A Most Revealing Pyramid

Another great post from JR prompts a follow-up piece by me.

This one is about food subsidies by the Federal government, the Farm Bill. It comes from The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Hopefully, I’m not violating anything in reproducing this chart they created:

These Pyramids Weren't Built By Aliens!!!!

As PCRM’s post points out, the Farm Bill not only provides food subsidies, but also decides much of what will constitute school lunches.

With a Food Pyramid like that, who needs enemies?!

The most recent post on the Neuroanthropology Blog discusses Obesity and family medicine – and the fact that some family physicians are starting to recognize family and environmental factors as decisive in treating childhood obesity.

I point this out in my comment on their site, but the author (and the physicians) forgot to include governmental subsidization of different food products (and governmental leadership, generally) in their factor-analysis.

As I’ve said before, the body follows the head. This is true in organisms, cultures, and governments.

In cultural/organizational terms, the Federal government is often the “head” of the social-body. It leads via policy (such as subsidies, land-usage policies, etc.), and also by example (accruing massive amounts of debt, etc.).

Further, much of what constitutes “popular” media takes its cue from the Federal government. “Truth in advertising” relies on governmental moderation. The nullification of the Radio Fairness Doctrine in 1987 had serious repercussions as to what type of messaging has dominated radio advertising since (see my post on the anti-smoking campaign of the early ’70′s and how the Fairness Doctrine was a decisive part of that movement).

I’m happy that MD’s are not as “isolationist” in their thinking as they may have been in the past, but the issue needs to be sussed out in its full depths – which includes holding governmental bodies, and the bodies (i.e., people) who make up those “bodies,” responsible for the way food is produced and marketed in our country.

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What You See Is What You Eat

The Palm Beach Post did a great piece on some new literature about the frequency of junk food product placements in films.

A new study by Lisa Sutherland, assistant professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, reveals the incredible amount of product placement occurring in popular movies.

138 of 200 films analyzed had some kind of product placement – food or beverage – most of it, what we could consider “junk food.”

How many products can we fit into one "placement?"

The problem with this is that the more we are exposed to a stimulus, the more likely we are to accept that stimulus as normal.

A lot of studies have shown dishabituation in people after being presented to stimuli a certain number of times.  That is, they cease to notice the stimulus as being novel.  Most of those studies have stopped there.  Yes, you cease to notice the thing.  But what does that mean with regard to how you treat it?

How do you treat something you don’t notice?

The fact is, we treat things we don’t notice as being non-threatening…as being “normal.”  When we notice something, we say it is “unusual” or “out of the ordinary.”  It is not “normal.”

Advertising achieves a few things at once.  First, it exposes you to a novel stimulus, and presents that stimulus as something desirable (for good or bad reasons) and as being socially acceptable or creating a certain social status.

Then, it continues to pummel you with the messaging, till you aren’t even aware of it.  For instance, if you watched TV last night, try to name ten commercials that you saw.  Specifically – what were they about, what were they selling, how were they trying to convince you to buy?

It’s a hard game to play.

Finally, every now and then the advertiser tweaks the message.  You receive a new stimulus.  Your “desire-reaction” grows.

Tweak the message

Children may be more susceptible to this type of messaging than adults, having not fully developed their “executive control” functions (though whether or not many adults have fully developed this is questionable as well…).

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