Interesting clip on CNN re: who's to blame for rampant childhood obesity (300% increase since 1989): Obesity Epidemic and most recently a Globe and Mail article stating that the average Canadian 14 year old intakes not the recommended maximum of 1,500 mg of salt, but 4,130 mg!
While I normally restrict myself to marketing issues, allow me a rant on an issue that is related, but off my usual topic...
- Genes (can't be helped, and indeed it's been proven now that many people's systems are predisposed to weight gain, especially after they pass the body mass index 'tipping point')
- Parents who choose the 'easy way out' and buy what's easy to facilitate busy lifestyles, or are lazy, or 'give in' to whiny kids' demands, or live in poor areas without access to fresh foods.
- Computers/video games and lack of exercise (see parents above).
- Food industry (I'll get to this).
- School system that puts only easy-to-prepare foods on the cafeteria menu.
- P&G's Dove 'feel good' campaign (begun by Ogilvy in Canada) for accepting/celebrating that the majority of us are now obese,
- For-profit firms' exploitation of human nature. More and more studies are proving us to be fundamentally addiction-prone, once sufficiently stimulated.
- The fact that there's a large proportion of humanity who just aren't all that well-educated or smart enough (a bell curve) to 'know better' and thus are easily taken advantage of.
- The Dove campaign is really a continuance of a trend that began with the ludicrous notion that slim models promote poor body image. 2,000 years ago Aphrodite was already the definition of ideal female body proportions and today's models are NOT tall and slim because that's who fashion designers/model agencies are choosing -- they are that way because better nutrition is producing taller people and the fashion industry continues to adhere to a ridiculous 'tradition' of producing ALL their samples in size "0" that fuller-figured (and increasingly taller) girls cannot fit into. (Yes, do the research.) It is NOT about the fashion industry ladies, a higher than ideal body fat index is simply NOT healthy -- period. Never was, never will be. (Here's a telling test: fill a backpack with the same weight you, or your loved one, is overweight by and walk a single block with it -- that's what your body has become used to carrying around every moment of the day. Quite the eye opener. No one would volunteer to carry that weight.)
- I'm not going to footnote all the recent research studies here (there are literally thousands both completed and underway), but it has turned out that humans have a hair-trigger for becoming addicted to things, whether you are a George Hamilton in love with sun-worshipping, or a teen trying desperately to be cool by holding a cigarette, or a bible-thumping mid-west Republican shouting about conservative values and addicted to Oxycontin (tens of thousands), or a loyal husband who finds himself spending hours on triple-X dot com, or a post-menopausal woman who is suddenly gaining weight but is unwilling to make calorie reductions -- we are all prone to getting 'hooked' on things quite easily and cannot 'will' ourselves to stop, despite knowing the risks. The immediate spike in the pleasure center of our brains far outweighs the intellectual calculation we make about long-term damage or risks.
- Obesity is far more prevalent among the poor and lower-educated, but there are plenty of wealthy and university-educated individuals who all share the same predilections -- consuming FAR too many calories for themselves and feeding their kids the same way, but explaining this away as a cultural tradition, or genetic tendency (maybe, but it's actually rare), or due to a lack of time, etc. The point is that when you have the education, the conceptual-understanding ability (some call this "IQ"), the environment (urban and non-poverty) and a culture (support of the news media and neighbors) that ALL combine to support the concept of maintaining a good diet and healthy body mass, your family is likely to be far lower on the weight scale than the average in rural or poor areas.
- Producing packaged, flavoured, sweetened water in cans or frozen desserts.
- Producing processed starchy veggies like potatoes or rice into salty, deep-fried snacks.
- Selling fried hamburgers/chicken at break-even or loss-leading prices, but the accompanying fries and drinks at enormous margins.
And it turns out that it is NOT the fats we consume that trigger obesity, it is the carbohydrates (link): pasta, bread, potatoes, cereals, along with sugary drinks, desserts that make our bodies start retaining fat in our fat cells.