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    96% Of Restaurant Entrees More Delicious Than USDA Recommends
    By Hank Campbell | May 21st 2012 05:00 PM | 19 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    I'll tell you a secret a chef told me. That secret is...butter.

    There is a reason restaurants that seek to charge the same for 'healthy' fare end up being big flops; people feel cheated eating bean sprouts they can make at their house.  No one cares about how much butter is in a dish when they go to a restaurant because it is a night out, a special occasion.  Calories are basically unimportant and taste remains supreme.  We want to eat something prepared by someone who only cares what we think about its flavor.

    Obviously the human body was not designed to eat at a restaurant every evening.  If you do that, and you don't exercise, you are going to get fat. 

    RAND Corporation, a non-partisan, non-profit (aren't they all?? - but RAND has a cool story, being co-founded by General Hap Arnold, the only 5-star General in the Air Force and one of only five men to wear 5 stars in the US Army at all) research group recently conducted an 18-month analysis of restaurant foods covering 30,923 menu choices (1,833 of them kid's menu items) from 245 restaurants.  What they found was that 96% of the main entrees sold at larger U.S. chains exceeded the daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  But these were all large, successful chains - they are in the business of cooking good food that people want to eat.

    Yes, they have calories but they put nutritional information on the menus, people know what they are eating, so the only other choice is to simply make food no one wants to eat.  What restaurant chain is going to fall on the sword of healthy food and go out of business so that  people who want to eat too much good food can simply go somewhere else?

    The counterintuitive results they also found; appetizers do more dieting damage than entrees and restaurant meals did more damage than fast food meals.  Yep, kooky progressives think banning Happy Meals is the answer, but really they should be banning the Rainforest Cafe.


    If you care about your kids, take them to McDonald's rather than Whole Foods. Photo: Shutterstock

    Want to read about something less depressing than blaming obesity on good food?  Read the very first RAND study produced - Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship. Awesome, right?



    Citation: Helen Wu and Roland Sturm, 'What's on the menu? A review of the energy and nutritional content of US chain restaurant menus', Public Health Nutrition, FirstView Article : pp 1-10 doi:10.1017/S136898001200122X

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    Obviously the human body was not designed to eat at a restaurant every evening.  If you do that, and you don't exercise, you are going to get fat.
    Agreed.  This is precisely why we need to get "fast food" out of school cafeterias [as well as soda machines]. 
    http://www.education.com/magazine/article/fast-food-school-cafeterias/

    It is unreasonable to invoke the "people have a choice" argument when it is aimed at school children [including high schoolers].  In many cases, they don't have a choice especially if it is a closed campus, so the idea that fast food should be marketed to a captive audience is simply wrong.  I don't have a problem if kids want to eat McDonald's every day on their way home from school or if their parents buy it for them.  I do have a problem with private corporations being able to leverage their marketing efforts in taxpayer funded public schools.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I assume you were around when that movement started.  The claim was that revenues from taxes were not enough so they started putting in that nonsense because skinflinty people didn't 'care' about education enough. Obviously you and I did not grow up with vending machines or anything else in our schools.
    Gerhard Adam
    I agree.  I'm just getting tired of studies on childhood obesity while society does its level best to feed kids all kinds of crap and then have them plant their butts in front of a video game or computer for hours  every day .... it doesn't take much science to figure out what the problem is.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think a big reason for growing child obesity is poor risk analysis from adults. This is purely anecdotal, but many of the parents of grade school aged kids that I know won't let them go outside without the parent hovering over them because they think kidnappers are just waiting around the corner to snatch their children away. I remember riding my bike 4 miles to a friend's house by myself nearly every day to visit my best friend during the summer when I was 10 years old. And I always walked to school by myself for as long as I remember being in grade school (about 6 blocks). On my way to work in the morning, I see kids waiting at a bus stop and about 5 cars all parked illegally around the bus stop with parents watching their kids wait for the bus. Parents are so worried about that 1 in a million risk of being kidnapped and instead subject their kids to a later life of a high risk of diabetes and heart disease.

