Marion Nestle

One in three adults in the U.S. is obese, and that doesn’t account for the simply overweight. But many people still don’t know what’s actually making us fat. Is overeating to blame? Calorie counting gone awry? Too many carbohydrates? We talk with nutrition and food expert Marion Nestle about her new book, “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics.”

Marion Nestle, author, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and author of "Food Matters" for The San Francisco Chronicle

  • Frank

    I like to count my calories every day or so, which I do with an app, but I have to admit that a few years ago when I lost weight very effectively, I was counting servings only, not kcals. I was using the standard servings sizes taught to me by a nutritionist, not the nonsense on food packaging. This was easier to do, but it permitted me to focus on the real task: Improving my food choices. When I made sure that I had vegetables and fruit every single day, and meat, and got exercise, my weight fell to my natural level and I felt great.

  • Chemist150

    Emotional state is to blame.  This is where it’s going if the healthcare mandate is not struck down.  High regulation on what you can and cannot consume.  Punish everyone for the emotional state of a few.  It still does not fix the problem.  It’s a brand new world in 1981.  Take sex away and ration by bread too. 
    It is likely to be followed by regulations on the pharmaceutical industries new research grinding to snails pace of what it has been (65-80% of the new drugs coming from the US).  What’s better in the long run?  Is it better to produce new treatments as fast as we can in a capitalist society or cut that production to 20% of what it could be and control what people can and cannot chose for themselves..
    I’m not seeing the upside here.  Go away nanny state.  We are not children.  My children are not your children.  Why do you have to force your views on everyone else?  Did your parents not pay attention to you so you externalize your emotional state by judging others unfit to make their own decision and therefore must be regulated to justify your own feelings of insignificances?

    • guest

       Big pharma is one of the reasons for obesity! Their poison pills cause metabolic syndrome! Chemist go follow Palin and feed your kids s’mores!
      Nanny state? Hello !!!What about Trans vaginal ultrasound? That’s nanny state.

    • Leskruth

      …because in the end WE all pay for others poor choices! And as the author states, the government already has a food policy that people cannot resist. I do not understand all of your other blather?

      • Chemist150

        1981 is a movie.  Very popular movie.  Most people would get the reference. 

        What else do you not understand?  The US leads the world in pharmaceutical research and that’s in danger?

        • RA

          are you thinking of 1984?

          • Chemist150

            Yes, my mistake, 1984 has yet to come.

  • Jamie in Oakland

    Is Marion familiar with Gary Taubes book “Why We Get Fat”? He seems to be saying that a ‘calories in – calories out’ rational for dealing with obesity is too simplistic. Instead, Gary discusses the complex relationship between the impact carbohydrates can have on insulin production and use in the body.

    • Guest

       It’s good thing, too. It’s all in the carbs.

  • Cathleen Caffrey

    This fabulous.  I had no idea how much politics and increased greed for profits had affected the sheer amount of food in the environment as well as the quality of food.

    • Frank

       Check out the documentary Food, Inc.

  • Leskruth

    I am a diabetic and healthy diabetics learn how to count carbohydrates (and calories) by portion size. If you want to get better at knowing what is on your plate and portion size try putting a 1/2 cup of rice on your plate and see just how small it is! You learn a lot very quickly. Ms Nestle is correct however when she says that in a restaurant you are unable to know how much olive oil/butter is used. But you can tell by taste! AND you can ask for less fat–sometimes it works. If you want to eat healthily in a restaurant, you need to start with good choices…a 20 oz steak, no matter how it is cooked is not a healthy choice unless you are going to take home a doggie bag and eat it over several meals!

  • David

    In these discussions I always think about the so-called “French Paradox.” Does Ms. Nestle have any thoughts about the French diet? I imagine the French consume a huge number of calories (all that butter, cream and cheese), yet most seem to live relatively long, healthy lives.

    • Jesse Barnes

       Yeah that’s a fun one.  The so-called “paradox” is only a paradox if you think high fat diets cause heart disease (a conclusion Ancel Keys arrived at when putting together his “7 countries” study).  Check out “Good Calories, Bad Calories” for a good analysis of that and related studies and why the conclusions may have bee incorrect.

      • Chemist150

        One of my posts refered to this.  One can exercise and consume more calories than they burn but because of the exercise, they have healthy hearts, muscle and low blood sugar.

  • RA

    The guest was on the right track about calories and portion size.

    Then she veered off into this thing about “junk foods” vs “nutritious” foods. Those terms are exactly WHY people are confused about calories. Sure if someone ate ONLY french fries for months, there would be micronutrient problems, but practically nobody does that. So using that language undermines the whole point of focusing on calories.
    You want fries, fine, just have 10 of them. Want pizza? fine, just have one slice. Ice cream? have a kid’s size and only once a week.

