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The Men Who Made Us Fat Episode 2 - Overview

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Video Notes:

General Overview

1. This is about the men who trapped us into eating more.

2. Learnt that if they made the portions bigger they could sell more.

3. Decisions were made behind close doors that ushered in a time of excess.

4. Rules were changes. The attitudes were that everyone was out to make a bigger profit.

5. Clever marketing persuaded us that more is good.

6. Biggest change in the last 25 years is portion sizes.

Big Boy Breakfast or Jester Challenge Big Breakfast – Britain’s Biggest Breakfast (1 minute 30 seconds)

a. We live in a world of overabundance. Where big is best. Value means more.

b. Big breakfast weighs the same as a small child. (9.5 pounds or 4.5kg)

c. Challenge – eat it in an hour and get your money back.

d. People think it is ok after watching the American supersizing of food.


Hidden Dangers of Over Eating (4 minutes 10 seconds)

1. Our world now has food available day and night. 24/7 whenever and wherever we want it.

2. Overconsumption is killing us.

3. 60% in Britain are overweight or obese.

4. Most people are unaware of the hidden dangers of overeating.

5. He had a MRI scan that shows up all the fat in his body.

6. Jacques had a considerable amount of fat surrounding his organs. He had 4-5 litres of fat. He should have less than 2 litres of internal fat.

When did we start overeating? Who decided we should eat bigger and bigger portions? (5 minutes 30 seconds)

1. The answer lies in America. Supersizing began in Chicago.

2. David Wallerstein changed the way we eat forever. He created super-sizing!

3. 1967 – He was area manager of the cinema chain. He devised a way of making bigger profits. He supersized the popcorn.

4. People did not buy multiple amounts of a product so he decided to sell larger amounts for less per quantity. It looked a good deal. Bigger cartons allowed him to charge more but the costs for the extra popcorn was not much greater. Profits were much greater.

5. Most of the costs were in the packaging and not the product. Increasing the size did not cost very much. This concept was taken on by the major food companies including McDonald's, Pepsi and Coka-cola.

6. People loved the bigger buckets and taller drinks so profits soared. The super-sized portion was born!

7. Wallerstein was headhunted by McDonald's and put on their board. They found he was a creative brilliant genius in promotions and ideas in increasing profits.

8. The founder of McDonald's, Ray Crock, was opposed to this idea. He did not believe people needed or wanted more food.

9. After some arguments Wallerstein was allowed to test his theory in one of the restaurants. Crock sat in the restaurant and observed behaviour. He saw people tip back the chip packet and consume every last fry and piece of salt. (The salt slide)

10. Wallerstein said the salt slide proved that people wanted more but did not want to go back and purchase more. The way to sell more is to increase the portion size as people did not want to go back for two. Going back would be committing a deadly sin – gluttony!

11. In 1972 a larger serving of fries was introduced. This was to change the world forever.

12. To the customer this appeared to be a great deal. This was value for the consumer.

13. The move to larger portions was a goldmine to McDonald's. They had a lot of fixed costs but the food was cheap. Adding more food did not cost a lot to produce but it allowed them to charge more generating huge additional profits.

14. Other fast-food companies started selling bigger portions of food containing sugar and fat.

15. The impact on the health of the public was unknown.

Appetite and Behaviour ( 11 minutes 56 seconds)

1. 1974 a psychology professor, Anthony Sclafani was studying appetite and behaviour. He needed overweight rats to study.

2. Rat food and high-fat food did not make them fat so his staff went out to the supermarket and bought foods that people loved to buy and eat. On this diet, they started to get fat immediately.

3. He was surprised how fast the weight gain was. They put on weight immediately.

4. Their biological drive is the same as humans. They seek to put on weight in good times so they can survive the bad times.

5. Sugar and fat is OK occasionally but it is present wherever we turn. It could be said that we have a toxic food environment.

6. This experiment gave us a huge warning because what happened to rats would most likely happen to humans.


The Lucrative Opportunity for Food Companies (13minutes 48 seconds)

1. Food companies now know that people find foods high in sugar and fat very hard to resist.

2. By the late 1970’s Americans were offered these foods in larger portions.

3. At this time in Britain, the fast-food business had still to take off. Less than 2% of adults in Britain were obese. Family meals were still mostly eaten at home.

