Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gee Whiz, Fast Food Labels Don't Help

Robin Hanson points to two articles in Time (2011) and The NY Times (2008) involving research showing that fast food calorie counts don't effect people's ordering choices and may even cause them to order higher caloric food. This is, of course, about as shocking as the stunning five year study that revealed that people who smoke cigarettes actually know it is bad for them.

Of course fast food isn't very healthy, but it's not really for the reasons people stuck in the Ancel Keys Paradigm think. Sugar, yes, salt no, fat yes, but only because it is mostly cheap industrial frankenoils, not healthy animal fat, etc.

This reminds me of that Penn & Teller show where they served a Taco Bell taco salad to two groups of people, the first group they told the truth, the second group was told the salad came from an upscale California Cuisine restaurant. The second group effuses its praise whilst the first group was condescending. The reality is that fast food is not really any more or less healthy than any other kind of food, it's generally pretty high quality, cheap and practical. Tom Naughton makes this point much better in his film. If I had my druthers I would eat at a sushi restaurant every night until I'd singlehandedly driven the species of  bluefin tuna extinct. Alas, reality hasn't given me the time nor money to pursue this sort of ecological devestation.

But this brings me to the next point, there's only a few comments as of this writing, but this one already popped up:
Only people who already care about health would process that info and change their purchase, and those people already don’t go to McDs with any regularity.
To be fair it might have been posed ironically, but it does sum up the underlying idea about regulating fast food and stuff in general that is consumed by the great unwashed masses. IT'S ALL ABOUT CARING FOR THE STUPID PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T GET A COLLEGE DEGREE IN SOCIOLOGY OR ART HISTORY, THEY OBVIOUSLY CAN'T THINK FOR THEMSELVES!

If only we paternally explain to these dumb slobs how bad this food is for them, they might just change their ways. Unfortunately they are simply too stupid to heed our gentle, well-meaning advice, sin taxes and regulations.


  1. That's almost as stupid as:


    on BBC site where we can save millions of people from starving to death from food shortages by ensuring all those (1 billion or so) obese people in the world eat less.

    I'm surprised you haven't commented on that one yet.


  2. Yep, utilitarianism combined with ignorance (in a j-school graduate? say it ain't so Joe) is a wonderful thing. I had to give up reading the BBC on a regular basis in order to keep my blood cortisol at a reasonable level.