Thursday, October 19, 2006

Disney joins the fat frenzy

Disney has joined the healthy eating revolution by banning junk food at its theme parks in Europe and the United States. The entertainment giant said that it would also veto any plan to use its characters to promote unhealthy food or drinks. The move comes after the ending this year of a decade-long deal with McDonald's to promote its films with Happy Meals. Cars and Pirates of The Caribbean II were used to promote the burger firm this summer.

Robert Iger, the Disney chief executive, said that the move came in response to comments from parents about the eating habits of their kids. The company was "well aware of the huge responsibility we have, given our reach and our ability to impact people's behaviour and opinions", he said. "It was the right thing to do."

Under the proposals, the company's theme parks, including Disneyland Paris, Disneyland and Disneyworld in Florida, will no longer sell burgers or chips. They will instead start to serve vegetables and fruit juice or low-fat milk, rather than soft drinks. Mr Iger said that Disney was considering the licensing of characters to producers of healthier food. The company was also planning more storylines featuring healthy eating and exercise.

However, one American consumer group said that the moves did not go far enough, particularly with television commercials on the Disney Channel. Other critics said that companies such as Disney were trying to avoid lawsuits and possible federal regulations over childhood obesity.

Several other large US companies have taken measures in recent years to promote healthier food choices. McDonald's has added sliced apples and entree-sized salads to its menu and scrapped super-size portions for French fries and soft drinks. At the same time, firms such as Kraft Foods and Pepsi have removed transfats from their products and introduced more products aimed at health-conscious consumers.


Australian Leftists revel in the obesity war

More Medicare funding for people trying to lose weight was needed to battle the obesity crisis, Labor said today.

Access Economics is to release a study today showing obesity costs Australia $21 billion a year. The study will also show that in 20 years time, nearly a third of Australians will be obese.

Labor health spokeswoman Julia Gillard said Labor would consider introducing policies banning junk food advertising on children's television if it won government. The party could also impose tough health labelling laws on food. She said Labor was waiting on the outcome of a Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) audit of junk food advertising before finalising its obesity policies. "We are certainly concerned about the impact of junk food commercials on children's pester power in the supermarket trying to make parents buy unhealthy food," Ms Gillard said. "This is a huge health crisis for this country, but (Health Minister) Tony Abbott ... is consistently on the public record as saying it's nothing to do with him and nothing to do with this Government," Ms Gillard said. "Tony Abbott refuses to do anything substantial to deal with this looming health epidemic."

She acknowledged that there was a large element of personal responsibility involved in obesity, but said the Government could still do more. Preventative obesity advice from doctors was covered by Medicare only if the patient was in their mid-40s and they already had a risk factor. "You should be able to get that advice throughout your life," Ms Gillard said. [You need a doctor to tell you to eat les??]

Government Senator Guy Barnett said Australians must change their lifestyles to avoid an obesity "tsunami". "What the figures show is that it should make all of us review our lifestyle choices for us in Australia and it also shows that these costs are getting bigger not smaller," Senator Barnett said on the Nine Network. "We've got a tsunami coming towards Australia in terms of a health crisis and it's going to swamp us if we stay the same course."


Obesity obsession 'makes problem worse'

Which is worse: The fatties or the thinnies? The thinnies are in much bigger danger of ruining their health

Fears that Australia's obesity debate may overshadow the problem of eating disorders have prompted the federal Labor MP Anna Burke to invite a body image expert to address politicians in Canberra today. Ms Burke said eating disorders were on the rise, particularly among school-aged children. "We can't allow this trend to continue," she said. "For too long eating disorders have been ignored at a national level."

An Access Economics report into the effects of obesity in Australia is due to be released today, measuring the lost productivity, quality of life and health costs of the condition, which afflicts 3.24 million Australians.

The federal member for Chisholm in Melbourne told it was important to discuss obesity, but this should not overshadow other body image debates. "There are also fears that the intense focus on obesity is actually exacerbating the problem of eating disorders - we are now hearing about kids in primary school going on starvation diets in an attempt to look thinner."

A University of Canberra psychology lecturer, Vivienne Lewis, will address a group of federal politicians at Parliament House today. Dr Lewis said politicians needed to pay more attention to anorexia and bulimia. The academic said while the incidence of eating disorders in Australia had remained relatively stable recently, the number of people worried about their bodies was on the rise. "Even though this doesn't necessarily lead them to disordered eating, it still affects their wellbeing," Dr Lewis said. "When people's wellbeing is affected, that affects their day-to-day life, it affects their work and relationships."

She also pointed to an increase in body image concerns among men, saying the rise of the fit, slim metrosexual ideal was a huge factor. "Gone are the days where the male is promoted as this big, strong masculine figure. "Now it's actually someone who's really well toned and probably is on a diet like women are." Dr Lewis called for early primary school programs promoting positive body image, improved support for intervention programs for people with eating disorders and changes to media portrayals of healthy weight. "That's a huge task," she said.

Ms Burke said Australia needed a national code of conduct on body image to ensure that the media, advertisers and the fashion industry portrayed a more healthy and diverse range of role models.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? [/sarcasm].


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