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New Study Shows Virtually Everything in Society Pushes People to Eat Too Much and Unhealthily; Facebook IPO Set For Record Day

Aired May 12, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Everything about our society is designed to make us fat. It's the conclusion of a ground-breaking and influential report on obesity in America. Is it time for the government to step in and make us thinner?

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. This report refutes the widely held notion that a lack of willpower is to blame. But the fact is, whatever the reason, America is fat and getting fatter. Only 15 percent of adults were obese in 1980. Today, it's more than double that.

By 2030, the CDC says 42 percent of the American population will be obese, and you're paying for it. The CDC estimates more than half a trillion dollars in additional health care costs, half a trillion. We get the problem, but what are the solutions?

David Kirchhoff is a CEO of Weight Watchers and author of the new book "Weight Loss Boss, How to Finally Win at Losing" and Lisa Young is author of the book "Portion Teller, Smart Size Your Way to Permanent Weight Loss."

Welcome to both of you. Good morning.

Lisa, only four percent of our elementary schools require daily -- require daily physical education. A lack of sidewalks discourages walking. Huge parts of the population don't have access to nutritious food. But when we attempt to legislate solutions, Americans say don't tell me what to eat, don't tell my kid what to eat. Is this a nanny state?

We have to go somewhere between those two extremes, don't we?

LISA YOUNG, AUTHOR, "PORTION TELLER": Absolutely, I completely agree with you. I think that the most important thing we need to address, which was released at the CDC conference this week from the Institute of Medicine report, is we need an environment that supports healthy foods and beverages.

ROMANS: Does that environment today do that?

YOUNG: No. So it's about consumer choices, but we need to make those choices --

ROMANS: We're not given the choices is the point. The point is, in too few cases you're actually given a choice between healthy or not healthy. You're given a choice between different degrees of unhealthy.

YOUNG: Exactly. Big and bigger. You know, unhealthy and more unhealthy.

ROMANS: I can't understate how important this whole research and analysis and study was. I mean that willpower alone, they found, is not the reason why you're skinny or fat. It isn't willpower. It's a whole system that is stacked in a certain way.

Now, the Trust for America's Health put together this map. I want to show you the scope of the childhood obesity problem. Only one state, Oregon, with a childhood obesity rate below 10 percent. That's nothing compared to where we when we end up as adults, where at least one in four of adult Americans are obese in a majority of states.

Just one state, Colorado, is under 20 percent, barely. These are grownups that have heard their whole lives to eat less, exercise more. Why isn't it working?

DAVID KIRCHHOFF, WEIGHT WATCHERS PRESIDENT: Here's the good news, is that at least part of the calories kids are consuming happen on -- for example, in schools. So there's some research that's just came out that's showing that California is actually making some good traction by cleaning up vending machines and cleaning up the cafeterias.

We can and should do that. But I would say also one of the big challenges with childhood obesity is that parents have to be heavily engaged. They create the environment in their home. They're really in the position to have the biggest impact on this. And we can't shy away --

ROMANS: No pop and soda in the house. Milk and water is what a kid drinks until the age of what, six, seven, eight. The thing is that we're bombarded with these marketing messages, these cool things, a third less sugar with animals on them and cartoon characters.

The bottom line is what we put in our kids, most of the time, is what we feed them, not the schools or anybody else.

YOUNG: Exactly. And we've got this food marketing industry that is pushing junk food. And if there is not a cartoon character on something, kids don't want to eat it.

KIRCHHOFF: One of the things that I feel like was also in the IOM report, but I think it's really important, is that there's a tendency to focus almost purely on the environment. How can we get food marketing to change? These are all great conversations to have.

I worry that they're not going to happen in any kind of reasonable time frame, which says does that mean we're going to punt for the next five years.

ROMANS: So don't throw up your hands and say it's not my fault. The whole world is designed against me.

(CROSS TALK) KIRCHHOFF: No, what I would say is that health care and the health care system can and should be playing a much bigger role in dealing with obesity. Doctors need to be more engaged. Insurance companies need to be more engaged. They have not taken a hold of preventive care in a meaningful way. But they can have a really big impact. We don't have to wait for that. We can actually make that happen now.

ROMANS: I heard Suzanne Somers say this week we don't wait to fix our car until it completely breaks down. And we don't put garbage into the gas tank to drive it. We take care of the car. We take care of the car better than we take care of our own bodies. And the body is that much more important. And that kind of resonated a little bit.

YOUNG: Consider diabetes treatment. There will not be enough money to be spent -- I'm a registered dietician. There's not enough money spent on prevention services to prevent diabetes. But once you get diabetes, they will pay to get your toe amputated. Wouldn't we be saving a lot of money if more money was spent saving protective costs?

ROMANS: You know what, that's a government conversation. It can be translated into a whole wide array of prevention and paying on the back of taxpayers.

