?"  Who, may we ask, is going to be the one who decides the definition of "right?" 

    "If adults want to use this legal drug that is their choice but it must not be a choice made in ignorance. 

    "Neither should they be allowed to unwittingly cause harm to their children." 

    While discussing cigarettes, smoking and the tear jerking "harm to children" by "uncaring smokers," this is the programmed speech we're all accustomed to hearing. 

    But hold onto your hats, these words are straight from an anti-caffeine speech.   Why on earth are you so surprised?  We keep telling you....  YOU'RE NEXT! 


    Obesity eating away at American health, dollars 

    Fat Can Kill 

    Colorado plans law against obesity 

    By James Langton in New York 
    COLORADO, famous for its snowy peaks, is to tackle an even more mountainous subject by drafting 
    America's first law against obesity. The "Obesity Prevention Act", which will be presented next month, 
    will identify fat people as suffering from a disease and make dieting official health policy in the 
    Rockies. Politicians also want the state to look at ways of ensuring citizens do not over-eat at meals. 
    Colorado says it will provide treatment to help state employees lose weight and produce an annual 
    "fat report" to see if tougher measures are needed. Supporters of the measure say that it is 
    desperately needed to tackle America's increasing girth. Statistics show that one-third of the 
    population is so fat that it affects their health and that obesity may claim up to 300,000 lives a year. 
    But others see a more sinister motive. They believe that the government is looking for scapegoats in 
    the battle against flab and suspect that restaurants could suffer the same treatment as the tobacco 

    View Actual  
    Colorado Bill (PDF file) 
    In response: Is Being Fat a Crime? 

    Philadelphia's Mayor Puts His City on a Diet 

    Obesity Greater Health Risk Than Smoking, Survey Indicates 

    This one is very dangerous.  It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The same group that funds anti-smoking studies.  Buy their Patch to quit smoking.  Get it?  But now that a "respected" study like this has emerged, when will the states be suing the dessert companies for reimbursement for healthcare?  When will they demand that restaurants ban serving high calorie foods "for our own good" and so that they won't be burdened by paying the "fatties" future medical expenses? 
    Study was conducted by Rand Institute [Press Release] 

    New Zealand Health Agency Urges Higher Taxes on High Sugar and High Fat Foods 

    Surgeon general warns obesity may overtake tobacco as leading preventable killer 

    "Satcher said a key is treating obesity not just as a personal responsibility but one shared by the community and industry. He called for a national attack on obesity like the one federal health officials declared on smoking." 

    Obesity targets 

    Maine’s state health officer, Dr. Dora Anne Mills, summed up by saying that the war against soda is about where the war against tobacco was 15 years ago, when “people thought you were nuts if you fought tobacco.” She suggested an advertising campaign, but subtler than just telling people “Pepsi is bad.” She advised a drive to make it unacceptable for schools to accept the money and free sports scoreboards that the soda promoters use as an incentive. She thought fattening snacks should be taxed, but not like the old “snack tax,” which was a revenue measure, not a health measure. 

    Adult obesity and growth in childhood 

    "Prevention through environmental, social, or behavioural interventions is a logical focus for tackling this epidemic."  

    "We should use what we know already to design and evaluate social, behavioural, or policy interventions aimed at children." 

    There are already cases where overweight children have been taken out of the home. 

    Lawyers See Fat Payoffs in Junk Food Lawsuits 

    You're Fat, Who Can You Sue? 

    "There is a movement afoot to do something about the obesity problem, not just as a visual blight but to 
      see it in terms of costs," says John Banzhaf, a George Washington University Law School professor.  

    Banzhaf was the leader in the tobacco litigation and has now set his greedy sights elsewhere, as we have warned would be the future if no one opposed the war on tobacco.  Recently, California opted to ban smoking in parks, in part, to shield the children from being influenced by "unacceptable behavior."  Banzhaf has just called the overweight "a visual blight."  When will they be banned from parks because of their bad influence -- by being seen in public they are misleading children to believe that being overweight is acceptable.  How soon after will we have the war on the bulemic? 

    Food for thought for a fat nation 

    Weighing too much contributes to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other ailments, and the U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher recently issued a call to action to put the brakes on the epidemic of overweight and obesity in this country. 

    "There are so many pressures on people to be thin and physically fit that if willpower was enough, we'd have the weight problem solved," says Kelly Brownell, a psychologist and director of the Yale University Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. "But until the environment changes, it will be impossible to reverse the increasing prevalence of obesity." 

    Hill, co-founder of the [National Weight Control] registry: "They have to swim upstream against the 
    environment. If we were able to change the environment a little so it wasn't quite as obesity promoting, you'd find more people would be able to do it." 

    No one is immune to the pressure to buy food, Nestle says. Companies use sophisticated marketing strategies to introduce young children to their products. 

    These influences are very sad, especially when you think of children, Brownell says. 

    Brownell says companies are "trying to get us to eat as much as they possibly can, and the consequence of that is being fat." 

    He believes the food supply has to change. He advocates a tax on junk food, sometimes referred to as the Twinkie Tax or Fat Tax, which would subsidize the price of healthy foods so they cost less. 

    Brownell thinks the tax would work. "The process of change seems completely daunting, because food habits are so engrained, and the food companies are massively powerful. 

    "But if you look back 30 years ago, you would have said the tobacco industry was massively powerful, and no one would have thought there was any hope for changes. But now you can't smoke in public places, there are sky-high taxes on cigarettes, and states have sued tobacco companies," Brownell says. "I think we are at the very beginning of a similar movement with food." 

    Who needs to ask if this sounds familiar?  The health nazi admits to using the blueprints against tobacco for the new assault on food. 

    AUSTRALIA: Nutritionist calls for 20% tax on junk food 

    Obesity worse for health than smoking 

    Obesity exacts a higher toll on health and healthcare costs than either smoking or drinking as serious obesity-related problems like diabetes are near epidemic levels... 

    Study: Obesity increases health costs more than smoking 

    Obese Americans spend more for health care and medications than smokers, largely because the extra weight causes the same jump in chronic health problems as does 20 years of aging, says a new study.  

    Obesity contributed to a decline in quality of life at nearly four time the rate of smoking or alcohol abuse. 

    Calif. lawmaker urges soda pop tax to slim fat kids 

    Food fight 

    Kelly Brownell has an interest in weight-related issues and a knack for attracting attention. A professor of psychology at Yale University, where he directs the Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, he's fond of stirring up controversy with cutting-edge policy proposals and provocative remarks.  

    For several years he's been promoting the idea of a "Twinkie tax" to deter people from buying foods with little nutritional value. He also advocates censorship of advertising that he believes encourages 
    unhealthy eating habits.  

