The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has started a new campaign against sugary drinks. The ad says “You wouldn’t eat 22 packets of sugar, why are you drinking them?”
Okay. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s informative, and consuming 22 packets of sugar may not be a good choice for some people (not that it’s anyone else’s business). I like to think that most people (especially fat people) are already hyper-aware of what they are putting into their bodies. It’s only been beaten into us from school, TV, newspapers, etc. since we’ve been kids. But I can see where some people may not realize that some sports and energy drinks are loaded with sugar. So thank you. This information is noted.
But the reason they don’t want you to consume those drinks is because:
1) It makes you fat; and
2) Fat is unhealthy.
Gee whiz, thank you. Finally, someone has found the reason why fat people are fat. Yes, indeedy. Fat people just needed someone to tell them that sodas, sports and energy drinks are full of sugar and that is why they are fat.
Do I drink at least one soda or sweetened drink a day? No.
Am I fat? Bet your butt.
Am I healthy? Reasonably so.
The campaign cites “too many people are fat” statistics and “too many people are going to be fat” statistics, and then says fatties drain $6 billion (yes billion) from the economy of Los Angeles County a year!
How do they get that amount? I believe they use something called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. “The Gallup is able to calculate the incremental cost of healthcare per year for each of these cities by multiplying the estimated additional direct annual healthcare costs for an obese person ($1,429 per person per year) by the population, then multiplying that by the obesity rate. A city of 100,000 citizens with a 20% obesity rate, for example, will have an incremental healthcare cost of $28,580,000 ($1,429 X 100,000 X 0.20 =$28,580,000).” (Gallup Management Journal, January 7, 2011, The Cost of Obesity to U.S. Cities).
In other words, it’s based on statistics – and we all know that statistics can be used to prove pretty much whatever you have decided you want to prove.
This “health” campaign makes a target out of fat people; and also singles out poor people and certain ethnic groups – again, implying that if only these people would stop ingesting sugary drinks so many of them wouldn’t be fat – genetics and socio-economics be damned.
There is a lot of overlapping of the groups (for example, a large proportion of the residents of East LA are Latino), and the data set is people who drink at least one soda or sweetened drink (Koolaid is a sweetened drink) a day.
So despite all the studies coming out that show that telling people how many calories they are ingesting makes little or no difference in the choices people make; even though people are fat for all kinds of reasons, even though there is no way to achieve significant long term weight loss for most people, and even though there appears to be a socio-economic link to fatness, LA County Department of Health seems to believe its money is well spent warning people of the insidious dangers of ingesting one soda or sweetened drink a day.
Well that makes me want a drink – preferably one with an umbrella in it.