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[P]
The Big Red Dot

By Russell Dovey in Op-Ed
Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:51:20 PM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

I have a dream!

That one day, my kids will be able to judge a Mars Bar not by the allure of its packaging, but by the content of its calories.

Read on for more about the Dot.


A big red Dot on all foods, telling us exactly how many calories are inside. Mandated by law. Overseen by the FDA (or your own country's food authority). A big, simple, yellow-on-red amount, making it simple for anyone who wants to to know exactly how much they're eating, and control their intake accordingly.

No more looking it up in a little book every time. Just look at the Dot! Rip off the Dot and put it in your pocket to add up later, or just frown at the amount and think "Damn, that's my 2000 for today."

Yes, put the Dot on Big Macs, medicines, hot dog wrappers, everything consumed through the mouth. Every menu item in non fast-food restaurants would have a Dot next to it. Apples. Ice-cream cones. Coffee cups. Sugar sachets. Full coverage is the only way to ensure that the food companies can't wriggle out.

Come on, fat people, you know I'm right! If you could stick to eating 2000 calories a day as easily as you know how much fuel your car uses, you could lose fat much faster! You would know exactly when that extra bottle of Mountain Dew stopped being thirst-quenching, and started being the thing that kept you unable to go up stairs without puffing like a steam-train.

The Dot, I believe, will do more to fight obesity than any number of "awareness programs", and all without restricting our right to eat what we like, on our own terms. It will, in fact, extend and enhance that right.

To address three of the millions of objections about to swamp my idea, I will mercilessly apply Score 5 Demented's suggestion, and answer his three pertinent points:

And so here I go!

1. Why should food companies subsidise dieters by producing these dots at their own expense?

Because if they don't, the government will shut them down and throw their directors in jail, thus depriving those director's families of love, income, and quality time.

Essentially, the companies already have to comply with labelling regulations. This wouldn't be much of an added expense. If we really, truly want to solve the biggest medical problem in Western-style countries, then isn't it worth an extra half a cent on every Coke can?

2. Why just calories? Many people are on diets where the amounts of fat/carb/protein are important, not to mention sodium and allergens.

Calories are one simple, universally-understood element in a healthy diet. They are the most important thing, by far, for someone who wants to control their eating habits. The other things mentioned are not relevant to everyone, so not everyone needs to know about them.

The Big Red Dot is designed to be an immediate solution to the "calorie counting is too hard" problem, caused by the zillions of different varieties of food out there, and the huge variation of ingredients in different foods of the same type. I believe that this one problem can be solved easily, fairly and effectively by the Big Red Dot, and that attempting to solve every other dietary problem would ruin the Dot's effectiveness. People who have more complex dietary needs will have to squint at the tiny writing, until someone smarter than I thinks of a way their thirst for information can be addressed.

3. What if the food item is eaten in portions?

In the case of mega-value 40-packs of frozen dim sims or fish fingers, I do concede that rudimentary arithmetic may be required. However, you'll need that anyway, to add up your intake throughout the day. And it will certainly reduce the amount required to work out the "43 calories a serving, a serving is 98.4 grams, package net weight 420 grams" nonsense we have to put up with now. Make the companies do the calculation. They just have to program a computer to do it millions of times, while we poor mortals have to do it every time! No more, I say.

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Poll
Should we put the Dot on every food and drink?
o Yes. 30%
o Yes, but only on packaged foods, to limit the cost of this crazy scheme. 20%
o No, because the energy content is already there, in tiny writing. 22%
o No, because it would be unfair to companies that sell high-calorie food. 0%
o No, because the government shouldn't impose more paperwork on companies. 4%
o No, because you can already work it out from calorie counter books. 2%
o No, because fat people are helpfully eliminating undesirable genes for the good of humanity. 18%

Votes: 188
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by Russell Dovey


Display: Sort:
The Big Red Dot | 240 comments (210 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
well, sure this is all well and good... (4.50 / 6) (#2)
by rmg on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:36:33 AM EST

for "things you put in your mouth" but what about suppositories and the like? surely they have some nutritional value...

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks

Futurama (5.00 / 2) (#138)
by zephc on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:21:52 PM EST

the Professor wields an black egg sized and shaped thing...

Fry: "I can't swallow that thing!"
Professor: "Good news! it's a suppository!"

[ Parent ]

very good! (none / 0) (#155)
by rmg on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:13:54 PM EST

you get a cookie!

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

A CUNNING PLAN!!! (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by fae on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:23:33 AM EST



-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
could we color code it too? (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:31:22 AM EST

red for meaty
green for vegan
___-____
Nope. (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:52:37 AM EST

If we colour code it, then the whole point of the Big Red Dot will be lost. The entire idea is that it is universal, and easily recognisable. The Dot should, after a time, be something that you almost unconsciously gain information from, like traffic lights, speedometers, CAPS LOCK KEYS< or other elements of any good user interface.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

sad face (none / 0) (#10)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:21:08 AM EST

You idea I think is a good one. "unconsciously recognizable". Thats good.
However I do think people should be able to know quickly and easily if they are eating meat. It might not be a big deal to you, but to many people it is. Maybe a little triangle, in the background of the dot? Remeber in a hundred years almost no one will eat meat, so a day when this is needed is not to far away.
If only the FDA wasn't under such influence by diary and cattle growers.

btw stop light comparison
RED is for meat
GREEN is for no meat
:)
___-____
[ Parent ]

Future Memories (4.00 / 5) (#17)
by gnovos on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:39:08 AM EST

Remeber in a hundred years almost no one will eat meat...

I have such a bad memeory, I can't remember even a couple of days into the future, let alone 100 years!  


RED is for meat
GREEN is for no meat

What about plants who's nutrients and general component molecules comes from rotting animals?  Carbon is carbon, my friend.


A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]

I'm going to eat you and your mom (none / 0) (#92)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:14:06 PM EST

carbon is carbon. My friend.
___-____
[ Parent ]
You have to catch me first! [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#121)
by gnovos on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:10:36 AM EST



A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
[ Parent ]
Wow (none / 0) (#47)
by ph317 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:24:18 AM EST


I don't mind if you feel the need to be vegatarian, but you really need a reality check if you think human beings won't be eating meat in 100 years.  Humans have always eaten meat, and they always will.  Someday it may be cheaper to synthesize meat-like protein products, but they will still for all practical purposes be meat.  But hey, if that's what it takes to convince you that your eating habits are "ahead of your time and really cool" instead of "a fad that just won't die and has very little to do with real nutrition or the human body", by all means believe on.

[ Parent ]
thanks (1.60 / 5) (#91)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:13:02 PM EST

I was waiting for a chance to write this out.

http://www.vegsoc.org/info/realeat.html
According to this, if rates keep increasing over the next few decades, very soon most people should be non-meat eaters.
Of course this is a vegitarian site and cannot be trusted. Also This could be "just a fad" that has been around for 15 years.
http://www.ivu.org/history/index.html

Instead of statistics I will rely on logic.
Over the next fifty years, as population increases the price of land and resources will grow exponetaly. bla bla bla. Raising animals is expensive and harms the enviorment.
Further more, we have the moral issue of killing.
As most moral issues go it takes time for a society to accept them. When I said a hundred years, I meant it would take that long for a society to completly reject it. Where it's politicly incorrect to do it.
Of course we completly bi pass all these issues by "synthesize meat-like protein products".
Because thats not really meat, now is it fuck face?
___-____
[ Parent ]

That's amazing! (4.50 / 6) (#105)
by ZorbaTHut on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:01:46 PM EST

Also, did you know that Gilbert, Arizona is the fastest growing city in America? Why, if these rates keep increasing, in the next century or two everyone in the world will live in Gilbert, Arizona!

I could go on about why I think, morally, Gilbert is the best place to live (which clearly infers that everyone will end up living there, since obviously my arbitrary morals are correct whereas your arbitrary morals are demonic and evil, fuckface), but I won't, since I think I've made my point and probably lost a few points of mojo in the process :P

[ Parent ]

I agree with you completely (3.50 / 2) (#136)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:09:53 PM EST

But were you just trolled or was he really a fuckwit?

To the Other guy:
"logically speaking" slippery slopes and annecdotal evidence don't add up to much. Also, you're a horrible person for killing hundreds of thousands of Living Things (mostly prokarya) while I've been writing this. Bacteria have feelings too you know!!! Just because they aren't capable of mooing doesn't mean they can't sense just as much of their environment as you can of yours.

It's morally reprehensible for you to have an immune system and I will protest your right to exterminate billions for your own selfish need for survival.

[ Parent ]

except that (3.00 / 1) (#195)
by auraslip on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 12:02:18 AM EST

there is reason to believe that the growth in Gilbert will slow down. There is no reason to believe the growth of vegitarinism will slow.
Further more, if you are going to aruge againt me you should attack my reasons for it's coming growth(ie enviroment, money). You instead just focused on my "arbitrary " morals. But they are not "arbitrary". The most basic tenet of human societys is that killing should be avoided(thou shall not kill). This is harldy arbitrary, and not that it matters since I allready proved that there are reasons besides morals to be veggie.

Btw, they only reason you got voted up is because of your cute hyperlinks.
___-____
[ Parent ]

You arguments are unsound (none / 0) (#238)
by ph317 on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 08:10:58 AM EST


While "thou shalt not kill" is a basic tenet of western/christian society, it has traditionally been understood to imply humans, not animals.  You cannot rationally carry any weight from that into your argument and say that western society as a whole has some traditional sense that it's wrong to kill animals.  On the contrary, virtually every major civilization that lasted in some form or another into modern times killed animals gleefully.

Also, while you state that there's a reason to believe Gilbert's growth will slow down, you fail to back up your notion that "There is no reason to believe the growth of vegitarinism will slow".  Just look at the numbers over the long course of history, vegatarianism is as likely to grow excessively as Gilbert.  It is not some societal paradigm shift in the making, it's just a fad.

You also cite that if our population continues to grow at current rates, it will eventually be infeasible to farm enough meat for us all.  For one, at about that time it becomes infeasible to do a whole lot of other unneccesary things, therefore one is lead to believe that the planet will only support a certain population, and we will self-limit before it comes down to hard problems like that.  However, the point is even more moot because in my post you were replying to I already ackknowledged the idea of science growing meat by artifical means to be more efficient.  In case you haven't noticed, research continues to go on in this area.  Labs are actively working on machine-grown slabs of beef.

[ Parent ]

Nah (none / 0) (#191)
by br284 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 04:51:30 PM EST

We'll be just like Kim Jong Il's people and eat other people. Nothing like a little soylent green to put that extrat bit of spring in your step.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Meat (none / 0) (#199)
by Krazor on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 05:00:48 PM EST

Of course we completly bi pass all these issues by "synthesize meat-like protein products". Because thats not really meat, now is it ..?

How do you define meat? To get meat do we have to kill an animal? Or if we say... grow a large muscle mass in a vat in 100 years and cut off what we want to sell it, would that be meat?
What if the two were so similar we couldn't tell the diffrence between them?

In this scenario I would still say that people were eating meat, just that they had found an easier and more efficent way of doing it.

[ Parent ]
Meet (4.00 / 1) (#174)
by cpt kangarooski on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:18:18 AM EST

Remeber in a hundred years almost no one will eat meat

Perhaps, but I predict that in 200 years, everyone will eat meat. Giant vegetables will also be available.



--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Red/Green is bad (none / 0) (#216)
by ceallach on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 02:48:51 PM EST

Red/Green is the most common form of colorblindness

Colors for the colorblind

--
More smoke! The mirrors aren't working!!!
[ Parent ]

Liar. (4.16 / 6) (#15)
by MrLarch on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:12:33 AM EST

CAPS LOCK KEYS<

You used the shift key. Don't deny it!

[ Parent ]

Busted! (5.00 / 5) (#16)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:26:32 AM EST

I did indeed. Mortified, I face my inevitable downfall with dignity.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Already there in India. (5.00 / 3) (#31)
by Akshay on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:43:50 AM EST

Most food packaging these days has a green dot if the stuff inside is vegetarian (the family, unlike me, is vegetarian, so I get to notice this quite often). AFAIK, it's not a government-enforced regulation; the industry seems to be doing it of its own volution.

I understand that there's also some additional markup for halal meat and if there's some beef-derivative inside. (In Malaysia/Singapore/ Indonesia, that's exactly what the green circle stands for, halal meat) Don't quote me on it though; haven't seen those.

[ Parent ]

Make it yellow for vegan... (none / 0) (#88)
by laotic on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:47:02 PM EST

...like in soy-meat.

You know, so it doesn't get confused with traffic lights. /nt

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
How about... (none / 0) (#103)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:11:01 PM EST

...Red for meat, yellow for vegitarians that eat dairy products, and green for vegans.

Unless traffic lights are going to be installed in supermarkets (now there's an idea), I don't think the traffic light colors are going to be a problem. :P

[ Parent ]

Yeah, I second that... (none / 0) (#187)
by laotic on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:58:26 PM EST

...but the confusion I meant is more philosophical - with red you imply "no-go", while green means "good to eat", thereby discriminating against meat-eaters.

Red is also used as a warning in nature, so I was trying to make it more balanced.

Uhm, how about black for meat, purple for vegetarian and pale yellow for vegans? And pink for fish-eating semi-vegetarians?

:)

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
But black is death! :P (none / 0) (#193)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 07:20:53 PM EST

Red should = meat, because raw meat is red. Plus the dot wouldn't be for meat-eaters anyway, and they would ignore the dot, so it is more like a warning.

Ah stuff it...Just have a slider instead. One end would be red meats, the other end would be vegans, then all the different types of vegeterians can go inbetween.

[ Parent ]

color-blind vegans!!! (none / 0) (#214)
by fishling on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 12:11:53 PM EST

the red-green color-blind vegans would have a hard time with those colors.  :-)

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.80 / 5) (#9)
by Pseudonym on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:17:18 AM EST

...that's all well and good, but what does it actually mean?

I still don't know what a "calorie" is, and not just because I'm in one of those America-hating countries which uses metric. I know I need a certain quantity of them to survive, and I know that too much of them is bad for me (that's what "too much" means, as Stephen Fry pointed out), but that's where my knowledge ends.

How would a red dot wouldn't improve on my current unenlightened status, any more than the current "nutritional information" label which gleefully informs me how much niacin and riboflavin my food has? (What the hell is niacin and/or riboflavin anyway?)



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Your body didn't come with a reference manual? (5.00 / 3) (#12)
by igny ignoble on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:50:43 AM EST

You'd better contact the manufacturer and get one.

[ Parent ]
Assuming Pseudonym is male... (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by Cloaked User on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:36:16 AM EST

...then this book should do the trick.
--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]
A calorie means energy! (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:55:40 AM EST

Specifically, the calorie is a unit of how much energy your body gains from eating something, calculated by scientists in some way I don't actually know. I think they burn doughnuts with a bunsen burner, from nebulous memories of a particular Simpsons episode.

Some countries, weird places like Australia (ferinstance) use kilojoules instead. This is probably more scientific, but less pronounceable (just like everything else originally invented by the British.)

