Friday, January 13, 2012

When information is not very useful

One thing that always annoys me about calorie counts in articles, websites, apps, etc. is that they never reflect the way people actually eat food! I'm going to pick on this Yahoo article as an example. I don't eat a lot of fast food, even though, I won't lie, it is convenient, it is cheap, and it is delicious. But this article on the best and worst fast food picks, while not meaningless, is still somewhat divorced from how people actually eat food. Every time you see calories or fat counts in food like this (or any food really), it always assumes the person eats more economically and efficiently than real people eat. These articles always give dumb examples like this:

Deluxe Breakfast, with a large biscuit and no syrup or margarine (1,150 calories, 60 grams of fat) 

Well who the fuck is ordering the deluxe breakfast with no syrup and no margarine? Or ketchup? Nobody! Why even give those calorie counts? Why do they give calorie counts for burgers without ketchup? Salads without dressings? Sandwiches with the healthiest breads instead of the more popular breads.  If you want your intended audience to lose weight (as these types of articles are presumed to do), they should err on the high side of calorie counts. They should assume that customers are drowning their McDonald's french fries in ketchup or BBQ sauce, or Honey Mustard sauce. I mean, they give calorie counts on mozzarella sticks without the sauce - what's the point? Who eats mozzarella sticks like that?  If we really want people to lose weight, we should overestimate their calorie counts and let the customer adjust their intakes in other meals.  Otherwise, people who are attempting to diet presume their are ingesting a lot less calories than they really are.  Many times I think these articles are actually designed to simply make people feel better about their own eating choices. In that regard they succeed, but they do a very poor job of actually explaining to the public why they can't seem to lose any weight.

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