SLATE: If the government can regulate junk food advertisements on the grounds that they promote harmful habits, should it be able to regulate ads that celebrate dangerously skinny women?
PEEKE: What really needs to happen is that leaders in the industry, like Donna Karan, need to stand up and speak out. They need to start hiring healthy-looking models and paying them well.
SLATE: What got you interested in nutrition, food, and weight?
PEEKE: I love the study of nutrition because it involves everything from science to real beauty. It’s very primal: gardening, growing herbs and taking them into the kitchen, coming full circle. Also, as a physician, I’d never had one course in nutrition, but you’re supposed to consult your physician before undertaking any sort of diet! What for? When I finished my mainline training, I did a number of years in intensive care and trauma. I had to keep people alive, and I had to learn on the job, because no one ever explained to me how these macronutrients work in the human body. I knew you needed a certain number of calories to stay alive after sustaining massive burns—but I wanted to go further. At first, when my patients asked me questions about what to eat, I sat there clueless. That’s why I went back to school.
SLATE: Are there any food products sold today with no redeeming value whatsoever?
PEEKE: It’s interesting that you say “redeeming value,” because people like to have balance and freedom of choice. If they want to have a fried Twinkie at some county fair, I’m going to cringe, because I think Twinkies are science fair projects. I don’t know what they are. But they’re someone else’s treat.
What really horrifies me is when they take a regular hamburger and turn it into this 5,000 calorie stack of everything. It’s a heart attack in a gigantic pile. There is nothing wrong with a decent burger, but piling it up for 20 stories is completely absurd. Your body is not going to like what you just did to it. I don’t care how young you are.
SLATE: Should the 20-story burger be banned or regulated?
PEEKE: No. That tack is only appropriate in the context of dietary supplements, where you see absolute harm to life and body. Aside from the FDA protecting me from pharmaceutical scams, I am against regulation. I support the government continuing to take nonregulatory roles, but doing them better. For instance, agencies are communicating now, but it’s so boring I could shoot myself. Where is the social media? Where is the Facebook page explaining USDA labels?
SLATE: What is your favorite dessert?
PEEKE: I’m old-fashioned. There’s nothing in the world that gets me going like a scoop of vanilla ice cream—just a little scoop—and a slice of hot apple pie. I don’t eat a whole lot. Just a little bit. I believe in the fine art of tasting more than anything else.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?
The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.