    • Frank

      I lost weight when I shifted to eating good calories, like veggies, fruit, veggie juices, meat and whole grains.

  • Kris

    what about the habit of grazing.  I find I can stop eating when I am not longer hungry but have perhaps 6 meals or snacks per day.  I have been able to maintain a healthy weight for the past 30 years this way.

  • guest

     If you go to a restaurant immediately cut the portion in half and take it home.

  • The guest appears to be complaining that the government is promoting poor eating habits. (I’m assuming she’s referring to the corn subsidies, sugar subsidies, etc…) Her response is to have the government intervene even more with soda taxes, banning large-sized soda, etc… Why not instead advocate for removing the original problem by dropping agricultural subsidies  etc?

    • Frank

       Because lobbyists control Congress, and they’re paid to bribe politicians into giving handouts to big argibusiness.

      • And somehow we can beat the food companies at lobbying, but not agricultural interests?

        • marte48

           You are still blaming government for doing what big business wants.

          • I am still blaming the government for doing what it does. Sure, I understand the incentives faced by political actors, but they are nevertheless making their own choices and I don’t see why they should not be held responsible for these choices? Do you forgive corrupt politicians because they were offered lots of money to betray the public interest?

          • marte48

             Big business is the BOSS in this country. Are you proposing a government strong enough to oppose big business? I think not. You want a weaker government, and “freedom” for big business to do anything they want.

          • Actually I want a weaker government that won’t be able to give “big business” perks at my expense.

        • Fred

           No, all we common folk can do try to buy healthy foods from local farms. Some farms are offering subscriptions with a box of foods every week, which is economically smart.

          • I know… I keep meaning to try that service. How is it working out for you? I’m kind of a picky eater and I was hoping it might help me try new things.

  • Frank

    People easily say to themselves, I had a bad day at work, so I deserve some cheese doodles. But before they know it, they ate the entire bag.

  • Berkeley

    I am curious about the political/legislative solutions to this problem. What does Ms. Nestle think abt the current Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act (S. 1773) in the 2012 Farm Bill. What about shifting our nation’s agriculture policies away from subsidies that encourage production of processed junk food, and instead encourage policies that support the farmers who are producing healthy, sustainably produced food?

    Recent reports from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that simple adjustments to agricultural policy–like those found in S. 1773–can help eliminate the barriers these farmers face, while boosting local economies, creating jobs, and encouraging consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables from farmers using practices that protect our natural resources. (from UCS web page). Can you comment on what we citizens can do to influence the law-makers?Lydia in Berkeley

  • stinky trousers

    Great, smart guest, and her perspective and commentary are quite lucid.

    However, Spencer Michels hosting ability seems to be waning!  

    • Fred

       He seems fine. Do you think you could do a better job?

    • marte48

       He’s not being hostile – he is playing devil’s advocate, which is a common interviewing style which anticipates contrary opinions and points of view. Similar to the Socratic method.

      • Fred

        The Socratic method is based on questioning what a person knows by asking them to define terms.

  • Jesse Barnes

    I second the “Why We Get Fat” recommendation; it’s a great book.

    Thinking about calories too much is a big part of the problem.  It’s so easy for people to understand “calories-in calories-out” but totally misses the point of how our body responds to different foods.

    If you eat a bunch of carbs (simple ones especially) your body will respond with an insulin spike, which will cause your fat tissue to store all the triglycerides your liver just made from what you just ate.  This leaves you feeling tired as soon as the sugar in your blood has been burned, and leaves you wanting more food, repeating the cycle and leading to weight gain and general misery.

    However, if you eat the same amount of fat or protein, your body responds totally differently.  Even if you *overeat* these foods, your body will respond by burning more, not storing it, leaving you with a higher metabolism, and a feeling of fullness you don’t get from carbs.

    That’s the really frustrating thing about these discussions about calorie counting: they miss the point entirely and imply a poor solution (calorie counting) to the problem of weight gain.

    • guest

       Well Said thank you.

    • Guest

      Absolutely correct. It’s the CARBS that make people fat. At 60yrs+ I weigh within 10 lbs. of my high school weight (128lbs now and 118 at the end of HS). I watch my carbs on a daily basis so I can adjust during the following days if I’ve had a splurge. Most people don’t have a clue what they are consuming and seem not to care.

  • Nelsie

    Per Marion’s comment about being able to ask for smaller portions in restaurants: when I went to Portugal a few years ago I was impressed that almost all restaurants offer half portions of entrees, at half the price. It was great to be able to order a smaller (yet still very hearty) meal, and I wish that was an option in the US!

  • Let me explain to your guest why an 8oz soda is more expensive per oz than a 16oz or 32oz soda: economies of scale. Price per container is cheaper, faster inventory draw-down and other things. The cost is higher, I don’t see why the price shouldn’t be higher.

    • marte48

       OK, but beside the point.