KIRCHHOFF: I would argue CMS can have as big an impact as anybody in directly addressing obesity.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for joining us. Really nice to see both of you. Have a wonderful weekend. We'll talk again soon.

Coming up, President Obama makes news. He makes history by saying same-sex marriage should be legal. We look at the political and personal finance repercussions.

And Facebook goes public this week. We'll tell you if you should buy it and how to, next.


ROMANS: In a dramatic personal transformation, President Obama became the first sitting president to announce publicly his support for same- sex marriage. Was it political courage or deliberate calculation. Reaction came swiftly from gay and lesbian communities. To his opponents, it also gave a huge to the fight in economic inequality for same sex couples.

Joining me now is CNN contributor Will Cain and Ryan Mack, the president of Optimum Capital Management. I want to start with the politics before the personal finance, gentlemen. And I want to say has the president turned the page from the economy for at least a moment onto something else?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A brief moment, a brief moment. I would add it's not political courage, nor is it -- what was your other?

ROMANS: Or calculated. CAIN: Calculation, no. No, neither. What it is political reactionism. It was a necessity. He had to make this move because his previous position had been untenable. He just can't ride the fence forever.

ROMANS: He's going into a period where there's going to be debates where he's clearly going to be asked about this.

CAIN: Right. So he just couldn't maintain that position any longer. He had to -- he had to clearly state where he is. I think it will come at a political cost. I applaud him for the symbolism of where his personal evolution has arrived at, but it will come at a political cost.

ROMANS: What will the cost be?

CAIN: I think it affects turnout. I think it will affect turnout for President Obama negatively in swing states like North Carolina. We just saw how the voters in North Carolina feel.

ROMANS: Might not change somebody's vote, but it might change whether they go to the polls.

CAIN: Right.

ROMANS: All right, I want to talk about the personal finances quickly then. This means something for gay couples.


ROMANS: For Social Security survivor benefits, for insurance plans, for whether they can get -- depending on where you live, whether you can get a family benefits at places you go, family discounts. Walk me through the things that gay couples -- that are different for their finances than heterosexual couples.

MACK: There are a lot of things different in terms of how they -- companies pay out medical benefits. Many of those, for partners, they are calculated as imputed income, if you do receive health care benefits. For many municipalities or some corporations or federal employees, they are not eligible to receive -- give medical benefits to their domestic partners.

So -- but sometimes those medical benefits are offered to pets. So --

ROMANS: What about Social Security?

MACK: Social Security, again, you get no survivor benefits because it's not recognized federally, so they get no survivor benefits.

ROMANS: That could be thousands of dollars a year.

MACK: Exactly.

ROMANS: But the issue here politically, though, is the president has said his personal opinion. But does anything change. Policy doesn't change for everyone. This is a symbolic moment. CAIN: That's what it is. It's all symbolism. As far as sheer substance is concerned, the president punted. He, for the first time in his career, I would have to say adopted federalism. So this will be a states right issue. States can vote on this, which changes really nothing.

ROMANS: We have a map of approval for -- quite frankly, support, public support for same-sex marriage. You can see things have changed since 1996. I mean since Bill Clinton was in the White House to today, things have really changed. These polls -- Will, do you believe this poll, that the public is pretty much divided here?

CAIN: Anecdotally I buy that poll. Certainly my social circle, the people I talk to, the people I know would reflect that poll. But the referendum, the votes of 32 states, of the people in those states kind of contradict those polls. They keep saying in 32 states that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And that is a problem, as I pointed out earlier, for President Obama.

ROMANS: For a gay couple today, this is symbolic. Does it change their personal finances?

MACK: Well, it does. First of all, I believe that all couples need to, one, save like crazy. This is what gay couples should start doing. Save like crazy. Put your proper wills and estate in order. Get a trust if you have a net worth over 250,000 or a child that you're raising jointly. Then get a trust that supersedes a will. And make sure you have language inside of that trust that says that even though I have blood relative relatives, I'm leaving my assets to my partner because that will make it clear of what your intentions are doing.

Understand gift tax laws. Many individuals if you purchase a home and then you put your partner on your piece of property, on your deed, that will cause a taxable gift of over 13,000. Sometimes what individuals are doing is gifting 13,000 dollars every year until they own 50/50 that piece of property. So there are things of that nature.

ROMANS: Will Cain, Ryan Mack, nice to see you guys today.

Coming up next, what Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie is really telling Wall Street. Is it a sign of immaturity or a change in the times?

And they served their country but now they're struggling to pay the bills. The financial challenges many veterans are battling next.


ROMANS: Facebook is set to go public this week in what could be the biggest IPO in history. Facebook fans and investors both big and small are all abuzz,. But should you buy Facebook shares? Maybe the better question is can you even buy Facebook?


