What's the most dangerous idea in the United States? And by that I mean an idea that kills the most people.

My vote for most dangerous idea is the notion of "mealtime." When you live in a society that has two or three established mealtimes every day, you're almost guaranteed to be overweight in adulthood. We have meal plates that are a certain size, and we expect them to be full. And worst of all, we plan our meals to be leisurely, sit-down situations. That requires enough food to keep everyone busy. And that means eating more than you need. Sometimes we even intentionally overeat because our next meal might be hours away and we don't want to risk getting hungry before then.

Diet experts tell us that the best way to eat is by nibbling small snacks throughout the day. But society is organized to deliver food in big chunks, two or three times a day. The three-meals-per-day idea is so embedded in our social fabric that it's hard to imagine any other way to live.

The obvious problem here is that overeating leads to all sorts of lethal and non-lethal health problems. I'll bet the idea of mealtime has killed more Americans than all of our wars put together.

I assume the idea of mealtime made more sense in times of scarcity and communal living, and before the invention of refrigeration. And I understand the social and family benefits of coming together over food. But surely there are healthier ways to be social.

I wonder if mealtime will continue as an idea, or if it is already showing signs of disappearing. I put that question to you. How many "meals" do you eat per day?

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Mar 26, 2012
Your comment is absurd. If I follow your logic, the idea that kills most is reproduction. We can kill death overnight by stopping reproduction (if we could). It would take 100 years or so.
Mar 23, 2012
The social value of sharing a meal (and therefore a "mealtime") is often overlooked. Getting together and not eating is simply not the same. Social scientists talk about "crossing orifice boundaries" with others signifying intimacy and acceptance. While that can sometimes indeed be as disturbing as it sounds, it also relates to the eating of food. In most cultures to eat with someone is a powerful social force.
Mar 20, 2012
This is true and false. True : the experts say we should eat more often like 5 or 6 times a day. False : the 3 meals per day habit is not to be blamed because it is closer to what the experts recommend than any other habit : people who do not seat down to have a proper meal 3 times a day tend to eat fast food (pizza, hamburger, crackers, etc.) throughout the day which is even worse. Ok to eat more ofter but still proper meal with balanced part of all nutriments !
Mar 19, 2012
From my limited observation, I see something that contradicts your theory: of all the cultures I've lived in (and they are several) there is none that takes "meal-times" LESS seriously than Americans, and none that has more overweight people.

Americans are champions of the whole "fix your own breakfast", "I'll eat these Fritos between meals", "I'll get drive-thru" sort of lifestyle. Many cultures in which the "three meals a day" ritual is far more stringently observed do not have the same sort of obesity problem that America does.

American eating habits are certainly dangerous, but I think the "mealtime" idea is easily the LEAST dangerous idea here. Try the "processed food" idea. Or the "fast food" idea.
Mar 18, 2012
Back in the first days of humans we ate little meals or snacks. besides being hunters and gatherers we were also grazers. when either the hunters or gatherers would go out for food. they would also snack on nuts and berries etc. throughout the day. not to mention. when it comes to meat we didn't also have alot to have a meal for everyone. the animal whatever it was either had to be big enough to feed said family or group or if it was small had to be killed more than a few at one time. say ya have a bunch of rabbits. ya kill one and your buddy isn't ready to get his. his rabbit is going to freak and run. and they were alot more active in getting their food back then than we are now. in fact going back say 100 or so years give or take when most people either farmed, ranched, or worked jobs that no one in a thousand of years would think a machine would replace them would get alot more excercise now. plus we know the bigger or fatter out of shape you are the more likely a predator would get you so our first ancestors also had to make sure they were faster than such animals. the sad trade off in technology is the easier we make things for us the less excercise we get. the less we get the more chances of bad health issues we obtain. don't get me wrong though. if someone would to offer to make me a plate of nachos and bring it to me i'm all for that.
Mar 17, 2012
The problem isn't 2-3 mealtimes, its the fact that people's portions are too big. Once you adjust to smaller portions, you'll be just fine.

As to the question of the most dangerous idea: I'm going to say the idea we can trade our liberties (freedom of choice, freedom of property, freedom to keep our money we work hard for) for temporary safeties. If you believe what Franklin said, modern America probably doesn't deserve to be free. If you aren't free, you aren't really alive.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 16, 2012
Not sure what the idea itself might be, but it's guaranteed to follow the phrase, "Hold my beer, I have an idea."
Mar 16, 2012
Mealtimes might result in death, but how quickly? Keeping in mind that the death rate is always 100%, I think it's a question of how quickly something can kill you. Bad habits around mealtime can go on for years for the average American and might shave off a few years of life, but then genetics/old age would have kicked in anyway.

An overweight man who has a heart attack at 65 = 10 years lost (assuming an average life of 75 years) and his 65 years might have been happy. There are ideas that end your life sooner, and the overall cost in human years is higher. (You could get into the abortion debate here, but I don't want to kick a hornet's nest.)

