January 25

The humble Farmer: Weight gains and losses add up to a win-win for advertisers

They sell the food that makes you fat and the products that promise to make you thin.

By Robert Skoglund

More than 60 years ago, there circulated a story about Ike, a high school senior, who wrote on the blackboard, “Ike is the best kisser in school.”

To the huge delight of all his friends, his teacher, pretty Miss Leslie – one year out of Gorham Normal – kept him after class on detention.

The next morning his buddies asked if he had learned his lesson. He said, “Boys, the only thing I learned is that it pays to advertise.”

Advertising is a win-win business because you service the people who sell the unhealthy food that makes your friends fat, and you service the people who sell the products that help your friends diet.

We read that, within a year, more than half of American dieters regained all the weight they lost and that only 3 percent kept off the weight for five years.

Americans want to believe that simply paying money for most any miraculous diet promised can take the place of eating right and exercise. They shelled out around $46 billion in one year alone for self-improvement books and diet products.

After reading this, some folks would shake their heads and say, “What a waste. Forty-six billion that could have been spent on beer.”

The bell curve indicates that people come in three sizes: jumbo, median and small. Because most of the anorexic models used in television commercials are no more than skin stretched on very small bones, the American woman has been conditioned to think that she’s overweight.

The goal of many television commercials is to make women dissatisfied with the way they look, smell or feel.

You might have heard about the good wife who dieted faithfully for a month but seemed stuck at 180. Cutting back to the amount of lettuce that would have starved Peter Rabbit only made her cranky.

To find reprieve from her snapping and snarling, every evening her husband stayed up alone, nursing his hot chocolate in front of the television, until he fell asleep on the couch.

And then, night after night, his wife lost weight. When their nutritionist figured out why, he published his findings in Science. The television ads for weight-loss books and products had made that dieting woman so sensitive to calories that she’d gained half a pound every night just by smelling the hot chocolate on her husband’s breath.

It was not television commercials but the inability to stand after I bent over to tie my shoes that made me decide to lose weight. Upon returning from a three-day radio conference in San Antonio, where eating seemed to be the order of the day, I resolved to quit eating anything that made life worth living.

There are those who cannot do anything in moderation. If there is a quart of ice cream to be had, you have friends who will eat it all and cry because there is no more.

Perhaps you are strong and know that you can have “just one.” But your spouse knows that your figure belies your words. For those who are weak there can be no one cigarette or one drink or one cookie, so I went cold turkey. And since that day my lips have not touched sausage, bacon, doughnuts, pie, cookies or ice cream.

Does the proliferation of fast-food places prove that most young people have the intestinal fortitude of a crow? We read that college freshmen gain weight the first three months. My Psych I textbook (2009) attributes this to the all-you-can-eat dining halls. Some of the more adventurous certainly augment all they can eat with night-time pizza and beer.

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