ROMANS: Suits, meet the hoodie. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg gets rock star treatment on his company's road show, but should he get your money when his company goes public? Facebook will price that IPO between 28 and 35 dollars a share.

MACK: Wait about a month after the stock has been released. The mutual funds and the institutional investors are going to be the major ones buying up the stock. So when the stock actually opens, I do believe it is going to come in probably between 90, maybe even 100 dollars a share when it actually gets released.

So let the hype go down. Let the euphoria go down.

ROMANS: Because a lot of rich people get in before you ever will. Investment banks underwriting the IPO get the first crack at shares. They sell them to their best clients: hedge funds, big money managers and insiders. They get that IPO price.

Then retail investors, the little guys, they get their shot dead last. E-Trade is an underwriter of the IPO and E-Trade will have some shares available. TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Limit order, two words. If you're going to try to buy the IPO, limit order.

MACK: What's your price? What's your budget? And that's going to be very valuable, especially limit order, to make sure essentially you limit the price on what you're willing to pay on that particular stock.

ROMANS: The most famous investor will not buy the Facebook IPO.

WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I can't recall in my life buying a new offering. The idea that something coming out we'll say on a Monday that's being offered with significant commissions, all kinds of publicity, everything, the seller electing the time to sell is going to be the best single investment that I can make in the world, among thousands of choices? That's mathematically impossible.

ROMANS: Before obsessing about an IPO, make sure you're maxing out your 401(k), you're balanced properly and have the right mix of investments. That's a sure bet.


ROMANS: With 125 billion people connected to Facebook, there's no doubt people like Facebook, but should you like the stock? A Motley Fool survey found inexperienced investors are much more interested in buying Facebook stock than those who have been in the game longer. Two people who know tech and IPOs, Rachel Sklar, the founder of Change the Ratio -- she seeks to promote opportunity for women in traditionally male-dominated fields like tech -- and Henry Blodget, the CEO of "Business Insider. He also wrote this week's cover story for "New York Magazine" profiling Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, otherwise known as Zuck I guess.

You famously this week, Henry, said this is Muppet bait. The Facebook IPO is Muppet bait. What do you mean?

HENRY BLODGET, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Classically. This refers back to Goldman's e-mails where they were calling their customers Muppets, as in let's find some stupid folks to shove this off on. It doesn't mean people who are interested in Facebook are stupid. It's a great company. The IPO is going to be tremendously exciting.

My point basically is individuals should not play the IPO game, especially with a company like this, where everybody knows everything about it. There's no way to get any sort of edge. If you can get some stock at the IPO price and you want to have a little fun, fine. But the idea --

ROMANS: You're not going to get it if you're the Average Joe.

BLODGET: That's right. You're just not.


ROMANS: Or the average Jill or Jane, you're just not going to get it. Here's the thing, people look at Zuckerberg. He's doing his road show. He's wearing his hoodie. Wow, this is the definition of the kind of company you want to be in on. Is it do you think a foregone conclusion the stock is going to rise and keep rising?

SKLAR: Well, I think that Zuckerberg is going out wearing the hoodie and being the classic Zuck on the road show to say, I am the CEO that built this company to this point. I'm going to remain that CEO. I'm not going to change my leadership style. I'm not going to start wearing a suit. And I'm going to be the same old Zuck.

ROMANS: A Wall Street analyst said that was immature of him. Does he think he's going to waltz in and do another billion dollar Instagram deal?

SKLAR: He did the first Instagram deal. I think that the fact that Mark Zuckerberg has taken Facebook this far speaks well of him as a CEO. I used to be a lawyer. There's a phrase that the thing speaks for itself. I think that's where you start when you discuss Mark Zuckerberg as a CEO now in 2012.

BLODGET: He's extraordinarily talented and he's really learned how to be a good CEO. That's very important. I think the hoodie was a mistake. Oh sure, you're asking people for 10 billion dollars. It's polite to dress up. That's all it is.

ROMANS: He didn't show up in Boston, at the road show in Boston. Some were saying there were investors who came from overseas who thought they were going to get a chance to see him. And it's kind of a cult of personality I guess. But he will be, we're told, in California.

BLODGET: He will. He doesn't run the business side of the company. That's Cheryl Sanberg (ph), who's an incredibly impressive executive. She does not wear a hoodie at all.

ROMANS: I can't imagine Cheryl Sanberg in a hoodie actually.

SKLAR: Her role is not to wear a hoodie. I think you speak about the cult of personality that has grown up around Zuckerberg. You know, the hoodie is for Zuckerberg where the turtleneck was for Steve Jobs. So I think one of the marks of Zuckerberg's maturity as a CEO was to hire people like Cheryl, was to hire people like Donald Graham.

ROMAN: -- and he's the creative guy. That's how that looks. And that's how a lot of these tech companies are. You look for the people who are the -- I don't know, the pixie dust, the great idea, the genesis of something. But then you have to bring it along and grow it up.

