Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2013

A caustic reminder of the status quo: food and drink aimed for the kill

You all know the ultra-small bottles of alcohol as well as other miscellaneous items sold right next to the checkout counter. You do if you live in a country that allows such a display, for example Austria.
It is common knowledge that these items are aimed at people with low impulse control and children in particular. You do not need much knowledge of psychology to know this is true. And it works, that's why it's done.

Now, who buys that booze? Certainly not me. Nor have I ever heard or seen anyone of my friends buy these and we certainly know how to get drunk (from time to time). On the other hand, I have seen poor, ragged working class fellas' and "typical" alcoholics buy those**. So the whole scheme is most definitely aimed at alcoholics, those with the least control. Since the small bottles are always in sight and easy to hide and stash away, who else would succumb? (And to some extent it is aimed at teenagers, but I believe the laws have gotten strict enough to close this loophole)

These companies are prying on the weakest of the weak, the sick and the poor. Classy. No, really, people responsible for this, you are scum.

Literally, their bottom lines depend on killing people, because that is what alcohol does to alcoholics. It's the most pernicious kind of rent seeking (broadly, the extraction of profit at cost to others).

On a similar note
Obesity is a disease(-like) condition (1) that can be beyond a person's control. Many of those afflicted suffer from decreased impulse control or increased orexigenic drive (e.g. polymorphisms of hypothalamic effectors like NPY*) or reduced energy consumption via thermogenesis.

Companies abuse and exploit these sick people by providing ultra-easy, fast access to extremely calorie-dense and unhealthy foods (2). How could they not know that they are killing them?

Visibility and accessibility is a huge factor. I know that it is for me, and I normally do not have a problem to stay lean, but when I am unhappy or just see certain sweets/foods or both, sometimes an irresistible drive overwhelms my actual intentions of not buying them, or of buying something entirely different or a healthier alternative.
Anecdotally, this is true for most everyone else, at least to some extent. Unfortunately, right now I have no time to search the literature to confirm my suspicion.

Summary
I demand an end to this practice, as well as plain labeling, warning signs (for alcohol & probably other "ultra-processed foods"), a ban of alcohol for minors, etc.

(1) "Amid heated debate, AMA declares obesity a disease"

(2)  Lancet. 2013 Feb 11. pii: S0140-6736(12)62089-3. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62089-3. [Epub ahead of print]
Profits and pandemics: prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink industries.
Moodie R, Stuckler D, Monteiro C, Sheron N, Neal B, Thamarangsi T, Lincoln P, Casswell S; on behalf of The Lancet NCD Action Group.

*just giving a speculative example

**edit: I forgot to add, I concede that regular, "normal" people also buy these, but the above reasoning still applies

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