I believe that Niacin and Riboflavin are names of professional wrestlers. Much like the Rock. (People's Elbow. Genius!)

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

metric invented by the british??? (4.50 / 2) (#139)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:35:38 PM EST

Hardly...

The French invented the metric system. Which I believe gave rise to SI, which is where one finds KJ.

One KiloJoule is effectively 1 KG * [(1 m^2) / (1 s^2)] I think.. or 1 "Newton-meter": Force * Distance.

Wheras a Calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 g of water 1 degree celsius.

Both are equally science-o-riffic but KJ is better because you can think about how far you have to move your ugly fat ass up a hill to lose some weight.

Unless of course you can turn up your body temperature on cue, in which case, That's really cool but try not to boil yourself.

[ Parent ]

Not asking for a definition (5.00 / 1) (#210)
by brkn on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:10:39 AM EST

The parent poster is not asking to his question about what a calorie means - he's making a point.

Putting a red dot with a number on food packaging is completely arbitrary unless you already understand and are involved in the whole idea of regulating calories.

Being someone who doesn't need to worry about weight, a number of calories is completely arbitrary to me. I don't know how many I should be eating a day (and whether that number is different for different people, metabolisms, lifestyles, etc. which I presume it would be). I would guess that most people would be similarly ignorant about calorie counts as I am. The dot with number is only meaningful if you already have the relevant information about the appropriate amount of calories to eat - the people who are concerned about their weight and have gone to the trouble of finding out this information would most probably already look at the table of nutritional information on the back of packaging.

It's a paradox in that the red dot is aimed to help those who are lazy or ignorant in their dieting, but because of that fact, get no meaningful information from a single number.

Assumption is the mother of all fuckups
[ Parent ]

4.2 Joules, IIRC (nt) (none / 0) (#23)
by ajduk on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:26:09 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Calories in food = kilocalories (none / 0) (#188)
by Gumpzilla on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:10:28 PM EST

So it's going to be more like 4.17 kJ.

[ Parent ]
Ok.. (none / 0) (#212)
by ajduk on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 11:22:33 AM EST

Perhaps we should just use electron volts instead.

[ Parent ]

Calories (5.00 / 3) (#79)
by Lazarus Short on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:51:22 PM EST

Scientifically, a calorie is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram  of water by 1 degree Celcius.  A "dietary calorie" is a kilocalorie, or 1000 calories.  Confusingly, dietary calories are often referred to simply as "calories".

A gram of fat, as eaten or stored in your body, contains 9 (dietary) calories.  (That's 3500 calories to the pound, for those of us in the USA.)  I believe that proteins and carbohydrates are 4 or 5 cal/gram, though that's off the top of my head, so you should fact-check that before basing a diet around it.

The average human burns a baseline of around 1800-2400 calories per day, depending on sex, body mass, metabolism, and lifestyle.  An hour of running burns around 700 extra calories.

--
"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance."
  -- Sam Brown


[ Parent ]
Niacin and Riboflavin (none / 0) (#82)
by LilDebbie on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:44:12 PM EST

are both B vitamins, IIRC. I'm certain niacin is a B vitamin, and it's one you can have a lot of fun with, and I'm not talking Flintstones' Kid Vitamins fun. Go to a health store/grocery store/some kind of store and purchase a bottle of niacin supplement. Once home, take a bunch (10 or so pills should do the trick) and wait. In no time at all, you'll feel your ears burning, among other body parts. Y'see kids, niacin causes your capillaries to dilate, flooding your skin with more blood than usual, making you feel warm (this is the same effect as the kind alcohol produces). As far as I know, this is a safe little trick with your body. Too much niacin will, at worst, scar your kidneys/liver like any other substance that you shouldn't have too much of in your body. Just don't take the entire bottle. Enjoy!

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Why? (4.80 / 10) (#20)
by a2800276 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:10:19 AM EST

The only motivation you mention for adding a dot is for fat people to be able to lose weight easier. What's the point? People wanting to lose wait need to deal with proper nutrition and what constitues a healthy diet, and there's more to that than just counting calories.

Anyone who can't figure out that a Mars bar contains lots of calories (and more importantly fat) and shouldn't be eaten if one is worried about being fat won't have the intellectual capacity to add the numbers on 10 to 50 different red dots anyhow.

And anyone who does care about proper nutrition will want to have more information than just the caloric content, for example the ratio of calories to actual nurishment (vitamins and such) of the food.

Nutrional information is already posted rather extensively on food packaging in most parts of the world (esp. USA). If people think they'd lose more weight if the information is BIGGER and comes on a sticker and is mandated by government, I think they're missing an important point, namely that you yourself have to be responsible for your (and your children's) diet.

Delegating that responsibility to a sticker won't do any good, just as sueing McDonald's because you didn't fanthom to think that eating greasy Hamburgs for breakfast, lunch and dinner could do harm, won't make you any skinnier.

Thanks for the criticism, now I return the favour! (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:25:13 AM EST

The only motivation you mention for adding a dot is for fat people to be able to lose weight easier. People wanting to lose wait need to deal with proper nutrition and what constitues a healthy diet, and there's more to that than just counting calories.

To lose wait? I am quite satisified with the length of most periods before gratification, actually.

But to address a similar point that superficially resembles the dire "long waiting line" problem you refer to, the Big Red Dot is all about giving people the ability to count calories easier. Counting calories would be a very easy way to control your diet, if it didn't require all the record-keeping, label-decoding, and arithmetical juggling that it does these days. I'm just proposing that we fix an annoying problem for people who want to control their weight.

Anyone who can't figure out that a Mars bar contains lots of calories (and more importantly fat) and shouldn't be eaten if one is worried about being fat won't have the intellectual capacity to add the numbers on 10 to 50 different red dots anyhow.

Yes, a Mars bar contains lots of calories. But how many, exactly? What about a Cherry Ripe? Or a Violet Crumble? A normal person who wants to lose weight is unlikely to want to think "Mars Bars are bad! I will never again eat one, for they are fattening and wrong!". It is much more useful to be able to know whether eating that particular Mars Bar, right now, will exceed your self-imposed daily limit.

Incidentally, eating sugar makes you just as fat as eating fat of an equal calorie count. The body converts sugar to fat extremely easily.

And anyone who does care about proper nutrition will want to have more information than just the caloric content, for example the ratio of calories to actual nurishment (vitamins and such) of the food.

The purpose of the Dot is to make it much easier for people to control their caloric intake. If they can do that easily and quickly, then they are halfway towards losing (or gaining) weight according to their needs. (The other half, for those who are crying out, nay weeping, to know, is controlling how many calories you use up.)

Calorie content is the only factor in how much energy you take into your body. It actually is the most important thing to know if you want to lose weight.

All that other rubbish just applies to people who want to avoid heart disease, cancer, kidney problems, liver problems, arterial plaque, high blood pressure, mood disorders, or (temporarily!) the negative effects of aging. No Dot could address all the myriad factors that go into those conditions, but what it CAN do is make counting calories a great way to lose weight.

Nutrional information is already posted rather extensively on food packaging in most parts of the world (esp. USA). If people think they'd lose more weight if the information is BIGGER and comes on a sticker and is mandated by government, I think they're missing an important point, namely that you yourself have to be responsible for your (and your children's) diet.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who has noticed that food companies try to hide the nutritional information of their food away on tiny little spreadsheets with misleading markings. "112 calories per serving" and "serving size is 150 ml" on a 600 ml bottle of Coke is a typical example of the misleading nature of their grudging "information".

Many foods, especially ones without much packaging, don't display nutritional information at all, or the company provides it only on written request. The Dot is a way to make food companies tell us exactly how many calories are in their products, with no misdirection or tiny writing. Mandating it by law is the only way they will do it, because it will defuse their brainwa- I mean advertising.


Delegating that responsibility to a sticker won't do any good, just as sueing McDonald's because you didn't fanthom to think that eating greasy Hamburgs for breakfast, lunch and dinner could do harm, won't make you any skinnier.

The Dot is designed to give people more responsibility for what they eat. With the information right there in front of them, they can no longer hide behind the "Low-fat!(and high sugar to hide the taste of our artificial colourings)" label advertising they so love to fool us with.

I do think sueing McDonalds for making you fat is damn stupid. It would be even more obviously stupid, however, if McDonalds told you, right there on the packaging, how much fatter it was making you!

Thanks for giving me more points to address. All criticism is welcome.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Gov't is not to ensure ease of life and addition (none / 0) (#32)
by alevin on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:04:25 AM EST

All that other rubbish just applies to people who want to avoid heart disease, cancer, kidney problems, liver problems, arterial plaque, high blood pressure, mood disorders, or (temporarily!) the negative effects of aging. No Dot could address all the myriad factors that go into those conditions, but what it CAN do is make counting calories a great way to lose weight.

Caloric restriction significantly reduces and delays incidence of all those ails you listed.

I practice it, but I still agree wholeheartedly with the grandparent, that if people want to lose weight or improve their health (as they generally should), they should take the measures necessary, whether that be taking all of five minutes to compile the nutritional information of their diet on the nutrient database, requesting nutrition information from the manufacturer or restaurant owner, or petitioning private organizations to encourage standard labeling on food products.

In the United States, at least, government's role is to protect people from aggression from one another, maintain a minimum set of services, and provide for the defense of the people from foreign invasions. The rest is a private matter. (Yes, I know the government does far more than this today, but try to tell me it's a legitimate function of government.)

I don't see the role of government as being to ensure maximum convenience or awareness of the relative harms or risks of lifestyles and behaviors, be it in the form of big red dots, neon signs, or otherwise. If you are concerned about health and/or weight, you have a few options. Stay away from candy which is likely to have chocolate, fats, and other ingredients of little nutritional value, ask the manufacturer for information (instead of forcing them to give it to you), petition or use a consumer advocacy group or other private organization(s) to pressure the manufacturer to distribute nutrition information with the product, or be so bold and daring as to eat your Violet Crumble without knowing the calorie content.

While it may be popular to use government as a tool of convenience (read: coercion) to eschew personal responsibility and help us make our decisions for us, it is still not a legitimate function, nor is it in our interests to use it for such. Today big red dot, tomorrow the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be telling us how to eat outright, the next day the European Union will be banning import of foods it deems unfit for consumption, and the week after that the Department of Justice and U.S. Fed. Gov. and Food and Drug Administration will be threatening you with prison for putting certain foods and substances into your body, all the while using your money to promote others.
--
alevin
[ Parent ]

Don't eat junk, etc. (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by a2800276 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:43:59 AM EST

Yes, a Mars bar contains lots of calories. But how many, exactly? What about a Cherry Ripe? Or a Violet Crumble? A normal person who wants to lose weight is unlikely to want to think "Mars Bars are bad! I will never again eat one, for they are fattening and wrong!". It is much more useful to be able to know whether eating that particular Mars Bar, right now, will exceed your self-imposed daily limit.

But that's the whole point. If you need to lose weight, you shouldn't be eating Mars bars or Snickers or McDonald's. You also shouldn't be eating ultra low calorie chocolate chip cookies, or any other junk food substitutes. Maybe just eat an apple or a carrot. If you're thristy and need to trim off, try drinking water instead of Diet Coke. Fatty, sugary stuff takes some getting used to and if you don't eat/drink junk for a while those Mars Bars will start tasting atrociously sweet.

All that other rubbish just applies to people who want to avoid heart disease, cancer, kidney problems, liver problems, arterial plaque, high blood pressure, mood disorders, or (temporarily!) the negative effects of aging. No Dot could address all the myriad factors that go into those conditions, but what it CAN do is make counting calories a great way to lose weight.

I'm not sure why the concerns you mention are anymore rubbish than dumbing down food packaging so fat people who can't be asked to lay off the Snicker's all together will find it easier to calculate just how much crap they can stuff themselves with until their daily dose of calories is met? And on top of that are apparently to lazy to turn over their candybar to read the calorie content that's already on the packaging. How is counting calories any different or important.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who has noticed that food companies try to hide the nutritional information of their food away on tiny little spreadsheets with misleading markings. "112 calories per serving" and "serving size is 150 ml" on a 600 ml bottle of Coke is a typical example of the misleading nature of their grudging "information".

But you don't address that problem at all with your dot. The solution to that would be to only buy single serving containers, because no company will be able to guess just how much any one individual will eat as a serving. And if someone is lacking the mental capacity to divide 600 by 150 or is not able to imagine how much a quarter of a bottle of Coke is, they won't be able to add the numbers on the dots, let alone care about calories.

But while we're at it, I'd like to have something that will tell me EXACTLY how expensive a trip by car will be, because I don't feel like looking up the distance to my destination, remembering the mileage my car gets and what gas costs at the station. Also, I'd like a gauge on beer bottles that will warn me just before I'm so drunk that I'll throw up the next morning.

[ Parent ]

minor quibble (none / 0) (#140)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:49:02 PM EST

If you need to lose weight, you shouldn't be eating Mars bars or Snickers or McDonald's.

My understanding is that one is allowed to indulge oneself, as long as it isn't too often. The real difference isn't going to come from NEVER eating poorly, but from MOSTLY eating well and excercising regularly.

[ Parent ]

Just my experience (none / 0) (#178)
by Joe9999 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:47:34 AM EST

That never worked out very well for me at least. Having junkfood every now and then changed it from being food, to being a special forbidden fruit, while at the same time keeping me adjusted to enjoying the taste of it. It was only after giving it all up compleatly that the desire to eat it disapared, and I became better able to appreciate the taste of more healthy foods. Eventually even that lure of the forbidden disapared as I became adjusted to the new, healthier foods.

[ Parent ]
Similar to smoking. (none / 0) (#197)
by a2800276 on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 08:34:06 AM EST

I know some people who, every once in a while when they're drunk, decide they really want to smoke a cigarette. Might not be a great idea, but as long as it happens maybe once or twice a year, what the hell? Someone who was a chainsmoker previously will definately not want to smoke one or two cigarettes as an exception, drunk at a party, because they'll soon start to become prooccupied with searching for another occasion to have one of those occasional cigarettes. The point is, we're not talking about people who eat more or less healthly and get a minimum of exercise, sure they can have a snickers when you're at the gas station and feel the urge, but they won't need a sticker to tell them it's ok to indulge. This is about folks who are so desperate to lose weight, that they'd welcome a dot on their candy bar that has no real purpose other than saving them some trivial effort.

[ Parent ]
I'll second that (none / 0) (#179)
by Joe9999 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:52:25 AM EST

To lose weight, it's best to simply give up the junk food. The amount of calories in those things are terrible, and they'll just wind up forcing someone to eat pathetically small amounts of food for the rest of the day to make up for the fact that they used up 50% of the days alloted calories after eating a snickers. But the worst part is that one keeps the desire for the taste of it alive if he continues to eat them every now and again. Go off it for long enough, and that bowl of rice and vegtables will be every bit as enjoyable, and at about 10% the cost in calories per meal.

[ Parent ]
serving portion (none / 0) (#185)
by des mots on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:04:13 PM EST

While travelling in the States I've also found this calorie/serving almost useless.

