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The Health Halo

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Old 12-02-2008, 03:39 PM   #1
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NYT article about The Health Halo

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/sc...s%2fFin dings

This is a really good article about how the lure of eating "healthy" foods has lead people to underestimate calorie counts and volume. It's interesting ... and I tend to agree with many of the conclusions drawn.

One quote about people underestimating calories in a salad/cracker/drink combo:
Quote:
the trans-fat-free label on the crackers seemed to imbue them with a health halo that magically subtracted calories from the rest of the meal.
.

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Old 12-02-2008, 04:02 PM   #2
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I've read studies about this myself, I pay a lot of attention working in fast food. Like in this article, people often eat more calories at Subway or on a salad then they eat at a Burger King, McDonald's or Varsity restaurant. The 'healty' impression of the Subway sandwich makes it okay to get one of the Otis Spunkenmeyer Chocolate Oatmeal cookies or a bag of the chips merchandised at the end of the counter. Dessert sales when I worked for BK were only on 6% of our total tickets that included food items, except when we had 'limited time' desserts. (That doesn't include tickets that were only dessert items like shakes and frozen coke). I've often wondered how many people add the cookie at Subway - I watched once when I was there and counted 23 customers, 14 of which got the cookie. I know that those numbers wouldn't hold out over a longer study, but that was 61% of the customers I watched over a half an hour or so. I heard several discussing with each other that they could have the cookie because of the healthy salad or sandwich.

DH had Subway for lunch today - the new Steak & Bacon Flatbread sandwich, no chips, no cookie, water to drink. 470 calories I believe the website said, or something close. He said the person in line in front of him had a double meat Italian BMT foot long, chips, soda, cookie and joked to his budy that he was eating lite. I added it up, that footlong was 1260 calories alone, without any dressings. Add the chips, the cookie and the drink and he was probably close to 1700 calories. And seemed to really believe that he was eating lite, because of all the veggies he put on his sandwich.

Salads at restaurants are bad, too - I see salads that have 1500 calories in them but people think 'salad = healthy'. I watch one of my coworkers eat what is a probably a 150-200 calorie salad every day, but then on a lot of days adds 400 calories of fried chicken fingers and 400-560 calories of dressing between the dip she uses for the extra chicken and the salad. So her healthy meal has now gone to 1000+ calories. And she is trying to lose weight - swears she only eats 1350 calories per day.

My industry gets a lot of flack for making people overweight, but a lot of it is portioning and self control. I eat a grilled chicken sandwich here at work almost every day - 208 calories according to the lab that analyzed it. (Small chicken, I'll admit that) I have a list of things from fast food restaurants that I eat on weekends we have my stepson that all are 450 calories or less. I just have to know it is fast food and resist the temptation to get a side with it.

Like this article said, people eating fast food know that they are eating at a 'bad for me' location. Full service restaurants and places like Subway & Jason's Deli have a better reputation, so people get whacked in the face with a high calorie count because they don't go into the restaurant as an informed eater like they might to a BK or McD. I got an entree salad at a chain restaurant once that if I had ordered it according to menu build would have been 1675 calories. That is more than I could eat that day!

Apparently I have strong opinions on this subject.

Thanks for the article!

Edit: Unfortunately, I also do see people ordering more fried items at places that advertise 'transfat free cooking oil' and thinking that no trans fat makes it okay for them, some even think it is 'good' for them....
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Salads at restaurants are bad, too - I see salads that have 1500 calories in them but people think 'salad = healthy'.
Bud Light used to have a Real Men of Genius series of ads ... very tongue in cheek. One of them was saluting Mr Giant Taco Salad Inventor.

The ad cracked me up - still does - but it had a HUGE amount of truth in it.

Some may ask .... Is your taco salad healthy?
Of course it is! It's a salad, isn't it!


The ad is here:

http://www.gigglesugar.com/229351

And although I laugh every time, I can see my old eating habits here as well and it's kinda scary.

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Old 12-02-2008, 04:13 PM   #4
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I remember that commercial... Loved it!

But yes, a little scary too...
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:48 PM   #5
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(aside - I love the "Real Men of Genius" ads).

I have seen this too. People try to make "healthy choices" but don't have a solid understanding of what "healthy" is, so they are reliant on advertising, rather than on facts and nutrition numbers.

Maybe if we gave everyone graduating school a solid nutritional knowledge base, such claims wouldn't be as effective? The reason they work is because they are operating in a vaccuum of knowledge...people have no information except the claim, so they go on it.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:19 PM   #6
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My mom works at an elementary school but when I was still in elementary school myself (20 years ago), she'd tell me stories of teachers going to taco bell to get a taco salad and thinking it was healthy because it was a salad.

Yes I am amazed at what people think in regards to healthy food. Of course I suppose I'm a special case in that I grew up obese and had my food scrutinized by doctors and nutritionists from at least the age of 9. So I learned to read labels and evaluate food from a very early age.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:02 PM   #7
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I have to say, I loved this quote at the end of the article:

“Europeans obsess less about nutrition but know what a reasonable portion size is and when they have had too much food, so they’re not as biased by food and diet fads and are healthier. Too many Americans believe that to lose weight, what you eat matters more than how much you eat. It’s the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least.”

Ay, so true...
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
It’s the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least.”
I know! It's so very very true.

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Old 12-05-2008, 01:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drina View Post
Its the country where people are the best informed about food and enjoy it the least.
Hehe, I'm really working on making my food just plain tasty right now. It's so darn ... pleasurable Who knew!
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:16 PM   #10
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I absolutely love food and I've realized that I love it now more than I ever did before. Of course I still enjoy too much of it
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