    Hank
    I think we are definitely creating a culture of fear and not doing as much for letting young people learn competence as we should.  My parents generation drank gin in high school - and they won World War II.  We don't even think 25-year-olds can be off of their parents' health insurance.
    Gerhard Adam
    It is a different world now than it was then.   In those days, neighborhoods were much more active places, so it was easier for kids to walk or go longer distances to their friends homes.  Bear in mind that in those days, it was considered normal for only one parent to work, while the other stayed home.  Today, many neighborhoods are veritable ghost-towns during the work day, so it isn't as active or secure as it was in the past.
    My parents generation drank gin in high school - and they won World War II.
    There's lots of other things that took place then too, that aren't quite as nice.  

    I agree that we're probably much more fearful today than we need to be, but that's a byproduct of the television generation.  Everything is "news" whether it happens 6,000 miles away or on the next block over.  It's little wonder that people have a skewed view of events in the world.  In an effort to gain ratings, the media plays to people's fears; anything to grab their attention.

    This is one of the reason's I'm pessimistic about the importance of the "Information Age".  I believe it simply results in less quality information, less knowledge, and more confirmation bias.  In general, despite huge technological improvements, we are probably no better informed than people were in the past.  We probably have more irrelevant information at our fingertips, but in terms of actual useful information, it is probably no better.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I do not see why it has to be the responsibility of the DOE, the local school district or anyone but you if your kid eats crappy food and is fat. If a kid is fat and unhealthy it's the problem of his parent or guardian. If the kid is yours it's your fault. It's that simple. We claim we don't want government and other authority intruding on our lives, but then so many of us adopt the "won't someone please think of the children" plea to invite government to come rushing to the rescue.

    I have earth-shattering news for you: Government can't do anything right. The reason your kid is fat is BECAUSE you've turned over so much of your responsibilities to inept government. If government gets even more involved your kid will get even more fat.

    I have more news for you. Twinkies will only harm your kid if that's all he eats. Half the players in the NFL and NBA grew up on white bread and gubment cheeze washed down with koolaid. The human body can process all kinds of crap into bone, muscle and energy. It's what your kid spends his/her time doing that counts. I'll wager that your child spends too much time in front of the TV. But I'll also wager that your kid spends too much time reading and doing schoolwork too. A 13 yr old who can dunk a basketball but can't read is clearly deficient. But a 13yr old who can do calculus but can't hit a baseball is deficient too. The ideal kid is not only in the AP classes, he's also batting in the middle of the lineup and anchoring the relay team.

    Fast food and soda have less to do with the fatness and laziness of american kids than the lack of competition and sports do. You make your kid go to class. You should also make him play a sport, competitively, with a chance to win or lose. No "blue ribbon for everyone" stuff either. Keep score!

    Gerhard Adam
    I have earth-shattering news for you: Government can't do anything right.
    Well, I have even more earth-shattering news.  The only thing worse than a Government that "can't do anything right", is an electorate that keeps putting the same government into place.   More to the point ... if government is that stupid, then why one earth would the electorate support the government use of the military and why do they have access to nuclear weapons?

    Seems to me that the problem isn't the government as much as it is the stupidity of the people.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Government can't do anything right because.....wait for it.....Government can't do anything right. By that I mean that in the concept and exercise of government as it is understood by me it is impossible for government to ever do anything right. Maybe I should modify that a little. Maybe I should say "government can't do anything well". But in either case, it makes my point.

    The government of the United States was conceived by people who understood this, so they assigned to government very limited means under the supposition that if you limit the means and power of government it will only fumble with a few things and thus do minimal damage. A couple centuries of meddling and expanding have resulted in a government that sees nothing unusual about regulating how much fat my kid can consume. And an electorate that doesn't see this intrusion as an issue.

    One of the few things that government actually does well is war. This is because while the military is ostensibly commanded by civilian authority (at the top) it actually does what it wants in the way that it wants. The President may tell the generals where and who to fight, but after that the generals run the show. This fundamentally un-democratic setup is what makes war the one area where the US Government does do things well. Most civilian commanders in chief have had the brains to let this happen, because it works.

    In the same way, who is more expert on your life? You or your government? I think it will be clear to all that I think the answer is that I am the expert. Government is an unwelcome intruder in almost all areas of my life and that of my family.

    I believe that the world would be a better place if Governments extended all people the courtesy of staying out of their business as much as possible. Government behavior in this day and age falls way short of that Ideal.