4. When Wimpy started offering burgers and fries in an American style. It opened up a new style of eating.

5. The arrival of McDonald's transformed how the British ate. Food became cheaper for people so more could eat out.

6. Instead of eating in a restaurant McDonald's introduced fast counter service to replace table service. This helped them sell a much greater amount of food. Wimpys started this in 1980. Sales could be over 5-6 times with counter sales over table service. This transformed the industry.

Pressure To Supersize (16:40)

1. A packaging company advertised to restaurants etc that marketing bigger sizes of food would boost sales and profits. Biggers sizes would give them more for their money. Bigger packages would make people hungry for bigger portions.

2. Upselling makes more money for the companies selling the packaging and the food companies. Customers were given three sizes to choose from and the staff could ask them if they were going to buy the biggest size. The salesperson assumed that the customer would want the biggest size. This meant the staff had no pressure on them.

3. No one thought this would cause a problem. Nutrition was about getting more food into people. It was not long after the war and there were no concerns about obesity. The concern was the people got enough nutrition.

Eating On The Streets (19:20)

1. Before, people ate at home and not on the streets.

2. Social norms have changed greatly.

Selling Meal Deals (19:38)

1. When fast food in Britain started taking off in the 1980s, in America it started to stagnate.

2. Taco Bell had the answer to this problem. They started discounting using bundling. They launched the value meal. The restaurants brought together different meal parts. Starter, mains, dessert and beverage.

3. This dramatically increased the number of calories consumed.

4. McDonald's did not want to bring this in but their shareholders pushed them into doing it. As profits were down they were required to make some changes.

5. Buying individual items was slow, confusing and slowed down the process of buying food. It was inefficient. They lost customers as the lines got too long. Value meals speeded up the service.

6. Every 15 seconds you reduce in serving the customer it adds 1% growth to the company. ($290 million pounds of profit).

7. Everyone was happy and profits soured (again!)

8. Trouble – if people paid for their meal then they were going to eat it all. Even if they did not need to eat it all.

9. Value meal was rolled out globally. In three years they accounted for nearly half of all meals sold.

The New Super-Sized Menu – Wall St Pressure (23:35)

1. Wall Street put them under pressure to keep increasing their profits.

2. So McDonald's rolled out a new supersized menu. This came out with Jurassic Park in 1993. (Dino Sizing)

3. This was so successful that supersizing became part of the normal menu. Other restaurant chains followed suit.

4. Overconsumption is part of being an American.

5. People are looking for value and value is good… (or is it?) People on a budget would appreciate value.

6. Customers were now asked, “Do you want to supersize that?”

7. The drive was for bigger and bigger profits.

8. Larger sizes were sold for a proportionately lower cost. It was a good deal to go large. If you ate a big meal cheaply you could go without later and save money.

The super Big Gulp (26:17)

1. The super big gulp or double gulp was introduced. It contains two litres of Coke. It contains a third of a mans daily calorie intake.

2. The American snack – the double gulp and a large packet of chips.

3. As drink sizes increased, more sugar was added to the American diet.

4. Drink portion sizes are 2-5 times larger now than they were in the 1950s.

5. A normal drink was 7 ounces or 200ml and was the only size available.

6. The new small is double this size (400ml). The large is 32 ounces or 1 litre. Double gulp is 64 ounces or 2 litres of soft drink. (50 teaspoons of sugar)

How larger portion sizes help cause obesity. (28:16)

1. We do not eat less after we eat a huge meal. This is what the food companies argued we would do. Studies show the reverse is true.

2. In the late 1990’s Professor Barbara Rolls was the first nutritionist to study how portion sized can help cause obesity.

3. In the study, over 11 days people had their portion sizes increased by 50%. She was amazed at the results. People kept overeating. Most did not notice that they were getting bigger portions. They put on around half a kg.

4. People would eat what they were served and were especially attracted to foods rich in calories.

5. She talked about calorie-dense foods. Eating a lot of them put you at risk of putting on weight.

6. People eat a consistent amount of food. If you pack more calories into that amount of food then you can overeat without even knowing.

