Well, I don't know what I was expecting from Dateline last night, but I came away somewhat unsatisfied.
And a little bit hungry for a big order of fries. Fortunately for my waistline, inertia – the nearest McDonald's is 12 miles away – overcame my hunger.
A good deal of the program focused on a Big Bad Lawyer who is trying to get fast food companies to change their evil ways. I think it's a Good Thing to provide nutrition information at the point of sale, rather than on the packaging after the sale. It was interesting to me, though, that the Ruby Tuesday restaurants have removed the calorie and fat content from their menus because sales declined after testing that concept. I rarely eat there, but do remember one time studying that informative menu, trying to make a good choice and feeling pretty deprived. I thought it was great that they included the information, but there weren't many appealing choices for less than 500 calories – which is more than I eat at almost any meal except Thanksgiving dinner.
They only had an hour, so many issues that come into play in the 'obesity epidemic' remained unexamined. For instance – and this is only my personal opinion, and not an attack – do working mothers have a harder time saying "no" to less healthful snacks because they're too tired to fight the nag factor? Is it easier to offer a package of fruit snacks than to cut up an apple? Are busy parents too preoccupied with work, finances, relationships, you-name-it to be good role models for an active lifestyle?
And speaking of apples, were you as shocked as I was to learn that McDonald's is the nation's largest provider of apples to children? And what does that mean, anyway? Are they the largest purchaser? How many apples get tossed? Providing doesn't necessarily mean eating.
I'm just sayin', is all.
The whole segment comparing brain scans of food and cocaine addicts was interesting, particularly since I know a thing or two about addiction. Yes, I know, we have to eat, while we don't have to abuse alcohol or drugs. But we can choose our food carefully and support our health, or we can use food as an excuse to avoid living fully. When I was drinking, I never had a problem refusing rum, which I can't stand. I also never had any trouble finding gin in the summer or scotch in the winter. When I decided the pain of being an alcoholic was greater than the pain of dealing with life on life's terms, I was able, finally, to refuse alcohol completely – one day at a time. Similarly, the pain of being fat, hating how I felt and looked and related to others finally tipped the scales, if you'll pardon the pun, and was worse than the "pain" of eating sensibly, avoiding sugar and exercising.
Pain is a great motivator.
I wish they had talked more about the costs of junk food vs. nutritious food. I'm glad that McDonald's [and other fast-food chains] are providing meal-sized salads, and I buy them on the rare occasions I eat there. The only way they'll remain on the menu is if they sell. These companies are, first and foremost, responsible to their shareholders. Too many Asian Chicken Salads thrown away at the end of the day reduce profits, and if an item costs more to sell than it rakes in, well ... simple economics dictates they'll have to 86 it.
Have you ever seen so many headless fat people on one program? No? Here's one more, in case you didn't get enough. [This was me, in April of 2005.]
I'm left with more questions than conclusions, as is usually the case when I watch programs like Dateline's "Food Fight." I suppose their job is to present the facts. I couldn't help feeling they were going out of their way not to slam Kraft and McDonald's too much, though. After all, those two companies represent a huge chunk of advertising dollars for NBC.
And speaking of advertising, I had decided before watching that I was going to pay special attention to the commercials for this episode. Thirty-six commercials aired during that hour. Half a dozen or so were for other NBC programs. Food commercials? Only two: Slim-Fast [is that a food?] and Wishbone Salad Spritzers. If I had the stomach for it, I'd watch the next Dateline to see if the food advertisers are back on board.
P.S. The baby named Hope survived her very serious surgery on Thursday. She still has a rough road ahead, but she's out of immediate danger and recovering well. Thank you.