But I can say that the practicallity of a uniform system (calorie/100g or calorie/100ml) is quite good, at least in a country using the metric system... By the way, almost all food I eat has no standard "serving" portion (marmelade, non-sliced bread, Pepsi, butter, rice, oil, pasta, apple, abricot...)

This "serving" portion stupidity forces you to do more mathematical operations than the big red dot.

[ Parent ]

Dieting and Calories (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by LilDebbie on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:03:55 PM EST

You'd be surprised just how much your type of diet can affect your weight given equal caloric consumption. Assuming a fixed # of calories between all diets, here are some likely results to various diets:

High sugar diet: results in weight gain unless matched with a great deal of exercise and can quickly lead to diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

High fat, protein (i.e. MEAT): also know as the Atkin's diet. Will result in RAPID weight loss and can quickly lead to heart disease and/or a straight up ketosis-induced heart attack.

High starch diet: probably the best way to get most of your calories. You don't go into ketosis and you're unlikely to get diabetes.

Even if your intact to these 3 are all equivalent on the caloric level, you will get significantly different results. Also, vegetables can be key to a good weight loss diet. A friend of mine is on a 2000 calorie a day diet, but with an emphasis on starches and vegetables, and he's losing 4 pounds a week consistently, with no end in sight (until he becomes a twig, of course).

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Misconceptions (3.00 / 2) (#162)
by gidds on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:18:02 PM EST

High fat, protein (i.e. MEAT): also know as the Atkin's diet. Will result in RAPID weight loss and can quickly lead to heart disease and/or a straight up ketosis-induced heart attack.

I realise I'm going to come across as a fanatic here, but I can't let this pass. Do you have any firm evidence for these claims, or is it just scare-mongering?

Atkins is just the most popular of a number of similar diets. None that I know of are really 'high fat' diets, though that's how others like to portray them; they're low-carb diets. The amount of fat depends on how you choose to eat on such a diet, but there's no necessity for high fat levels at all. In fact, since one of the effects is to reduce hunger, fat levels may fall too.

A low-carb diet may result in rapid weight loss, slow gradual weight loss, or little or no weight loss at all, depending on the particular diet, who's doing it, and how they choose to eat on it. The Atkins diet in particular has gained notoriety for its 'induction' phase where carb is very severely restricted; this may indeed cause rapid weight loss, but it's only recommended for two weeks; after that, carb is less restricted, and weight loss is more gradual. Some other low-carb diets don't have such a restricted phase at all.

Some claim that all the rapid weight loss is water. For the first day or so, yes, it will be (as you use up your body's glycogen supplies, which are stored with 3 parts water). But after that, it's real body mass, and (if you do it right and get enough exercise) will be mostly body fat.

As for claims of low-carb diets causing health problems, most of the evidence is quite the opposite. Ketosis is a perfectly natural state*, and may well be necessary to losing any body fat at all. Some people (e.g. traditional eskimos) get almost no carb in their diet, and they're generally very healthy indeed. Fatty deposits in the arteries will be burned up along with body fat elsewhere, and studies have shown that the cholesterol balance (HDL/LDL) often improves markedly.

(* Ketosis, which simply means 'fat-burning', is not to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition associated with uncontrolled type I diabetes.)

In fact, it's ironic you mention diabetes, which is a condition caused by more carb than your body can cope with! No carb, no diabetes. (I gather that several studies have directly linked the amount of processed sugar in the diet with the incidence of diabetes. It's particularly prevalent in adults who have moved to the west from elsewhere, and aren't used to the high levels of processed sugar and other carbs.)

Now, I could go into as much detail as you like about body chemistry, seasonal diets, and dietary evolution, but I won't bore you with any more until asked!

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Clarity is needed (none / 0) (#151)
by Tatarigami on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:13:23 PM EST

Even with regulations requiring the contents to be displayed on the packet, the manufacturers are still doing their best to slip something past you -- case in point, considering a single item to be an arbitrary number of 'servings'. Yeah, the answer is there if you know to look for it, but is it reasonable to expect the consumer to whip out a pocket calculator to figure out what they're stuffing into themselves?

Last year when I decided it was time to loser my Programmer's Spread I got into the habit of skipping breakfast in favour of a 'Healthy Eating Bar' from the handy bus stop convenience store, and only realised after several weeks that "Holy shit, this thing has more sugar in it than a Shirley Temple movie!"

If I can hide that fucker by closing my fist around it, it's not three servings, regardless of what the company claims.

[ Parent ]

We need _standard_, _readable_ info (none / 0) (#160)
by gidds on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:50:13 PM EST

Nutrional information is already posted rather extensively on food packaging in most parts of the world (esp. USA)

I've heard (though I'd appreciate correction on this) that although packaging in the US does often include lots of information, there's not enough standardisation - for example, values can be just for an arbitrary 'serving' size, which makes it extremely hard to compare figures. Here in the EU, we always have 'per 100g' figures, which makes comparison much easier. We usually have a 'per packet' or 'per serving' figure too, which also helps. And I gather we're stricter about what must appear on the ingredients list.

As someone on a low-carb diet, I'm used to looking at these figures... they're not always easy to locate, but they're almost always there. Maybe the best improvement would simply be to enforce a standardised layout, and minimum font size. Some manufacturers already have good layout and size, but others don't.

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Standardization (none / 0) (#218)
by Deoridhe on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 04:37:54 PM EST

There is a high level of standardization on US serving sizes. The FDA mandated a size, font, and layout for every package large enough to hold it. The same information must be presented on anything that is meant to be sold individually. Also, serving sizes are standardized and based on data taken on what people ate. Unfortunately, people often lie about what they eat. Also, the FDA tried to standardize serving sizes as much as possible, which has lead to some bizarre compromises (breath mint sizes are especially hairy).

"The serving size remains the basis for reporting each food's nutrient content. However, unlike in the past, when the serving size was up to the discretion of the food manufacturer, serving sizes now are more uniform and reflect the amounts people actually eat. They also must be expressed in both common household and metric measures."

-=-=-=-=-=-

-----,----'---{@ If you are lost in your way, deep in an awesome story, don't be in doubt and stray. Cling to your lonesome folly. - .hack//sign
[ Parent ]

great idea, one problem (3.33 / 3) (#25)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:37:30 AM EST

the big red dot

what is it?

the japanese flag?

a reference to a woman's period?

when you accumulate a couple of thousand, do you get an honorific smallpox diagnosis?

i nominate this guy for the symbolic task... (safe link)

http://www.iowapoison.org/Images/MrYuk.jpg

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

All those and more! (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:16:18 AM EST

Red and yellow is easy to read and distinctive to boot! Same font for every Dot. Same colour for every Dot.
On the front, an inch wide, right near the brand name. So it can't be missed, or hidden by artful packaging.  

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

While I agree in theory (4.60 / 5) (#26)
by monkeymind on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:02:37 AM EST

For a lot of people with eating/overweight problems, it is not about the food but about self esteem. The one who are counting calories today already know they are eating to much.

Why?

One reason is that eating makes you feel good. The only time most (western) people ever went without food as children is when they were punished.

The person eats to feel good, fells guilty about eating too much or the wrong things. So they eat more... and so on and so on.

Putting a red dot on a mars bar will not stop this. The only way people will change is if they change their attitude to food and what they eat.

Your witty saying here

Here is my scathing retort, sah! (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:39:35 AM EST

For a lot of people with eating/overweight problems, it is not about the food but about self esteem. The one who are counting calories today already know they are eating too much.<snip>
Putting a red dot on a mars bar will not stop this. The only way people will change is if they change their attitude to food and what they eat.

But once they change their attitude, how do they know which foods to eat in order to stick within their new, disciplined limits? Food companies naturally try to maximise their product's attractiveness to customers, and one way they do that is by hiding any negative qualities away on the back, in small writing. They also force you to calculate how much energy is actually in a product by telling you what is in some fantasy "serving size" that is usually not an easy fraction. Often, they don't tell you how many calories are in the food at all, and pretend that "low fat" means "low energy".

You say that the real issue is that people have to make their own decision about what to eat, and take the responsibility for their diet. I agree! The Dot makes it easier and simpler for them to do both.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Change in attitude is learning about food (none / 0) (#37)
by monkeymind on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:31:55 AM EST

So that you don't have to read a label to know what to eat. It is not rocket science.

Simple meat and three veg. The classic old Aussis diet is not that bad for you. Steam the vegies and have fish a couple of times a week rather than red meat.

Toss out the chips, ice cream etc.

Learn to cook for yourself again. It won't kill you. In fact you may actually live a bit longer.

Side note: Is that really your mobile? If so you are brave.

Your witty saying here
[ Parent ]

Or you could just read the damn nutrition facts (4.12 / 8) (#27)
by rmwise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:03:12 AM EST

If you care so much. By the way, don't eat soy, it seriously fucks with your body (thyroid). Health food nuts can suck my nuts.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


Cabbage inhibits thyroid production, too (5.00 / 3) (#44)
by gordonjcp on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:48:06 AM EST

My mother has a *massively* overactive thyroid, and couldn't stop eating cabbage. Turns out, Googling about it years later, it blocks the production and uptake of thyroxin.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
hey, i'll have to remember that one (5.00 / 3) (#58)
by Delirium on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:05:58 PM EST

I'm allergic to soy, so any excuse for combatting its increasing popularity as an artificial food additive is fine by me.

[ Parent ]
+1, because, hey, life is short... (none / 0) (#29)
by baron samedi on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:17:22 AM EST

So there you go. I knew this shit was bad for you. See? We don't have everything completely wrong over here in California (that's right, I said it)!


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll

Christ how did this get so high (2.93 / 15) (#33)
by rmwise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:08:50 AM EST

This story fucking sucks.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


Dumbing down yet again (3.75 / 4) (#35)
by Quila on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:24:41 AM EST

This idea is taking the concept of labelling for information and trying to turn it into hand-holding for people who eat too much.

What's next, RFID tags in the wrappers that'll trip an alarm in a computer embedded in you if you open too many Snickers?

If people want to lose weight, they can just start by avoiding junk and fast food, which is where you seem to be mainly targeting these labels. After that, they can just eat sensibly and, heaven forbid, exercise.

Cool idea! (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by megid on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:17:56 AM EST

Its simple and elegant.

And, btw, to all the "just look up XYZ" people -- yeah, we intellectuals do that kind of stuff, but normal people dont. And just as we need mandatory health insurance for people that would otherwise just too stupid to make one, helpers to direct health education like this dot would be just fine.

And about the reason: Costs of obesity are just fucking high. 75 billion EUR went into obesity health care in Germany 2002. We as a society could benefit a lot of less obesity. And I guess USians have even more fats.

Overall, a nice "kaizen" type of thing. +1 FP.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."

How about NOT STUFFING YOUR FUCKING FACE? (3.00 / 8) (#41)
by it certainly is on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:38:31 AM EST

Perhaps eating less and exercising more is too intellectual for the fatties?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

This is why (2.00 / 1) (#85)
by LilDebbie on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:09:48 PM EST

I want to remove socialized medicine of any kind. Fuck the fatties! I don't want to pay their health insurance. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I don't get Medicare coverage for lung cancer/emphyzema/etc. because I'm a smoker, why the hell should they get diabetes/thyroid/etc. coverage while they're fatties? This is why socialized health care doesn't work; it only serves the majority.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
There is more choice involved in smoking.. (none / 0) (#90)
by Torka on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:56:19 PM EST

..than there is in being fat.

Before you jump down my throat, I am NOT in any way saying that being fat for most people (barring those with untreated thyroid disorders etc. etc.) is not a choice.

[ Parent ]

Choice is Choice man (none / 0) (#106)
by LilDebbie on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:39:20 PM EST

Yes, thyroid disorders from birth or of genetic problems are not a choice. Of course, most thyroid disorders that lead to fatness are also the result of shitty eating habits. Anyways, I take the argument to the extreme and say that genetic disorders are the responsibility of the parents who made the poor choice in deciding to procreate.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
I believe (4.80 / 5) (#39)
by President Saddam on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:18:12 AM EST

that Indians may sue for copyright infringement. Have you also considered that food companies may run competitions to see who can collect the most dots?

---
Allah Akbar

That'd be great... (5.00 / 2) (#50)
by reklaw on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:05:59 AM EST

They could make you save up the numbers on the dots as "points", and then send out prizes.
-
[ Parent ]
Benefits ? (4.80 / 5) (#40)
by Ptyx on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:31:09 AM EST

This 'solution' would be only usefull to:
  • people who are overweighted
  • and want to follow a diet with an upper calory limit
  • and do not know the approximate calory value of what they are eating, and do not think it's worth to learn it
  • and are however ready to collect and sum up all the tags on a daily basis
  • and eat exclusively stuff packaged in individual portions
  • and never indulge to go over the limit they fixed (isn't it the most difficult part in a diet ?)
Do you still want to annoy everyone else with it ?
-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
That's just it though (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by wrax on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:19:40 AM EST

How is it any more annoying than looking at the wrapper or packaging that the item comes in already? If you don't look at calorie information already, then obviously:

You aren't fat
Or: You don't care about calories
Or: You are not on a diet
Or: Can't be bothered to do math in the first place.

Obviously this type of system holds no value to you, so you can go on blissfully ignoring it like you obviously do other labels, but for the rest of us this would make calorie counting a little easier.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Why though? (none / 0) (#52)
by loucura on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:12:12 AM EST

Seriously, the information is already there on every package. McDonalds has them on the little board because it'd be too expensive to print them on the boxes.

So,what I want to know is, why do you need a sticker? It's on the packaging, right there, on the back, along with all sorts of other useful information.

[ Parent ]

no its not (none / 0) (#54)
by wrax on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:29:01 AM EST

not every package containing food has the nutritional information written on it.

Using the fish sticks example, wouldn't it be simpler to have the number of calories in each fish stick than to have it per serving? I know this would mean i wouldn't have to get the scale out every time i wanted to know how many calories I eat.

bulk foods don;t have nutritional information (ie. a package of chicken from sobeys doesn't have this information.) I know this will never be done, but still its a good idea to know at a glance how many calories are in the food without having to flip over the package and try to descipher the chart on the back, if the chart is even on the package. And McDonalds doesn't put its nutritional information on the menu board, they produce a booklet that has the information which you have to explicitly ask for, if they have them there at all.

I'm not saying for mcdonalds to put it on the packaging, but in a little entry with a number next to Big Mac is all that is required, and then people can't claim they were misled into eating more calories than they wanted, total calories = # of cals in fries + # in burger + # in pop. most everyone will agree that addition is simpler to do than division (at least for mortals like me)and there is no need for a scale.

Its a relativly simple way for the food companies to make calorie diets easier for people to follow and calorie diets are by far the most common used.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

So you're lazy then? (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by loucura on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:01:37 PM EST

Every McDonald's restaurant I've ever been at has a board set up that lists the nutritional values of the food, it's generally on the wall opposite the registers.

It seems counter-intuitive to put the nutritional content of each fish-stick, I don't eat a single fish stick, I eat a single serving size, if you eat more than one serving size, then you'll have to scale it out.

