Critical coverage of fast-food chains' weight loss marketing campaigns

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If you’ve had a TV on at all in the past week, you’ve probably seen the new Taco Bell commercial with the woman claiming to have lost 54 pounds on her Taco Bell “drive-thru diet.”

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An story
did a good job taking a critical look at campaigns like this one or its forerunner – the guy who claims to have lost a lot of weight on a Subway sandwich diet. Excerpts:

“But dieticians are on the fence about whether these campaigns ultimately hurt or help a nation where more than a third of meals are eaten in restaurants and more than a third of the population is obese. …

Dr. David Katz, director of Medical Studies in Public Health at Yale University: “I also suspect that most people hoping to ‘be’ Christine will be very disappointed, just as most Jared wannabes are. These are likely people who made a dramatic commitment to lifestyle change, and simply relied on a particular source of convenience food as part of their strategy. That doesn’t make that source of convenience food the solution!” …

“This is preposterous. This is the same Taco Bell that has the Volcano Nachos (almost 1,000 calories), that boasts about the 1/2 pound cheesy potato burrito, that has systematically encouraged people to eat between meals with their 4th meal campaign,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. …

Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, pointed out that the Fresco Crunchy Taco, for example, “barely has protein” and that “half of the calories in that meal are coming from fat. If someone had this for lunch alone, I’d say it’s an inadequate lunch.”

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Comments (6)

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A. Childers

December 31, 2009 at 12:19 am

I do not think we will escape convenience foods anytime soon. So long as it takes two working parents to support a household (two tired parents with diminished time and energy to cook meals at home), and convenience food calories remain priced far lower than whole food calories, Americans will continue to forage among fast food restaurants and in processed food isles. At the risk of sounding like Cassandra, I predict future costs in terms of health care to treat the side effects of these foods (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, etc.) will gouge America’s pocketbook in ways we cannot yet imagine.
We must get educated on the issues of food, where it comes from, and what foods are actually good for us. We must vote with our forks to preserve our health and the health of our nation. And we must let our representatives know what we think about this issue so vital to our very existence, food.

Ken Leebow

January 1, 2010 at 7:18 am

It would probably be a good idea to watch these spoofs from The Onion and Saturday Night Live — about the above and the American food system. Yes, there’s a lot of truth in humor. Enjoy.

Ken Leebow

January 1, 2010 at 7:19 am

Forgot, here’s the Web site . . .