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Fast Food, Hospitals, and Cravings

August 12, 2010

Blizzard Cup

Fast food and hospitals are the two concepts that should not be found together in the same sentence. And yet, their relationship grows cozier all the time.

It was with some dismay that Dr. Pretlow recently noticed a TV commercial for the Blizzard Children’s Miracle Network. Actually, the word that came to mind was “disgusted.” Does this seem harsh? As depicted by the 30-second video clip, cleft palates were repaired, birthmarks obliterated, and leg braces rendered unnecessary. What’s not to like? We’ll get back to that.

But what is a Blizzard? Some variant of soft ice-cream float, apparently; with seasonally appropriate flavors, candies, cookies, fruit, and/or chocolate chunks mixed in. 100 million of those things were sold in the first year. According to Dairy Queen’s Blizzard Fan Club page, this year marks the 25th birthday, or anniversary, of the Blizzard. (Dr. Pretlow notes that, coincidentally, childhood obesity started to increase about 25 years ago.)

So, what’s in the thing? As it turns out, the actual ingredients are very difficult to locate online. In fact, I still haven’t managed to.

However, the interested folks at A Calorie Counter took the trouble to enumerate the calories contained in a Dairy Queen Large Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard. One of these concoctions weighs in at 1,320 calories. (For comparison purposes, a teenage girl only needs about 1,700 calories a day.) And, it contains 39% of a person’s daily recommended ration of fat. A Calorie Counter says,

After genetics, the foods you eat and don’t eat play quite possibly the largest role in your health. For example, how’s your fat intake? Is it high in the unhealthy fats that CAUSE heart disease, or is it low in the healthy fats that PREVENT it?

But wait… There’s more! The proprietors of A Calorie Counter actually studied the offerings from a couple of dozen fast-food chains, and came up with a list of the 272 highest-calorie fast food items. We were not surprised to learn that the Dairy Queen Large Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard occupies position #5. Impressive! Various other flavors of Blizzards occupy eight more of those top 272 spots.

While this company engages in the ostensibly commendable enterprise of helping children who need hospitalization, it is at the same time providing the means by which many, many other children will require hospitalization. There is something inherently creepy about the notion that “every Blizzard you buy helps children…” Especially when children are the targets of the ad, and also appear in that same ad. It’s a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing sort of thing, using the cloak of a charitable contribution to put a halo of acceptability around the cultivation of a taste for hedonic foods in little children.

So, check out the picture on this page, the one with the teenage girl announcing, “I’m a candy craver!” What’s wrong with that, you may ask? Well, nothing and everything. Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine this girl saying, “I’m a cigarette craver!” or, “I’m a cocaine craver!” How would that sound?

These are the words of one of the teenagers quoted in Overweight: What Kids Say:

A teen who does drugs or smokes would get in trouble if their parents found out. But no one’s going to ground you for eating, which can be equally as damaging, and is equally as difficult to stop.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The 272 Fast Food Items Highest In Calories,” A Calorie Counter
Image of Blizzard cup used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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