The way I figure it, if you're on a diet, you'd better be ready to do a little work to stick to it, if you can't be bothered to do a little research, why are you going on a diet anyway? Those of us who aren't dieting (that would be the majority) shouldn't have to do extra work so that those of you who have chosen to diet don't have to do extra work.

And, if you can't be bothered to flip the package over, and "decipher" the chart (it's really not that difficult), you're beyond hope, and you should probably stick to eating Crisco and Candy Bars.

[ Parent ]

but thats not the point (none / 0) (#73)
by wrax on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:13:11 PM EST

if your not dieting then your not going to look anyway and it doesn't apply to you, so whats wrong making things a little easier for the rest of us?
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

a clarification (none / 0) (#75)
by wrax on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:29:26 PM EST

I can contradict you right now on the McDonalds thing, I went there for lunch today and the Manager had to look for about 10 minutes to find the information that I wanted. There was no board near the registers nor was there any booklets out in the dining room.

So you eat a single serving size of fish sticks? Glad you have a clear idea on how much a single serving size is, is it 3 or 4 sticks? perhaps its 2 sticks? Some people are confused by serving sizes, and I don't really want to carry around a scale with me and have to get my calculator and slide rule out at each meal. Something like this red dot thing would eliminate the guesswork.

Not everyone is as intelligent and efficient as you, so I wouldn't just slam an idea because it doesn't benifit you.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Further clarification (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by loucura on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:40:20 PM EST

Well, the anecdotal evidence on either side doesn't prove it one way or the other, but the fact is that you can get the information.

Anyway, the red dot idea wouldn't help people who are dieting. It's just like the "No-Fat" labels, and the "No-Carb" labels... it doesn't say anything useful. They'd turn it into a marketing tool, and you'd be right back where you where you are now.

Now with 15% less calories! (15% less than what?)

I'm not claiming to be more intelligent/efficient than everyone, I'm claiming that if you're going to diet you should expect to do work. And I see no point in condoning an idea that doesn't benefit me, and has no apparent benefit to anyone else either.

[ Parent ]

further discussion (none / 0) (#215)
by fishling on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 01:10:02 PM EST

but the fact is that you can get the information.

I don't think that anyone is arguing that this information is not present at all, but that it is currently obfuscated and is not as clear as it could be.

They'd turn it into a marketing tool, and you'd be right back where you where you are now.

I think the point is that this proposal is meant to make it harder to spin the nutritional information for marketing material. Right now, this is done by playing with the definition of a "serving size". I agree with the grandparent that you probably don't eat only a single serving size of most packaged foods according to the definition used on the box, because in many cases, the serving size is absurdly small.

I'm claiming that if you're going to diet you should expect to do work. And I see no point in condoning an idea that doesn't benefit me, and has no apparent benefit to anyone else either.

Ok, this point I really can't agree with. I think that it is a good thing for everyone to have a healthy diet (note: different from the usual use of "diet" as being a short-term crash diet or a fad diet). So, I think that having clear nutrional information is a big aid for that. In that vein, I think that having nutrional information specified in a clear way, such as per unit (fish stick, crack), per item (box of fish sticks, box of crackers), or per mass (per 100g). Per unit/item would make it far easier to calculate and track ones intake and present the information with much less bias/spin for the average consumer who merely glances at the information. Per mass values make it easy to directly compare nutrition for different items. Now, the "red dot" proposal doesn't cover all of this, but it does mean that the calorie info is presented more clearly. The other purpose, not addressed by me, is to make that information stand out more, in the hope that people who currently do not think about caloric intake might be prompted to once the reality of the information is visible and no work needs to be done to calculate it.

[ Parent ]

Jackass (2.50 / 2) (#141)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:58:03 PM EST

STFU

[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 2) (#184)
by GenerationY on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 11:48:58 AM EST

One thing I don't understand about this debate and the article itself; if you are overweight or concerned about your health, wtf are you doing in MacDonald's in the first place? Same goes for the calorific content of doughnuts, sugar(!) etc. cited in the main article. Some time ago weight crept up on me and the only way to deal with it is not to play "number games" with your health but to simply say no to the junk (and too much beer) and stick to balanced healthy diet.

If I can expand on this, what I mean is, an extra Big Mac isn't going to push you over the edge. But switching to a MacFishsandwich(?) because it contains less calories isn't going to save you either. The point is, its the lifestyle that means you are sat in MacDonalds on a regular basis that is the problem.

[ Parent ]

Guilty (none / 0) (#84)
by Ptyx on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:07:34 PM EST

YHBT, but I plead guilty on all charges :)
-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]
You misinterpret and underestimate te problem (1.00 / 2) (#60)
by Pac on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:18:30 PM EST

Point by point:
people who are overweighted
In case you haven't heard about it yet, there is an epidemic of obesity in the Western countries, specially among teenagers and pre-teens. Children as young as 10 are showing high levels of cholesterol, heart problems, etc. Besides, if you count people who does not want to get fat, the numbers quickly add up to a large part of the population.

and want to follow a diet with an upper calory limit
Once you have the dot, a miriad of information can be put on it, including information useful for other kinds of diet.

and do not know the approximate calory value of what they are eating, and do not think it's worth to learn it
Easier said than done. If you only eat a given set of food products, you may come to know their calorie values. But you eat in restaurants, you eat in a trip, you eat in the street. Also, many products use the "serving" concept to conceal the exact value of each serving component.

and are however ready to collect and sum up all the tags on a daily basis
If the tag is handheld readable (or clock readable when we have this other toy) this becomes a non-problem. Just put the dot near the reader in your clock and throw it away.

and eat exclusively stuff packaged in individual portions
Nothing prevents the M&M dot to give you a "mean calory value per unit" and let you input how many of those you have eaten.

and never indulge to go over the limit they fixed (isn't it the most difficult part in a diet ?)
The dot sum only informs you of what you are doing, so you can go over the limit knowingly. How is that bad?

Do you still want to annoy everyone else with it ?
Are you one of those people who are unable to avoid climbing the Everest just because it is there? It is not like he is saying it will be forbidden to "overdot" or even that you must collect the dots. It will just be there. If you want you can use it, if you don't you can ignore it.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
You overestimate the value of the solution (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by Wateshay on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:05:03 PM EST

I think the point he was trying to make is that this will be a big expense (especially if you make them RFID tags) for little real gain. It will provide little information that isn't already available for those people who are motivated to look for it (which in many cases involves flipping over the package and reading the nutrician information that's already provided), and will be mostly ignored by most people who aren't sufficiently motivated to lose weight. And no, seeing the dot on every single food item I buy won't be a major annoyance more me (although having yet another sticker to peel off my fruit will). What will majorly annoy me, though, is when all of my food goes up in price by 5-10 cents per item (you didn't think that the food manufacturers were going to [pardon the pun] eat the cost of doing this, did you?).

"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
Don't stretch the dot ! (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by Ptyx on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:35:44 PM EST

If you put all these informations on the dot, do you really think it will make any difference with the 'nutrition facts' already printed on most food ?

Wasn't the idea to keep the thing simple enough so you can just sum up everything at the end of the day, and not bother having 10 different totals for fat, sugars and eveything ?

I am aware of the obesity problems thanks - I just think that the dot would have as much effect as making mandatory to print the current 'nutrition facts' in italic. And would probably cost a lot much !

Now you have a very good idea when you imagine an handheld device capable of reading the red tag: such a device would surely address the need of many people.

But why the hell do you want it to read a special tag, when almost every product sold anywhere in the world already has a barcode, and handheld barcode readers are commercially available at low cost !?

I'm sure you could even make money from it !
-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]

I like the idea. (none / 0) (#163)
by jmzero on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:21:33 PM EST

-people who are overweighted

Or concerned about health in general.

and want to follow a diet with an upper calory limit

Or just would benefit from recognizing how many calories they're taking in when they snack.

and do not know the approximate calory value of what they are eating, and do not think it's worth to learn it

Most people don't know approximate calory values.  But they'd be more likely to learn them if they were very visible.  A good benefit, really.

and are however ready to collect and sum up all the tags on a daily basis

Some would collect tags, but it's not necessary to do this to benefit from the tags.

and eat exclusively stuff packaged in individual portions

You'd likely have to do some calculation on other foods you eat in order to get your full calories per day.  But, again, not everyone would need to do that to get benefits from knowing "Hey, I ate 700 calories between lunch and dinner".

and never indulge to go over the limit they fixed (isn't it the most difficult part in a diet ?)

This system can't absolve people of that responsibility, but it can help them make better decisions.  You've just got a narrow minded view.

It would be handy to me, for example.  

Quite often I want a snack.  Here we have a vending machine.  If I could see little dots on all the items, it would help me decide what to get (and possibly make me decide to get nothing).  

I don't have a weight problem - I certainly wouldn't be saving my stickers - but I think it's a good plan.  Everyone is not the same as you - I think many people would get really like this system, and it could help them improve their lives.  Why begrudge them that for something with so little cost?
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Does the US not have this? (none / 0) (#48)
by NotZen on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:34:52 AM EST

All foods I see that have packets of any kind in the UK have all sorts of nutritional information on the packet.

Does the US not have something similar?

Yes we do... (none / 0) (#51)
by loucura on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:06:14 AM EST

It's just that people are too lazy to flip the package over and read it. It includes all sorts of useful information, calories, calories by fat, carbohydrates, any vitamins and their percentage of a recommended daily intake (ignoring, however, that you generally don't process all the vitamins that are in said food).

This big red dot idea sucks.

[ Parent ]

No information in restaurants. (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by waxmop on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:21:43 AM EST

In the US, stuff like boxes of Cheerios, sodas, cheese, and bread all have nutritional information printed on the labels. We don't have information printed for stuff like like fresh produce, meat, or prepared foods from the deli.

A few fast-food chains list the information in stores, others do on their web sites, but the vast majority of restaurants don't have this information available.

This is a great idea that would be ridiculously difficult to implement. Chefs try out new dishes on a daily basis. The cost of having each new dish analyzed to discover the nutritional contents would be prohibitive.

In a related note, Chipotle won't release calorie information on their burritos. They claim it's because they haven't done the analysis yet. The real reason, I suspect, is that they fear that the yuppies that pack the place at lunch time every day will disappear once they discover they're eating 2 days worth of calories at one meal.
--
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

is it needed? (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by tps12 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:34:54 AM EST

I actually think common sense here is as useful as hard data. In general, fresh produce and meat is good for you, while fast food and restaurant meals are bad for you.

This is also why a Big Red Dot program would be of little help. That fat person who doesn't know how many calories are in his triple cheeseburger just needs to stop eating triple cheeseburgers. It's not about finding the healthiest candy bar in the machine or the lightest value meal at Taco Bell; it's about living a healthy lifestyle, with no fast food, no soda, no candy, and as little "prepared" food as possible.

If you eat the stuff your body has evolved to digest, then your brain will let you know when you've had enough. Only when you start throwing donuts and Doritos at it do you need to draw up a spreadsheet on your PDA.

[ Parent ]

So, I take it that you eat (none / 0) (#142)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:05:45 PM EST

Mostly low sugar leaves, some fruits and raw recently killed small animals?

Come on, just because your evolutionary ancestors did something doesn't mean it was a good idea.

You can think harder than the pre-chimps can't you? That's a good lad.

[ Parent ]

Not nearly enough. (none / 0) (#57)
by TypographicalError on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:53:20 AM EST

Sure - Telling people about calories is great, but what about the fat that's in a product? That's sort of important as well. Although the saturated fat is also pertinent. You should also consider that calories from fat are less desirable than calories from carbohydrates, typically. Also, calcium intake is important for a lot of senior citizens, and iron intake important for a lot of women.

So, obviously, we need to have big stickers for all these things on the packaging. That way, a person can collect what they want, and have it on them for the day. Now the only problem is actually determining what you're eating, behind all of this nutritional information.

But seriously - calorie counts are pretty useless unless you're actively counting calories, and then people don't seem to have a problem with the system in place. Perhaps a few people would be swayed by these big dots, but I somehow doubt it. Indeed, if they can't simply turn it over and look at the calorie count now, what's to keep them from ignoring it when it's in their face? It's just another number on the packaging, after all.

Of course, if you don't live in the US, then I'm not sure nutritional facts are required where you live. If they aren't, you should be petitioning for something like what the US has - not just calorie counts. Calories are important, but they are not the only content of food.

--
Who booby-trapped my shirt?! Damn you shirt deities!!! Someone help me!! - MisterQueue

I disagree (none / 0) (#143)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:14:25 PM EST

I think the author is probably right. People need an "in your face" ridiculously easy to understand measurement of food: Something both simple, and universal to gauge what they eat by.

Ask your local proletarian friends, "if you wanted to lose weight Mr. Y, do you count the fat, carbs, freshness or calories on the back of the box".

I think the answer might be much more variegated than you might think.

In conclusion, not everyone is as brilliant as you are, please have compassion for your 'idiotic' neighbours. After all when they're all fat and having heart attacks, you'll have a longer wait to get into the hospital and a weaker economy caused by your fattened lazy workforce and fewer attractive females (or males)to inspire productivity.

[ Parent ]

interesting, but I think impractical (none / 0) (#59)
by Delirium on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:12:19 PM EST

In cases where it's practical to put calorie counts -- packaged food -- this is already mandated, and they appear on the label along with lots of other useful information (fat, protein, vitamins, etc.). All this idea would do in those cases is put it on a dot you can tear off if you're too lazy to write down the number that's already on the packaging.

In cases where there aren't labels with nutritional information, it's often impractical. Restaurant meals vary individually, and are often completely changed day to day (especially at small places with one chef), and sticking a red dot on the side of your salad plate seems a bit tacky. Large chain-type places that serve a standard menu should be, if not required, at least strongly encouraged to give the nutritional information, but it can be in a brochure or online.

Now the labels that are missing that I've always wondered about are on alcoholic beverages. Why do cans of soda have labels but cans of beer do not? Due to this omission I seriously have no idea what the nutritional content of beer or wine is.

Alcoholic Beverages (none / 0) (#71)
by wlossog on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:53:08 PM EST

I remember reading something about this in connection with Wernicke-Korsafoff Syndrome, which can occur in extreme alcoholics who go on days-long drinking binges without eating. They don't get enough thiamin and end up brain-damaged.

Now, it would seem like a good idea to add thiamin to alcoholic beverages so that this doesn't happen. But, if my memory serves me, there exists (at least in the US), a law prohibiting alcoholic beverages from claiming any health benefits. So . . . -><- . . . contradiction . . . you (being a beverage maker) can't put thiamin in booze. </p>

This may be an urban legend and it's tangential, but cool.



[ Parent ]
my beer (none / 0) (#120)
by cyclopatra on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:34:57 AM EST

Well, it's cider, actually, but it has nutritional info on it. In fact, the bottle I just finished drinking (the one that's put me over the line and made it hard to type, in fact) has 170 calories, 0g of fat, 16g of carbohydrates, and is 6% alcohol.

