- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2000

LOS ANGELES American food manufacturers are capitalizing on a backlash against low-calorie and diet foods by marketing treats that boast a high fat content and good artery-clogging potential a trend critics call "food porn."
Obesity has doubled during the past decade and doctors and nutritional experts say that if the number of heavyweights continues to grow at the current rate, almost the entire population will be obese by 2010.
"It is the responsibility of food manufacturers to support a healthy diet, not promote dangerous eating habits," declared the Medical Institute of California.
The baker Sara Lee has created a series of products called Calzone Creations. This includes microwave sandwiches that proudly display the message: "Contains 12 grams of saturated fat, at least 60 percent of the recommended daily intake for an average person."
Kraft also is capitalizing on America's unusually cynical reaction to the so-called "food fascists," who have spent years telling people to eat healthfully. It has created a cheesecake snack bar that glories in containing three times as much fat as a regular cheesecake.
The product inspired the critical Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, to come up with the phrase "food porn." There is also a chocolate bar from Nestle that has eight times as much saturated fat as a normal bar.
"I don't watch my fat intake at all," Glen Murphy of Mississauga, Ontario, said as he sampled one of the full-fat Calzone Creations, a croissantlike pocket stuffed with meat, cheese and vegetables.
"I like what I buy and I eat it and enjoy it."
Michael Sansolo, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents the supermarket industry, said consumers had been "deluged with conflicting, sometimes misleading claims" about nutrition and diet, and they have reacted by "tuning out."
Researchers claim that the motivation to lose weight has dramatically decreased since one in five persons the obese encounter is either as large or larger than they are.
According to New Product News, a publication that tracks the industry, the number of new food products bearing low-fat or low-calorie claims more than doubled from 1993 to 1996, from 847 items to 2,076 items, but had dropped by half two years later.

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