Monday, 23 March 2015

News From The Slope

No, the title isn't a Clarkson reference. I just thought you'd be interested in some of the crackpots that tobacco control industry policies have unleashed recently. Please remember, though, that there is no such thing as a slippery slope.

A wibbling loon writes:
We are now faced with concerning population lifestyle trends where countries such as the U.S. see half the population consuming sugar beverages on any given day ... 
I don't know about you, but I struggle to see how 50% of people drinking one nice-tasting drink - ranging from Coca-Cola through to orange juice - on any given day is a problem. People like nice tasting things, and one drink a day is hardly Armageddon, now is it? I presume the point is to infer that half of the population are guzzling the things from dawn till dusk ... and it's all the fault of those evil capitalists!
... and where sugary drinks become the greatest calorie source in a teenager’s diet.
You may have taken that to mean a majority of their intake, but the sound bite is - as you might expect - just the usual prodnose mangling of statistics and playing with words. A clue to its origin appears in this hysterical panic piece from Harvard (that's the Harvard who want to wage a "cola war" by way of taxation and to have fast food classified as a pollutant), but even they can only inflate the figure to 11% of a child's diet.
Children and youth in the US averaged 224 calories per day from sugary beverages in 1999 to 2004—nearly 11% of their daily calorie intake. 
On any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks; 1 in 4 get at least 200 calories from such drinks; and 5% get at least 567 calories - equivalent to four cans of soda. (17) Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens’ diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day).
Do you see the trick? If you throw all sweet-tasting drinks into one pot and divide up all other sources into cakes, potatoes, other vegetables, burgers, chicken, nachos, popcorn, hot dogs, and, oh yes, pizza, you can claim all those lumped together drinks to be the biggest. Clever, huh?

Of course, another way to put it is to say kids get 89% of their calories from food and 11% from drinks (in reality, it's nearer 6%), a perfectly reasonable ratio for any human - who consumes just two staples, food and drink - I'd venture to suggest.

Our frenzied drinks-hater continues ...
However how can we blame our children and young adults for these trends when they live in a world where soft drinks are widely visible from the supermarkets to school places to social media?
Perhaps he'd like a ban on advertising and to have the products hidden behind shutters ... like tobacco. Just a guess.
Furthermore if we consider the growing evidence suggesting that sugar consumption mimics the addictive properties of drugs such as cocaine ...
By "growing evidence" I think he means one pathetic piece of junk science by a bunch of bullshitters.
... it only further highlights the similarity and severity of the public and global health challenge we have faced with tobacco in the last century.
Yep, nice tasting drinks are just as dangerous as tobacco so the same measures must be put in place ASAP. For the children, natch.

Meanwhile, in Australia ...
Should fast food outlets be forced to put tobacco-style health warnings on their packaging?
That's one controversial and extreme measure being proposed by an Australian healthy food advocate, as he ramps up his campaign to change the way fast food outlets advertise to children. 
Mr Schultz posted an image of a Big Mac box labelled with the words 'BIG MACS MAKE BIG CHILDREN' and a picture of two overweight kids to his Game Changer Facebook page in an attempt to fire up debate.
'Just like a cigarette packet demonstrates the causes of cigarette smoking and its damages, this image demonstrates what the fast food product can do to the human body,' he said. 
Mr Schultz said plain packaging was an eventual goal, but as a first step he wants to see detailed ingredients lists included on fast food packaging and information about where the food has come from and if it has been treated with chemicals or growth hormones. 
'Later on [plain packing] can come. Ingredients have to be explained as a first step,' he said.
Which, presumably, will be followed by lots of next logical steps until everything is sold in shops resembling Argos but without the display cabinets.

Except that Deborah Arnott has already told us that ...
"the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false" 
And plain packaging cheerleader Simon Chapman contemptuously dismissed the idea that tobacco control policies can transfer to other products when he said ...
"Look, if the slope is slippery, it's the most unslippery slippery dip I've ever seen in my life."
So perhaps we won't be seeing packaging like this in the future, after all, eh?

Image courtesy of Simon Chapman from a slideshow he presented about the potential for plain packaging which used to be here but now isn't


Vinny Gracchus said...

These health fascists need to be contained before they do any more damage to society. It isn't only liberty they are harming. By making absurd claims about food and drink (not substantiated by solid research and thus subject to reversal once actually studied) they are harming health. They started with tobacco and while many of their claims are unravelling they seek to strengthen their case there and move on to total control of all human transactions. It is time to mount a concerted campaign to expose their lies and manipulation.

JLTrader said...

And when you think it all started in 1966 with an inconspicuous message on the side of cig packs, Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health. At the rate this madness is progressing, 50 years from now, everyone will 'know' that fast food, sweets and fizzy drinks are bad for you, just as everyone now 'knows' because it's been 'proven beyond any doubt' that smoking is bad for you.

JonathanBagley said...

I've long been intrigued by the seat belt issue. More here

nisakiman said...

I have long been interested in the seat-belt issue, ever since I read an article about the 'Volvo effect', which basically found that that the safer people felt they were in a car, the riskier / more careless their driving became, thus cancelling out any perceived benefits from the plethora of safety devices installed in that car.

I personally never wear a seat-belt, for no reason other than I find them both uncomfortable and restrictive. And I drive accordingly.

I have to say that I find some merit in the concept of fitting a mandatory sharp spike in the centre of the steering wheel, to focus the mind of the driver. I think it would be far more effective than mandatory seat-belts.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, John Adams is required reading, especially since that 1983 law is so often cited as a reason why government should be allowed to interfere in our choices for our own good. The fact that it had no real effect except to transfer deaths from inside the vehicle to those outside of it (pedestrians/cyclists) seems to be here nor there, a lie was born and busybodies have been trading on it ever since.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Mandatory seat belts saved many lives that year, or so it is claimed by orgs like ROSPA. Though why all of them were between midnight and 4am in the morning they don't seem to be able to explain. It's quite obviously not because evidentiary breath-testing was introduced in the same year, was it? Or did they double count those saved lives? ;)