I've noticed, however, that imports frequently don't have nutritional info on them, so if you're not American, or you are and don't drink domestic stuff (not that I blame you, our beer really is shit, I wouldn't feed it to my dog), that might be why.

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

you feed your dog beer often? (none / 0) (#144)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:20:02 PM EST

If so, I was curious what age is a dog legal to drink beers at? is it the age of majority in human years converted to dog years, or do they have their own standard?

[ Parent ]
Legal age for beer (none / 0) (#237)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 18, 2003 at 12:20:16 PM EST

I don't know about dogs but I used to have a pet rat who absolutely loved beer and would do anything to get at it. So usually I gave him a little in a tiny saucer to stop him from pertering me. Having drunk it he'd go back to his cage and sleep it off :)

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

I'm not a fat american (3.37 / 16) (#62)
by I Hate Yanks on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:32:04 PM EST

Lets face it. The only people who would benefit from this scheme are FAT FUCKING YANKS. Can you imagine the cost that it will take to set up and regulate it?

I don't have to watch my calories. I'm not fat. I exercise. I don't want to know how may calories are in my food. I eat what ever I want to eat.

I don't want my favourite food to be made less calorific just to meet the number in the big red dot.

You fat fucking americans. You know you eat fatty shit. If you need a big red dot to tell you that something is bad for you then you are stupid stupid stupid.

Eat some fucking celery.


Reasons to hate Americans (No. 66): The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Yay. (2.33 / 3) (#109)
by kitten on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:39:20 PM EST

O say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Your forefathers would be ashamed (1.00 / 2) (#124)
by I Hate Yanks on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:21:33 AM EST

All that promise and look at what America has become now:

A land of fat fuckers who terrorise the rest of the world from the comfort of their own fucking fat asses.

Take your pathetic song away. Its a memory of a long gone past. America is no longer proud and impressive, its just pathetic.


Reasons to hate Americans (No. 66): The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
[ Parent ]

Well.. (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by kitten on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:18:03 AM EST

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
ZING!!! (none / 0) (#146)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:24:39 PM EST

Nice one!

[ Parent ]
Quick, while they're all standing to attention... (none / 0) (#231)
by mickwd on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 06:42:08 PM EST

....someone, steal their twinkies.

[ Parent ]
And thank you so very much (none / 0) (#110)
by buck on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:42:31 PM EST

for sending over here your best and brightest over 300 years ago.

You stoopid mutha fucka you.

-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]

Yay (2.66 / 3) (#111)
by BinaryTree on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:42:41 PM EST

God bless America
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.

God bless America
My home, sweet home.

[ Parent ]

God hates you all (1.00 / 1) (#125)
by I Hate Yanks on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:27:11 AM EST

God doesn't like Americans anymore than I do.

Take your pathetic song away.

You fat americans break every fucking rule in the bible.


Reasons to hate Americans (No. 66): The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
[ Parent ]

yeah! GO SOX!! [nt] (none / 0) (#157)
by rmg on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:13:18 PM EST



_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Yay! (2.66 / 3) (#119)
by cyclopatra on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:30:11 AM EST

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountains, majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

I don't know quite what I'm doing, but I saw other people doing it and it looks like fun. So *that's* how memes start...

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Too simplistic (4.33 / 3) (#63)
by omegadan on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:35:22 PM EST

But still a step in the right direction ... Healthy eating is *supposed* to be getting a high nutrient to calorie ratio, not eating 5 twinkies and calling it a day :)

However, your plan still does *something*, which is better then the nothing everyone else is doing. I think if us americans get any fatter we're going to throw the earth off axis :)

I wonder if someone could make a ring or a watch with a barcode scanner in it and a LCD to display how many calories you've eaten. Food could be tagged with a barcode which you'd pass the ring over and it would print a total on the LCD screen.

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

Like a Secret Calorie Decoder Ring? (none / 0) (#94)
by kitten on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:36:28 PM EST

That'd be kind of cool, actually.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
why stop at calories (none / 0) (#182)
by chimera on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 09:47:27 AM EST

printable chips could be quite useful on packaged or carried foodstuff, listing caloric and nutritient values for the content. this could then be bluetoothed to say your fridge, microwave or your luncheon tablet displaying the nutritional values of your dinner in some easy colourcoded manner. obtaining the eqipment for displayal would of course be entirely volountary, and thus not intrusive for those that don't really care about anything else than the energy and workbreak food can give.

chip-on-packaging could also be good for getting attention to out-of-datebounds content (milk, prefab dinners, twinkies etc) by for example changing the color of an 'old food' warning stripe imbedded in the packaging. or counting bacterial remnants in prefab dinners. or perhaps heat-sensitive sensoring chip/packages which in a manner easily understood tells you if the food inside is heated enough (good for hospitals, international flights, homes for the elderly)

another thing that could be useful would be tagged packaging which reacts on a blutooth'd chip which allergics could carry around, flipping up a warning sign on a chocolate bar that contains nuts for those that cant take that, high salt content for people with bad blood vessels or blood pressure. or do combinations with which food may be bad for those that are on medicines for some temporary ailness such as alcohol for those on psychotics. there are already dog tags for epilleptics, so the above type of techniques is not really a new thing Government throws at you to Spy.

there are many things that can be done with a little time and some thinking. of course it won't be done though, as tagged food requires international cooperation and standards, which we all know US abhoors.

[ Parent ]

what about RFID? (none / 0) (#186)
by DJNW on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:14:50 PM EST

No tracking information embedded in the packaging, just a single number: Calories contained in this packet. Easy as anything to add up too:
  • Take package from fridge/freezer/pantry
  • Swipe across (small, simple and cheap) RFID reader on the front of the fridge
  • An LCD totals up calories of everything swiped
When done, you can just push [reset].

now, I'm willing to bet that if Wal-Mart are contemplating putting RFIDs in stuff, then this has gotta be cost-effective.
and, no, the RFID reader shouldn't be expensive. It doesn't have to be programmable like ones you might drag round a warehouse. All it does it grab a number, and add it to a previous total. you could shove that onto a single chip, and make a killing selling it to fridge makers.

[ Parent ]

It won't solve your kid's problem (none / 0) (#64)
by Pac on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:42:22 PM EST

I like the idea, I would even favour making the "Dot" an RFID kind of thing (so you can add it using your handheld, cellphone or clock). But I doubt it will solve the kids problem with chocolate.

Your kids probably don't care if the bar comes in a flashy package with whatever children cartoon character is fashionable at that time or in a grey package with a big red dot on it. They care about the flavour. And they will still want it, no matter how bug the number in the dot. They will problaby feel a bit more guilty when they eat it, though. But in the end, the only way out is through good old education.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Branding (none / 0) (#68)
by DavisImp on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:16:17 PM EST

That's completely untrue. Kids are more susceptible to branding than their parents; if you've ever gone shopping with a grade-schooler who insisted on getting a cereal because of the character on the box, you'd know this is true. If it weren't, companies wouldn't spend so much money targetting advertising at children.

[ Parent ]
We agree (none / 0) (#70)
by Pac on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:40:38 PM EST

I am just pointing that a good chocolate will be a good chocolate. The author is not talking about "dotting" highly popular candies, he is talking about "dotting" everything. I was just pointing that the chocolate bar being Hershey's, Mars or UnknownLocalButExtremmelyGood won't make a difference for the eating kid.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Yep (none / 0) (#180)
by Joe9999 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 04:19:54 AM EST

It's been a while, but I remember being of that age quite well. I didn't eat cereal or candy because of the taste, more often it was in spite of the taste. It's all about the tie-in or included transforming robot watch.

[ Parent ]
With ATMs, I don't even balance my checkbook. . . (3.33 / 3) (#65)
by IHCOYC on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:50:23 PM EST

You think I'm going to mark down the calories from the labels on these things? Besides, the ninnies all seem to think that people should be eating stuff like apples and carrots anyways. The way those things are manufactured, they don't even have a place to put a bar code.

I am weary, weary, weary, weary,, WEARY, WEARY, WEARY of hearing people harping about "obesity" and similar media-manufactured problems in any case. They don't understand how America works. Some people hope to get rich by selling fatty, high calorie foods that appeal to simple, basic tastes. Other people hope to get rich by making you feel guilty about what you eat and insecure about your weight. The media conglomerates are happy to have both of these large vested interests as customers. But you and I shouldn't circulate the propaganda of the people who are selling insecurity unless we're getting paid handsomely for it.

Tell the calorie counters to buy an ad. . .
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

media-manufactured?????? (1.00 / 2) (#77)
by MMcP on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:05:06 PM EST

60 fucking percent of Americans are obese and it is all a big fake?  I bet you are one of them.

[ Parent ]
you too (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:29:17 PM EST

Fatty!

; )

[ Parent ]

how America works (none / 0) (#164)
by wintergreen on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:21:54 PM EST

You left out the fat government subsidies, so to speak.

[ Parent ]
I agree. (3.28 / 7) (#93)
by kitten on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:30:12 PM EST

A big red Dot on all foods, telling us exactly how many calories are inside. Mandated by law. Overseen by the FDA (or your own country's food authority). A big, simple, yellow-on-red amount, making it simple for anyone who wants to to know exactly how much they're eating, and control their intake accordingly.

I completely agree with this. People are too stupid to know that they're eating too much, and eating food that isn't good for them, so it's up to the government to tell them.

Same thing with cigarettes. Do you know that long ago, people actually lit up tobacco and inhaled the noxious fumes? Nobody knew it was bad for them, so the government put labels on all cigarettes saying "This will kill you," "This will make your babies premature and of low weight," "This contains carbon monoxide," "This will give you cancer." They also ran a series of advertisements on television and radio explaining that cigarettes are bad for you, and now nobody smokes at all.

It's all about information, people. The government is your friend and wants you to live well.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
God you annoy me [n/t] (none / 0) (#133)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:20:32 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Let me call the waaah-mbulance. (none / 0) (#173)
by kitten on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:45:53 AM EST


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
why stop there... (none / 0) (#95)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:24:02 PM EST

Somebody should come up with the food equivalent of Canadian cigarette box health warnings.

--em

Funny story (none / 0) (#148)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:32:34 PM EST

Those boxes made a few people quit smoking, including me.

It stops being quite so cool when you can see a tumour every time you take out the pack.

On the other hand I know some people who collect those packs as if they were pokemon.

[ Parent ]

The new ones in the EU are similar <n/t> (none / 0) (#154)
by tetsuwan on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:59:12 PM EST


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

-1, The Author Knows Jack Shit about Nutrition (2.33 / 3) (#97)
by thelizman on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:26:34 PM EST

[n/t]
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
For those who like to demean and abuse fatties... (4.44 / 9) (#98)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:37:38 PM EST

And hell, who doesn't? Look at its horrible, ugly body! Ooo, isn't the thing disgusting? They're made of rubber, after all. They're not worthy of my respect or basic manners, because they're just weaklings who are too lazy to change.

"Just stop eating, you fat fuck!" What an insightful, reasoned piece of criticism! Yeah, that's a respectful attitude towards a fellow human being. Well done. You have confirmed your superiority over those with lesser metabolism and willpower. Those lesser creatures who don't have it all worked out, like You.

I thank you all for your comments, from "fat fucks!" to kudos, to useful criticism. This is my first story, it was intentionally casual and direct, and I'm sure it shows. What I'd really like to know is whether the basic idea behind my article is so utterly shocking that I shouldn't commit some time to another story.

In this story, I would explain why I believe the obesity problem is worth serious intervention, how information can be empowering to consumers without affecting their rights, and what some of the best ways to do that are. I would include necessary links to actual research, examples of working solutions, and attempted solutions that failed. Essentially, please tell me whether such a thing would be worth it.

Fat fucks! They're approximately 1/3rd of the adult population of the USA, and accelerating, you know. At this rate, you will soon be neck-deep in blubber. Good luck paying those raised taxes and medical insurance premiums!

I'm Australian. We're catching up quick. A quarter of our citizens are fat, and it's going up faster than in the US. We have near-universal public healthcare here, despite the best efforts of our recent "leaders". Most other Western countries are feeling the effects of this problem to differing degrees.

Isn't it a good, practical idea for you, the taxpayer who has to pay for their medical bills, to do something MUCH cheaper that could actually help avert this nightmare?

How many smokers do you know who say "Yeah, I started smoking fifteen years ago, but I didn't know it was dangerous."? None. They've had it hammered into them over and over and over again, just like the rest of us. It has become a part of the deep unconscious for most people.

I want the same total information awareness that has reduced the number of smokers substantially in all countries (that have gone through the information barrage) to apply to specific nutritional information. Caloric content is the most immediate, relevant way to start addressing this. It is an important part of what would be an extremely simple method of changing your diet, if not for the inconsistencies present now.

For the most part, the Dot would cost the company exactly DICK. They already, as you say, calculate the caloric content and other nutritional information. They already put coloured packaging around their food. Therefore, the Dot would require no more than software changes in their printers for the most part. That's for the most stingy option, without the convenience of a seperate sticker that can be peeled off and saved.Even the sticker, however, could be produced en masse, by established printing companies, in huge numbers, taking advantage of economies of scale.

There would be a bit of cost in putting it on restaurant items, but I assume that it could be worked out with a database of how many calories a certain weight of a certain ingredient contains. All the chef has to do for each new kind of meal is type in the amount of ingredients that goes into the cooking, and divide it by the number of servings. Or get one of his lackeys to do it. It won't cost them much time or money, especially if an optional "If the dish isn't around for three days or more, then don't bother" practice is integrated.

Regarding the idea for a barcode reader, I like it. It displays the same "bring together two widgets to enable never-before-seen benefits" as the GPS with preloaded maps of every city on Earth. You could display the caloric content of everything you eat, automatically, have it tallied up for you every day, set reminders for when you're close to your limit, etc. It would certainly make a lot of people's lives easier.

If they could afford to buy one, that is. As several posters have pointed out, unhealthy food is often cheaper than healthy food. Therefore, the fatties are clustered in poorer demographics, and are less able to fund their own solutions to problems. (You may have gathered at this point that I don't see techno-liberal anarchism as being feasible with the people we have today, even though it is by far my preferred form of society. More enlightenment, please!)

If these people don't help themselves, and are going to make us pay for their medical costs, I'm damn well going to try to make losing weight as easy for them as I can! And, yes, fuck it, I just want to help people.

The people who are already calorie-counting, reading the labels on the back, using a notebook, and carrying a calculator around, are the ones with both enough time, and enough discipline to do so.These are not the people we need to help! But they will get benefits from the Dot as well. It will make them much more likely to stick with their own limits.

If you're too poor to afford a barcode reader gizmo, then it's not going to be an option. If you don't have time to write out everything you eat in a notebook, after calculating its real calorie content with your calculator, then a barcode reader is a convenient solution, for the well-off and technoliterate. Except that not everything is barcoded! Especially fast food, meats and raw vegetables, and restaurant food. So now the barcode reader has a flaw, until it is smart enough to look at food with a camera and work out what it is by itself.