      • Not really. There are real economies of scale which decrease the unit-price of food which may explain part of the rise of larger portions. When Bloomberg wants to ban a 32oz soda, he isn’t just forcing you to buy two 16oz sodas. He’s also forcing you to pay more for it. (and introduces production inefficiencies) It’s not as neutral as some would like to make it sound.

        • marte48

           Only if you really insist on 32 oz of the awful stuff.

          • Who are you to make that choice for me?

          • marte48

             What? You said that they are FORCING people to buy two 16oz drinks. I replied, “Only if you insist on drinking 32oz of the awful stuff.” NO ONE is FORCING YOU TO BUY TWO OF ANYTHING, MORON.

          • Have you considered courtesy? It’s not that hard. You just avoid all-caps and drop the last word. But let’s set aside your manners and go back to the substantive matter: If I want to purchase a 32 oz container of the awful stuff and I find a willing seller, you (or rather some other people you are apparently supporting) want to jump in the middle of that transaction and prevent me from engaging in a consensual exchange with another adult. You are pretty clearly overriding a choice I made for myself or as it
            is colloquially known: making a choice for me.

          • marte48

            The *Socratic method* (also known as *method of elenchus*, *elenctic*method, *Socratic irony*, or *Socratic debate*), named after the classical Greek
            philosopher Socrates,
            is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another; one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, thus strengthening the inquirer’s own point.

          • Fred

            I am Fred, and I am king of all of you.

          • I suppose that is fair. On the other hand, I am French and I’m not sure if you’ve heard of our reputation regarding kings? 😀 (I wish there was a smilie for smiling while baring teeth)

          • marte48

             OK: What? You said that they are forcing people to buy two 16oz drinks. I
            replied, “Only if you insist on drinking 32oz of the awful stuff.” No one is forcing you to buy two of anything, PrometheeFeu.

          • No. What I said is that they are making choices for me. That’s not the same thing at all. They are taking legitimate mutual transactions between adults and banning them. That is what I am complaining about.

  • Daniele

    HI. Yes! Thanks for the reminder. Perfect example for me is ice cream, which i don’t eat much. Last night, though, i did. I live across the street from a package store that sells ice cream. I always wish the ice cream came in smaller sizes…but the “good stuff” doesn’t. So I ended up eating a whole pint, because it was in front of me…so today, i’m skipping breakfast. But it is true that if in front of you, you have a tendency to eat. It’s a good reminder.

  • ZDavis82

    Legislating for a healthier system has nothing to do with Big Brother or with a nanny state. It is the morally responsible thing to do. The entire system is so skewed towards the influence of the producers, that the consumer just isn’t able to determine what is and is not healthy.

    We live in a country where, for the first time ever, children are expected to live a shorter lifespan than their parents. This issue has nothing to do with taking away rights, and everything to do with working to create a system that will ensure the health of our community.

    I have started tracking my daily caloric intake (using a mobile app) and it’s been really interesting to see which ‘healthy’ foods are higher in calories than others. When we eat without knowing how much our bodies actually need, it’s too easy to be unhealthy.

    • Chemist150

      So your morality dictactes what I can chose?  That is Big Brother.

    • Chemist150

      The government should install a device in your phone to zap you if you don’t use your calorie counting app when you eat.

      • PMS

        What an ignorant comment to make on so many levels.

        • Chemist150

          I hope you know that it was a smart alec comment in reguard to the OP comment.  He’s the one that thinks the government should police what people eat.

      • marte48

         actually, a mirror should work just fine.

    • The idea that foods could somehow be classified as healthy or unhealthy is absurd. Foods have a wide variety of effects. Some of those effects are deleterious, some are not. Some are mixed. At best you could rank foods based upon how healthy they are. But you cannot objectively draw a line where everything on the right is healthy and everything on the left is unhealthy. But even if you could, that would still not be a good reason to ban the foods on the unhealthy side of the equation. When selecting what we eat, we make the decision by balancing all sorts of factors: how something tastes, its health effects, our mood, ethical concerns, the present social situation etc… How we decide to strike that balance is a highly personal choice that nobody can make better than ourselves. Sometimes, I enjoy a very high calory meal with huge amounts of fat, proteins, carbs and no vegetable or fruit in sight. Sometimes, I pay very close attention to my caloric intake. Why? Because I have more than one goal in life and nobody can balance those goals better than I can. It’s not about science or facts or pragmatism, because it’s about individual person preferences, likes and dislikes.

      tl;dr; Quit trying to violate my rights. You don’t know what I’m trying to achieve and are therefore incapable of knowing what is good for me.

      • marte48

         That’s fine, if you take full responsibility for your own obesity and poor health. But society as a whole has to pay for your poor choices. You don’t seem to mind being manipulated by Madison Ave, so who is denying you rights?

