The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Calories Speak Louder Than Advertising …
April 29, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

For the past 20 years, one of the things I’ve heard over and over again is how fat society is becoming.

There’s a ton of reasons for this, from portion sizes to government subsidies to questionable labelling to food additives to a society that now values convenience over wellbeing.

To be honest, while we all have to take a responsibility for the situation we’re in, it doesn’t help when companies and governments spend countless billions on ads claiming ‘they care’ when everything they do shows they don’t.

Unless when they say ‘they care’, they actually mean about their profits.

Case in point, this:

Now I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m pretty sure the cheaper item – burger, chips and a soda – is less healthy and more calorific than the alternative water and salad.

Sure, the burger and chips will no doubt taste infinitely better, but why even bother putting it on the menu if you’re going to charge a 40% premium.


Now I appreciate the restaurant chain in question would be able to point out a whole bunch of factors that justify the price differentiation – and maybe some of them might even be true – however, I’m fairly certain that if you did the analysis, the underlying reason would be that, bizarrely, selling burgers, chips and soda is far more profitable to them than salad and water … hence the price premium is driven both by the cost of the raw ingredients as well as their desire to get people to choose the higher profit item over the healthier produce item.

Of course, some of this price discrepancy will have been heavily influenced by the companies procurement policy – locking in farmers to supply specific items at very low cost – however Governments subsidy programs will also have played a role given they are constructed to overcompensate farmers for growing ‘corn’ rather than fresh vegetables … resulting in companies finding all manner of ways to use this raw ingredient to boost their profits, regardless of the health implications.

Oh, and for the record, corn is a major ingredient in everything from replacing sugar in soft drinks to making car tyres.

Which might be good for adaptability and usage but its bloody terrible for health.

This ‘we care, but we don’t do’ drives me nuts but what bothers me more is that while governments, farmers and fast food companies are obviously taking the piss, the health and weight-loss companies could be far more militant in their approach in dealing with this situation … but sadly they’re not, because the reality is they profit from societies problems so their strategy appears to be ‘help, don’t cure’.

I would love to help one of these companies profit hugely from taking this issue head on.

Any takers?

31 Comments so far
Leave a comment

To be fair to governments, fast food companies and health brands, they can only help, they can never cure because the individual has to take some responsibility for themselves, but I get what you’re saying and the point is a good one.

That coke/burger and water/salad menu is frightening.

Comment by Pete

You expect people to take responsibility for their actions! Who are you?

Comment by Bazza

Only child.

Comment by DH

Good point, I guess I was just saying that companies make out they want to ‘fix’ when at best, all they could do is help … and then they don’t even do that because their version of helping, is helping themselves to a bigger slice of profit.

Comment by Rob

By the way Rob, did you ever see the NPR show on corn subsidies? It backs up what you say here and explains the profit impact it has on companies. If you haven’t, I can try and get it for you.

Comment by Pete

I think I have seen that – but if you could send it to me anyway, that would be ace. Thanks matey.

Comment by Rob


Comment by DH

Anyone else think that when the menu says “enjoy together” they mean eat the burger and coke then feel less guilty by chowing down on the salad and water? Wasn’t that your Diet Tango strategy from the last century?

Comment by Bazza

Actually, in a way it was. Very amusing.

Comment by George

I knew Rob had written about that campaign before. Great stuff.

Comment by Pete

One of my favourite ever campaigns.

Comment by Rob

I bet Morgan Spurlock is shitting himself.

Comment by Billy Whizz

The burger has salad in it. What are you complaining about Campbell?

Comment by Billy Whizz

There’s sesame seeds on the bun too. It’s basically a veggie burger.

Comment by DH

Doesn’t the coca cola company own that water brand as well? You’re right Rob, they’re all complicit.

Comment by Pete

You sound surprised that coke are an evil company. Where have you been for the last 100 years.

Comment by DH

When the health food companies aren’t even healthy, is it a surprise no one knows who to trust. I agree with you Robert, a company that takes a more militant stance to bullshit health could clean up. My concern is whether that approach would match the profits that can be made from selling sugar loaded foods labeled low fat.

Comment by George

George swears. The world is about to end.

Comment by DH

I’m going to make sure Andy sees this when he’s back. He’s not going to believe it. Best birthday present ever. Haha.

Comment by Rob

If health and weight-loss companies were successful, they’d go out of business. See also self-help.

Comment by John

Isn’t it fair to say there’s enough people to help without the risk of going bust for decades or even centuries?

Comment by Pete

Their plan is working.

Comment by John


Comment by Pete

This is indeed why we are so fat. Governments subsidize the worst process foods, and what’s best for us is also the most expensive. Meanwhile, countries like Canada heavily tax junk food to make the healthier choices cheaper.

Comment by jillelainehughes

You’ve had talking scales for twenty years?

Comment by John

Fucking orange juice companies, Innocent, peddling their health rubbish, when they’re are sugar laden as Coke.
Then there’s the ‘diet without dieting brigade’ .
I don’t blame people too much, when the info they get is so confusing.
When you’re skint, the deep joy of a takeaway as a respite from the daily drudge, or watching your 5 year old relish a Big Mac is as psychologically addictive as the the physical addiction of any food.

Comment by northern

Fair point, but anyone who thinks they can lose 100kg by eating a “health bar” has to shoulder some of the blame.

That said, your point about seeing the happiness on a kids face as they tuck into a Big Mac is a great one … I’m surprised they haven’t done more to leverage that but then I remember doing a project for the mighty ‘M’ and said the more divorce rates increase, the more they will maximise their profits as parents don’t just take them there as a ‘handover point’, they take them there to win favour.

I was cynical even then.

Comment by Rob

Joy? Most parents seem to take their kids there to stop them whining.

Comment by John

Adult joy.

Comment by Rob

[…] funzionare.  Ma se evitassimo di rendere negativo il prezzo del McDonald (nota: ci siamo quasi) …ecco, potrebbe essere ancora più efficace! Io direi che le responsabilità sono […]

Pingback by Politici centrali | Non al Denaro. Non all'Amore. Nè al Cielo.

[…] Or the governments with their insane food subsidy programmes. […]

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