    Gerhard Adam
    The government of the United States was conceived by people who understood this, so they assigned to government very limited means under the supposition that if you limit the means and power of government it will only fumble with a few things and thus do minimal damage.
    Sorry, but that's a logical fallacy.  In fact, your argument makes no sense at all.  The government of the U.S. isn't limited so that it is a thin veneer over anarchy.  It is limited with respect to other governments [i.e. the states].  So your argument makes no sense, because there is NO instance of where there isn't some government that is in control.

    Now if your argument is that local government is better, then it still negates your original premise, since the only alternative to no government is anarchy.
    This fundamentally un-democratic setup is what makes war the one area where the US Government does do things well. Most civilian commanders in chief have had the brains to let this happen, because it works.
    Again, your point makes no sense, because you can't seriously believe that the government runs the Social Security Administration, or the FDA, any more or less than it runs the military.  They are all under separate leadership, and arguably the Joint Chiefs of Staff are about the most politicized individuals that you get find.  Your idea of the military is part of popular mythology, but it bears no semblance to actual military life.  Where do you think the phrase "Hurry up and wait" originated?
    I believe that the world would be a better place if Governments extended all people the courtesy of staying out of their business as much as possible.
    That's a fine belief presuming you actually mean it.  So you're advocating anarchy as the only legitimate social "organization"?  You don't accept the idea of laws and law enforcement?  You don't accept the idea of the power grid?  the freeway system?  food inspection? etc.?  You prefer for everything to be locally run and maintained?  So no corporations either, right?
    Mundus vult decipi
    A belief that government should stay out of peoples business as much as possible is a far cry from advocating anarchy.

    At no time do I or did I advocate no government at all. What I advocate is a government where intrusion into personal matters is unusual enough to draw negative attention. The government we have today, and the governments that exist around the world (national and local) intrude on personal matters as if it were their modern day divine right. I don't think that it is.

    The arguments make perfect sense, unless you start with the premise that if its voted on its ok. It's not. Hence constitutions and bills of rights. You can even corrupt those if your bad idea is attractive enough, but its hard. Constitutional Democracy, like every other human system, is flawed. That's it's flaw. Never forget that right and wrong are not the province of government. Only individuals determine right and wrong. Each one for themselves. Governments province is legal and illegal. They aren't the same thing. Often they intersect. Less often as time goes on.

    I'm sure the SSA and other government agencies have their own ways around political control. The government function I have the most experience in and with is the US military. The fact that some of the process of preparing for and making war seems silly doesn't mean that it isn't effective or useful. Its a complicated process, controlled by people, and thus cannot ever be perfect. It can either work or not. I think it does work. The difference between the US military and the other agencies you mention is that the US military has existed from the inception of the US government, and even could be loosely said to predate it. The other agencies you mention are products of the corruption of the mission of the US government and thus are tainted by that corruption. Their very reason for existing is intrusion into the personal.

    So while I do accept the necessity/utility of the power grid, the freeway system, food inspection, etc I do not willingly accept restrictions on which light bulbs I can plug into my outlets, how much butter can be in my restaurant dinner, and whether my car is required to be fuel efficient. There is a place for government. Personal decisions aren't it.

    However, storming the Bastille isn't the answer. Replacing nanny government with nothing would be much worse. What would be even better would be a long, slow rollback of nanny government over a period of perhaps a century. We can't have a government that leaves people alone as much as possible in 2012. But we could have it in 2112. I don't think it likely, but it could happen.

    Gerhard Adam
    So, your original point that government can do nothing well isn't correct, since you clearly indicate that government is necessary.  After all, if your premise were correct then it would be the hallmark of insanity to assign government any responsibilities.

    You then make the curious statement:
    ...unless you start with the premise that if its voted on its ok. It's not.
      followed with:
    Only individuals determine right and wrong.
    Yet, you would deny that those individuals can make proper decisions by voting.  So you don't actually believe that individuals should be in control, since you deny the power of the vote.
    So while I do accept the necessity/utility of the power grid, the freeway system, food inspection, etc I do not willingly accept restrictions on which light bulbs I can plug into my outlets, how much butter can be in my restaurant dinner, and whether my car is required to be fuel efficient. There is a place for government. Personal decisions aren't it.
    But that argument is also just personal preference.  Someone may not agree that food inspection is important, so why should their opinion be any less important than yours.  Someone else may think it's important for the government to regulate the standards of restaurant food.

