Kids and obesity…how bad are we now? How can we solve this with them?
C: You are seeing the highest ever level of child obesity. The vending machines is a start, pulling out the soft drinks, reduce them, so you have less calories around them. So that's one thing…the incongruity happens at lunch time because the federal rules were made when children under nourished, and those rules haven't changed so they are still trying to give the kids more calories.
There are a lot of inconsistencies about what to serve the kids. The Mississippi school system, for example, they had free fruit and the kids wouldn't eat it. The schools are really really aching for solutions, trying to sneak veggies into burger patties. You have to bury the bad stuff and make it taste good.
Is most of what we eat because of the way it's marketed to us?
C: Yes, pretty much.
I'm just wondering then why stores like Whole Foods are so popular? They are marketing healthy alternatives and opening up all over the country, right?
C: You definitely have a segment of the population that really wants to eat healthier and can afford it. Whole Foods is a whole paycheck—it's very expensive, organic, natural, localvore. They are catching on, but they don't do anything for obesity. They seem to retain antioxidants, that's the big benefit, but if you walk down the aisle of whole foods, and you pick up that Pom juice…If you read the calories, that's more than Coke!
How do you get someone drinking a Coke to a water? It's really difficult! There is a segment of population that can shop at Whole Foods. I go to Whole Foods as a luxury. In most cities the supermarket really becomes the 7-11.
Supermarket chains are no longer locating in the inner city, people in the inner city have to go to a bodega…it's all basically junk food. The supermarkets have moved into the suburbs. They followed the migration of the middle class. It's a lot of fast food restaurants in the city.
So is the answer that these companies like Coke and McDonalds make their foods healthier without telling us? Is that what stealth health is all about?
C: I think that's one thing. McLean Deluxe was a failure, that's why you do the stealth thing. You can put Omega-threes in food, there are foods that make you fuller. There is a product that comes in something like that called Slim Shots, called palm oat oil; makes you feel full.
But what about all the artificial sweeteners, all the things that they do to make it taste good—are those things healthy?
C: I've talked to the top obesity experts in the world about this and they say that they can go along drinking a diet drink, but they don't like the sugar. They think that sugar is the bane of the obesity crisis.
The bottom line is aspartame is the preferred substance…then sugar. But of course they would rather people drink bottled water. They don't endorse aspartame, but they say that they'd rather you have that than any sugar beverage. So definitely Diet Coke over Coke.