    "A militant attitude is warranted here," he told the New Haven (Conn.) Register several years ago. "We're 
    infuriated at tobacco companies for enticing kids to smoke, so we don't want Joe Camel on billboards. Is it any different to have Ronald McDonald asking kids to eat foods that are bad for them?"  

    Snack Food Slippery Slope 

    Food is not tobacco. But, as we have reported over the past several months, the campaign to treat restaurant food like tobacco -- to restrict where it is sold, regulate it, tax it to reduce "use," ban advertising, and impose "zoning restrictions" on restaurants -- is gaining steam.  

    "People are wondering if tactics used against the tobacco industry very successfully… could be used against the problem of obesity," says John Banzhaf, who heads the how-to-sue organization Action on Smoking and Health. Banzhaf has been eyeing restaurants lately, and has said, "As we've done with regard to cigarettes, [we could] put a higher tax on foods… using that money to perhaps promote healthier eating. Now this is what we do with smoking." 

    In Bid to Improve Nutrition, Schools Expel Soda and Chips 

    In the last few months, the lines have sharpened in what may prove to be a culture war for the new century. The battlefield is the American diet, particularly that of the nation's teenagers. 

    The two biggest states, Texas and California, are moving toward phasing out junk food in schools, as are many school districts in other states. Lawyers who pioneered suits against tobacco companies have set their sights on what they call Big Food as the next target. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in New York and Florida contending that processed foods with little nutritional value have misled consumers. The lawyers filing these suits hope to do to Mega Gulps and Twinkies what they did to Joe Camel and tobacco. 

    This week Congress took up legislation, the Obesity Prevention and Treatment Act, that would start a campaign to improve the eating habits in the nation, where more than 60 percent of adults are overweight. 

    New Round Fired in Fat Wars 

    John Banzhaf, professor of law at George Washington University and executive director of Action on 
    Smoking and Health (ASH), a “how-to-sue” activist organization, agreed. “There is a movement afoot 
    to do something about the obesity problem and see it in terms of costs.” 

    Banzhaf told Fox News, “It’s appropriate that the cost shouldn’t be borne by everybody but confined 
    to those who use the products and/or produce them.” Banzhaf refers to the “total direct and indirect 
    costs attributed to overweight and obesity,” estimated by Satcher to be up to $117 billion dollars in 
    health-care related problems for hefty Americans in the year 2000 alone. Satcher contends approximately 300,000 U.S. deaths a year are associated with obesity and overweight. 

    J.D. Tucille, senior editor for the Spotlight, describes Banzhaf as a “professional busy body and one of the masterminds behind the lawsuits that extracted billions of dollars from tobacco companies.” According to Tucille, Banzhaf “suggested fast-food chains and snack companies deserve the same treatment.” 

    The scary fat end of the wedge 

    Senators Bill Frist and Jeff Bingaman plan to introduce their "obesity bill" - the first legislation introduced in Congress specifically addressing Americans' bulging girth. 

    The obesity bill is a mild piece of legislation, authorising federal agencies to spend more money educating the public on the dangers of excess weight. But activists say the proposal is significant because it shows the issue is at last moving on to the radar screen of the US government. 

    It is also ringing alarm bells with foodmakers, soft drinks companies and fast-food chains. They fear they will be made to take sole blame for a health problem with complex causes - including not just unhealthy eating but also increasingly sedentary  lifestyles - and end up where the tobacco industry did: in court. 

    Big Food Fight 

    While very few editorialists had much sympathy for the tobacco companies, many wondered what kind 
    of precedents these lawsuits would set. If the government and plaintiffs' lawyers could manipulate the law to force makers of a legal product to cough up this kind of cash because tobacco is harmful to public health and costs the government health-care dollars, why couldn't other risky products, such as alcohol or fatty foods, also face the same kind of lawsuits in the years down the road? As Insight reported in 
    June 1997, "many also wonder if the demonizing of cigarettes will lead to a 'slippery slope' in which caffeine, fatty food, chocolate and anything else the public-health community might deem bad or 
    politically incorrect becomes subject to regulation or prohibition" [see "Fighting the Tobacco Wars," June 16, 1997].  

     Longtime antitobacco crusader John Banzhaf ridiculed this notion. Cigarettes were a uniquely dangerous product, he and other lawsuit supporters maintained. 

    Five years later, fresh from his victory over tobacco companies, Banzhaf is a leader of a movement of trial lawyers and public-health activists who are marshaling the strategies used against tobacco to go after 
    fast-food restaurants and food processors that sell "fatty" food, candy, soft drinks and other consumables deemed politically incorrect. 

    ...But Banzhaf sees it [McDonalds lawsuit] as just a starting point to force changes in the industry. He tells Insight that likely future targets for lawsuits will be milk and pork.  

    Milk commercials "tell you, 'Drink this milk for health reasons,' but then they fail to tell you that milk has a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol, and that you can get all of whatever these health benefits are without these risks by drinking skim milk," Banzhaf says. "That, to me, is very close to McDonald's."  

    Fighting ‘Big Fat’ 
    An army is mobilizing in a war against junk food. 
    The combatants: doctors, lawyers, preachers and moms 

    “Fat kids are to the junk-food industry what secondhand smoke was in the war against tobacco,” says Yale University psychology professor Kelly Brownell. “Everyone can agree on personal responsibility until they realize there are passive victims here.” 

    NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note:  Anyone who has ever defended smoking bans using the argument that smoking affects others while what one eats harms no one else (when  we've used the comparison in our own defense) has been dead wrong as you can see by the above statement.  We don't care if you think what they say makes any sense or not.  They will still use it and succeed! 

    Whopper of a Lawsuit 
    Fast-Food Chains Blamed for Obesity, Illnesses 

    An overweight Bronx man wants four famous fast food chains to pay for serving him the 
    finger-licking food that helped make him fat.  

    Lawyers have been working on strategies to hold the food industry at least partly responsible for obesity, just as plaintiff's attorneys have successfully sued tobacco companies for smoking-related illnesses. 

    "This lawsuit has the potential to put the fast food companies on the run," said John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School, who has worked on tobacco litigation and will serve as an adviser to Barber.  


    We are in big trouble.  NYC C.L.A.S.H. comments appear between paragraphs: 

    ALBANY - The state Health Department has been ordered to get its arms around the widening problem of obesity in New York.  

    NYS residents are about to be ordered to change their diet against their will. 

    Among a beefed-up list of bills signed into law this week by Gov. Pataki was the little-noticed Obesity Prevention Act, which mandates a major study into the growing battle of the bulge within the state.  

