January 26

Tarnished Halo Awards

13  comments

Just got in from a great day on the links. I was a little hung over, but managed to eek out an 85 on a strange course that I played for the first time. Won about $40. Not too shabby.
Came in to check my emails and found one from a friend giving me a heads up on one of the winners of the Tarnished Halo Awards, sponsored by the Center for Consumer Freedom. The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is a lobbying group for the restaurant and food industry, which, of course, makes them a little suspect. Nevertheless, I always enjoy it when they skewer these holier-than-thou types.
As the CCF calls it, the Tarnished Halo Awards go to

America’s most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed “public interest” advocates, trial lawyers, and other food & beverage activists who claim to “know what’s best for you.”

I’m basking in the schadenfruede of Kelly Brownell’s getting this award (as is Taubes) because Brownell truly is one of those holier-than-thou twits who is a major promoter of the low-fat, high-carb diet. I love it when he blames his weight problem on the fact that he leads a sedentary life.
Dr. Brownell got his award in the Do as I Say, Not as I Eat category.

Awarded to the father of the “Twinkie tax,” Yale University professor Kelly Brownell, for writing a book on solutions to the obesity epidemic while misleading the public about his own weight. On the dust jacket of his 2003 book about obesity, readers find a photograph of a trimmer (and much younger) Brownell than current reality warranted. Brownell admitted to the Associated Press that his own obesity resulted from a sedentary lifestyle.

Here are his pictures. The one on the left is from his diet book jacket. The one on the right, as he really is.
brownell-fat-blog-size.gif
There are probably a number of people out there who could qualify for this award. Maybe I’ll start my own awards and start outing these guys. I go to most of the major obesity related medical meetings, and you wouldn’t believe how many of the people who are in positions of power are obese themselves. If readers have any candidates, send them to me.
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  1. Can we start with Jane Brody, NYT? She advocates a lowfat diet for health but has so many health issues herself. Not exactly poster girl material.
    Marilyn
    Yep, she’s definitely not the poster girl for good health.  That’s for sure.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  2. I nominate Dr. Andrew Weil. He tries to hide his chubbiness under the bushy beard and the baggy shirts, but I’m not convinced.
    Hi Beth–
    I’ve seen him multiple times at conferences.  He may try to hide it, but his large abdomen is definitely there.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  3. Here’s my candidate, although to my knowledge she is not obese: Jane Brody. In my 20s-30s I believed her and tried to like her cookbook recipes (flavorless and “twiggy”), but was very relieved to learn in my late 30s that she had it all wrong and i could toss the cookbooks (I didn’t even donate them; I didn’t want to perpetuate her baloney). I started reading her columns again when she wrote about all her health problems. Seems her “wonderful” health and diet advice did not spare her from needing knee replacement (s?), getting breast cancer, etc. While I would never wish her harm, and I’m sure she only has the best intentions, she seems to be a poster child of what not to do/eat.
    Ciao, Anna
    Hi Anna–
    We’ll add your vote for Jane Brody, who has certainly had her share of health issues.  And all after (presumably) following her own diet.  I wonder if the lightbulb will ever go on?
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  4. Hi Mike,
    I guess I wouldn’t be the first to suggest ‘Dr Phil‘ as a worthy candidate;
    Is it just me or do people over there also refer to his disciples as Philistines?
    Cheers,
    Malcolm
    Hi Malcolm–
    ‘Philistines.’  Hahahahaha.  If they don’t refer to them that way, they should.
    I think Dr. Phil is the poster child for his own diet.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  5. Just be careful about committing ad hominems.
    Neal
    Hi Neal–
    An ad hominem attack is one in which the man is attacked instead of his argument.  In this case I like neither the man nor his argument, so it isn’t really ad hominem. 
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  6. I have a hard time taking diet advice from 1) people who are quite overweight, or 2) people who have never struggled with their weight. Or dietitians. I get a ride to church each week from a dietitian who I’m convinced doesn’t know the first thing about truly healthy eating. :-p
    Hi Victoria–
    I agree completely about the dietitians.  I’ve met a few who have good sense, but they are strictly in the minority.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  7. Andrew Weil would be on my list, too, along with Dean Ornish and Michael Jacobson. Ornish and Jacobson not because they are fat but because their faces and hair always look so unhealthy (at least to me.)
    I run hot and cold on Dr. Phil. I’ve read his book about weight loss and the chapters on the right reasons and motivations to succeed in losing weight and getting healthy are good but I’d definitely pitch the food advice chapters overboard and go to a book like Protein Power for that advice instead. LOL, that “Philistines” remark really tickles my funny bone! Pretty apt, I’d say.
    Hi Esther–
    Agreed about Ornish and Jacobson.  Agreed also about the food chapters in Dr. Phil’s missive to the Philistines.   Protein Power is a much better choice, if I do say so myself.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  8. Let’s not forget Richard Simmons. You’d think someone who exercises as much as he does (or claims to) would have at least some muscle tone.
    Ah, yes, Richard Simmons.  How could we forget him?  He’s added to the list.
    Best–
    MRE 

  9. Kelly Brownell wins hands down. Look at these photos of him from last year, at a “Health” conference no less.
    Hi Kathryn–
    Pretty bad.  I don’t know how he can present his info with any credibility at all while looking like he does.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  10. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh !!!
    The Taubes book isn’t coming out until the fall? I want to get my hands on this so badly–I’m gonna buy several copies and leave them on certain people’s doorstep!
    I nominate any skinny dietitian who has never had a weight problem. They simply do not know how difficult it is to get it off once it’s been put on.
    Hi LC–
    I’ve read it twice now.  Once in it’s pre-edited 750 page form and once again in its cut down 400 page form.  It is well worth the wait – if it turns out to be your cup of tea.  It is excellent, but it may not be what you’re expecting.  It’s basically a history of how terrible science and a few forceful personalities made the low-fat diet the standard.  And it argues for why the alternative theory of low-carb should be given a chance.  It’s not really a diet book, and it’s pretty technical.  And it’s long.  I don’t think a lot of people will read it for pleasure.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  11. Your logic is that you cannot address a problem if you are affected by it. The world would be severely limited with respect to medicine, psychotherapy, etc. if such logic were true.
    Please — more think, less dumb.
    I agree with you in general, but not in this specific case. One can address the problem of leukemia, for example, without having leukemia oneself. But to tell people that the best way to lose weight is to follow a certain diet and to harangue people about being overweight because they don’t follow that prescription while being grotesquely overweight oneself is a different story entirely.
    Please — more discrimination in your thinking, less dumb.
    Cheers–
    MRE

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