SKLAR: The era of the suit is past.

ROMANS: Are you hearing that? I'm wearing a suit and so are you.

Henry, stats here from Facebook's road show presentation. I want to show you this. If you click the "like" button even once, you have contributed to the daily average of two billion clicks. If you have something to say, you've probably added some of the one billion comments left daily.

All that makes you one of 525 million daily active users. As an investor, is there growth for the company, and can they make an awful lot of money with numbers like that?

BLODGET: The company's growth is staggering. The service is already used by one-eighth of the world's population. It didn't exist eight years ago. People look at that and they say, look, could it be three or four billion people in a few years? Absolutely.

They are also already making a ton of money. They made a billion dollars last year. So the question is can they grow that fast. The answer's yes, but there's another point about Mark Zuckerberg that's incredibly important. He totally controls the company, 57 percent of the voting. So what he wants to do is going to happen.

He has said incredibly clearly Facebook's social mission is more important to me than the business. That is very admirable, I think. I think it's very good for society. It's heresy on Wall Street.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys. Coming up next --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have 18,000 dollars of debt from my masters.


ROMANS: Hear the challenges of one young Navy family deep in debt and jobless.


ROMANS: Two million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands of them have been streaming home. But a new fight now begins on the home front, finding a job, struggling to pay debts, and providing for their family.

In our Coming Home Series, Barbara Starr takes a look at the Ruediger's story.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): San Diego is a Navy town, home to aircraft carriers, Navy SEALS and thousands of sailors like Petty Class Officer Second Class Jason Ruediger, his wife Marie and their two young children. But 25-year-old Jason is getting out of the Navy. As daughter Arias and baby Creighton play, the Ruediger are struggling for a new life.

(on camera): So these are your last few days in the U.S. Navy.


STARR: Your thoughts?

RUEDIGER: Very stressful. Very exciting, but stressful.

ROMANS: Neither of the Ruedigers have jobs. They have little savings and are heavily in debt. Young veterans are particularly vulnerable in the recession. Their unemployment rate has topped to 20 percent. For the Ruedigers, the first crisis with just six years in the Navy, there are no retirement benefits.

RUEDIGER: The Navy was taking care of everything for me and my family.

STARR: Ask them their number one financial loss.

RUEDIGER: Health benefits.

MARIE RUEDIGER, NAVY WIFE: Health insurance.

RUEDIGER: Life insurance.

STARR: For now, Jason and Marie have a six-month apartment lease. They'll pay for it using some of the estimated 2,000 dollars a month Jason will get from the G.I. Bill when he enrolls in school. Marie plans to teach online courses once she gets her master's degree. But there's that 40,000 dollar debt.

M. RUEDIGER: I have 18,000 dollars of debt from my masters. And then we have the vehicle, which is about 21,000. And then we had some personal loans while he was on deployment.

STARR: So what kind of budget are you going to be living on?

RUEDIGER: Raman noodle budget.

STARR: The Ruedigers say they are learning to budget.

RUEDIGER: It's a very tight budget. We've crunched it down to pretty much every penny counts for something. I mean every dollar, you know, has got to go toward something. There's no eating out, no going to the movies, you know, none of this. If we want to go out and have family time, we just go for a walk because, you know, that's free.


ROMANS: Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, very young vets, like very young Americans in the population, the civilian population have a staggering unemployment rate, more than 29 percent for all of last year. But the jobless rate for recent vets has been coming down, 9.2 percent in April compared with almost 11 percent in April of last year.

It's gratifying to see that drop for recent vets. Companies are hiring these returning warriors, but it's still too high.

STARR: Well, a lot of veterans groups will tell you that. For any veteran entering the work force who doesn't have a job, it is too high. There are a lot of folks out there still struggling. One of the biggest challenges has been to get those employers across the country to realize there is this pool of veterans.

That's a program that seems to be working. The White House, a lot of corporate America, small businesses across the country are really working to try to identify veterans and reach out and see if they can be hired. But, still, the military's downsizing. The wars are ending. And there's going to be a big bubble of veterans entering the work force, they believe, in the coming years. And they're all going to need jobs, Christine.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, Barbara. They fight for freedom and they fight for jobs. This election year, CNN is taking you on a journey with citizen soldiers as they struggle to serve country and family.

J.R. Martinez narrates "Voters in America: Vets Wanted," the first in a series of documentaries about American voters. You can watch it Sunday, 8:00 pm only on CNN

All right, are you looking to buy Facebook? Is obesity a personal problem or is it the government's problem? Have you refinanced your mortgage? We have record low interest rates again this week.

I want to know what you're doing. Tell me on Facebook and Twitter. Our handle is CNNBottomLine. Mine is @ChristineRomans. Back now to "CNN SATURDAY" for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend everybody.