Sunday, January 06, 2008


If the food Fascists really wanted to do some good, they would ban all this diet advertising, not fizzy drinks. Dieting makes most people FATTER in the long run

Dieting companies are seizing the moment this year, starting with the festivities in New York earlier this week. Both Weight Watchers and Special K sponsored electronic billboards Times Square, the most televised (and, perhaps, densely populated) location on New Year's Eve. Revelry, it seems, is all well and good, but self-improvement must never stray too far out of the picture. The Kellogg Company, which makes the Special K brand, took over three of the largest digital billboards in Times Square for two minutes starting at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, the NY Times reports.

The first 60-second ad appeared on the ABC billboard starting one minute before midnight, and two more ran on the Reuters and Nasdaq boards from midnight till 12:01. "That's the biggest moment of self-evaluation of the year. We want to be part of the resolution," Per Jacobson, a creative director at Leo Burnett in Chicago, which created the ads, told Times writers Lia Miller and Douglas Quenqua. All three were promoting the Special K Challenge, a diet program developed four years ago that includes a range of Special K products - not just cereal, but also protein bars, waffles and protein water.

The campaign will continue throughout January with two 15-second television spots and near-total ad domination of New York's Penn Station and Boston's South Station. "What we've learned is that women resolve to lose weight not just on New Year's Eve, but throughout the whole month of January," said Kim Miller, vice president for marketing for Kellogg's morning foods division. "Even if they fall off track, they will re-commit. So we're working hard to make sure we're there at every point of recommitting," she told the Times.

Central to the promotion is a partnership between Kellogg's and Yahoo. Several of the ads ask consumers to search for "Special K Challenge" on Yahoo, which leads them to both and a discussion group run by the search engine.

Visitors to the Special K site can create a custom two-week diet plan - consisting entirely of Special K products - by answering questions about their dieting challenges and food preferences. The discussion group lets users share their dieting experiences. "In this day and age, it's not enough to have your own message out there," Jacobson said.

Not to be outdone, Weight Watchers International has introduced what it says is its biggest and most integrated ad campaign, and which also relies in part on the Reuters billboard in Times Square. Other components are television spots, print ads, an Internet video and a MySpace page.

The campaign's tagline, "Stop Dieting. Start Living," is meant to emphasize a more sensible approach to weight loss than the ever popular crash diet. The print ads, with headlines like "Go on a Diet Diet" and "Di*t," will run through the first quarter of 2008 in publications ranging from entertainment magazines to Time and Newsweek. Cheryl Callan, the director for marketing of Weight Watchers, told the Times that the company wants potential customers to "think in terms of a really successful path through a change in lifestyle and not through dieting."


Energy-saving light bulbs blamed for migraines

The energy-saving light bulbs that will be made compulsory in homes in a few years can trigger migraines, campaigners have claimed. The Migraine Action Association (MAA) said some of its members alleged the fluorescent bulbs had led to attacks of the powerful headaches.

By 2011, Britain will be the first European country to phase out traditional bulbs as part of a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The MAA is calling on the Government to avoid a complete ban on old-style bulbs, by providing an opt-out for people with health problems.

Last year it was claimed that the "green" bulbs can cause people with epilepsy to experience symptoms similar to the early stages of a fit. There have also been complaints from people with lupus, a chronic immune disease that causes pain and extreme tiredness.

Low energy light bulbs use only a quarter of the energy consumed by traditional versions and are estimated to save 2,000 times their weight in greenhouse gases. They are often five times more expensive but the greater efficiency means they can pay for themselves within months. Several versions use a technology similar to fluorescent strip lights and some migraine sufferers say they produce a flickering effect that triggers their condition.

Karen Manning, from the MAA, said: "When the Government announced that traditional light bulbs would be phased out, we were inundated with over 200 calls and emails from members who said the flickering had caused migraines. "This is a debilitating condition which can often leave people bed-ridden for days. "The bulbs do not necessarily affect every sufferer, but we are talking about up to six million people in the UK who suffer migraines - so this is a serious concern. "We would ask the Government to avoid banning them completely and leave some opportunity for conventional bulbs to be purchased."

The Lighting Association, which represents manufacturers, denied that modern designs produced a flicker. A spokesman said: "A small number of cases have been reported by people who suffer from reactions to certain types of linear fluorescent lamps. These were almost certainly triggered by old technology."



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? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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