        • how is society paying for my obesity and poor health choices. (or in my case benefiting from my lack of obesity and mostly good health choices)?

          • marte48

            Obese people cost society in all kinds of ways, health care costs, broken toilet seats, you name it.

          • If I break a toilet seat, I am responsible for replacing it. Similarly, I am responsible for my own healthcare. If you wish to assume the cost of my healthcare, that is your choice and will make me quite happy, but it is not a cost I impose on society. Society merely desires to take it on in order to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

          • marte48

            People who wear out public toilet seats, or any other kind of public facilities, are not held responsible for the repairs. Nor are people who by their libertine behaviors increase the cost of health insurance, or car insurance for that matter. The premiums that we all pay, including taxes raised for the maintenance of public roads, buildings, schools, etc. are impacted by the degree of use or abuse they incur. I really can’t believe that you are seriously arguing that obesity does not cost society at large.

          • There is a very simple way to deal with this toilet seat problem: If a toilet seat is publicly funded and you break it, you should be made to pay for it. I can’t believe you’re arguing that this is aimed at saving our toilet seats.

            When it comes to health insurance, you’re quite mistaken. The premiums you pay are influenced by obese people only because governments impose all sorts of mandates upon insurance companies which prevent them from doing the most efficient thing possible: charge more for obese people. It’s not the obese people imposing a cost on the health care system, it’s the government.

            Otherwise, I find your use of the term “libertine” quite telling. How long before you come tell me that my sexual behavior imposes an unacceptable risk on the US healthcare system and therefore should be banned? Finally a grand alliance between the Christian Right and the Democrats?

            Oh, and you’ll have to explain the car insurance thing.

          • marte48

            No, this is not about toilet seats. This is about the cost of obesity to our society which you still do not concede, even though there is ample evidence. I suppose that you did not even bother to go to the link I sent. Unless you want surveillance cameras everywhere, which I presume you do not, there is no way to get people to pay for anything they may break, and it is not a one-time use that causes the damage anyway, just as it is not one-time use that causes roads to degrade or bridges to fail. Extra weight on anything will cause more wear and tear, and more energy to be expended, as any engineer will attest. For some reason you are defending obesity, or my right to be obese, come hell or high water. No one is forcing you to healthy, no one is forcing you to marry or stay married to an obese person, no one is forcing you to try to get your kids to be healthy, even if you don’t care whether they are or not. You certainly don’t seem to care whether anyone else’s kids are healthy or not. Do you believe in stopping a parent if they are molesting a child? Where exactly do you draw the line? Do you believe it is your right to abuse your children? We are not talking about putting obese people in jail. We are simply trying to encourage them to be conscious of what they are doing. I guess that you would approve of turning back the clock and allowing smoking anywhere, like in bars and restaurants, where non-smokers were exposed to and died of second-hand smoke. Maybe you would like to remove all the stoplights and stop signs, since no one but you can tell you when to go or not. Have you explained this to your teenage sons lately?

          • I did go to the link you sent me and found it thoroughly unpersuasive. They have their facts right. (I assume they do at least) Their interpretation is where the problem lies. Let’s assume you are reckless in the way you spend your money and become very poor. Your actions have hurt yourself. Now, a generous stranger gives you a big lump sum to make up for your losses. Should we now say that you have imposed a cost on said stranger? Should that stranger now have a good reason to coerce you to take financial counseling courses for instances? Of course not. The cost, you imposed on yourself. The stranger bailing you out changes nothing as to who bears the cost of your being profligate. The stranger bears the cost of their own generosity for which you are not responsible.

            This is the same thing. Yes, an obese person will draw more from government medical charities than a non-obese person. But the cost to the government is not the cost of obese people. It is the cost of deciding to be in the business of providing charity. You argue as though the obese people are coercing the rest of us into providing them with healthcare. But that is not the case. The government is coercing us into providing obese people with healthcare. We could simply decide that we will not pay for the healthcare of obese people. Whether that’s a good idea or not is a separate issue. But that is the stage at which the costs to us are coming in.

            I also understand that we do not speak of forcing people to be healthy or throwing obese people in jail. But you are speaking of using the coercive
            power of the state to ban private transactions between consenting adults.
            That is a line I draw. As you can see, abusing children includes a
            non-consenting child which is clearly on one side of this line while
            purchasing a 32 oz beverage from a willing seller is clearly on the other
            side of that line. (also, abusing non-consenting elderly people is on the
            same side of the line as abusing children)

            I must confess, I do not find particularly trustworthy your declaration
            that my libertine behavior is of no concern to you. After all, it raises
            problems that are very similar to those of obesity. It puts me at greater
            risk of contracting a disease which would impose a cost on the healthcare
            system. It might result in my spreading all sorts of diseases to public
            toilet seats. What’s the difference?

