Sunday House Call, #404, July 8, 2012: Fizzy Sugar Water for the Masses

Sunday House Call, #404, July 8, 2012: Fizzy Sugar Water for the Masses

Last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his intention to introduce a restriction on soda pop (sugary drinks) cup sizes to no greater than 16 ounces that would affect locales such as city restaurants, stadiums, food carts and movie theatres.

This proposal has generated commentary ranged from total support to outright rejection by some groups. The debate has been framed by some as a health issue and that there must be a starting point to reverse the tide of calorie glut; the opposite of a death by a thousand cuts to better health by a thousand changes.

Others frame it as an assault on the freedom to choose what we want to eat and the government has no place restricting individual food choices.

But we do have a serious problem in society. Our environment is obesogenic, that is, it is designed to promote overconsumption of food: The location of fast food restaurants to the design of food aisles in grocery stores to the fact that in 2009 a study conducted by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that we underestimate the extent of our exposure to junk food advertising and overestimate the degree to which health food is advertised.

The study reported in Timothy Caufield’s  new book,  The Cure for Everything: Untangling The Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness And Happiness that “carbonated beverages, fast food restaurants and breakfast cereals spent 18,182 times as much marketing to youth ($1.2 billion) compared to dairy, fruits and vegetables ($66,000 in total). Survey participants thought the average kid saw one to 3 junk food television advertisements a day. The actual number? Almost 15. That equals approximately 5500 yearly television messages about the yummy qualities of salt, sugar, and fat.

Joining us today is

Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen journalist and author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear and Future Babble Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, Medical Director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa