A reporter for The New York Observer recently watched as Marion Nestle, an NYU nutritionist and food-industry gadfly, sorted through some promotional items she's collected:
There’s the Oreo Cookie Counting Book, with the story line of an adorable toddler devouring 10 cookies "until there are none." There’s also Oreo Barbie, festooned in Oreo-patterned clothes and standing in a swirling sea of creamy white filling, and her counterpart, McDonald’s Barbie, who wears the fast-food giant’s uniform and serves a Happy Meal to little sister Kelly. Then there’s a glass baby bottle with a rubber nipple and a Diet Pepsi logo. "This one really bothers me," Ms. Nestle said, burying it back in its box. "I’ve been trying to get them to get rid of this for years. They finally told me they did."
Well, maybe that helps to explain this:
Perhaps nowhere is the issue of obesity in America more vividly illustrated than at Goliath Casket of Lynn, Ind., specialty manufacturers of oversize coffins.
There one can see a triple-wide coffin — 44 inches across, compared with 24 inches for a standard model. With extra bracing, reinforced hinges and handles, the triple-wide is designed to handle 700 pounds without losing what the euphemism-happy funeral industry calls its "integrity."
When Keith and Julane Davis started Goliath Casket in the late 1980's, they sold just one triple-wide each year. But times, along with waistlines, have changed; the Davises now ship four or five triple-wide models a month, and sales at the company have been increasing around 20 percent annually. The Davises say they base their design specifications not on demographic studies so much as on simple observations of the world around them.
"It's just going to local restaurants or walking in a normal Wal-Mart," Mrs. Davis said. "People are getting wider and they're getting thicker."...
And this is before the widespread distribution of cheeseburger fries....