            As for smoking bans, I must confess that I dealt with it rather easily by
            avoiding restaurants which allows smoking. I peeked in and instantly could
            tell whether the proprietor would allow people to smoke. That way, I got to
            eat without second-hand smoke to ruin my meal AND the restaurant owner
            could decide what they wanted in their own restaurant. It was win, win.

          • marte48

            As for whether insurance costs are affected by bad drivers, this is from

            “Unfortunately, we all pay the price for others’ reckless driving — whether through injury or through higher auto insurance rates.”

          • How silly of me. I thought we were speaking about obesity. Obviously, reckless driving was the 1 sentence topic-change I should have caught on. Really it’s my fault.

          • marte48

            You’re the one who objects to the “Nanny State” under any circumstances.

          • You must be confused. The “Nanny State” (I hate the phrase by the way, preferring references to paternalistic tendencies for instance, but that’s neither here nor there.) refers to the government disrupting voluntary transactions between adults. If you drive recklessly and hit me with your car, that interaction is not voluntary. I have most definitely not consented to you injuring or killing me. That is the sort of situation where state action is quite appropriate and not paternalistic in the least.

          • marte48

            Oh, good! Then you are not an anarchist, after all. You do believe in some government. You would not get rid of the Bill of Rights, I presume?

          • I don’t see what it is I have written that would lead you to believe I would want to get rid of the Bill of Rights. I do believe it could be ameliorated significantly, but it is definitely something that goes in the right direction.

          • marte48

            My high school friend was a gifted musician and far ahead of his time in many ways. He made a living even in high school by singing and playing the guitar and piano in bars and nightclubs. He was a writer and poet and composer and Shakespearean actor, and a comic impressionist, as brilliant boys are so often inclined to be. In the 60’s there was no choice about local venues. He played rock and jazz and blues and Chopin. He was a vegetarian, and bone thin from all his activities. I see his brilliance fractured in celebrities, actors, musicians, writers, but I have never yet seen or met anyone who had it all in one person. He died at 52 of esophageal cancer.

            My other friend was born in Hawaii to a black GI stationed in Pearl Harbor, and a Hawaiian mother. I was beat up and attacked for dating him. He loved kids, and insisted on taking my four little brothers and sisters with us everywhere. He went to Las Vegas to sing with a group – he was also a gifted singer and musician – and he was hit by a car driven by a doctor on a lark with his girlfriend. My blood boils every time I hear the saying, “What happens in Vegas…” He was 33.

            Anecdotal evidence, at best.

          • I do sympathize with those stories. The people you describe here sound quite amazing and the world is probably a worst place without them. But that does not mean that the government should be responsible for solving every ill in our society. I have a right to smoke in my own house (or as it were to prohibit all smoking in my own house) and I do not see a private business differently. I recently was at a party where a guest had a serious asthma attack due to somebody thoughtlessly lighting up. The smoker was instantly ejected and informed that they would not be welcome again. A restaurant belongs to the owner and if they want to make it a haven for smokers, I don’t see what legitimacy anyone has in preventing them from doing so. I on the other hand would exercise my right to avoid their business. Nowadays, I have no doubt that should smoking bans be lifted, there would be a robust market for non-smoking establishments.

            Of course, as I said earlier, the drunk driver belongs in jail. What they did was criminal and there is no paternalism in punishing those who injure and kill others through their recklessness.

          • marte48

            If I am required to pay my bills through employment, I have a right to be employed. I do not suddenly become a criminal for not having a paycheck. When the Cold War ended and Lockheed and all the other defense contractors layed everyone off, there was no place to go to get a job. Lockheed generated all sorts of other businesses, and when they folded, so too did the others. If I could stay 30 forever, I could recover, but not at 45 or 55 or 65. I had two school age kids and no husband and no job. I had 18 years on a drafting table. As my java engineer colleagues say, “What is a drafting table?” Then, after going back to school at 50 to study HTML, the dotcom crash happened. Now at 65, no one wants me, except on paper. I lost all of my savings, have no pension, and do not own a house. Interested? No one else is either.

          • Of course I’m interested in your story. It is tragic that such a thing would happen. Being unemployed sucks. And no, being unemployed does not make you a criminal. But Lockheed did not have a duty to keep purchasing your drafting work anymore than I have a duty to keep purchasing from a particular supermarket. Do I think there is a role for government here? Sure. A negative income tax sounds like it would have been helpful to you at the time. I also think there is a role for private charities to help people in your situation. I am no fan of double-predestination-style arguments where the poor are wicked and looked upon poorly by some god. Sure, some people are poor because they act poorly, but some are unlucky, some make honest mistakes, some try something sensible which just doesn’t work.