    Click here to read more of our comments about this Act 

    American Cancer Society Takes on Fat 

    The American Cancer Society, suggesting that the cancer risk in flab is as bad as the risk in tobacco, is about to start a drive to encourage people to lose weight and get more active.  

    "Obesity will soon surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths, and many of those deaths will be from cancer."  

    The Weigh In is a step in the right direction, Manson said, but it will take a lot more to reduce America's weight and raise its activity levels.  

    For instance, one of the reasons that antismoking programs have been effective is that they can have the force of law -- for instance, people can't smoke in many buildings, Manson said. Something similar could be done with food, such as reducing prices of healthier food and placing higher taxes on fattier ones, she said.  

    NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note:  In one article it goes from caring "encouragement" to "force of law." 

    A Pot Belly of Gold 

    Two years ago, journalists - hot for a story - began calling John Banzhaf, the telegenic George Washington University law professor who led the anti-smoking legal crusade from  its early stages. "Would tobacco-style lawsuits," he was asked, "now be aimed at food processors and restaurants?" 

    The lawyer, Samuel Hirsch, filed a new version of the suit on Feb. 19, and it is a  travesty. Physicians and scientists at the American Council on Science and  Health (ACSH), a distinguished organization that has vigorously crusaded against such true health hazards as smoking, called it "without scientific merit." 

    They [Shin-Yi Chou, Henry Saffer and Michael Grossman, National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.] cite another intriguing factor in the rise of overweight Americans: the  reduction in smoking. "Ex-smokers typically gain weight," they write." They see evidence that "the upward trend in obesity is at least partly attributable to the anti-smoking campaign."  

    Obesity is the target 

    Top weight-loss researchers and consumer advocates are calling for a war on obesity similar to the war on smoking. They say the nation's weight problem needs to be attacked on numerous fronts, as smoking has been for the past few decades. 

    "At first glance, all these changes seem daunting, but 30 years ago no one could have imagined that smoking would be banned in most public places, that there would be very high taxes on cigarettes and that states would have successfully sued tobacco companies," says Kelly Brownell, director of the Yale University Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. 

    "Things changed with tobacco, and things are beginning to change with food and activity," says Brownell. 

    Other ideas being discussed include banning junk-food ads during kids' TV programs, offering healthier snacks and drinks in vending machines in schools, building more sidewalks and walking trails, giving insurance breaks to people who maintain a healthy weight, giving government vouchers to lower-income people so they can buy treadmills and other exercise equipment, and letting food stamps be worth more when they are used to buy fruits and vegetables. 

    This is an exciting time, Brownell says. "We are at this amazing, interesting crossroads. We are going to write the future history of the American diet now. 

    NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note:  In other words, we're going to regulate and legislate you into behaving "correctly" and eating what we say you can eat. 

    Waistline Police Pull a Fasting One 

    Will the waistline police ever leave us alone? Last week, it was the World Health Organization's (search ) nutrition guidelines. This week it's "obesity causes cancer" and "fasting improves health." 

    Researchers from the American Cancer Society (search) alleged that overweight and obesity cause up to 14 percent of cancer deaths among men and up to 20 percent among women.  

    We're expected to swallow these results without scrutiny since the study was conducted by the ACS, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and involved 900,000 adults. 

    Instead, I'm choking on the absurdity. 

    The waistline police... intend to carpet bomb us with junk science until we knuckle under to their theory and crusade that food is deadly. 

    Critics: Medicare Report Is Smoking Gun for Fat Police 

    A recent study tying obese patients to skyrocketing Medicare and Medicaid costs is the “smoking gun” lawyers and bureaucrats need to drive the fast food industry into submission, critics of the report say. 

    “You now have a report that says the taxpayer is being hurt because of obesity. Ah, now the federal government will have to step in to protect people from their habits,” said Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center (search), a civil libertarian watchdog group based in Virginia. 

    The report, published in the May/June issue of Health Affairs, contends that obese and overweight Americans  — now more than half the U.S. population — contribute as much as $93 billion to health costs each year, with public Medicare and Medicaid programs footing the better half of the supersized bill. 

    “If people want to be 200 pounds, then that’s their choice, but ultimately, if the taxpayer is paying for those choices, certainly, in my mind, that is where the justification for government involvement comes from,” said economist Eric Finkelstein, who conducted the research with Ian Fiebelkorn of RTI International (search) and Guijing Wang of the CDC. 

    But according to critics, those strategies are more than just feel-good campaigns about exercise and healthy eating. They include a massive regulatory and litigitory machine ready to launch a three-pronged strike against the fast food industry through private and public litigation as well as regulation. 

    Barita said legal heavy hitters like George Washington University professor John F. Banzhaf III, who played a big role in the massive tobacco settlements with the states, are now advising attorneys and plaintiffs in the fight against fast food. 

    DeWeese said studies like this one will help the federal government overcome a final obstacle to controlling Americans, even what they can and cannot eat. 

    “What they are saying is that none of us is responsible for anything — we’re too stupid to decide for ourselves,” he said. “There is no free market left.” 

    From Parody to Reality 

    Six years ago, after tobacco companies agreed to settle lawsuits filed by the states, the Wall Street Journal published what seemed at the time to be a hilarious parody by Mark Bernstein.  

    It was titled "A Big Fat Target." The parody claimed that junk food sellers would be next on the list for lawsuits, as well as Wisconsin Cheese Lords for clogging arteries and makers of exciting movies for encouraging a sedentary lifestyle. Bernstein concluded, "It is too hot to exercise. Dieting demands willpower, and why bother if you're just a victim? Come on, America. Get off that couch and sue."  

    But look where we are today. The parody has become reality. 

    Lawyers scream about ice cream 

    Trial lawyers and a consumer health group are teaming up to go after America's ice cream, sending out legal notices to six major chains this week as the group released a study criticizing ice cream's nutritional value. 

    They sent letters to Baskin-Robbins Inc., Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings Inc., Cold Stone Creamery, the Haagen-Dazs Shoppes Inc., TCBY and Friendly Ice Cream Corp., telling the chains to add healthier alternatives and put nutritional facts on their store menu boards or face potential litigation.  

    "Your failure to disclose such obviously material information as unusually large calorie and saturated-fat loads may violate state consumer-protection laws and/or your common-law duty to disclose material facts, and may invite lawsuits from concerned consumers, legal-action organizations, or even state officials," read one letter addressed to Haagen-Dazs President David Keil.  

    The letter was signed by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III, a leader in the obesity-lawsuit movement, and Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  

    More than 100 lawyers and health lobbyists met in Boston June 20-22 to map out a strategy of filing obesity-liability lawsuits, particularly against the food industry.  

