The Men Who Made Us Fat (2 of 3)

Jacques Peretti investigates how the concept of ‘supersizing’ changed our eating habits forever. How did we – once a nation of moderate eaters – start to want more?

Speaking to Mike Donahue, former McDonalds Vice President, Peretti explores the history behind the idea of supersizing. 40 years ago, McDonalds hired David Wallerstein, a former cinema manager who had introduced the idea of selling larger popcorn servings in his Chicago cinema. Wallerstein realised that people would eat more but they didn’t like the idea of appearing gluttonous by going back for seconds. By increasing the portion sizes and the cost, he could sell more food. In 1972, he introduced the idea to McDonalds and their first large fries went on sale.

By the 1980s, we were eating more – and eating more often. Perretti speaks with industry professionals to examine the story behind the introduction of value meals, king-size snacks and multi-buy promotions. How did the advertising industry encourage us to eat more often?

The programme also explores the developments in dietary advice – by 2003, the Chief Medical Officer was warning of an ‘obesity time bomb.’ Peretti speaks to obesity expert Professor Philip James, who made recommendations in his 1996 report that the food industry should cease targeting children in their advertisements. He also speaks with Professor Terry Wilkin, who led a pioneering study into childhood weight gain; and former Labour MP David Hinchliffe, who chaired the 2003 Parliamentary Select Committee on Health.

Second part of three-part series on BBC 2, The Men Who Made Us Fat (June 2012).

Disgraceful behaviour of Tessa Jowell who shelved a report on obesity.

Contrary to myth, children do not exercise less. They are not getting fat because they exercise less, they exercise less because they are getting fat. Funding for this study blocked.

Richard Doll exposed the link btween smoking and lung cancer. There was then a long battle with the tobacco cindustry who denied there was any link, but as we learnt when class action was taken, they were well aware.

That is the position we are now in with the food industry. An industry that is as damaging to health as was the tobacco industry, an industry that is spending vast sums on lobbying.

Note: Due to the extended Wimbledon coverage, the third and final episode of The Men Who Made Us Fat has been rescheduled for 9pm Thursday 12 July 2012 on BBC 2.

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