            I also can’t help but point out that the government arms build up during the Cold War was partially responsible for the dislocation you are talking about. Economists of the austrian persuasion often talk of prices as information dissemination mechanisms. When the government spends lots of money, the price signals get messed up and malinvestment happens. This is usually talked about in terms of the wrong kind of factory being built, but it definitely applies to your situation. The government was spending plenty of money creating demand for drafters and resulting in people such as you training as drafters. However, when the money dried up, you realized that the price signals had misled you and that there wasn’t a sustainable demand for so many drafters. You ended up having a huge sunk cost in a skill that
            wasn’t that useful anymore which is highly problematic. So this is a case
            where I would definitely look at the government as a major cause of your

          • marte48

            On the other hand, the government funded the development of the internet (formerly DarpaNet) and then handed it over to the public “private” sector when the Cold War ended. I joked with my Symantec and McAfee colleagues (when I was working) that we got it because it was full of holes, and that it created work for the likes of Symantec and McAfee software engineers. But that is true of just about any company you can name.

          • The government funded the incremental development of packet-switched protocols. Useful sure, but nothing that wouldn’t have happened anyways. Ever wondered why it’s called “the Internet” as opposed to “the network”? It’s because the internet isn’t just a network or a protocol for that network. It’s a network of networks. It’s a lot of private companies that connect to each other. It’s companies that run the network exchanges, the ISPs that link to consumers, the backbones that link network exchanges, etc… This is what makes the Internet so powerful. DARPA helped things along a little bit, sure. But if DARPA had never built the Internet, it is unlikely that much would be different.

          • marte48

            That’s just not true, PrometheeFeu, and a little Googling will provide a clearer picture of the history of the internet. My sister and her husband worked for DarpaNet for many years at NASA, and then went on to form @Home. She worked with, and recently accompanied to Geneva, Elizabeth (Jake) Feinler, who first headed up NIC. Just because human beings invented the initial components does not mean they were not funded by the government, including MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, etc. which were government funded as well.

          • The government does provide funding for a lot of research and it would be foolish to deny that there was plenty of government money involved in the early development of what became the basic technology for the Internet. My point was 2-fold:

            1) Much of those technological developments would have probably happened anyways.
            2) The basic technology of the Internet is not what makes it useful. What makes it useful is the huge number of private companies that built huge networks and connected those networks together. Ideas are easy compared to implementation and that gigantic implementation is a continuing titanic challenge that the free market is successfully overcoming.

            Was there government involvement? Sure. Was it necessary? Probably not. Did the private sector do the heavy lifting? Definitely.

          • marte48

            The private sector did the “heavy lifting” paid for by the government. Furthermore, it was the space program – progressing from the rocket science and physics developments during WW2 – which led to the invention of the chip industry, without which the miniaturization process that led to microprocessors would not have taken place.

          • marte48

            BTW, your definition of the Nanny state (gender references aside) is not everyone’s. Wikipedia has some variations:

            “Although the term is undefined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it has entered use in the United Statesover the past decade by some political commentators. Dean
            Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research think
            tank has used the term to describe conservative policies protecting the income of the rich.”

            Both of my high school sweathearts died as a result of not enough Nanny state. One from second hand smoke, and one from a drunk driver.

          • You brought up the term, so I will happily grant you whatever definition you choose. But we are discussing our different ideologies. Tossing people who drive drunk and hit pedestrians in jail is not something I oppose. Apart from hard-core Rothbardians who probably would prefer you personally hire mercenaries to exact vengeance on the drunk driver, I don’t think anybody disagrees that people who kill other people through recklessness belong in jail. As for second-hand smoke, as I pointed out earlier, removing yourself from second-hand smoke isn’t impossible. Even prior to bans, many establishments chose not to allow smokers or carefully segregated smokers and non-smokers.

          • marte48

            Sorry, your arguments do not persuade me either. And, sorry, I am still not concerned about your lifestyle. You can do whatever you want behind closed doors with other consenting adults. I believe in privacy rights, and freedom of speech and religion (including the right to have none at all, like myself) and oppose the “police state” that used to (and still does in some places) oppress gays and lesbians and people who prefer sexual partners of other races, like myself. I also believe that people should take responsibility for their own actions. But the example you used of someone who got into financial trouble by their own behavior does not include the thousands of workers who lost their jobs when Lockheed layed off 20,000 in the early 90’s, including me, or the thousands who lost their jobs and savings when Enron and the S&Ls failed, or the thousands who lost their jobs as a result of the dotcom crash, including me. But of course, then you would blame the government for these events. You would blame the regulatory agencies who were weakened intentionally by the industries they were designed to monitor. If you are asserting that government should be stronger, and push back on pressure from big business, then I agree with you. But I don’t think that is what you are saying. You blame government no matter what. You probably believe that the slave owner’s property rights were violated by outlawing slavery. Unless, of course, you were the slave.

