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Another Deadly Cowboy Commercial: This Time Aimed at Children
Many thanks to Dr. Steve Schutzer. He tipped me off to this commercial on YouTube after seeing the last post on the smoking commercial that made so many of us sick. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Schutzer for his leadership in healthcare reform. He is one of the founders of the Moving to Value Alliance.
The last post was about the deadly, intense advertising campaign for cigarettes that made us sick, old, and impotent. The Joe Camel ad campaign pulled kids into cigarette smoking. Now those ads are illegal and reduced smoking has saved more than 8 million lives in the United States. National health policy matters. Kathy Harvey is a nurse. Her father was The Great Santini. She sent me a note Monday saying that her dad stopped smoking the day the surgeon general’s report came out on smoking.
If you click on the arrow above in the middle of the copied YouTube video, an ad comes up that took me instantly back to my childhood. Music does that. Eating fast and processed food is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. This ad for processed food that is loaded with sugar explicitly targets children and nothing has changed on kids shows today. These ads are extremely effective. I know families where the parents are healthcare professionals and have lost large amounts of weight themselves, but they cannot control what their kids eat. Trying to expand their diet is an ongoing fight. These parents know the struggle is important, but they are no match for the contant ads bombarding their kids and peer pressure from their friends.
I heard this ad dozens of times and it damaged my health. I loved those cowboy shows and that sweet cereal. I was ten years old when that ad ran and I was already too heavy. By the time I was 43 years old I weighed 307 pounds and I was just over 6 feet and one inch tall. I was far too heavy. It was very difficult professionally. I was treating patients with artery disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Lifestyle is a big deal with those patients. I knew my own obesity interfered with my effectiveness with them. It also nearly cost me my life. I developed diffuse, large cell, non-hodgkins lymphoma. I am convinced that my obesity was the cause of my cancer. I did not smoke. I was an outdoorsman. I was fairly active. I rarely drank. My doctor told me: “You will be cured or dead in 6 months.” In 6 months the treatment that killed the cancer had ruined me too, but I am alive and fairly functional thirty-three years later. I know that I am extremely fortunate, but a poor diet nearly killed me. I am not alone. In 1958, just under one percent of Amercans had diabetes. According to the latest data, 11.3% of Americans are diabetic now. The difference is almost entirely due to fast and processed food.
Like cigarettes, fast and processed food make us sick and old faster. Like cigarettes these foods are addictive. David Kessler led the fight against Big Tobacco and now he is helping you understand how Big Food makes products that you will continue to eat when you are not hungry. It is not a matter of willpower. It is a matter of addiction and the dealers are deliberately hooking your kids. As with cigarettes, I am convinced that policy can make a huge difference.
Millions of people are alive today because our policies about cigarettes changed. The same thing can happen with food. We could start by targeting ads to kids. It makes me especially angry when my grandchildren are targets of ads for addictive substances. These foods are poison, but food can also be medicine. You can protect your own family by feeding them real food: lean meat, eggs, low fat dairy, seafood, fruit, vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts. Carrots, onions, celery, beans, and peas are inexpensive and can make a real difference. Healthy food is less expensive than medicine. You won’t lose weight permanently until you change what you eat permanently.
Changing policy is a political problem and political problems are almost entirely economic. This one is no exception. Capitalism and private enterprise are great when it comes to making cars, housing, and televisions that we can all afford. It is important to understand that the big companies in our system answer to stockholders. Stockholders care about profits. They don’t answer to you and when they target your kids with these ads they don’t care about you. I call that predatory capitalism. We are not over-regulating industry or promoting the “nanny” state when we protect our kids from predatory capitalism. We are just using common sense and reason. Help us help you protect your families health!
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