    The goal of the conference was not to put fast-food companies out of business, but to move them to offer healthier alternatives, Mr. Banzhaf said, adding that lawyers can win hefty settlements like the $246 billion one against four major tobacco companies.  

    Chronic overeating called an addiction 

    Just as federal health officials defined obesity as an illness, researchers at the University of Florida say mounting evidence suggests chronic overeating may be a substance abuse disorder and should be considered an addiction.  

    "What's the difference between someone who's lost control over alcohol and someone who's lost control over good food? When you look at their brains and brain responses, the differences are not very significant," said Dr. Mark Gold, chief of addiction medicine at UF's College of Medicine.  

    "We've taken the position that overeating is, in part, due to food becoming more refined, more palatable, more hedonic. Food might be the substance in a substance abuse disorder that we see today as obesity," Dr. Gold said.  

    Dr. Gold was an early proponent of the "food-as-drug" model. The medical community considered the idea radical a decade ago, he said, but many addiction specialists give it serious consideration today.  

     He said the change in thinking occurred as a result of advances in imaging technology, neurochemistry and other fields that have enabled researchers to map rodents' brain pathways and show how food and drugs evoke similar responses.  

    At the same time, he and other clinical researchers have been investigating the relationship between food-seeking and drug-seeking behaviors in humans.  

    He added that further research could help scientists find out which patients would benefit from being treated as food addicts.  

    Food addiction a real affliction

    A lot of men and women have been turning up in my office lately because they haven't been able to lose weight through diets or exercise. Some are only 10 pounds overweight, whereas others are overweight by 30 pounds or more. The diets have plenty of recipes and the gyms have plenty of equipment -- but those resources still haven't been enough. 

    Diets and gyms require motivation and commitment. And I'm talking to more and more patients who are deeply ambivalent about giving up food. Eating has become one of their primary sources of pleasure; for all intents and purposes, they're as addicted to food as other people are to smoking or alcohol. 

    You might be surprised to learn that eating has a lot in common with smoking and other dependencies. It occupies people, focusing them on a repetitive hand-to-mouth activity. It provides stress relief. Going on a cigarette break or making a pit stop at a doughnut shop are both escapes from the frenzy of life. 

    Food, like tobacco and alcohol, also contains substances that are mind-altering. Fats can stabilize mood; carbs can increase energy. And many nutrients are linked to levels of serotonin and other brain chemical messengers that basically determine whether we feel content and happy -- or anxious and depressed. 

    I've come up with a three-prong strategy for my patients. It acknowledges that food is much more of a drug than we have understood it to be.


    Secondhand Food! 

    Aside from the fact that this study in itself reads like something from a sci-fi satire, and aside from it's (ostensible) proof that food itself is as addictive as cocaine, I think we now have the tip of a jackboot through the door to the dangers of (yes!) secondhand food!   After all, if the mere sight and smell of food is proven to (duh) stimulate hunger and --cause people to... eat!-- and thus to grow dangerously and disgustingly obese!-- should people be allowed to eat in public? Can 900 lb Aunt Murgatroid's cancer and clogged arteries actually be blamed on her living right next to an outdoor cafe and being forced to constantly and daily... witness food? 

    Exposure to Food Increases Brain Metabolism  
    Same area of brain affected as seen in drug-addiction studies 

    UPTON, NY— Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have produced new evidence that brain circuits involved in drug addiction are also activated by the desire for food. The mere display of food — smelling and tasting favorite foods without actually eating them — causes increases in metabolism throughout the brain. Increases of metabolism in the right orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region that controls drive and pleasure, also correlate strongly with self-reports of desire for food and hunger.  

    “These results could explain the deleterious effects of constant exposure to food stimuli, such as advertising, candy machines, food channels, and food displays in stores,” says Brookhaven physician Gene-Jack Wang, the study’s lead author. “The high sensitivity of this brain region to food stimuli, coupled with the huge number and variety of these stimuli in the environment, likely contributes to the epidemic of obesity in this country.” The study appears in the April 2004 issue of NeuroImage.  

    Secondhand Fat! 

    Obesity Is Contagious, Study Finds 

    Wondering why your waistline is expanding? Have a look at those of your friends. Your close friends can influence your weight even more than genes or your family members, according to new research appearing in the July 26 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The study's authors suggest that obesity isn't just spreading; rather, it may be contagious between people, like a common cold. 

    Researchers from Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, reviewed a database of 12,067 densely interconnected people — that is, a group that included many families and friends  

    According to their analysis, when a study participant's friend became obese, that first participant had a 57% greater chance of becoming obese himself. In pairs of people in which each identified the other as a close friend, when one person became obese the other had a 171% greater chance of following suit. "You are what you eat isn't the end of the story," says study co-author James Fowler, a political scientist at UC San Diego. "You are what you and your friends eat." 

    It's not just that people who share similar lifestyles become friends, Fowler says. He and co-author Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School considered the possibility — and were surprised. For one thing, geographic distance between friends in the study seemed to have no impact: friends who lived a 5-hour drive apart and saw each other infrequently were just as influenced by each other's weight gains as those who lived close enough to share weekly take-out meals or pick-up basketball games. The best proof that friendship caused the weight gain, says Fowler, is that people were much more likely to pattern their own behavior on the actions of people they considered friends — but the relationship didn't work in the other direction. 

    Fowler believes the effect has much more to do with social norms: whom we look to when considering appropriate social behavior. Having fat friends makes being fat seem more acceptable. "Your spouse may not be the person you look to when you're deciding what kind of body image is appropriate, how much to eat or how much to exercise," Fowler says. Nor do we necessarily compare ourselves to our siblings. "We get to choose our friends," says. "We don't get to choose our families." 

    For policy analysts, then, the lesson is that public-health interventions may well be far more cost-effective than previously acknowledged. Helping one person lose weight can have a snowball effect through an entire social network, affecting social norms among the target person's friends and acquaintances. "There's been a lot of talk about limiting portion size, getting rid of vending machines in schools," says Thomas Sander, a civic-engagement specialist at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, not involved in the research. Those interventions may be useful, he says. "This study suggests that if we're fighting obesity without taking into account the social aspect, we're going to be acting with our hands behind our backs." Most people recognize that smoking behavior and drinking behavior are influenced by group standards. But such thinking is relatively new for obesity, still so often thought of as an individual's moral failing or clinical condition. 

    "Secondhand" Costs! 

    Indoctrinization of the word "secondhand" to be immediately associated with "bad" -- and that whatever it is, you didn't ask for it and should seek the heads of the invaders -- is what's at the root of the mind game being played on you by the nannies 

    'A second chance at life' 

    Experts call obesity a neglected epidemic that has left virtually no demographic group untouched. 

    Even women wearing size-6 jeans pay the price. Here's why: The health-care costs of obese American adults amount to an estimated $90 billion annually, driving up expenses for anyone with a health-insurance policy - or for anyone who pays taxes. 

    "It's like secondhand smoking," said Morgan Downey, executive director of the American Obesity Association. "You don't have to be obese to be affected." 

    So now all you size-6 jean wearers must demand that the obese be held responsible!  That something -- government intervention -- must be done! 


    Getting the Skinny on Fat 

    Radley Balko recently covered the Williamsburg obesity summit and filed several dispatches. This is his final installment.  

    A few notable quotations from various obesity summit participants:  

    · "There's an African proverb that says, 'when elephants war, the grass dies.' With the debate over obesity, in my mind, the children are the grass." 

      --Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

    · "I think it would be a huge mistake if we failed to learn the lessons of the tobacco industry. And one of those mistakes is too much focus on 'personal responsibility.'" 

      --Yale University professor and nutrition activist Kelly Brownell.

    · "20 years ago we were looking at development of healthy category foods. And we tested it and tested it and there was no interest. I'm happy to see that there's an interest today in healthy eating and healthy food." 

      --Ann M. Fudge, Chairman and CEO of Young and Rubicam, making the rarely mentioned but obvious point that if consumers want to eat healthy, the food industry will produce healthy food.

    · "I'm having a hard time believing that the founding fathers, when they wrote the amendment to the Constitution, had in mind advertising to children." 

      --NYU professor and nutrition activist Marion Nestle.

    · "Personal responsibility is a trap." 

      --Nestle and Brownell, in the TIME magazine special issue put out in advance of the conference.

    · "[Winning the war against obesity] will happen by little increments of inches led by food cops in Texas. I so admire Susan Combs." 

      --TIME President Eileen Naughton, expressing her admiration for the Texas agriculture commissioner who banned sweets - including bake sales - from the Texas public school system.

    Tobacco control style tactics needed to fight obesity epidemic 
    Tobacco and obesity epidemics: not so different after all? BMJ Volume 328, pp 1558-60 

    Global strategies similar to those used against the tobacco industry are needed to tackle the obesity epidemic, argue researchers in this week's BMJ.  

    Diets across the globe are being shaped by a concentrated and global food industry that is fiercely resisting public health attempts to promote healthy eating, write the authors.  

    The food industry tactics are similar to those used by the tobacco industry – supplying misinformation, use of supposedly conflicting evidence, and hiding negative data.  

    Firstly, there is the half true contention that there is no such thing as an unhealthy food, only unhealthy diets. Secondly, the industry contends that the problem is not the excessive diet but the reduction in physical activity.  

    Thirdly, the industry uses a smoke screen of apparently conflicting scientific data about sugars and different types of fat. "Although scientific knowledge is still incomplete, it is less divided than the industry would have the public believe," say the authors.  

    Advocates for tobacco control have used a variety of tactics in their campaign that could have relevance for the fight against unhealthy diets, suggest the authors.  

    "It will be much more difficult to establish internationally binding instruments or conventions like those achieved in tobacco control. Nevertheless, their importance in bringing about changes in national behaviour should not be under-rated," they say.  

    Potential international standards might cover issues such as marketing restrictions for unhealthy food products, restrictions on the advertising and availability of unhealthy products in schools, or potential price or tax measures to reduce the demand for unhealthy products.  

    "The public attention generated by the discussion and formulation of such standards may set general standards for corporate conduct without being potentially unacceptable and even generate enough political capital for national legislation," they conclude. 

    Anti-obesity group mulls swell in suits 

    A single lawsuit against the food industry is not enough to reduce the number of overweight and obese Americans, according to panelists at a weekend health law conference.  

    It will take numerous suits, federal laws and government regulations sweeping across the food and several nonfood industries to make a significant impact.  

    That message was the underlying theme for the conference on legal approaches to obesity that commenced here yesterday, sponsored by the Public Health Advocacy Institute. The second annual conference, made up of trial lawyers, dietitians and public-health advocates, follows a year in which several obesity-related suits have been filed against food manufacturers and fast-food chains.  

    While the suits — modeled after lawsuits that took on tobacco companies for causing health problems for smokers — were ultimately thrown out of court or withdrawn, the group said the success this anti-obesity movement has had in pressuring the food industry is already ahead of their expectations.  

    "We know that litigation ultimately wins," said George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III, one of the leaders for the obesity lawsuits. But Mr. Banzhaf pushed the 90 or so participants at Sherman Hall at Northeastern University yesterday to think beyond suing the food industry.  

    Mr. Banzhaf said he plans to talk at today's panel about potential lawsuits such as suing doctors who do not warn and counsel obese patients at risk for triggering other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, gallbladder disease and various cancers.  

    Still, most of the discussion yesterday at the conference centered around addictive qualities in sugary foods and ways to regulate food advertising to children.  

    "What we see as a hallmark of addiction is loss of control and we see that in a lot of obese people who have lost control with eating," said William Jacobs, anesthesiology and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida.  

    Mr. Jacobs, who works in the university's brain institute, said obese subjects in his studies often demonstrate addiction symptoms such as preoccupation, relapses, narrowness of interests, loss of control and continued detrimental behaviors despite knowing the harm associated with excessive weight gain.  

    Doctors: Obesity affects airlines 

    Physicians concerned about obesity warn that expanding waistlines in America are posing an unexpected cost - to airlines.  

    The report, featured in this month's American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said that weight gain in the 1990s, estimated at about 10 pounds per person, required the use of an additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel in 2000.  

    That represents about 2 percent of the total volume of jet fuel used that year.  

    Two physicians at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a California public health officer estimated that the weight gain was costing airlines about $275 million per year back in 2000, when jet fuel cost 79 cents per gallon - less than half what jet fuel costs today.  

    The report also warned that the extra fuel added 3.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and less sizable quantities of other pollutants, such as nitric oxide and carbon monoxide.  

    Dr. Deron Burton, a co-author of the study, said the report was meant as another tool for discussion of the "obesity epidemic."  

    NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note:  They lie.  It's not a tool for "discussion."  It's a tool that will be used to cause guilt (your weight increases costs that are passed on to everybody and even causes pollution!) and then a reason to turn that guilt and the public against you as they use these results to implement intrusive laws "for your own good" and the good of society.  

    New Approach to Childhood Obesity Urged 

    A comprehensive report on the causes and solutions for childhood obesity in the United States has taken a new approach to the epidemic. The report, which was released on Thursday by a panel of top researchers, calls for a broad societal strategy rather than focusing on personal responsibility. 

    The proposals, by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine, include healthier meals in schools and restaurants; more opportunities for physical education at schools and in communities; restrictions in television advertising to children; and education of health professionals and children to make better choices. 

