The Fattening of America: It’s Not All Advertising’s Fault

I once interviewed at an ad agency that had a manufacturer of corn syrup on its client roster. And while it didn’t make a difference in me getting the job or not, frankly, I was really turned off by that because I’ve read countless times how the abundance of corn and corn-related products in every step of the food chain has done a number on our health. And I’m a guy who’s done my share of casino marketing.
I’d forgotten all about that agency until I started leafing through The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat, If It Matters, and What to Do About It by Eric A. Finkelstein and Laurie Zuckerman.
I was sure that in this book, advertising and marketing would get the blame for America’s expanding waistlines, but the truth is more complicated than that. The authors examine every aspect of the way we live our lives these days, and how even today’s schools, jobs, and government policies have affected our collective health.
If you’re looking for a good examination of one major topic in our society, read The Fattening of America. There are lessons to be learned that relate to almost any client you have, or even your own lifestyle. And remember that we in advertising play a role in it all: we advertise the food, the grocery stores, the fast-food joints, the medications, the diet plans and the hospital services.
Special thanks to Anna at FSB Associates who provided me a copy for review.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Perfect timing. I just picked it up yesterday. I also suggest “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Fast Food Nation.”
    The triumvirate of books on Big Food.

  2. Tyler Foxx says:

    Yeah, let’s all quit eating. And doing creative for edible murderers like corn syrup. America will be saved…

  3. It’s always interesting that these discussions, whether criticizing food companies or discussing the rise in obesity among children, inevitably draw comments from individuals seeking to poo-poo the observations as nonsense or redirect the blame to the public. Not to sound too paranoid, but it’s no secret that the food companies have hired pr specialists and lobbyists to launch counter offensives. While the food companies enjoy reputations far more pleasant than Big Tobacco or pharmaceutical companies, they have employed tactics that are just as sneaky and detrimental to the public’s well-being. The slow response to eliminating trans fats is one shining example. Increased portion sizes are another. Again, don’t mean to sound too paranoid, but let’s be careful to disregard the dangers of these companies just because their mascots include friendly characters like Ronald McDonald. Remember, John Wayne Gacy was a clown once too.