As far as the most dangerous idea, I would also throw out the idea in America that we all need our own car and should live in a house in the suburbs. Compare the health level of an American with a moderately healthy diet, who gets no exercise, to a European with a high fat diet that walks everywhere.
Mar 16, 2012
While I like the idea of grazing, and I have tried it several times, it doesn't work for me. If I eat a meal at a set time it is much easier to keep track of how much food I have eaten. When grazing I just keep eating and while I am never full I will eat more. If I eat a meal I become full and do not want to look at food again for hours. My meals consist of Breakfast: a smallish bowl of cereal in the morning with whole milk & a glass of OJ, Lunch: a sandwich with meat, cheese, & spinach, And Dinner: A meat, a starch (potato, rice, noodle), and a vegetable and a small sweet item for a desert. Rarely do I have in between meal snacks. On weekends I typically don't wake up in time for breakfast and skip right to lunch. On some weekend days I make a "farmers breakfast" (eggs, potatoes, meats) and skip lunch.
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 16, 2012
The most dangerous idea is that we're supposed to be happy all the time. That there's something wrong with our job if it doesn't make us happy, that there's something wrong with our marriages if they don't make us happy, that there's something wrong with our hobbies and interests if they don't make us happy, or worst of all that there's something wrong with us if we're not happy. I would classify this as the biggest reason that most people engage in so many self-destructive behaviors and make so many short-sighted decisions.
Mar 16, 2012
The most dangerous thing in our society is not the set mealtime, or the large dinner plate. The most dangerous things are the chair, sofa, TV and computer. If the goal is to have physically fit population, then we should unplug, stand up, and move it like our lives depended on it.
Mar 16, 2012
RegistrationSux wrote:


Something's really hosed with your RSS feed. It's showing the most recent post is from four years ago. I noticed something was up last week when I saw a ton of "new" posts in my RSS reader and they were all ancient. I'd assumed somebody would have mentioned it by now so you could get it fixed, but apparently not.

^^^^ THIS ^^^^
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 16, 2012
After you said "mealtime" I was baffled but I thought: hey, it's Scott Adams, he'll have some way of arguing around three corners that will make it plausible. But It did not became plausible. Having three meals a day is bad for your health, honestly? No way.
I eat three meals a day since I was a small kid. Allmost no snacks in between. Every second or third night a chocolat bar in front of the TV. I am 48, 182 cm, have never been over 75 kgs. (Thats about 6 feet and 165 pounds for all you non-metrics).
When food was scarcer, a few hundred years ago, people used to eat two times a day. They were usually skinny because of the lack of food.

I think the most dangerous idea is:
"My viewpoint is better then yours and I know I am right, no matter what. Now I am going to make you agree with me."
Mar 16, 2012
Sorry Scott, the myth of grazing throughout the day has been debunked. It is better to eat 3 good meals a day than to eat frequently. The obesity researcher Zoe Harcombe has proved this.
Mar 16, 2012
Eating smaller meals numerous times a day may be a better thing to do for people over 40 who have medical problems or weak digestive systems, but a younger person will definitely be more healthy if he has a good breakfast and then two good meals at a fixed time everyday.

On another note, more families having meals together, at least at dinner time, may in the long run halve the world's social problems.
Mar 16, 2012
So much planning goes into making meals and it takes so long to cook. When a person invest so much time in something, they expect a big payout which translates into overeating. I enjoy food very much tough, and eat healthy (to me that means low carb from scratch). But I make just "one piece of the plate". I stopped eating meals years ago.
Mar 16, 2012
Introduction of a second notion in the last sentence there Scott. I eat three times a day. Breakfast and lunch I fit around work. Dinner could be anytime between six and ten.

As for the first notion, I have not sat down and had a meal with my family, apart from Christmas and other special occasions, in over twenty years.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 16, 2012
I agree. "Meal times" seem to be a relic of a time when everyone was constantly hungry and there was hardly such a thing as a "snack". If you've read stories of ordinary people who were alive during the Great Depression, they report such things as dinner being a dish of stew with a slice of bread. In Ireland in the 19th century the whole population starved (a million died and another million fled the country) because a single crop, the potato, became bad. This must mean that they had hardly anything to eat back then but potatos.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 15, 2012

I don't know if the United States has a law to restrain humorists from hurting public sentiments.

We, the Communion of Accummulated Fats, pray that you should be sentenced to 30 years on cheese, chocolate and honey roasted peanuts. Amen.

I expect our lawyer, Mr. O. Bay Seeti, will cross examine you in the court. I can imagine the proceedings as follows:

Lawyer: Are you Mr. Scott Adams?

Scott: Yes.

Lawyer: Is that your name?

Scott: Thats what I meant.

Lawyer: Did you or did you not say that obese people should stop eating? You are giving nightmares to the gentle, obese population of the US. Apparantly, Sir, the obese people are soft targets for you.

Scott: I did not say they should stop eating.

Lawyer: Why do you hate obese people?

Scott: I don't hate obese people

Lawyer: If you don't hate them, why do you want them to starve 3 times a day?

Scott: I didn't say that

Lawyer: You did. I have here your blog post which says that.

Scott: What does it say?

Lawyer: It says, you do not want them to eat 3 times a day.

Scott: I meant they should eat all day long. Non-stop.

Lawyer: Except those 3 times.

Scott: Eh?

Lawyer: You are public enemy number one of obese people, Mr. Scott. You are charged.

Scott: I object! I love obese people. Like my own brothers and sisters. I can prove that.

Lawyer: Prove it Mr. Scott.

Scott: I have a hotel near the beach. We supply burgers with mayonnese, cheese, honey and chocolate. Round the clock. Without a break.

Not surprisingly, the petition will be dismissed by the court.

Mar 15, 2012
I've been on a "diet" for a few months. It's working - I've lost 28 lbs so far. I eat 3 meals a day -- this is a change from my "old" eating pattern, which consisted of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Including when I wasn't really hungry, or just bored, or watching TV, etc.

Breakfast: 3 eggs, 2 small meatballs, microwaved. 325ml protein shake. Coffee
11 o'clock: Coffee
Lunch: 200g steamed mixed veg. & 5 bbq chicken wings.
Dinner: same as lunch.
I also drink 2-3 glasses water each day.
By eating at the same time each day, I can tell myself (if I feel hungry) that it's just a few hours until I get to eat.

Saturday is "cheat" day -- I can eat anything I "feel" like eating. So if, on Thursday, I really want ice cream, I tell myself I can have it on Saturday.

Anyway, it seems to be working. I've been on it for 5 months.
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