    "Focusing on the environment and not just on individuals is a breakthrough," said Dr. Kelly Brownell, director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. "The committee's multilayered approach, so that nutrition is not just personal responsibility, makes it innovative. Taking on the forces as powerful as the food industry can be a real challenge." 

    The report was presented to Congress on Wednesday. Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who was chairman of a committee that had asked for the report in 2002, said he thought that controversial sections of the recommendations - like advertising restrictions - would meet with less resistance now than when he introduced similar legislation 25 years ago. [Yeah, because they've learned from anti-tobacco and the sheep people will be] 

    In a release, the grocers' group said that to change behavior "we will need to emphasize positive, motivational messages and tools across society, rather than relying on official restrictions or negative messages." 

    But the 19-member committee believes that the food industry could be persuaded to change its position as social norms shift. 

    "We are in the early stages of this process," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, vice-president for academic health affairs at Emory University in Atlanta and chairman of the committee. "I think we need to make a revolution in our society. What we found with other health matters - fluoridation, bicycle helmets, smoking - is that you develop societal changes and then there is a shift in what is societally acceptable.'' Just as it took decades to change public attitude about smoking, said Dr. Koplan, a former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it will take decades to change public attitudes about the causes of obesity. 

    Lawsuits can fight fat  
    Legal action is more effective than public education programs 
    By John F. Banzhaf III 
    [Note:  Mr. Banzhaf is the lawyer that led the litigation against tobacco, is the leader of Action on Smoking & Health, and who wants to hold every industry responsible for lifestyle choices] 

    It took lawyers and litigation to start the civil rights, environmental protection, disability rights and anti-smoking movements. Legislators wouldn't act until the lawsuits caused change and produced publicity that led to laws and other reforms. For example, lawsuits aimed at smoking did what Congress refused to do: slashed smoking rates and returned hundreds of billions of dollars to taxpayers. 

    Five fat lawsuits have already been successful and, as USA TODAY reported, they were a major factor in pressuring fast-food and other food companies to provide more nutritional information and more healthful alternatives, and to take other steps to reduce obesity. 

    A court of impartial federal judges has now unanimously held that the same legal rules that apply to hundreds of products, from cigarettes to automobiles, should apply to fast food, and that those who sell it should be liable for their fair share of the costs if they misrepresent or fail to disclose risks that aren't common knowledge. 

    USA TODAY opposes the suits, arguing for public education and personal responsibility. But expensive taxpayer-funded government educational campaigns weren't very effective in reducing smoking, race discrimination, sexual harassment or other behaviors, while lawsuits were. Face it, personal responsibility by itself simply hasn't worked for obesity any better than it did for smoking and the others, and it isn't likely to. 

    Juries continue to rule that, while smokers must bear much of the responsibility for their own health, Big Tobacco must share some responsibility if its misconduct contributed to it. Surveys suggest that juries will apply the same principle in obesity cases, especially where young children are the innocent victims. After all, we don't hold sick children liable for the faults of their parents. 

    Moreover, if fast-food companies are not held liable, or otherwise forced to change, the $117 billion-a-year cost of obesity will continue to be paid largely — and unfairly — by the non-obese in the form of higher taxes and bloated health insurance premiums. 

    That's why, until lawmakers legislate against obesity, lawyers will continue to litigate against it — and probably continue to win. 

    John F. Banzhaf III is a professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School and an adviser to the plaintiffs in the McDonald's lawsuit. 

    Workers' obesity is adding to employers' health costs 

    Obese employees are weighing heavily on corporate budgets, according to a new study that calculates the costs associated with overweight workers. 

    RTI International found that each overweight staffer cost companies an additional $450 to $2,500 a year in medical expenses and work absences, compared with normal-weight workers. 

    Researchers at RTI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined two national surveys that documented work absences and medical information of more than 45,000 full-time workers ages 18 to 64.  

    The study concluded that obesity costs about $285,000 a year at companies with 1,000 employees. 

    "It is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to ignore these costs," said Eric Finkelstein, the study's principal investigator at RTI, a non-profit research group based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. 

    The report appears in the September/October issue of American Journal of Health Promotion. 

    Medical costs vary depending on how much workers exceed their standard weight. For example, annual medical costs for normal-weight men is $1,351, compared with $1,813 for men 30 to 60 pounds overweight and $3,378 for men who are 100 pounds or more overweight. 

    Men who are 60 pounds overweight miss an average of five work days a year, compared with three days for normal-weight men. 

    For women 30 to 60 pounds overweight, absenteeism averages 5.2 days a year, compared with 3.4 for women who are not obese. 

    RTI has produced similar reports looking at the costs of obesity for North Carolina. The organization's aim is to educate public officials and corporate leaders about how obesity is affecting their budgets. 

    According to a previous study by RTI, medical expenses related to overweight workers accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998. 

    The current annual cost could be as high as $140 billion when losses from workers' productivity is added, RTI spokesman Patrick Gibbons said. About half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare, federal- and state-supported health programs. 

    "Public health officials are coming to the realization that the impacts of obesity are almost equal to or greater than smoking," Gibbons said. 

    Taxpayers are bearing these costs, and employees are paying even more through low wages and high insurance premiums, he said. 

    RTI is conducting research about other aspects of obesity, including nutrition and dietary studies, communication and marketing to increase healthful eating and developing drugs to help curb appetites, Gibbons said. 

    Kellogg asked to end marketing junk foods to kids 

    A consumer group wants to keep Tony the Tiger from promoting sugary cereals on the 
    SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon show or anywhere else kids are watching.  

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest said on Wednesday it would sue Kellogg Co., the maker of 
    cereals such as Frosted Flakes, and Viacom Inc., which runs the Nickelodeon cable network, if the companies do not change some marketing practices aimed at children. 

    The Center said letters had been sent to Kellogg and Viacom saying it would settle for a commitment from the companies within 30 days rather than sue. 

    But, the Center added, if its demands were not met, a lawsuit would be filed asking a Massachusetts court to stop the companies from marketing junk foods in venues where 15 percent or more of the audience is under age 8, and to stop promoting junk foods through Web sites, toy giveaways, contests and other techniques aimed at that age group. 

    The proposed lawsuit would mark the latest attempt to battle the growing obesity crisis in the United States through the courts. The would be plaintiffs, including the Center, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and two parents, assert Kellogg and Viacom could be forced to pay billions of dollars in damages if found liable in a trial. 

    A widely watched lawsuit filed in 2002 accused fast food leader McDonald's Corp. of using misleading 
    advertising to lure children into eating unhealthy foods. McDonald's has called the lawsuit frivolous and parts of the case have been dismissed. 


