Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Policy Point Wednesday - Obesity and Junk Food Junkies

The news is filled with people on junk food diets for various different reasons, indeed, TLC has produced a show entitled "Freaky Eaters" focusing on the extreme diets of individuals who have an obsessive relationship with food, often specific foods.  Recently, in local news, an office bet led a man to eat nothing but sausage pizza for a month (he won, easily.)

However, some junk food diets have a more political bent.  For instance, in SuperSize Me, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's food for a month.  While many viewers focus on the types of food Spurlock ate, it's interesting to note how much Spurlock focused on the relationship of behavior and fast food: for instance, he "supersized" only when offered,  restricted his steps to approximately the average American's amount of walking, and made sure he tried every item advertised on the menu at least once.  Spurlock gained 24 pounds over the course of the month, and at the end of his experiment had a cholesterol level of 230.

In an attempt to show that weight is not related to the type of food eaten, Kansas State Human Nutrition Professor Mark Haub  has lost weight by eating a diet of primarily junk food and some low-calorie vegetables.  His diet also focuses on behavior, but is nearly opposite of Spurlock's diet - it is carefully controlled at 1800 calories per day.  The diet consists of :
Professor Haub notes that, while he is losing weight, his diet is extremely inexpensive: he spends approximately $5 per day for all the calories he needs. "It's portion controlled. I'm eating foods that are deemed by many to be unhealthy; we will see if they are," Haub said.  He created the diet to illustrate the point that weight is gained or lost by balancing calorie intake and calorie output - but is exploring other health issues that may arise from eating high-fat, high-sugar foods.  


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