Capitalizing Obesity

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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby leedoran » Sun Apr 17, 2016 5:19 am

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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby Scott » Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:39 pm

I agree that it is not really relevant what capitalists think about obesity, nor any other topic.

Re blairfix's point on calorie expenditure -- I have always assumed that point, that lives are much more stationary now. Am not convinced by either study. I would bet that there are many more occupations now that require sitting for long hours. But societies prior to this - I would bet that very few of the occupations required much more kcal expenditure than walking. I would also bet that humans get very good at practicing caloric conservation when the norm is potential scarcity any given season. A decent gym workout is likely far more active than a daily lifestyle 100s or 1000s of years ago.

I thought humans require higher caloric intake, relative to body size, than other mammals because of the brain's demands for energy. Does that study take that into account?

Excellent read re NYT article. A ray of hope would seem to lie in the precedence set with the tobacco industry's agenda to create addicts and drawing real comparisons with food industry strategies. Highlight - Coke executive discovers he may have a soul after all. Well God bless him.

Here is a review that seems to answer my question re why processed foods may be consumed by lower income dwellers.
http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and- ... o-obesity/
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby DT Cochrane » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:09 pm

I would suggest that the relationship between obesity and accumulation is - of course - more complex than a dialectical flip from poverty to gluttony as a mechanism for capitalist power. N&B note that in parts of the world food deprivation remains palpable and identify parts of the Global South as so deprived. However, there remain significant parts of the First World that experience hunger. Food in Canada's North is notoriously expensive - especially fresh food. Throughout the U.S. there are so-called 'food deserts' where there is little to no access to fresh food. .

Additionally, these statistics, in their aggregation, overlook how the dynamics of dieting contribute to obesity. It is well established that long-term calorie restriction has a negative effect on an individual's metabolism and some people are more negatively affected than others. Specifically, .* Obesity often emerges, and worsens, through a cycle of self-imposed deprivation and bingeing.

Although the caricature of the obese person is someone who simply lacks willpower - which Cameron is exploiting in the UK, and described in the Monbiot piece Justin posted - the reality is that people's willpower is a limited resource. Obese individuals can actually subject themselves to unbelievable levels of deprivation in the pursuit of weight loss. However, everyone has a breaking point and when they break the diet, they indulge in high energy food sources with a reduced metabolism.

Of course, capital not only feeds the indulgence, it also offers products to assist with the dieting. There are programs and supplements, low calorie foods, books and exercise regimens that are all supposed to help people lose weight. Further, it is not only the obese who fall prey to these cycles. Many people of 'healthy'** BMI's also participate in this heavily capitalized process.

It was suggested that obesity is a byproduct of the accumulatory effort, rather than an intended consequence. I'd actually suggest that good health is contrary to accumulation. The moderation, the movement practices, the eating practices that constitute a healthy lifestyle are likely of little accumulatory potential. Unhealthy lifestyles, on the other hand, offer much possibility for gain. The actual topology of how ill-health contributes to the power (re)distribution among capital is ripe for exploration and the hunger-obesity dialectic are just the starting point.


*Unfortunately, the article is behind a pay wall.
**BMI is a problematic measure of health that labels heavily muscled people as obese.
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby DT Cochrane » Mon May 02, 2016 6:58 am

Here's an about the damage done to one's resting metabolism from dieting. This biological process would seem to be conspiring with capital! We diet, buying all the low fat, low sugar, low gluten, low salt, etc. 'health' foods, signing up for gym memberships, buying self-help dieting books, buying dieting supplements.... But, eventually, we can't keep up the deprivation. So, we fall prey to the gluttonous goods, packed with all the stuff we were denying ourselves. Only, now our dieting has damaged our metabolisms and we soar back heavier than before. Guilt-ridden at our lack of willpower, we make another push. Refute the fatty, sugary, salty processed foods and begin the dieting cycle again.

And, should we be in the rarefied domain of morbidly obese and American, we can even make a spectacle of our fat loss via The Biggest Loser.
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby PhilHoward » Wed May 04, 2016 12:29 pm

Here's a new website called Food & Power, sponsored by New America
http://www.foodandpower.net/

One of the first posts is about Big Soda, and is a critical review of Marion Nestle's recent book Soda Politics
http://www.foodandpower.net/2016/02/10/ ... on-a-diet/

By the way, I suggest it does make a difference what capitalists think, if the goal is to understand capitalism from the point of view of capitalists. With Big Tobacco, industry documents make it clear that the goal was increased smoking and even addiction, but NOT lung cancer or other negative health outcomes that shortened the lives of their best customers (they did of course try to cover up the association between smoking and cancer). Similarly, with food, I'm not convinced overnourishment/obesity is a goal - craveability and food addiction are goals, but the consequences are collateral damage. Coca-Cola would be satisfied with everyone purchasing "diet" beverages, even if this actually succeeded in keeping people thin (although research suggests heavy consumption ultimately leads to weight gain due to overcompensation with other foods). This is important because dominant food firms will certainly make changes that have the potential reduce obesity (and even undernourishment) if they do not threaten their power. This is why reformist, policy-oriented prescriptions (e.g. labeling trans fats, international food aid) may lead to short term positive outcomes, but in the long-term will reinforce the differential power of the largest firms, and lead to other, potentially worse outcomes.
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby DT Cochrane » Wed May 04, 2016 1:38 pm

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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby leedoran » Thu May 05, 2016 6:55 am

On the business case narrowly defined most pure capitalists in the limit are agnostic on things like obesity or lung cancer ... as long as their actions deliver the financial outcomes they seek in the short timelines they attend to, all the rest is peripheral ... They have only one single goal and obligation after all a la Milton Friedman. Delivering 'shareholder value' is what they're up to and in the short term only. All the rest is fluff... for after all by the time these larger scale longer term events develop definitively "IBGYBG" - I'll be gone you'll be gone - having captured the financial rewards we have 'earned' through our/their determined focus on the one factor of importance: shareholder value...

best to all,

L.
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby DT Cochrane » Thu May 05, 2016 3:31 pm

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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby leedoran » Thu May 05, 2016 5:18 pm

I don't think I can disagree - at least not violently nor with any hard data - to any of these points... but all the qualitative angst and uncertainties that the pure capitalist encounters are seen through the lens of shareholder value ultimately ... and only. It is not about human happiness or human development or family life or values or freedom, even, and quite certainly not about ethics or morality ... it is about profit... the bottom line, the numbers ... and doing it 'legally' ... ahem.

We know now with pretty good hard-ish science that economic or cost benefit decision-making is fundamentally different from moral or right vs wrong decision-making, both in the brain and in life as in how terrorists make their decisions (Scott Atran). I'm thinking increasingly that this distinction is of much greater significance that it appears on first blush.

If you think about it, virtually NONE of life's big important significant decisions are fundamentally economic and yet economics and the economic mind-set attempts to force all decisions and their decision-making to the forefront of life and living forever. The whole point of the capitalist schtick is to convince you that the cheapest soap is the most important thing - and not whether you need soap at all, say. Or perhaps whether you need to buy soap b/c presumably you could and would have a century ago, made your own.

I'm not v comfortable going much further with this kind of reasoning atm but it feels increasingly convincing and of larger scale and perhaps greater significance than I first thought when reading Atran, for example. The assumed predominance of economics and economists in so much of contemporary econo/political life reflects a similar mindset with its parallel disconnect from 'real' life as lived.

best to all,

L.
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Re: Capitalizing Obesity

Postby DT Cochrane » Thu May 05, 2016 7:46 pm

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