    If a suit were filed, it would contend that Kellogg and Nickelodeon are harming children since the 
    overwhelming majority of food products marketed to them are high in sugar and fat. 

    "It's hard for a parent to compete with so many ads making junk food fun and cool," Sherri Carlson, a 
    mother of three who would be a plaintiff in a lawsuit, told reporters. "Although I have a strict policy 
    against junk cereals in my house ... this doesn't stop my children from asking me for them, especially after seeing enticing ads." 

    The Center said that, of 168 ads for food that appeared on Nickelodeon during a review in the fall, 
    88 were for foods with poor nutritional quality. Nickelodeon characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants 
    appeared on packages of Kellogg's Wild Bubble Berry Pop-Tarts, which the Center categorized as junk food. 

    The findings follow a study released last month that found ads influence the foods preferred by children, especially the very young. 

    The Center's Jacobson said his group was forced to threaten a suit because federal regulators and 
    Congress would not enforce laws against deceptive or harmful marketing. 

    "The (Federal Trade Commission) and Congress have failed to protect families from commercial 
    exploitation," he said. 

    The FTC's chairman, Deborah Majoras, has said she opposes the idea of imposing new regulations to ban or restrict children's food advertising and marketing.  

    Majoras has opposed the idea of imposing new regulations on the industry, instead urging more 
    self-regulation and further efforts to educate parents and children about nutrition.  

    Board considers limits on fast food 

    CA - Jan. 25, 2006 -- Contra Costa supervisors Tuesday unanimously backed the idea of curbing children's access to high-fat fast food, but not before some questioned whether the county should be restricting restaurants. 

    "Our focus has to be on getting our financial house in order," said Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette. "I don't know if we should be limiting restaurants as we do bars. That is another land-use issue that is going to be extremely controversial." 

    Troubled by the soaring incidence of obesity among children and teens, Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier of Concord wants the county to limit the number of new fast-food restaurants built in unincorporated areas. He also wants to promote fitness and good nutrition among the county's youngest residents. 
    Details of his plan have yet to be worked out. County supervisors Tuesday directed staff to work with schools to develop healthier cafeteria lunches; encourage restaurants to print ingredients; and help parks and recreation sites cut contracts with junk food and soft drink distributors in favor of more nutritional alternatives. 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, the proportion of overweight teens tripled from 1980 to 2002. Youngsters are increasingly being diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease and other ailments related to obesity. 

    Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said one of the county's core responsibilities is to provide health care. 

    "When you think of the amount of money used each year on treatment, it is very appropriate that this board ... address this problem," he said. 

    Contra Costa would not be the first local government to curb the number of fast-food outlets. Eight California cities and others across the nation have already done so -- although generally to control land use or preserve town character, not to attack childhood obesity. 

    Once a Contra Costa plan is firmed up, supervisors will consider launching it in unincorporated areas. DeSaulnier said he hopes the idea will spread to cities in the county, similar to how smoking restrictions did two decades ago. Orinda is considering limiting fast-food restaurants by banning drive-throughs. 
    Restricting fast-food restaurants is just part of the solution to childhood obesity, said Wendel Brunner, director of public health. 

    In some parts of the county, "there's nothing but traffic, asphalt and cement," he said. "Public health has to work with land-use planners on development of places where kids can play and adults can get a little exercise, too. This isn't 'Let's ban all McDonald's'. This is about creating an environment in which people can make healthy choices." 

    Obesity pandemic requires us to make cultural shift 

    In an environment where smoking was the norm, telling people that smoking was bad for them helped to raise awareness, but it did little to change their behaviour. It was when non-smokers began to exercise their right to smoke-free spaces, and when the number of places where smoking was acceptable began to shrink, that smoking was no longer seen as the norm and more people quit smoking in larger numbers. 

    So how can we apply this knowledge to tackle the obesity pandemic? 

    First, we need to remember that blaming the smoker was much less effective than denormalizing smoking as a behaviour. Likewise blaming the obese person and telling them to solve their own problem within an environment that strongly encourages excess calorie consumption and sedentary behaviour has not and will not be effective. 

    To combat obesity we need to shift our culture and environment to one in which healthy choices are the norm.  

    When you or your colleagues bring snacks to a meeting is it a box of doughnuts or a bowl of fresh fruit? We need to start thinking of that plate of cookies as second-hand junk food and begin to create more junk-food-free spaces. 

    Do to the obese what we've done to smokers 

    New Zealand is not the only place facing an obesity epidemic. To get an understanding of how we are becoming so overweight it's worth a visit to the land of the free and home of the brave where all this overeating started.  

    The United States these days is neither free nor brave but it is certainly fat. The overwhelming culture of food-forced advertising and oversized portions of what are really platefuls of poison is a shock to any visitor.  

    We've made smoking such an unacceptable social condition that smoking areas outside bars are now called "leper colonies" by other drinkers.  

    This sort of social pressure is needed to rescue the next generation from their fat uncaring parents. 

    Ald. Burke seeks ban on trans fats 

    Chicago restaurants already prohibited from selling foie gras would be forced to start cooking healthy — without oils containing trans fats linked to obesity, stroke and heart disease — under a crackdown proposed Wednesday by the City Council’s most powerful alderman.  

    Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) followed through on a promise to make Chicago the first big city in the nation to prohibit restaurants from using oils containing artificial trans fats in food preparation.  

    “Chicago has the opportunity to take a bold step and protect its citizens from the ravages of unhealthy trans fats by banning their use in restaurants,” Burke said. “The end result could well be longer, healthier lives and reduced health costs for many Chicagoans.”  

    Last summer, New York City’s health commissioner compared trans fats to potentially deadly asbestos and lead and asked restaurants to take foods containing trans fats off their menus.  

    To comply with a request endorsed by the New York State Restaurant Association, chefs were asked to narrow their list of ingredients and stop using many margarines and frying oils. They were also asked to rewrite baking recipes.  

    The ordinance that Burke introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting goes far beyond New York’s request.  

    It would mandate Chicago restaurants take “artificial trans fats” off their menu of ingredients. If they don’t, they would pay through the nose — with fines ranging from $200 to $1,000 a day.  

    The ordinance defines artificial trans fats as “trans fatty acids produced when cooking oil is chemically modified, as in oil that has been partially hydrogenated.”  

    Tax fast food like tobacco and ban it in schools, doctors say 

    FAST foods, processed snacks and sugary drinks can cause as much ill health as cigarettes, and should be taxed like tobacco and banned from schools and public institutions, obesity experts say. 

