Food Cops’ Obesity Message is Off-Key

Ever wonder why more people don’t take the stairs—especially when so many people are trying to lose weight? An enterprising group in Sweden (an initiative of Volkswagon) had a theory that if activity is more fun, more people will do it and change their behavior for the better. The group turned a set of stairs into a giant piano, with each step representing a key. And according to their analysis, 66 percent more people took the stairs after the change.
It’s no secret that waistlines are getting larger in America. The New York City Department of Hype “Health” and other dietary scolds point the finger at soda pop. Others have suggested (and later recanted) that corn sweetener is the culprit. But this blame game only focuses on one half of the obesity equation: calories “in.”
Alternatively, we showed in our book Small Choices, Big Bodies that minor changes in lifestyle over the past few decades can add up to explain why we’re not burning as many calories anymore. What kinds of changes? More desk jobs and less work in the fields. More people driving to work more. More labor-saving devices, like dishwashers and washing machines.
Last year, CCF’s research director took a trip to Stockholm and saw petite women washing down starchy, meaty meals with pint after pint of draught beer. But the “obesity epidemic” was nowhere to be found. That’s because the home of the smorgasbord has a strong urban culture of biking or walking to get around.
Small changes can produce big effects. Innovative ways to increase physical activity instead of finger-pointing are music to our ears.

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