Saying "but a GOOD diet includes only home-cooked, properly selected food!" allows you to be both entirely truthful, and utterly unhelpful to most people. Like, say, the old cliche of the Microsoft Helpline. The Dot must be designed to work with the flaws of humanity. Heck, if we all magically "wised up" and started acting right, I'd be ecstatic. It would be the dawn of true anarchy, because no-one would do anything bad to one another. You know that WILL NOT HAPPEN until some kind of singularity or Night of Miracles or somesuch. ;^) So instead, I propose a solution to merely one of the more niggling problems faced by a large chunk of humanity. A solution that will cost, relatively, very little. The major cost will be in the transition period, when companies try to block it through all their powerful means.

Or, if they're self-interested, they could actually lobby FOR the idea, in order to save training new workers when an exisiting one dies. This is what Henry Ford did, right? Among other, less commendable dealings.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

unfortunate (5.00 / 2) (#99)
by wrax on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:54:09 PM EST

I for one would like to see this page up on the front, however the rubes here have seen fit to totally destroy your idea. Perhaps you should repost this to a diary entry? because I do like your idea, and as someone who is currently counting calories I would love to see this implemented. repost to a diary and keep it around. Cheers
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Rubes (none / 0) (#130)
by spasticfraggle on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:54:52 AM EST

Maybe some of the "rubes" would like to shoot the (godawful IMHO) idea down on the frontpage. That's why I voted +1. It's an interesting topic (how far the Nanny State can interfere with basic capitalism).

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]
So, did you start breathing heavily (4.00 / 3) (#100)
by rmwise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:57:24 PM EST

When you got to the second sentence?

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


[ Parent ]
Sure, metaphorically. (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:51:48 PM EST

But in actuality? Never! I maintain that constant breathing is an essential facet of a healthy lifestyle, and invigorates the humours.

Incidentally, surely you understand why someone might get annoyed at phrases like "fat fuck". I'm fat, yes. That gives me the inside perspective on being fat. It has taken me a long time to really understand that people really think less of me for being fat. They respect me less.

Now, this is fine! The aspects of my personality that make me fat are not exactly prized, and rightly so. Depression, ADD, and an unfortunate cluster of food intolerances were factors, sure, but I could have got past it much easier back in my teenage years than now. (I ate two meat pies, a chocolate eclair, and a 600ml carton of chocolate milk for lunch every day! Every day! What kind of idiot does this without expecting to get fat?)

However, the fact remains that only some aspects of my personality are worthy of ridicule. A fat person is more accurately a person who is fat. Their obesity means three significant things: That they are more likely to suffer from certain diseases, they are less visually attractive to other human beings, and they haven't yet bothered to fix it. I refuse to believe that the complexity and wonder that is a human being can be totally buried under thirty kilos of blubber. Dehumanising someone with the term "fucking fattie", "fat fuck" and the like is not, in my opinion, civilised behaviour.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Hooohoooohoooooohoooooooo (3.50 / 2) (#122)
by rmwise on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:15:10 AM EST

So can I call you Jabba?

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


[ Parent ]
So if you're fat... (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by spasticfraggle on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:56:26 AM EST

Is the absence of this little red sticker the thing that will help you lose weight? I mean if this sticker existed, you wouldn't be fat anymore, just like all the other people you're trying to save?

I doubt it. It always comes across as cruel to say it, but the thing keeping fat people from being thin is willpower - not stickers.

Which - apart from the issue of healthcare & taxation, is OK with me. Some people eat too much, I pick my nose in public. I could stop, but it's just so very tasty! ^_^

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

that's not all (none / 0) (#127)
by ItchyNell on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:02:07 AM EST

willpower, yes, but also the metabolism you're born with and the activity you get/can get around your career and lifestyle all have a lot to do with it too.  

[ Parent ]
Excuses (none / 0) (#128)
by spasticfraggle on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:41:36 AM EST

If your body is particularly efficient at digestion, maybe you absorb twice as much energy from food as another person. That just means you have to eat half as much.

If you have a career that stops you exercising, perhaps you should consider giving it up.

If your lifestyle is equally fattening maybe that should be changed too.

I'm not saying that people who are overweight should do "whatever it takes" to become, erm, not-overweight. What I'm saying is that they can if they want to. The simple truths (as I see them) are

  • It is possible to lose weight and keep it off, by the simple combination of eating better/less food, and exercise.
  • Different people have differing propensities to weight gain and maintenance (due to metabolism, age, childbirth, stress, lifestyle, etc etc).
  • Therefore, whilst some people can eat like pigs and stay slim, other people can eat fairly modestly and slowly become, erm, the size of fattened pigs ^_^.
I suspect a lot of overweight people (I'm not one of them) are, perhaps, quite bitter about the fact that they have to work very hard to keep weight off, whilst other people don't. It's unfair, and people don't congratulate them on their positive achievment ("My, how not-especially-fat you're looking this week!").

Well, that's life. I had to work damn hard for a mediocre degree, whilst other people (the bastards!), didn't try as hard and got better results.

As I said, I don't mind people being overweight. The thing that bugs me is when they don't accept responsibility for it. When an overweight person says "Yes, I'm overweight. I could lose weight if I wanted, and I am aware of the medical implications, but I decide not to do so - I am happy as I am". I say "Yay! You girl girl/man!". It's when people say "oooooh, it's not me - it's my genes!" that I start ranting about how their genes aren't producing kilojoules of energy for them by a mysterious reaction, and that they surely aren't generating energy by photosynthesis either ^_^

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Wouldn't that be cool though (5.00 / 2) (#149)
by Subtillus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:51:33 PM EST

If really fat people were just photosynthetically capable.

Imagine putting that on your C.V.

Job skills: Experience in research lab; Computer programming; 3 spoken languages and Photosynthesis.

[ Parent ]

Try it. (none / 0) (#223)
by artis on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 10:26:47 PM EST

"That just means you have to eat half as much."
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
I dont need to, as I don't eat too much. (none / 0) (#225)
by spasticfraggle on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 02:28:53 AM EST

Think harder.

[ Parent ]
Grey areas. (none / 0) (#176)
by Russell Dovey on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:18:00 AM EST

The Dot would certainly make it more convenient for me to lose weight. But I'm losing weight anyway, partially as a fortuitous side-effect of using dexamphetamine to subdue the more annoying facets of having ADD. (It is, after all, chemically similar to speed. Boy howdy does it accelerate your metabolism! You have to be careful while on it that your blood pressure doesn't rise dangerously.)

However, most people aren't allowed to use stimulants to lose weight, in Australia at least, so it's also a matter of changing your lifestyle. For that, you need to know which foods are high in calories, and which are low.

Of course exercise is a part of changing your lifestyle! It's good for you in many ways, not just for getting rid of surplus energy storage cells. The entire point of counting your calories is so you can take conscious control of your body's energy cycle. You can control how many calories you gain from food by counting them as they go in, and you can control how many you lose by exercising by knowing how many calories certain types of exercise burn over time.

The Dot would just make it easier to know how many calories are going in. Simple as that.

If this little sticker existed, it would be easier for the lazy or metabolically unlucky to lose weight and become more healthy. It wouldn't be a magic bullet, it would just be easier. And I personally don't give a shit if this destroys someone's ability to sneer at those with less willpower or genetic fortune. (Not that you're doing that, mind. I'm just too lazy to write individual posts replying to all those guys. :)

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Funny Funny (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by Simowen on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:26:21 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Also (4.42 / 7) (#101)
by rmwise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:59:39 PM EST

I don't know about the land down under, but here in the USA you can look at the nutrition facts part of the label. But then, if you need a red dot to tell you the calories when they're already there, you're probably too lazy to lose weight or stay in shape.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


[ Parent ]
Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by Hatamoto on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:11:43 PM EST

According to this factsheet on obesity in the US, approx 2/3rds of the US is overweight (fat), with 1/3rd being obese (really fat) and a bit less than 5% is serverly/morbidly obese (really really fucking fat). That's a lot of pudgey people waddling around, for sure.

Speaking as someone who's gone from 'really fat' to now just 'fat' (and dropping), I can say that any information available to the potential weight-lossee is a Good Thing, although I think your Big Red Dot(tm) is already more or less taken care of in standard food labelling required by law (at least, required by law here in Canada).

Weight Watchers adherents have websites which are amazingly helpful with providing nutritional information for things that aren't immediately obvious or immediately available... which is fine if you're online, but sucks if you're poor or out in the boonies somewhere.

--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

Seperate sticker that can be peeled off (none / 0) (#123)
by tedoneill on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:16:39 AM EST

That wouldn't need to cost much more, if any, more. Here in Japan almost any canned or bottled drink comes with just such a sticker. Many other snack foods do as well. They have points on the underside to get prizes. Of course, encouraging people to buy enough product to get a spiffy <insert foodcorp here> logo t-shirt or clock radio is counter to what you are aiming for, but it demonstrates that stickers can be added a low cost. It seems a fair enough compromise to let the producer stick its logo or URL on the underside of such a sticker. That might even add value to it from the user's point of view; it would become far easier to keep track of which BRDs were adding the most to their intake. "Hmm... What were all these 250s again? *Lift sticker off tally sheet* Oh yeah! They were choco-laden-peanut capsules... And, just for balance, the corp flashed it's logo at you again.

--Ted

"Always be wary of any helpful item which weighs less than its operating manual." -- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

If you are going to post articles.... (5.00 / 3) (#129)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:45:26 AM EST

... better you grow a thick skin.

They will be misrepresented, turned, around you and you will be vilipendied an insulted.

But that is good and you should not complain about it.

Present your arguments, and counterarguments, but for the life of the ninja turtles. do not whine.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

ooh, i like that one. (none / 0) (#158)
by rmg on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:17:24 PM EST

"vilipendied." you have my eternal gratitude.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

ha, sorry, that should be 'vilipended' [nt] (none / 0) (#159)
by rmg on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:19:00 PM EST



_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

I have a thick skin, damnit! (1.00 / 1) (#175)
by Russell Dovey on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:55:23 AM EST

And anyone who doesn't think that I have a thick skin can just... fuck off and die! Die, damn you! I hate you all! I'm going to make my own web site, where people who disagree with me are automagically deleted!

I've been lurking, and occasionally posting, on Kuro5hin for over a year. Insults, negative comments, and persistent misunderstandings are part of the environment. They're not going to stop me.

In fact, I was overjoyed to see, last night, that my article had generated over 400 votes, and they still almost balanced each other! Amazing. If I've achieved nothing else, I've made a lot of people think about something. Much, much better than no responses at all.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

More barcode (none / 0) (#134)
by Ptyx on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:11:57 PM EST

What I'd really like to know is whether the basic idea behind my article is so utterly shocking that I shouldn't commit some time to another story.

Do I find your idea shocking ? No.
Do I think it is naive and useless ? Yes.
Does it means it is not a good starting point for a debate, or that anything you may write from now on will be worthless and automatically get -1 ? Certainly not.
Don't be discouraged !

About the barcode stuff:

You point out the cost of the device. The barcode reader itself is not much of a problem (remember CueCat), but the device would need a large database, along with minimal update capabilities and an interface. When you see the price of some 'organisers', and considering the huge market it can target, the final cost could probably be kept reasonable. And I'm sure you could get a participation from the government.

Regarding food without barcode, obviously the barcode reader has exactly the same limitations than any labelling scheme: if it's not labelled, you're screwed. However, any electronic device capable of storing a huge database is probably powerfull enough to provide a simple interface so its user can choose to 'eat' from a menu ('a part of pizza', 'a soda') rather than from a barcode. Which is a lot better than trying to sum up from stickers, old receipts, memory and napkins

Now, why hasn't anyone started a business yet ?


-- "On voudrais parfois être cannibale, moins pour le plaisir de dévorer tel ou tel que pour celui de le vomir... " Cioran
[ Parent ]
Low calorie diets don't work (4.60 / 5) (#108)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:35:26 PM EST

I have never had any success at losing weight through low calorie diets, nor with low fat diets. I have a friend who has spent a few months on a low-cal diet, and she has lost less than ten pounds, while enduring months of constant hunger. Almost everyone who does succeed with a low-cal diet finds that the weight comes back after they stop the diet.

The problem is that it's not a simple matter of energy conservation. You actually don't use most of the calories you eat. The problem is that millions of years of evolution have adapted your body to times of famine by becoming more efficient when caloric intake is reduced.

I have had more success with losing weight through exercise, but it takes a lot of exercise. The one time it ever worked, I had a job at the top of a big long hill and I got there by riding my bicycle every day.

I am 5 feet 11 inches tall. I weighed 250 pounds from 1994 until last year. The way I finally lost most of the weight I gained in 1994 was by drastically reducing my carbohydrates. In a few months I lost 40 pounds, and it has stayed off in the nine months since. I also stopped having problems with hypoglycemia.

I have had to buy new pants because my old ones will fall off if I forget to wear my belt.

The diet I used, Protein Power, limited my carbohydrates to 30 grams a day. That's about an ounce. A decent slice of bread would fill my quota.

On the other hand, I was rarely hungry. It seems eating carbohydrates makes you hungry again soon, while protein and fat makes you feel full, and you can eat as much of them as you like.

At 210 pounds, I look and feel better, but am still noticably overweight. So I recently decided I wanted to lose some more. This time I am using the Atkins diet, which during its "induction" stage limits you to 20 grams of carbohydrates. I've only been on it a couple weeks, but have lost 6 pounds.

Ten years of watching my calories and fat with no result, then a few months of watching my carbs and losing 40 pounds. That seems pretty simple to me.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Duh (4.00 / 2) (#112)
by damiam on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:56:57 PM EST

Almost everyone who does succeed with a low-cal diet finds that the weight comes back after they stop the diet.

If you stop dieting, and start eating more, you're gonna gain weight. Period. No matter what diet.

[ Parent ]

you obviously missed the point (none / 0) (#117)
by krkrbt on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:57:55 AM EST

If you stop dieting, and start eating more, you're gonna gain weight. Period. No matter what diet.

the point was that, if the dietary path an individual chooses in their quest to lose weight requires significant amounts of willpower, they will eventually get tired of feeling hungry all the time and go back to their old eating habits.  What Mr. Crawford said was that it is better to adopt a new paradigm, one supported by millions of years of evolution, than trying one advocated by some damn fool from the 80's (eg, low calorie [high carb], low fat, lots of exercise, etc).  

incidentally, imho, the low-carb lifestyle rocks.  http://www.mercola.com has lots of good information.

[ Parent ]

and that new paradigm.... (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by collideiscope on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:15:29 PM EST

...shouldn't be Atkins.

Atkins is a crock. The only "weight" people loose on Atkins is water weight, and it will come back as soon as they return to their previous levels of carb consumptions.

Low calorie dieting not only works, it's the only type of diet that DOES work. Food combining, "metabolic advantage", all that is just so much hot air blown at consumers by money-hungry profiteers. All anyone really needs to look at is the calories in - calories out equation.

Yes, exercise factors into this equation, so exercise is important. Yes, adequate protein and fiber consumption are important. So is vitamin and mineral intake and EFAs.

Beyond that, it's all talk.