    In the strongest call yet for governments to regulate the powerful food industry, Paul Zimmet, professor of diabetes at Monash University, has joined Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity TaskForce in London, to demand tough economic policies to control the availability of low-quality foods packed with fat, salt and sugar. 

    In an article published today, they say it is time to acknowledge the failure of policies of promoting exercise and healthy eating to control Australia's rapidly expanding waistline. 

    "This epidemic is guaranteed to continue unless we accept that the decades-long reliance on health promotion and intense media coverage of obesity have had virtually no effect," they write in The Medical Journal of Australia. 

    They advocate strict physical activity rules for school students, a ban on all heavily processed fast foods and snacks from public schools and hospitals, unambiguous colour-coded labels to denote nutritional quality, taxation for unhealthy products balanced with subsidies for fresh foods, and prohibition of all food marketing aimed at children. 

    With these measures in place, the obesity crisis could move into reverse within just one year, the doctors say. At least one in four children is now overweight and at risk of health problems, while the figure is higher for adults. 

    Jeff Richardson, foundation director of the Centre for Health Economics at Monash University, said there was a strong case for forceful intervention through the tax system. Food marketing was so manipulative that a central free-market principle - that people would act in their own best interests - no longer applied in relation to food consumption. 

    "OBESITY EPIDEMIC" Consequences 

    C.L.A.S.H. said, years ago now, the very same that is being reported: 

    Teens' fear of fat fuels eating disorders 
    July 20, 2007 

    PANIC over childhood obesity has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of teenage girls starving themselves, vomiting, abusing laxatives and smoking in an effort to shed weight, the author of a national study released today said. 

    The study of 8950 children and adolescents showed an almost doubling of girls aged 12 to 18 engaging in "eating-disordered behaviour" because they believed they were overweight, said Jenny O'Dea, associate professor of nutrition and health education at the University of Sydney. 

    Youth Cultures of Eating showed 18 per cent of girls surveyed in 2006 had starved themselves for at least two days, up from from 9.9 per cent in 2000. 

    The study, funded by the Australian Research Council, also showed 11 per cent used vomiting for weight loss, up from 3.4 per cent. Eight per cent smoked to suppress appetite, up from 2.4 per cent. 

    The report noted that obesity declined among wealthy teenage girls, from 4.6 per cent in 2000 to 3.9 per cent in 2006. 

    The number of obese children, boys and girls, was "levelling off", Dr O'Dea said, with a rise from 5.1 per cent in 2000 to 6.4 per cent in 2006. 

    She said the heavy focus on childhood obesity and media attention on "skinny celebrities" such as Paris Hilton were to blame for the increase in eating-disordered behaviour. 

    "I think there has been undoubtedly a media panic and a moral panic about childhood obesity in the last six years and I would certainly suggest that some of that comment has got into the minds of teenage girls who think that losing weight will make them a better and a happier person - that's a big myth," she said. 

    "What schools need to do is tread very, very carefully with obesity prevention and only give positive messages and never do anything that is critical and negative." 

    The executive officer of the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, Tim Gill, agreed there had been "some degree" of panic but said campaigns had been very sensitive. 

    Dr Gill said there had not been any emphasis on weight loss, but on such things as increased physical activity. 

    "There is a difference between clinical eating disorders and self-reported [eating-disordered] behaviour," he said. The level of clinical eating disorders among girls was "very, very low and has been for some time". 

    "The problem of obesity is of equal if not of greater concern ... so it would be wrong to stop focusing on obesity for fear that it might increase eating disorders," Dr Gill said. 

    "[But] there has been some moralising ... even the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health have both moralised this issue, saying it's a lack of self-control and a lack of will." 

    The executive officer of the Eating Disorders Foundation, Greta Kretchmer, said the obesity epidemic had "almost been a scare campaign" and there had been an increase in teenage girls calling the foundation's helpline over the past five years. 

    "We're certainly aware that there is an increase in eating-disordered behaviour," she said. 

    Source: Fairfax Digital  

    National Party’s Reponse to Obesity Issues Slammed 
    Press Release - August 31, 2007 

    (New Zealand) - The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) and Public Health Association (PHA) have slammed the National Party’s response to rising obesity rates. In the Health Committee Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 diabetes report, the National Party put forward different views from the rest of the Committee on a number of issues. 

    OAC Director Leigh Sturgiss says the report shows that while most parties understand the need to change the environment to combat obesity, the National Party has chosen to follow an education-only approach known to be ineffective.  

    “The report quite clearly states that education alone is not the answer, so why does the National Party insist on revisiting this failed approach to public health initiatives?” 

    PHA Director Dr Gay Keating says the Committee heard submissions from over 300 individuals and organisations.  

    “It is extremely disappointing that the Committee members from the National Party have chosen to turn this into a party political event. They have taken a political stance and have turned their back on the evidence that we need to do more than just tell people to do something different.” 

    Leigh Sturgiss compares the issue of obesity to that of tobacco use. 

    “A range of strong tobacco control measures, including legislation and regulations, have seen smoking rates come down. The same strategies will work for obesity. Education on its own did not work for tobacco – it won’t work for obesity. 

    Both OAC and the PHA say it is living in an ‘obesogenic’ environment – in which it is easier to take the car to the shops than to walk; quicker to buy takeaways than to cook; and in which children are constantly bombarded with ads for high sugar, high fat foods – that is the problem. 

    “These are the things we need to address if we are to protect the next generation from obesity, type 2 diabetes, and obesity-related illnesses and death,” says Leigh Sturgiss. 

    Obesity can knock 13 years off your life!  

    London (PTI): Addicted to junk grub? Beware! Snacking on fast food and chomping in between meals can lead to weight gain and knock more than ten years off your life.  

    Yes, researchers in Britain have carried out a study and found that obesity is more dangerous than smoking as it can cut life expectancy by as much as 13 years.  

    "We must fight the notion that the current obesity epidemic arises from individual over indulgence or laziness alone. We live in a consumer society which encourages us to eat. We have a sedentary lifestyle.  

    "It's an environment which means that if we just behave normally we will become obese. We may only put on a bit of weight a day but there are 365 days in the year," according to lead researcher Professor David King.  

    According to their findings, obesity -- which is now seen as "normal" -- not only leads to diabetes and heart disease but can also cause cancer, apart from various chronic health problems.  [Ahhh, "denormalization" of anyone obese -- just like the anti-smoker strategy] 

    The researchers have also pointed out that the design of many towns and cities is based around the needs of the car and suggested more should be done to ensure that it's easier to walk to encourage residents to take more exercise.  

    "This will need a major culture change. The obesity issue is getting worse every year and we have not got much time to act," Prof King wrote.  


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They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety 
deserve neither liberty nor safety.          ...Benjamin Franklin 1759