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J.T.S.
10-02-2006, 10:50 AM
The Undercover Economist: Big problems

By Tim Harford

Published: September 29 2006 16:39 | Last updated: September 29 2006 16:39

The western world is, famously, full of fat children. It is not clear why. Could it be the insidious power of advertising? Or the fear of traffic and kidnappers that persuades parents to keep their children indoors? Or should we just blame the steady spread of fast food?

All three, it seems, are guilty - or so say the economists, who in recent years have started publishing a bewildering array of explanations for the obesity epidemic.

Shin-Yi Chou, Inas Rashad and Michael Grossman have recently published research pointing at the effect of fast-food advertising. The difficulty of any such research project is the tangle of causal factors. A child who is watching Ronald McDonald cavort around with Hamburglar on television is a child in easy reach of snack food, a child who is not playing football in the street and, perhaps, a child with parents who lack the inclination or time to help him stay healthy.

Or perhaps the child is simply watching television in the first place because he’s too fat to enjoy playing outside.

Chou, Rashad and Grossman nevertheless think they have found a clear effect by looking at local variations in advertising across the US. They believe that if a given child watches an extra 30 minutes of fast-food advertisements a week, he or she will get fatter, with an increase in body mass index of about 1 per cent. For adolescents the effect is twice as big, which sounds plausible given that they are likely to have more control over what they eat than younger children do.

That is all very interesting, but it does raise the question of why things are getting worse. Another trio of economists - Patricia Anderson, Kristin Butcher and Philip Levine - has suggested that two-income families may be producing the problem. They find that children are fatter if their mothers work longer hours.

This is true even within families: the sibling who spent more time as a latchkey child will tend to be the fatter one, perhaps because the mother is less able to supervise outdoor play or has less time to cook and so buys more fast food. Unfortunately for working mothers who are already struck by guilt, the effects are pretty substantial. A mere 10 hours at work a week raises the chance of childhood obesity by 1.3 percentage points, which is about 10 per cent.

Despite all the concerns about childhood obesity, most of the fat people in the world are old enough to look after themselves. So what is going on?

Here, traditional economics seems to offer a perfectly straightforward pair of explanations. First, the cost of exercise has risen: most of us used to be paid to burn off calories in physically demanding jobs, after all. It is hard to undercut a form of exercise that pays you, and modern fitness clubs haven’t tried.

Second, food technology has tipped the balance in favour of more snacking. Think of the humble potato, once consumed in bland form, boiled or in stews - it was messy and time-consuming to make chips. But industrial processing, freezing and vacuum packing now makes crisps and chips easy to enjoy at home or in a fast-food joint. It is not just that crisps are more calorific than boiled spuds, but that they can be conveniently eaten at any time of day. Despite the attention devoted to “supersize” portions, the calories consumed at main meals have actually declined.

Three Harvard economists, David Cutler, Edward Glaeser and Jesse Shapiro, argue that food technology has dramatically lowered the cost in time and money of grazing on junk food all day. Judging by the ever-expanding waistlines of the developed world, that seems to be an opportunity many of us have seized upon hungrily.

supremecharma
10-03-2006, 12:42 AM
and?

Ozmosis
10-03-2006, 01:32 AM
I sorry for being fat

J.T.S.
10-03-2006, 04:26 PM
and?

Just spreding info what's the and comment for??

Urban_Journalz
10-04-2006, 12:09 AM
I was a latch-key kid. I knew how to cook though because my mother taught me and I watched what she did. Even if I didn't want to, she MADE me do it and I'm glad for it. Also I was raised on good, healthy food. Fresh fruits and vegetables. My mother brought in canned green beans one night, and I didn't know until I ate them. I was like, "Mama, what's this!?!" She looked and said, "String beans." I'm like, "Well something's wring with them!" To which she replied, "No, you're just used to fresh food, that's all."

It all depends on what the child is raised with. Too many kids, and you see them, eat candy and chips and McDonald's all day, every day. So when they're given the TRULY good stuff, like broccoli, green beans, breen peas, etc...they either don't eat it or feed it to the dog. This is why more and more kids are poppin' up with diabetes and havind heart attacks. Plus, most mothers don't eat properly while carrying the child.

Then, once born, they get formula. Letting companies convince them that something man-made is better than what God made.
I blame the parents. Period. The fast food and snack foods companies are doing what they know how to do.
Plus there's nothing wrong with fast food and snack food here and there. It's when you make it your daily and hourly source of food that things like this happen.

supremecharma
10-04-2006, 12:28 AM
Just spreding info what's the and comment for??


sorry i just wantd to know what you were tryin to acheive? thanks for puttin me straight.

J.T.S.
10-04-2006, 02:46 PM
I was a latch-key kid. I knew how to cook though because my mother taught me and I watched what she did. Even if I didn't want to, she MADE me do it and I'm glad for it. Also I was raised on good, healthy food. Fresh fruits and vegetables. My mother brought in canned green beans one night, and I didn't know until I ate them. I was like, "Mama, what's this!?!" She looked and said, "String beans." I'm like, "Well something's wring with them!" To which she replied, "No, you're just used to fresh food, that's all."

It all depends on what the child is raised with. Too many kids, and you see them, eat candy and chips and McDonald's all day, every day. So when they're given the TRULY good stuff, like broccoli, green beans, breen peas, etc...they either don't eat it or feed it to the dog. This is why more and more kids are poppin' up with diabetes and havind heart attacks. Plus, most mothers don't eat properly while carrying the child.

Then, once born, they get formula. Letting companies convince them that something man-made is better than what God made.
I blame the parents. Period. The fast food and snack foods companies are doing what they know how to do.
Plus there's nothing wrong with fast food and snack food here and there. It's when you make it your daily and hourly source of food that things like this happen.

Wiseman!

Ronin
10-05-2006, 06:53 PM
man know the ledge has fallen off since the old days

supreme u expect everyone to act on their threads? hes spreading information u dumb cunt

if no one did this there would be no forum worth reading

WuTangWarrior
10-05-2006, 08:03 PM
man know the ledge has fallen off since the old days

supreme u expect everyone to act on their threads? hes spreading information u dumb cunt

if no one did this there would be no forum worth reading

trust me man nowadays its gettin much better and back to how it was before, i loved it back in the day

then it started gettin retarted nd biased, but now its changing a lil...

Urban_Journalz
10-06-2006, 02:05 AM
trust me man nowadays its gettin much better and back to how it was before, i loved it back in the day

then it started gettin retarted nd biased, but now its changing a lil...

:yessad:

"UPLIFT DA MIND & HEAL THE SCARS CUZ RICH, TALL OR SMALL, WE ALL SHININ' STARZ": U-GOD
"Golden Arms: Redemption" (Bizarre)

MsRzaRecTaH
10-06-2006, 11:27 AM
man know the ledge has fallen off since the old days

supreme u expect everyone to act on their threads? hes spreading information u dumb cunt

if no one did this there would be no forum worth reading

I agree.

Information needs to be spread, somehow..

snapple
10-06-2006, 11:42 AM
it takes an idiot to educate a fool, this site is living proof