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The Forum > Article Comments > Junk food: opiate of the masses > Comments

Junk food: opiate of the masses : Comments

By Andrew Gunn, published 7/5/2009

People eat junk food to make themselves feel better. To tackle obesity, let's first consider what causes it.

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Interesting article, and a good point.

I might point out, as Dr. Gunn hinted, that there are also a lot of myths about obesity. For one thing, the goals have definitely shifted downwards, making the problem look worse than it might be. The BMI scale is a notoriously misleading indicator; I work with a fitness instructor who flatly refuses to use it. I think the famous example is that, on the BMI scale, George Clooney is considered obese.

A case in point is the "Australia is the fattest nation on earth" survey. When this was first trumpeted in the media, my first reaction was immediate skepticism, and sure enough, it was soon shown that the survey was indeed questionable. Nevertheless, the idea had taken root, unquestioned, in the national conscience.

I myself am on the large side, but I don't live on crap, and I'm not entirely sedentary: I train in martial arts, and I bushwalk fairly regularly. That said, my main problem is definitely lifestyle - my work traps me in front of a computer 8 hours a day. I know that exercise helps: On an extended bushwalk, I can easily lose several kilos over a couple of days despite a solid diet of high-energy foods.

But I digress; to address the theme of the article, I think that Dr. Gunn is only mostly right. People (in rich nations) often do eat to make themselves feel better. That most of them eat crap is due to the successful marketing of crap as desirable. For myself, if I go more than a few days without a "fix" of fresh vegies or fruit, I start to feel horribly unwell.

Perhaps we need more Jamie Olivers in the media, marketing fresh food as feel good food?

My kids love watching Jamie Oliver, after all.
Posted by Clownfish, Thursday, 7 May 2009 10:24:09 AM
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"To tackle obesity, let us first consider what causes it."

O.K. so where is the next paragraph. I might suggest that the good doctor is suffering from the main cause of obesity, sloth. We need his answer to the question.

Posted by VK3AUU, Thursday, 7 May 2009 10:29:36 AM
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Good work, Andrew. The message - eat less and exercise more - has been around for ages and tangled in a web of consumerism that's threatening to strangle it.

Women's magazines pay lip service to healthy eating while fawning over un-fat celebrities - to sell convenience foods, cosmetics, fashion, you name it. Remember the appalling treatment of a famous former Olympic swimmer when he was perceived to have put on a couple of kilograms? Young men are being sucked into the debacle too.

Sex sells and sexy isn't fat. So if you create an obesity epidemic that says most people aren't sexy, you have a platform on which to sell more crap. Enter the 'healthy food' spin, 'celebrity' chefs and the treatment of food as a consumer icon rather than a cultural activity around interpersonal interaction.

It's a sad treadmill.

Interest disclosure - might help.
Posted by Baxter Sin, Thursday, 7 May 2009 10:52:38 AM
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By the time a person is able to take care of herself the eating tradition is already well embedded and she is showing the results of twenty or more years of being raised on pre-cooked and fast-food trash.

The root of the problem is the lack of effective leadership and modelling in the home. This is not surprising where caring for a family and performing household tasks are held in low esteem, to be avoided wherever possible and 'outsourced' to Maccas or to the supermarkets for pre-packaged mush in plastic.

After all, the 'quality of life' of the parent/s is far more important than being with and taking care of the children they brought into the world.

So it is 7.00am to 7.00pm child care and a quick pop into Maccas on the way home for the kids. No, mum or dad doesn't need a burger, just coffee and a whimsical sweet treat from the coffee shop because she or he has already enjoyed the tapas and wine bar after work with workmates. Then there was that restaurant during the day (networking and mentoring). Gym is Wednesdays - no kids yay! It is the quality of contact with the child that counts more than the time spent with them (or taking care of their nutritional needs). That is right, isn't it folks?

Fortunately for weekends there is the children's program on TV or DVDs to amuse the children while they enjoy their TV snacks and Coke. What about some Guvvy funded child minding during the weekend so that mum or dad (single parent households are the go) can enjoy some bar and restaurant (a BYO will do) recreation after a hard working week?

It is the firstly the selfishness of parents and secondly the lack of household skills of parents that lead to child child obesity and then on to adult weight problems. There is no magic in it, just a consequence of the crappy 'family' traditions which are only to be expected given the selfish, self-centered 'me, me, me' individualism that is in vogue in the West.
Posted by Cornflower, Thursday, 7 May 2009 12:07:44 PM
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The cause is lack of proper education in the early years of schooling, this is reinforced by psychological advertising controlled by vested interests. Take one example, milk. Dairies are promoted as being essential for our bodies and great for your health. Yet if you look at the results of studies world wide and the viewable evidence, you find dairies are the cause of most life style diseases. Everything you buy which has had some form of processing, contains diaries, salts and sugars, all fattening, all contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, organ failures, colds, flu and many cancers.

This is where the cause lays, within the marketing and regulation industries. It can be fixed by altering our education system to teach what real nutrition is about and not that espoused by companies who control by donations etc, the political system which allows such false and dangerous promotions aimed at the gullible and weak of society. If your fat, it's because you eat the wrong foods and are lazy. You should eat to live, not live to eat. You wouldn't put petrol in your radiator or water in your engine sump, so why do it to the machine which gets you around the earth and allows you to live. To me it's just not logical or even rational, only stupid.
Posted by stormbay, Thursday, 7 May 2009 3:45:37 PM
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Obesity, like every other health or social problem boils down to one thing alone, attitude, and attitude alone.

There is so much information available out there, and by now well and truly common knowledge, and everyone knows about what is healthy and what is not, there is really no excuse.

Social inequities boil down to exactly the same cause, attitude!
So the gist of your argument that this IS a “cause” is irrelevant.

I have small children and I get truly infuriated at the fact that all and sundry of people come up to my kids and proffer chunk food into their mouths, a truly gross social misconduct if there ever was one.

Feeding my kids is something extremely private and sacrosanct, yet all and sundry of the blithely obtuse populace take the extreme impertinence of virtually forcing chunk food into the kids mouths.

And that’s where it all starts!

Once such a bad habit has gotten hold of a little mind, sweets become the most desired food, and the healthy food on the table remains untouched.

Granted, changing a such entrenched attitude might be a tad challenging for some, but it is just a matter of CHANGING ONE’S ATTITUDE!

So please don’t commiserate with your patients and tell them straight out that it is their POOR ATTITUDE that led them into their predicament in the first place, and prevents them now from freeing themselves of their perceived “addiction”.
The addiction here is only in the mind, so it is just their attitude that stands between their current chronic behaviour, and one more constructive to their health.
Straight talking might just lead to some self examination of their current state of mind, or actually attitude, and there is no catalyst more potent than the sudden realisation that has sprung out of one’s own contemplation.

Posted by Veracity, Thursday, 7 May 2009 4:58:59 PM
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