7. So calorie-dense foods AND bigger portions mean we are in trouble and overeat!!

8. As companies wanted to provide better value and get more customers these warnings were ignored

The new way of eating comes to Britain (30:45)

1. It was a way of eating which was outside the home and pushed up the calorie intake.

2. Created the commercial “A finger of fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat”. Persuaded parents to give children fattening snacks between meals and that is was actually a good thing to do.

3. Yorkie chocolate bar – put snack eating on the radar for people in England. Was the start of the war for increasing chocolate bar sizes. The people who made Yorkie changed the rules. The bars needed to look like chocolate that one person can eat by themselves. The outcome of the advertising was that chocolate bars became bigger.

4. 1985 – Mars launched its 100g bar. Snickers followed suit.

5. Big focus was increasing the amount of chocolate children ate during the day. Their ideas were to give children an excuse to eat chocolate much more often than they would have done. (Cadbury's fingers). (eg: Harry the spider’s coming out party). You could eat a treat any day and at any time. It then became part of the school lunch box.

6. As snacks became a normal part of children’s diets sales rose. At the same time, their weight increased.

7. By the mid-’90s 1 in 10 children were obese.

Obesity was identified as a growing health risk in the late 80’s (35:12)

1. By the mid-’90s 1 in 10 children were obese.

2. In the ’80s, Phillip James identified obesity as a growing health risk.

3. By 1996 the government could no longer ignore the problem. Professor James was asked to provide a report on this issue for the government.

4. In the report he found children were in a very new world. They spent 136 million pounds buying confectionary going to and from school. He was horrified at what they were eating.

5. He made a couple of proposals including looking at the advertising of food to children. Around his colleagues what he came up with had universal approval.

6. When it got to the government who thought it was an extreme document. The food and drink association wanted to talk to him. (They represented the food and drink industry) They invited him to dinner. There were 14 chief executives of businesses and was questioned for four hours about why he would even think about limiting advertising to children when it was the parent’s duty to work out what was required for them to eat. The companies had a basic right to advertise to children.

7. The report was never published by the department of health but was shelved.

8. The representative from the government said it was not widely agreed upon and it was standard practice not to publish papers.

9. This lady later was part of a group that introduced stricter controls over advertising to children.

10. IN 2003 the chief medical officer warned of an obesity time bomb. He called on food manufacturers to behave responsibly.

11. The parliamentary health committee called an enquiry.

12. The chairman of this committee was quite surprised at how powerful the food industry was.

13. They wanted to attack the super sizing marketing and selling especially.

14. McDonald's said that it is the parents who have to take responsibility for what their children eat. And “as a company over many years, we have promoted a healthy active lifestyle”.

15. PepsiCo UK said, “The problem is… the presumption that we are talking about bad foods”.

16. The committee pushed to have changes implemented to protect public health. They wanted the policy of supersizing to be removed, (Voluntary which was a mistake as this was its most profitable selling tool).

17. The companies thought they were looking at the wrong issues. They believed it was personal inactivity that was causing the problem of increased obesity.

18. JP Morgan was concerned about how the obesity crisis would impact investments. They warned clients that legislation was coming. The industry fought the legislation. They fought from the angle that it was caused by the lack of exercise not the eating and drinking of unhealthy food.

Does the lack of exercise cause obesity? (40:40)

1. There was a challenge of the idea that children were just getting fat due to the lack of exercise.

2. At a Plymouth hospital endocrinologist Terry Wilkins carried out ground breaking research that showed that physical inactivity was not responsible for obesity.

3. He found that children were just as active now.

4. He found out fatness from inappropriate eating caused reduced physical activity.

5. He looked at the reasons why children were coming obese and some even becoming type 2 diabetic. This disease was previously not seen in children but people in middle age and older.

6. Children were no less active then 30 years ago. Then this was not the reason so many were getting obese. So the question was if it was not the lack of activity, what was causing the obesity crisis?

7. Much of what children eat today is processed or come through a fast food outlet. Children’s are also eating much more food. Over the last 25 years there has been a big / huge increase in portion sizes.

8. Professor Wilkin’s study challenged the idea that obesity was caused by laziness. When he presented his findings to the Department of Health they were ignored. The study lost its funding from government in 2005.

9. Professor Wilkins believes the government would find it easier to deal with inactivity rather than the foods people ate as the amount of physical activity is up to the individual.