          • I emphatically do not blame the government for all things. For instance, I wouldn’t blame the government for the dot-com bust. When it comes to things such as the S&L crisis and the current crises, I don’t think it’s possible to pin the government or particular private actors as bearing responsibility. The government surely provided some incentives for destructive behavior, (Regulatory arbitrage, too big to fail, etc…) but private actors then reacted to those incentives and themselves took actions which helped the different crises along. I do think that if we want to blame somebody, the Federal Reserve bears much of the responsibility for maintaining such a tight money policy and probably transforming a mild correction into a depression. But I find the concept of blame hardly adapted to institutions and even worst-adapted to such systemic events which involve lots of people creating incentives for each other. I would rather say that there are some policies that could reduce the likelihood of this sort of event repeating.

            My point was not that the person in question lost all their money through their own fault. That isn’t relevant for this. My point was that it was the stranger’s generosity that caused the stranger to bear a cost, not the loss by the person who lost the money. This isn’t about deserts. This is about individual decision making. If the stranger decides to help, the cost on the stranger is imposed by the stranger, not by the person who receives the help.

            Regarding job loss, I don’t think we see that the same way. I see
            employment relations as being the product of mutual willingness to work and
            pay for the work. You don’t have a job in a same sense that you have a desk
            or have a salad. You have a job in the same sense that you have a boyfriend
            or girlfriend. If your boyfriend or girlfriend stops being your boyfriend
            or girlfriend, whatever the reason, you have not suffered an injury that
            deserves reparation. They are simply no-longer deciding to engage in the
            relationship anymore. That’s all. This is similar to the way you have a
            job. If you no-longer work for an employer that simply means, the employer
            no-longer seeks to purchase your labor similarly to the way you might
            decide to no-longer purchase from a particular supermarket.

          • marte48

            And, you are right, your libertine behavior in the bedroom is of no concern whatsoever to me.

          • marte48

            But, if you were an attendant in a nursing home, and you were screwing my senile grandparent, of any gender, I would certainly want the government to stop you, whether your libertine rights were being violated or not.

          • marte48

            “From an economic standpoint, obesity is costly for both individuals and society, with its associated major health problems leading to substantial economic consequences for the U.S. health care system. This includes both direct and indirect costs. Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity; indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs… ”

    • PMS

      Right On.
      I am so sick of people saying we are taking away their rights.  Nobody’s taking away anybody’s rights regarding healthy/unhealthy food choices. There will continue to be plenty of unhealthy choices in this country for people to make.  All the guest and many of us are advocating is that the food companies take responsibility when it comes to feeding our nation.  And if they need to be encouraged by government (taxes, bans or incentives) so be it.  We have a BIG problem in this country regarding unhealthy eating.  If we continue to deny this, it will never be solved.

  • Chemist150

    Avoiding diabetes is easy too.  It comes down to exercise.  You can be obese and keep your blood sugar low.  As a cyclist I’ve ridden with overweight people.  They do consume more calories than they burn but they have healthy muscle, hearts and low blood sugar.
    Lifestyle changes everything.  Attacking calories is attacking a symptom and not the problem.  It’s just that obese people tend not to exercise.  Blame air conditioning.  If’s it’s cold, you eat more.  Why do fat people move from Phoenix to Montana?  Say no to the nanny state.

  • marte48

    I have long contended that cooks prepare food for MEN as opposed to
    WOMEN because men do not count calories or skimp on meals, and who
    consider SIZE to be equivalent to masculinity and strength. Men also
    value the amount of RED MEAT on their plates, as opposed to women, who
    are more likely to prefer smaller portions, including FISH, which was
    for centuries considered POOR PEASANTS food. In fact, it was ONLY ROYALS
    who were allowed to hunt for red meat. For centuries, “fish on Friday” and no meat at all during Lent were considered acts of PIETY and SACRIFICE. The meat industry in this
    country prospered as a result of these social norms.

  • Rachel

    People who complain about diet sodas can be ridiculous. Take my husband’s office, where they want to start charging for sodas (including diet sodas) in order to encourage people to make healthy choices. But, vitamin water and gatorade will be free. Do these people not realize that there’s at least as much sugar in these drinks? Unfortunately the marketing on sports drinks seems to give us the illusion that these drinks are “healthy”.

    • marte48

       Gatorade has as much sugar as Coke or Pepsi? Are you sure about that?

  • Wally

    Hi, can you guest please comment on the hypothesis that trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils)  actually damage adipose tissue i.e. fat cells?

    Also is there a link between obesity and cancer?