-------------------------------
Hope is a disease. Get infected.
[ Parent ]

If I lost 40 lbs of water weight, I'd be dead (none / 0) (#167)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:28:01 PM EST

My friend, I lost 40 pounds on the Protein Power diet, which allows 30 grams a day of carbohydrates (americans typically eat more like 400-500 grams of carbs).

I'd like you to try a little experiment. I want you to go a week without consuming any liquid. Not just no beverages - but no food with any moisture in it at all. Bread, dry cereal and the like should work well.

You will lose less than forty pounds of "water weight". And then you will die. It will also start out as unpleasant and then become exquisite torture. Your urine will turn brown, and then you will not pee at all. Better hope it's not hot out, because you want sweat either. But after a week you won't care, because you'd be dead.

The jowls that appear in the picture of my smiling face on my wedding day, jowls which are no longer present, were not water deposits.

My pants wouldn't be falling off if I only lost water weight, at least any amount that wouldn't have already killed me. If I wear my older pants without a belt (which I do sometimes because I'm absent-minded), I have to walk around with my hands in my pockets to hold them up.

I know of people that have lost over 150 pounds on atkins. There is not that much water in an entire human body. Fat people are not fat because they retain so much water - if they did, the dilution of their electrolytes would kill them too.

As for being unable to sustain the weight loss, that's not true. That only applies to low-calorie diets. After losing 40 pounds, I increased my carbs significantly. While I never returned to my old habits of spaghetti and sugar-sweetened coca cola, I did eat a great deal of bread, fruit, juice and other carb-laden foods. And the weight stayed off for nine months.

I am only dieting again because I didn't lose as much weight as I wanted to start with. Weight loss slows down towards the end in a low-carb diet, so to lose weight now I am using the stricter Atkins diet rather than the more permissive Protein Power diet.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

it seems that you missed the point too. (none / 0) (#171)
by krkrbt on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:30:46 AM EST

Atkins is a crock. The only "weight" people loose on Atkins is water weight, and it will come back as soon as they return to their previous levels of carb consumptions.

The premise of Atkins/low carb is that massive amounts of carbs are unhealthy.  Therefore, once someone starts on a "low carb diet", they will NEVER EVER return to their previous level of carb consumption.  Consider the pages on Dr. Mercola's site (linked above).  Especially consider what he says on this page.  And if you're unwilling to consider this "new" information, well - I won't waste any more of my time trying to convince you that your information is less than complete.  

[ Parent ]

Low-calorie diet works, but here's how (none / 0) (#118)
by TheModerate on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:49:27 AM EST

At least it worked for me.

But you do need exercise, everywhere I have read (not that I read a lot about dieting---the literature is awful and happy) it says that you need to have an exercise program to go along with it simply because its healthier. I've heard this is true with the low carb diets too.

Also, as I understand it, you need to take breaks from your low-cal diet every now and then, like every two weeks buy a pizza or something, and you will find that you'll suddenly start losing wieght again. This causes your body to get out of starve-mode for a while and increase your metabolism again.

But all in all, I've lost about 15 lbs so far.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

That is well and good for dieting. (none / 0) (#132)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:51:36 AM EST

If you carry on like that permanently get ready for a colon cancer or other nasties.

At the end, once you lose weight via your Atkiens diet (which is what it is) you still have to get ready to reduce your caloric intake, and that will not be achieved by a permanent hig protein diet.

You have to reduce calories with a balanced diet with lots of fiber and to do exercise.

At the end there i no magic bullet for a healty lifestyle.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Then don't starve (none / 0) (#166)
by p3d0 on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:50:22 PM EST

Most of us eat until we are "full". That is, we eat until we no longer enjoy the food. The key is to change your habits so you stop eating when you are no longer hungry. You eat less, and you don't get a starvation response because you're genuinely not hungry.

Our modern lifestyle blurs the distinction between desire for food and true hunger, but if you re-learn how to tell these two things apart, you can lose weight. (You need to exercise too, of course.)
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]

triggering the "full" response (none / 0) (#172)
by krkrbt on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:45:40 AM EST

Most of us eat until we are "full". That is, we eat until we no longer enjoy the food. The key is to change your habits so you stop eating when you are no longer hungry. You eat less, and you don't get a starvation response because you're genuinely not hungry.

For a while there, I was eating one meal a day that was primarily carbohydrate-based.  I'd consume a serving of [whatever].. hmm, still hungry.  So I'd have another serving, then another, and another, and I'd never fill up.  So, before long, I was still hungry, but there simply wasn't any more room in my stomach for more carbohydrate-based foods.  

And then one day surfing the internet, I found the reason why I'd never fill up:  it is the fat in foods that triggers the "I'm full" signal.  

There was a comment on the other site that said this beautifully...  real short, so I'll quote him here:  


"If you actually read Atkin's books, he explicitly says weight loss comes down to cutting calories. The advantage of a low carbohydrate diet is that the calories you do take in make you feel more satisfied, as well as not driving up your insulin levels."

some of the responses are wonderfully stated as well.

[ Parent ]
How do you explain potatoes? (none / 0) (#211)
by p3d0 on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 10:50:13 AM EST

The satiety index ranks potatoes as the most filling food, but they are almost entirely carbs.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Muesli less than cookies? (none / 0) (#222)
by artis on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 10:13:08 PM EST

Muesli is one of the things that fills me best.
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
Calories, not mass (none / 0) (#228)
by p3d0 on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 06:45:13 AM EST

I know what you mean. I can only guess it's because they gave equal-calorie portions, and therefore the muesli portion was very small?
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Being hungry (none / 0) (#189)
by mmealman on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:02:30 PM EST

If you're hungry on a low cal diet, you're not dieting properly. Can anyone tell me they'd be hungry eating six 6 inch turkey and ham subway sandwiches a day? Yet that's under 1800 calories.

A low cal diet is about understanding what you're eating and tailoring your diet to eat as much as possible while taking in as few as calories as possible. You make decisions, do you suck down a couple sodas for 300 calories or eat a six inch sandwich. Do you snack on a 200 calorie candy bar or eat some 30 calory carrots?

You don't cut down your food intake, you change what you eat.

[ Parent ]
It can be very hard (none / 0) (#209)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:05:11 AM EST

to find foods that satisfy you emotionally while meeting the calorie limit. Personally, I can't stand carrots. Beef jerky is a good substitute for me (you can get jaw cramps before you manage to eat 300 calories of beef jerky) but it's fairly expensive...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
When you watch carbs... (none / 0) (#190)
by lb008d on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:12:44 PM EST

you're watching calories. The high-protiein diets aren't immune to the laws of thermodynamics - in order to lose a pound of fat you have to consume about 3500 fewer calories than you expend.

The success that people have through high-protein diets can be attributed to their hunger-reducing properties as well as to other factors like ketosis. But in the end, if you've lost weight, you have somehow created a calorie deficit. The laws of physics require it.

[ Parent ]

Low carb is in no way low calorie (5.00 / 1) (#194)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 10:41:44 PM EST

While I haven't counted the calories (as there's no need to), I have no doubt that both the protein power and the atkins diet are high-calorie diets.

Breakfast for me is typically bacon and eggs. If I just have eggs, I fry them in butter. Sometimes I have a "mock danish". It's really nothing like a danish, but is made of eggs, cream cheese and artificial sweetener.

I eat steak for dinner several nights a week. I put oil and vineger on my salad. I buy canned corned beef and snack on slices of it - it's high in fat.

Don't forget the cheese. The only problem with cheese is that the lactose in it is carbohydrate. But cheese is mostly fat so a fair amount of it is OK.

You have to understand that missing from most dieters understanding of weigh loss is efficiency. If you have a 2000 calorie diet, you're not using nearly all those 2000 calories to fuel your body. Many are wasted. And if you cut the calories, you get more efficient, so it is very difficult to cut enough calories to lose any weight.

And if you do lose some weight, and go back to a diet that lets you feel satiated - well now your body's really efficient and you get fat again.

With the low carb diet, you eat enough fat and protein - enough calories - that your body maintains its inefficiency.

The reason you lose weight when you cut carbs has nothing to do with reducing calories and everything to do with changing the action of insulin in your body. Stimulating too much insulin production by eating too much carbs is what makes you fat.

After having reduced carbs for a while, your body doesn't produce insulin as vigorously, so it is possible to reduce a modest amount of carbs, enough to eat more interesting things, without getting fat.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#198)
by lb008d on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 11:01:21 AM EST

The reason you lose weight when you cut carbs has nothing to do with reducing calories

Protein itself takes about on average 1.5 calories per gram of intake (4 calories) to process - for a net intake of about 2.5 cals. Carbs are similar, and fat only takes about 1 cal per gram (9 calories) to process - a net of 8 calories per gram. On a high-protein diet, your body undergoes ketosis, which increases your daily caloric expenditure on top of your normal requirements.

In the end, your weight loss is due to a net reduction in calories per day. There is no other explanation.

If you think otherwise, please publish your results in a physics journal, as I'm sure they'd love to know how the human body can violate a basic law of physics.

[ Parent ]

Not at all. (none / 0) (#208)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:02:35 AM EST

There's a basic difference between caloric sources. Carbs readily digest and translate into sugars and fat. Protiens are harder to digest and tend not to get converted into sugars.

Plus as the original poster mentioned, you really can't assume that the digestive process is 100% efficient, or that all food is converted with the same efficiency.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
cheater cheater (none / 0) (#196)
by bolthole on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 03:37:50 AM EST

I have a friend who has spent a few months on a low-cal diet, and she has lost less than ten pounds, while enduring months of constant hunger.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts (har har) that she cheated.

People on a low calorie diet fail to lose significant weight, because of basically one or more of the following reasons:

  1. they dont actually count everything that goes in their mouth ("oh, one[two,three] potato chips doesnt count")
  2. they dont KNOW the calories everything that goes in their mouth. (similar to a guy I know who was trying to reduce his cholesterol, so was eating salads every day... with regular salad dressing. Yeah. great.)
  3. They have set an inappropriate daily calorie limit for their current level of excercise.
This is basic math and biology, people. (calories in - calories out) = (delta of stored calories, aka "FAT").

But then again, a huge number of americans fail basic math and biology(or never even take a bio course). Coincidence? I think not.

or for the no-brainer I-cant-do-math approach, the cheap-but-effective pre-packaged food approach.

ANY basically active person will lose weight, if they eat only one "slim-fast" bar/can for each meal, and put nothing else in their mouth, besides water.

ANY basically active person will lose weight, if they eat only one weight-watchers/lean cuisine/etc microwave food package for each meal, and put nothing else in their mouth, besides water.

PS to your friend who "only" lost 10 pounds: if that's a pound a week, she's actually doing great.  you didnt give the specific number of months involved, so it's not clear.
 It shouldnt be about "how fast can I lose weight"?, it should be about "how can I permenantly change my eating habits so that I eat healthy now?" If she was just planning to do this until she lost X number of pounds, she should change her strategy anyway.


[ Parent ]

Bah. Spoken by someone who has (none / 0) (#207)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 08:59:46 AM EST

never been seriously over weight, I bet.

I have the same problem - for me the answer is heavy exercise. Otherwise, I will gain weight on 1000 calories per day.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
so? (none / 0) (#219)
by bolthole on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 07:33:13 PM EST

your post in no way contradicts what I wrote.
your situation falls squarely in case #3:

" They have set an inappropriate daily calorie limit for their current level of excercise."

So, you fixed the problem by increasing your level of excercise. good for you.


[ Parent ]

You need to pay more attention. (none / 0) (#233)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 11:14:39 PM EST

It doesn't matter how little I eat. I've gained weight on 1000 calories per day. Diets just make me tired and sleepy.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
what about germ counts for other kinds of OCDs? (4.28 / 7) (#113)
by livus on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:05:33 AM EST

Really I don't see why you should discriminate for one lot of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders concerning number of calories and not for those with disorders relating to germs.

Actually there are a whole bunch of neuroses that ould be allayed/exacerbated with a system of dots. Why stop there?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

What about people who are afraid of dots? (5.00 / 3) (#137)
by jt on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:20:30 PM EST

How will you cater to them?

[ Parent ]
I suppose, they (none / 0) (#165)
by sbash on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:33:25 PM EST

would just have to suck it up a face their fear...

|_
"Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
[ Parent ]
by confirming their worst fears! n/t (none / 0) (#170)
by livus on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:05:28 AM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Creative (none / 0) (#116)
by Philosofique on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:19:38 AM EST

As it stands, almost everything you can eat has a chart outlining nutrition facts, including breakdowns (though not terribly detailed) of carbohydrates, fibers, minerals, and even dreaded fats. Additionally, according to an article in the Washington Post (July 9, 2003), the federal government will require food labels to list the recently villianized trans fats by 2006. It's already possible to calculate your general caloric intake. Mixed with exercise, the tools to weight loss already exist. Your idea, however, shows creativity in making the extant information more readily accessible.

A problem (none / 0) (#150)
by proles on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:09:13 PM EST

First off, the political/lobbying power of food industries (a la Phillip Morris) is much greater than any "health/fitness lobby".

Secondly, they've already worked around this and will continue to do so.  They split things into multiple servings even when they aren't typically eaten in multiple servings (20 oz sodas tend to be split into 2.5 servings, king size candies can be split into as many as 7 or 8 servings).

And yeah.  It's nice, but the bottom line is people eat too much and get fat because they want to because food tastes good (or perhaps because they are genetically predisposed or whatever, but labels won't help there either).  It's a self control issue, not a mislabeling issue.  People generally know what's bad for them, but they'll do it anyway.  Excess is too much fun, be it in the form of food, drink, or whatever else.
If there is hope, it lies in the proles.

10,000,000 years of reasoning (5.00 / 1) (#201)
by LiberalApplication on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 06:38:09 PM EST

Now, this is just me blathering, but I think there are ten million years of reasoning behind our tendencies towards obesity. Excess and surplus have really only been available to the general populace in the past fifty years, and for the rest of our lifetime as a species, we've generally been eking out bare livings eating when we could (royalty and peoples-in-power obviously do not count because they represent such a small portion of the population).

I'm convinced that we are hardwired to stockpile bodily resiurces whenever possible. Our predisposition towards fatty foods is a direct result of the fact that fats are stable, longterm reserves of energy which generally did not occur in such starlingly accessible an array of sources during the past tens of thousands of years. Anyone who has a pet knows that most animals, domesticated or not, will just keep eating and eating and eating if you leave the entire bag of kibbles out. Little meow-meow will keep meow-ing for treats for as long as you're holding onto the bag.

We're not that different from them. Sure, we're "smarter", but if we don't apply our attention to the fact that our environments make accessible to us more edible material at less effort and coat than ever before in history, we're just as likely as meow-meow to take that for granted and stuff ourselves, simply because a survival tactic learned thousands of years ago encourages our bodies to save for a drought or famine whatever it can. That *is* what bodily fat reserves are for, after all.

The problem which needs to be addressed is, at a higher level, teaching the world to cope with the circumstances that surround us, the rapid progress of low-cost mass production. It involves all forms of excesses, and all the social decay which accompanies the addition of free time and too-easy access to fairly dangerous things.