    Your segregation of "personal decisions" from all others presumes that you have sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions.  That, of course, isn't true which is precisely why government regulation exists in the first place.  You can't decide whether meat is good to place on a store shelf, so you can't make a "personal decision" to purchase it. 

    While you may agree or disagree regarding light bulbs, the fact of the matter is that you don't live by yourself.  You live in a society for which the government has a responsibility to ensure coexistence.  You can't simply decide to build a nuclear weapon and set it off in your yard.  Similarly, you don't have the right to simply decide to dump toxic chemicals into your yard and pollute your neighbor's groundwater. 

    So, the notion of such "personal decisions" is an illusion.  That was given up the day we determined that 300 million people sharing a continent was a good idea [or 7 billion sharing a planet].

    Again, despite the mythology, in the majority of cases, the role of the government occurred because people could not depend on or trust the responsible parties without having some accountability, and the government is the only entity large enough to be able to exert influence.  You couldn't even prosecute a kidnapping case without the federal government, because the states don't have to cooperate regarding jurisdiction.
    We can't have a government that leaves people alone as much as possible in 2012.
    This is perhaps your most ironic statement, since the government we have exists precisely because that's what people wanted. 

    I realize you suggested that voting was insufficient to determine what was proper, but you can't seriously be suggesting that the government should remain static based solely on what was known in the 18th century.  Obviously voting is the mechanism by which change occurs.  Therefore, my point remains ... people may not like the government they have, but it is invariably the government they deserve ... they created it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE
    I believe it simply results in less quality information, less knowledge, and more confirmation bias. In general, despite huge technological improvements, we are probably no better informed than people were in the past. We probably have more irrelevant information at our fingertips, but in terms of actual useful information, it is probably no better.
    But technology gives us easier access to quality information. College students in the past had to adjust to library hours to gain access to journals. For no cost(outside of their tuition and internet fees) they can now read any journal article for free around the clock. The same applies to any North American citizen, provided the research was publicly funded.

    As Wikipedia has matured, it has become a better product than conventional encyclopedias. And we have sites like Science 2.0 which is a richer and more dynamic source of information than the traditional weekly science column in a newspaper.

    As I often tell my students, they are in an enviable position, as long as they get fresh air and some physical activity in between, because with tech that's been one of the "casualties".
    Hank
    The same applies to any North American citizen, provided the research was publicly funded.
    Just a slight correction. That law is only for NIH studies.  The dozens of other federal agencies, including the NSF and all the rest, do not have an open access mandate.
    Gerhard Adam
    In some respects that's true, but equally you can spend twice as much time filtering through the nonsense before you find something good.  In addition, you often find numerous references only to discover that they all come from the same source.

    That's not to say quality doesn't exist, but equally for those that aren't prepared to do the work to get it, there's far more "appearance" of quality than actual data.  I can easily find 100x more garbage than I ever could before, so in some respects the task has become more difficult.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It is infinitely better to have to sort thru a bunch of stuff you don't want to find what you do want than it is to just plain not have access to what you want at all.

    There is no such thing as too much information. You just need to be better at filtering and sorting it. It's a you problem.

    Gerhard Adam
    There is no such thing as too much information. You just need to be better at filtering and sorting it. It's a you problem.
    Of course there can be too much information.  This is especially true when much of it may be contradictory without any clear indication of what a consensus might even be.


    Mundus vult decipi
    I just could not disagree more. Consensus is often the problem. There are right answers and you and I can find them.

    There are areas of knowledge where all investigators will reach the same conclusion about what the right answer is (once there actually is a conclusion). There are other areas where you and I can decide on different answers and both of us will be right.

    I don't look for consensus in areas where my ideas are the only ones that count. My diet would be one of those areas.

    UvaE

     
    Yep, kooky progressives think banning Happy Meals is the answer, but really they should be banning the Rainforest Cafe.
     
     

    Banning things where individual choice exists is ridiculous. A parent can choose to limit the frequency of trips to fast food places, whose food is not necessarily inferior to what's found in many frozen dinners. I also find set-menus at reception halls far more frustrating and not always more appetizing than Mc Donald's.  
    In general, I prefer beach picnics and home-made meals with something from the garden. In the former case I have always found my kids less discriminating with food if they've been swimming or running around, and if that's the case, I don't have to worry about their caloric intake.