If you think I’m obsessed with sugary drinks, mega-salty fries, and fat-soaked foods, you’re right. If you think I’m obsessed with Joe’s love of donut holes, you’re right. I’m obsessed with the junk food wars.
But today I’m troubled. I’m deeply troubled that courts overturned New York’s ban on massive sodas, ensuring buckets of poison are readily available to our children, with each massive cup providing the sugar of four or five candy bars in liquid form. The judge called the law “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Countless others protested that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to legislate a “nanny state.” Well, fine, if you think curbing soda sizes is a bad idea I challenge you to come up with a better idea, because we can’t keep selling our kids poison.
It’s my own personal battle with these toxic foods that has driven me to tell my own story in my upcoming book, Obsessed (Weinstein, out in May.) It’s a battle I go as far as to call an addiction.
Why? Well, I’ll let my book do the talking:
Our biology makes it hard to say no to junk food. We’re hardwired to go after the concentrated energy in high-calorie fats and sweets.
“We’re simply not genetically programmed to refuse calories when they’re within arm’s reach.” That’s what Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, told New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. Bruni makes the case that America’s obesity crisis is partially the result of its prosperity and economic dominance. “Over the last century,” he writes, “we became expert at the mass production of crops like corn, soybeans and wheat—a positive development, for the most part.”
The less positive element in that equation is that America also became efficient at “processing those crops into salty, sweet, fatty, cheap, and addictive seductions,” Bruni explains. “Densely caloric and all-too-convenient food now envelops us, and many of us do what we’re chromosomally hard-wired to, thanks to millenniums of feast-and-famine cycles. We devour it.”
Soda and sugary drinks are one of the worst culprits, providing the single largest source of calories in the American diet. We’re drinking twice as much of them as we did forty years ago. For many Americans, it’s all feast and no famine. We no longer need those stores of energy to keep us going through the lean times. Instead, the extra calories turn into fat.
Today, I’ll only say that there is science behind what I’m talking about and that science is going to lead to more legal battles ahead. These showdowns will make Mayor Bloomberg’s skirmish with Slurpees look like child’s play. We had fun this morning, we argued every side of this but I have to tell you: I’m dead serious about this and it’s time for the food and beverage industry to get serious about accountability.
So if you think I’m obsessed, you’re right.