I think it's impossible. Left to our own devices, it will take just as long to change ourselves as it did to make us the creatures that we are.

The only choice: EUGENICS

Just kidding.

[ Parent ]

serving sizes (none / 0) (#217)
by Deoridhe on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 04:16:25 PM EST

Actually, you're wrong. The FDA has spent the last decade or so regulating and redefining serving sizes because the companies were blatently using serving sizes to lie about the healthiness of their products, so they regulated them based on a study of normal human intake. <link>
"The serving size remains the basis for reporting each food's nutrient content. However, unlike in the past, when the serving size was up to the discretion of the food manufacturer, serving sizes now are more uniform and reflect the amounts people actually eat. They also must be expressed in both common household and metric measures."

It took them about four or five years to sift through the data (and the ice cream data was particularly funny, since people would report single spoonfuls of ice cream sometimes. Apparently, there was this one person who reported sitting down and eating an entire tub!) but they managed to come up with something. It isn't ideal, and things like breathmint serving sizes are still being worked on, but it is a hell of a lot better than what we had. My source for most of this (besides the FDA webpage) is a friend who works at the FDA and was the person in charge of serving sizes. All of the above is not true for dietary supplements, however, so you're on your own with them. The FDA tried to get the authority to regulate them for safety, but lost. <link>

-=-=-=-=-=-

-----,----'---{@ If you are lost in your way, deep in an awesome story, don't be in doubt and stray. Cling to your lonesome folly. - .hack//sign
[ Parent ]

Servings? (5.00 / 1) (#221)
by artis on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 10:01:11 PM EST

We have clories per 100g, much better.
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
Big red dot? (2.50 / 2) (#153)
by Hide The Hamster on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:41:41 PM EST

Why I think you may need more protective tampons!


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

That wouldn't be necessary (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by sbash on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:12:55 PM EST

if the vast majority could learn a little self control. The content of what we eat is irrelevant, it is the quantity that makes us unhealthy.

|_
"Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
Healthy? (none / 0) (#220)
by artis on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:57:17 PM EST

It's unhealthy to live -- you die from it.
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
lol... yeah... (none / 0) (#240)
by sbash on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 01:30:09 PM EST

but being healthy is the slowest way to die! so I suppose it is a matter of preference that way...

|_
"Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
[ Parent ]
quantity (none / 0) (#226)
by crayz on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 03:18:49 AM EST

So I can eat one pound of lard or one pound of celery, and the effect on my weight will be the same?

Or do you mean quantity of calories, in which case we wind up back with what the author of this article was suggesting...

[ Parent ]

well... first thing celery is a bad example for (none / 0) (#239)
by sbash on Tue Jul 22, 2003 at 01:26:48 PM EST

you to use. celery is mainly water, thus water retention... but I get your point. I was refering to the quantity of crap that our bodies weren't designed to digest... calories are meaningless providing you burn them off. then they will get converted into fat... but I sit at my desk and practically watch people get fat becaue they eat candy bars and chips all day... it is sickening....

|_
"Eating curry with the boys? You must be British or boring" - Stinky Bottoms
[ Parent ]
You are a fucking moron. (4.20 / 10) (#168)
by j0s)( on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:11:15 PM EST

Calories are the first goddamn thing listed on nutrition guides. How much simpler can that be. The current state of a nutrition guide not only solves your calorie counting "problem", but allows peoploe on other types of diets to see the fat and carbs. That alone makes it infinitely better than a fucking dot.

Next, it would be almost impossible to tell people how many calories and other things are in food prepared at restaraunts, fast food not included. I worked as a cook, and its real simple for the recipe to be changed, done wrong, or just altered, affecting the calories in the meal you get as opposed to the one the person sitting with you gets. Different cuts of the same type of meats will have different amounts, therefore, the best you can do is an approximate.

As far as putting dots on things like pills, fruits, and sugar packets, that would become almost impossible at some point. And as stated above, different apples from the same tree will have different amounts. That is why you have to look it up in a book, because there is one approximate given to all the items. 1/2 a cent times 100 million fruits is 500,000 dollars, I think $500K could be put to a better use than red dots.

Dots would in no way help a fat person lose weight. For the most part, people that need to lose weight would benefit 1000x more from starting an exercise regiment and sticking to it. Thats how you burn fat, not by sitting on your ass eating a mars bar trying to figure out how to add up to 2000. The only reason there is a "calorie coutning is too hard" excuse is because people are lazy. Too lazy to count, definitely too lazy to exercise to lose weight. If some one can figure out how to add 150+900+43+605 to get their daily calories, then they can pick up a damn calculator and divide 400 grams by 95 grams and get approximately .25 and figure out if they eat one-fourth of a box of whatever then they are consuming x amount of calories. That math is no more difficult than adding. Everyone in the US was (attempted, if not successfully) taught how to do that by the time they were 10.

What I want to know, is why an article completely lacking any form of common sense got voted up.

We don't need a dot on top of the nutrition guide, thats redundant and completely moronic. This "article" is completely useless and a waste of your life and mine. Go do something productive, like teach your daughter to add and divide, instead of making my brain hurt because you are dumb enough to think a fucking red dot will solve any problems with America's obesity!! CHRIST!!

-- j0sh



Good point, (none / 0) (#169)
by thufir on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:43:06 PM EST

As I would not want to pay extra money on my food bill just because fat american slobs can't restrain themselves.

[ Parent ]
I see. (none / 0) (#230)
by spcmanspiff on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:44:15 PM EST

You'd prefer to pay it in taxes and insurance premiums.

 

[ Parent ]

dots are for special people (3.50 / 2) (#203)
by seeS on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 10:52:53 PM EST

Illiterate, Innumerate fat people. How are THEY going to read those numbers? It's just too hard.

Or just rub the food on some paper, if it goes clear its fine. Just ask Dr Riviera!
--
Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?
[ Parent ]

A message to those who voted the last poll option (none / 0) (#177)
by Rasman on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:23:03 AM EST

You're wrong. Obesity does little or nothing to select "fittest" genes. Although obese people tend to live shorter lives, almost all of them make it to child-bearing age and there doesn't seem to be anything stopping them from reproducing. If anything, the growing (no pun intended) obese population gives the obese a larger (still no pun) gene pool to choose from.

What you don't see very often, though, are inter-marriages between the slim and the fat. So if anything evolutionary is going on here, it's the diversion of the slim and the fat into two species. There's no eliminating going on at all.

----

Note: all of the above comment is based on the assumption that the obese have no control and are just following their genetic destiny. I believe the real problem is with society in general, not genetics.

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
Fat people (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 04:31:52 AM EST

I was a chubby kid, and know quite well the stigma attached being overweight. I'm in my mid twenties, and though I could stand to lose 10-15 lbs. I'm definetely a shadow of my former self. Because of my experiences as being "the fat kid" for a long time I wouldn't make fun of a person because of their weight. Well, after hearing about these lawsuits against McDonalds and pending ones for companies that use too many trans-fats, that moratorium is off.

Why? Because when I was the fat kid, I was still active as hell. I joined a swim team in when I was in middle school, despite the horror I must have inspired as a fat person in a Speedo. I kept it up all through high school, and by my junior year, I realized, I was no longer fat, and in much better shape than most of the people I knew.

Though I'm not nearly as active now as I was then (hence, the 10-15 lbs.) and I don't really watch my diet all that closely, I still haven't blown up. ITS ALL ABOUT MODERATION. I walk around the city as much as I can, go on bike rides, don't drink much soda or gorge myself on fast food. Anyone who can't do that at a minimum is someone without even the slightest notion of self-discipline, much less self-respect.

Oreos may be loaded with trans-fats, but eating two or three a day isn't going going to make your heart stop. It's when you pack down the whole sleeve, then open a second one that you start to feel it in the hips, tubby. And I can't even comprehend why anyone would want to eat something as foul sounding as gravy fries...

I'm not gonna use the "obesity is strain on our medical system, and raises the cost of healthcare for everyone" excuse though. You're retarded if you think that making every person a non-smoking, non-drinking, aerobically active person who doesn't eat fried foods is going to lower insurance rates a single penny. But if a person has no respect for themselves, don't expect any from me.

just a note (none / 0) (#183)
by chimera on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 10:10:04 AM EST

for those of us who live in countries that carries real social security nets it is actually true that obesity is a strain and makes health-care costly, as just about everything healtcare does ends up on the tax-bill and not as private insurance.

obesity itself isn't the costmaker, it's the heartdiseases, typeII diabetes, brittle bones from lack of excercise and calcium (this doesn't surface for thirtyodd years though), bad backs, alcoholism etc etc that are tag-on ailments associated with 'a modern lifestyle' that generate the big costs. for each obese person that recieves a costly but necessary and fair treatment there are many more secondary disease people that cost a little less money each. in the end the bill skyrockets and winds up as more tax for everyone.

so obesity is a strain in some areas, but more indirectly than directly.

[ Parent ]

Socialist healthcare... (1.00 / 1) (#192)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 05:34:32 PM EST

For those of you living in more socialist societies than the United States, substitute taxes for premiums. Governments are just as crooked as corporations. Even if everyone behaved healthier, your government still won't lower your taxes. They'll either say they need the funds for people who dare leave their house and get end up getting run over by a car, or careless mothers who let their children outside to play and end up breaking their arms. Bitches might as well be on welfare. Meanwhile, they'll secretly attach a pay raise to an anti-terrorism bill that's certain to pass.

Not that I'm saying the US system is better. In the US, we get raped by both our government and our corporations. You probably do too, just more by your government.

[ Parent ]

Solution? (none / 0) (#234)
by dirtmerchant on Wed Jul 16, 2003 at 02:36:48 PM EST

Eliminate both
-- "The universe not only may be queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think" - JBS Haldane
[ Parent ]
Does obesity really cost more? (none / 0) (#235)
by roystgnr on Thu Jul 17, 2003 at 12:36:39 PM EST

Even if some factor harms your health or increases your mortality, it doesn't necessarily follow that said factor will increase the amount you spend on health care.  After all, we're all going to die someday, and most of us are going to spend a period of time dependent on health care insurance claims before we do.  Just because something makes you die earlier doesn't mean it makes you die more expensively.  For an extreme example: concentrated cyanide is clearly even worse for you than hydrogenated oils, but eating the cyanide will have a wonderful reducing effect on your medical expenses.

[ Parent ]
Transfats (none / 0) (#204)
by delmoi on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 01:18:55 AM EST

Those people arn't suing because they were made fat, they are suing because the product contains Transfats, which are physicaly unhealthy in a way that regular fats are not.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
RFID Tags! (5.00 / 2) (#200)
by LiberalApplication on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 05:38:00 PM EST

Since RFID tags stand to be the next great retail rage, how about just putting the information into an RFID tag as well as a big red dot? It'd just be a single integer, and avid dieters would be able to simply wave the food-item over their PDA or Weight-Watchers-branded Calo-counter and have a simple way of tallying their intake. One wave for each serving consumed.

The same could be done for anyone with strict dietary needs, to count specific quantities, such as sugars, cholesterol, sodium, etc. The user of the reader just selects the particular substances they're interested in. The device could signal alarms when reaching certain counts for the indicated substances. It could deliver a shock when you're about to exceed the threshold, and even call for paramedics when you've really overdone it by having that twelfth twinkie.

Even better, the RFID tags could be embedded INSIDE the foods, so that after a meal, you could simply wave the Calo-counter over your tummy, and it would add up all of the things you've eaten!

RE: RFID Tags (none / 0) (#232)
by zaxus on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 09:39:59 PM EST

Or at the end of the day, wave the Calo-counter over the toilet....

---
"If you loved me, you'd all kill yourselves today." - Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan


[ Parent ]
Even better (none / 0) (#202)
by bigbtommy on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 10:38:39 PM EST

Why not just have a proportional representation on the packet - set the standard of "healthiness" (whether it be calories, fats, carbohydrates, whatever) and then as the amount increases - make the dot bigger. The bigger the dot, the less space available to advertise the product.

Side effect? Well, as you can predict - food companies will reduce whatever people think is unhealthy (carbs, fats, calories etc.)
-- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up

Already so.. (4.00 / 1) (#205)
by Eivind on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 03:51:48 AM EST

In many European countries, Norway for example.

The requirement is not that there is a red dot that says how many calories are in a package, but rather that there in the declarations of contents say how many KJ there is in 100g of the food, aswell as how many grams fat, protein and carbohydrates are in it.

Multiplying by the size of the package is a quite trivial exersize. This is only required for packaged foods, there is no requirement for a restaurant to state exactly how much energy is in their food, nor for a fisherman at the docks selling you a whole cod.

For example, my packet of cornflakes here says:
100g contains:

  • 1550 kJ (365 cal)
  • 7.5g protein
  • 82g carbohzdrates (7 sugars, 75 starch)
  • 0.8g fats (0.2g saturated fats)
  • 2.0g fibres
  • 0.6g Natrium
More than enough info to satisfy any health-nut I think. If this actually makes us less overweigth or not I dont know, we certainly have less obesity-problems than the USA, but this migth have other reasons.

Per 100g? (none / 0) (#206)
by lowmagnet on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 08:19:04 AM EST

Very cool! That is the biggest problem in the USA, since 'serving sizes' are completely arbitrary. There was a big flap a few years back about companies charging more for 'lite' versions of their food. The problem was, they didn't change the recipe, just the 'portion'!

[ Parent ]
kcals / 100g (none / 0) (#236)
by Fred_A on Fri Jul 18, 2003 at 11:45:15 AM EST

Same thing in France, kcalorie & kjoule value per 100g. I think I've seen this pretty much everywhere in the EC so it might be a European requirement.

As to the effect on the general shape of the population, I couldn't say. But there isn't (yet) a junk food culture in Europe that is as well entrenched as in the US. Although it seems that we're unfortunately heading that way.

In another 30 years, it is quite concievable that it is the USians that will be thin and the Europeans that will be fat :-/.

But proper and normalized labeling of food content is certainly a good thing IMO. I was quite surprised to see in a US shop bags of candy with "Fat Free!" written in huge letters on them. Well of course they are fat free, they are huge lumps of pure sugar! Duh!

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Side Comment (none / 0) (#213)
by SanSeveroPrince on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 11:30:05 AM EST

"everything consumed through the mouth"

Are you aware of the reactions that one sentence will entice? Come on, really. How could anybody be so naive?

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


How about this (none / 0) (#224)
by KWillets on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:05:41 AM EST

A big red dot on every person, indicating calories expended so far that day?

A possible loophole? (5.00 / 1) (#227)
by speedfreak2K2 on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 03:47:24 AM EST

"Yes, put the Dot on Big Macs, medicines, hot dog wrappers, everything consumed through the mouth."

So I assume Suppositurkey would be exempt from this law?


You! Take that crown off your head, I'm kicking your ass!
I actually laughed out loud (N/T) (none / 0) (#229)
by Mr.Surly on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 11:09:25 AM EST

No text, genius!

[ Parent ]
The Big Red Dot | 240 comments (210 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden)
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