Research showing food is causing the obesity crisis becomes stronger. Instead of supersizing, sharing was the new buzz word. (44:30)

1. By 2005 in Britain they were purchasing $8 billion pounds a year on unhealthy snacks. (Around $14 billion Australian dollars)

2. More money was spent on takeaways than fresh food and vegetables.

3. Research continued to show that larger portions encouraged overeating.

4. With increased research there was stronger discussion with the food industry on how to turn around the culture of super sizing. They wrote a manifesto to encourage their members to become more health conscious. They pledged to both decrease portion sizes and reduce the amount of fat and sugar in foods. King size bars of Snickers and Mars were phased out.

5. Instead, the industry changed what they sold. For example, they marked a double, duo or twin bar that you could share with someone else. It was clever marketing. Once a person opens a bar it is unlikely many would share them with other people or save it for another day.

6. Large portions were now marketed to share with others not to eat yourself. They at times had resealable bags so you did not eat them all at once or shared them with friends. The research the larger bars and bags of chips caused us to eat more.

7. A correct serve of chips was shown. This is the size chips used to be sold.

8. Research showed that people would eat as much as were in a bag. Then people still ate as much at dinner time.

9. Overeating snacks between meals is very dangerous! It is a key part of obesity.

10. The size of the bag was a cue on how much you should eat. These foods are very Moorish!! Once you start it is very hard to stop.

The battle in our supermarkets (48:27)

1. The battle ground for obesity is shifting to our supermarkets.

2. It is no longer food manufacturers that upsize our food but supermarkets are having price wars on unhealthy foods to fight for our loyalty.

3. A weapon they use to get us through the door is multi buy promotions. All the supermarkets use them. You may go to buy one thing but come back home with so much more as they present such good deals or appears to be such great value.

4. Everything is about super sizing… (Using different methods but the same outcome). Supersizing is a weapon they are using in the price war.

5. These promotions were originally so you could move existing stock. Now it is used as a tactical weapon in the battle for brand supremacy and supermarket supremacy.

6. Chips, chocolates etc when promoted sold rapidly. They are know as expandables as people could purchase and eat more if they wanted to. (eg: Fresh meat is not very expandable but chocolate is as chocolate is not connected to a meal and you can eat it any time and anywhere you like) If you have more of them at your home you tend to eat them faster.

7. Supermarkets have promised to help with the obesity epidemic but discounting unhealthy snack food is not helping.

8. In one year, this type of marketing rose by 130%

9. The supermarkets do not see multipacks as supersizing but as offering value to customers. They offer people the chance to eat healthily with good labelling and they can make good choices about what they eat. The supermarkets believe the snacks are not an issue and it is the customer’s responsibility.

How will we win the war? (53:28)

1. We have been trapped in a spiral of upsizing by restaurants, food companies and supermarkets.

2. When this was filmed, in America 1 in 3 are obese and still they keep eating.

3. Jacques went and bought a huge donut by himself. Some people would eat this all by themselves.

4. America’s annual obesity medical bill is over $150 billion dollars, so the food industry is being asked to shoulder some of the responsibility. They are looking at possibility of using taxation as a remedy.

5. Dr Kelly Brownell, a world expert in nutrition and appetite said every business tries to maximise how desirable their products are. They change the quality to increase the amount that they buy. He said that they need to be responsible for what they put into the food and the effect it is having on people.

6. In 2009 he led demands that sugary drinks should be taxed. Sales of these drinks are actually falling. Health experts believe the overconsumption of these drinks leads to obesity. The tax would reduce consumption, generate a lot of money and then could be used for anti-obesity programs. This would have a very positive impact.

7. The soft drink company fought back at this idea. They spent over $40 million lobbying politicians to stop this soda tax.

8. He believes what is happening is similar to what happened to the tobacco industry. They will win the first few skirmishes but the public will win in the end.

9. In Denmark and France there is now a tax on some unhealthy foods and drinks. In Britain, supersized sugary and fat-filled food sales are still on the rise.

10. What started with a big bucket of popcorn ended with an obesity epidemic. History shows that a handful of men gave us a huge appetite for unhealthy food. The food was bigger, sweeter and more available. 1 in 4 in Britain are now obese and this figure is set to rise unless the food industries and the nation learn to curb its appetite.

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