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'Mad Money' Cramer: 'Demonize' Unhealthy Foods to 'Embarrass People' to Lower Health Costs

It’s no longer just enough to educate people about making healthy decision. You now have to influence them psychologically to effect true change according to CNBC’s Jim Cramer.


Cramer, during his “Stop Trading” segment on CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Aug. 10, suggested eating so-called unhealthy food be demonized, similar to how the tobacco industry has been – through a publicity campaign that even appeared in movie theaters.


“I think that what people in the tobacco business would tell you that what really cut back tobacco was when people who watch commercials saw that they were being demonized and it became a really un-cool thing, I know they still do it in movie theaters and movies, a lot of that is paid, but that’s what Phillip Morris always said really was the downfall of tobacco.”


Cramer said the goal should be to make people feel bad about what they eat, in other words “embarrass people out of eating stuff.”


“I think that those people would very rapidly accept the tax because they love the food because it’s an addiction,” Cramer said. “In other words, I’m a little bit strong on this, but I think it’s an addiction that these companies have created, kind of like nicotine and you got to embarrass people out of eating stuff.”


But here’s where that sort of campaign that would try to influence people’s eating habits through shame could backfire and any sort of campaign would have to be conducted with caution. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, 8 million Americans have an eating disorder, 7 million women and 1 million men – and of mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate.


“Street Signs” host Erin Burnett pointed out powerful the food lobby, however Cramer did credit the industry for trying to offer alternatives.


“Well, they’ve also all tried,” Cramer said. “See, they’ve all tried to make it so that there’s alternatives on the menu.”


Calling food an addiction is a recurrent media theme, despite the ever-present need for humans to eat. According to ABC’s July 27 “Nightline,” food is a drug, and food companies are pushers.