  • remi

    thank goodness you are talking about this topic.  i was lucky in that at 12 years of age, i was diagnosed (by the whole hours-long glucose test) as hypoglycemic.  it was not easy, but i cut out all sugar from my diet (with the obvious exception of those naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables)  by the time i was 14.  as was noted during yesterday’s show on voting, i am old (in my late 40s) and i haven’t had a chocolate bar or bite of ice cream or anything “sweet” since then.  also, as a consequence, i learned to read labels &  still do whenever i buy something canned, packaged or frozen.  if there is dextrose, or sugar (whether refined or not) or piles of stuff i cannot pronounce, back onto the shelf it goes.

    i also WHOLLY agree: portion -size MATTER in direct portion to the amount of energy you use.  as a competitive athlete, i ate more calories (not necessarily bigger portions) and when i became an “older” person, i cut my portions again.

    finally, through trial and error, i’ve learned what my body metabolizes the most efficiently and what it does not: i cannot easily digest breads, wheat, pasta, for example while salads, vegetables and every once in a while protein, are easily and most efficiently metabolized.

    just my two cents (from an old coot who turns up to cast her vote at every election!).

  • Arianna

    My boyfriend is 6’7″ and a stick. He eats terribly even though I cook a mostly whole grain an organic veggie diet. How to you reset a full grown adult who never learned to eat right?? He simply won’t eat whole foods or veggies because he was programmed to eat what he wants and he never gains weight. He’s 29 years old.

    • marte48

       That will catch up to him. Boys have high metabolisms – until they don’t anymore.

  • guest

    What about High fructose Corn sugar?
    I don’t eat it but it is in EVERYTHING 🙁

    • marte48

       Glad you brought that up! Big Agri-Business has been having it’s way with our government for generations. We need a government strong enough to push back for us, instead of caving into whatever big business wants. I guess some of you would like to go back before Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle.”

  • Chemist150

    I saw a guy at McDs get a diet soda and go sit down at his table where he had 4 double chese bugers with two large fries.  Yah, limiting soda will work.

  • marte48

    So, since you like to support big business, you should be FOR this.

  • Prof. Nestle was asked her opinion of Gary Taubes’ thesis about the insulin response to sugar and carbohydrates.  Instead she answered an unasked question of Robert Lustig.  Therefore, I attach a comment Taubes made in another forum about Nestles’ views.

    I don’t worry so much about Marion Nestle. She is indeed part of the establishment and a firm believer in the calories nonsense, but she’s not going to affect the debate or “kill” the hypothesis. There are plenty of scientists now who get it, and they’re not going to be convinced otherwise by Marion. The only thing that’s ultimately going to decide this is well-controlled experiments and hard evidence, not another book arguing the that the conventional wisdom is right all along. Besides, Marion’s book, despite the very short Nature review, is at 4600 on Amazon right now while GCBC, for instance, is at 340. Her book, despite the title, won’t affect the debate any more than her writing already has. I appreciate the concern and the moral support, but I’m going to let Marion’s book pass by uncommented upon for now. (I own it, by the way, and skimmed it. I was giving a reading at a local book store when one of the audience pointed out that they were carrying Marion’s book. I bought a copy.)Best,gt

  • Collette Wheeler

    I agree about many of  Marion’s ideas, but I can’t even drink a whole can of soda (12 oz.) and when I wanted to lose a few pounds I didn’t eat foods that made me want soda. 
      I think we need to rid ourselves of all these “labor saving” devices. It seems like there are remote controls for everything and most of us don’t need that. You used to have to roll windows up or down, not push a button.  More stairs and fewer elevators and escalators. Save those for folks who honestly need them. We do so much less in real life than we used too, which is adding to the weight issue.

    Thank you,
    Collette Wheeler

  • Cyndee

    I have always eaten a good diet.  Cook from scratch, rarely eat out, eat very little processed food and so on.  Yet even though I have been responsible, my health care choices and costs are being affected by those who have been irresponsible and now we all have to pay for it.  I don’t want to tell people how to live, but I shouldn’t be punished because of their bad choices. 

  • Sy2502

    This kind of discussions are the reason why I support a completely privatized, pay as you go health system. As soon as someone else is paying for you, they automatically gain the right to tell you what to eat, when to eat it, how much to eat, etc. Just as I want the government out of my reproductive system, I want them out of my stomach too. 

    The recent “war on sugar” is yet another incarnation of a previous, completely mistaken and misguided policy, the “war on fat”. People conveniently forget that a few decades ago, fat was the bogey man, which led to the wave of low fat and non fat products. The result? People are fatter than ever. Rather than learning from past mistakes, these people (who incidentally chuckle at fad diets) are falling for the latest fad “evil food”. I shake my head in dismay at the thought of all the people who actually believe these “experts” are the chosen ones who should baby sit us into good health and longevity. Also, I find it ironic that the same people who admit nutrition studies are flawed because one can’t control what people eat would happily pass laws to restrict individual choices in a futile attempt to… you got it… control what people eat. That’s why laws like the prohibition on large sodas are grotesque. It is not the one large soda per se that makes people obese, it’s everything these people consume every single day, from the moment they get out of bed to the moment they go to sleep. 

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