Who is to blame for the obesity epidemic?
Should obese people blame themselves for their weight problems? Is it really just a matter of having the self control of eating less and exercising more? If you look at a picture of a crowded place from, let’s say, the early 70’s, you’ll find that there are almost no obese people what so ever. They are all skinny! So what has happened since then? In this The Guardian Opinion article, columnist George Monbiot dives deep into what made so many people overweight.
Monibot has a few theories of what might have been the cause, such as: That we eat more than we used to, the decline in manual labor, lack of exercise, etc. But evidence shows that none of these theories add up. So, he turns his attention to nutrition figures in detail and there is no question of what we eat has massively changed:
Today, we buy half as much fresh milk per person, but five times more yogurt, three times more ice cream and – wait for it – 39 times as many dairy desserts. We buy half as many eggs as in 1976, but a third more breakfast cereals and twice the cereal snacks; half the total potatoes, but three times the crisps. While our direct purchases of sugar have sharply declined, the sugar we consume in drinks and confectionery is likely to have rocketed.
The amount of sugar has obviously skyrocketed and whole foods have decreased. And alongside this, the obesity epidemic has exploded. But has this shift happened by accident? Probably not. It seems to be a very conscious action by food companies who have invested heavily in various tactics to keep people hooked on certain foods, tactics such as designing products that use sugar to bypass our natural appetite control mechanisms. Despite that, 90% of policymakers are blaming obese people for not having the “personal motivation” to do something about it.
So, who is really to blame here?
Read the full article here:
The Guardian: We’re in a new age of obesity. How did it happen? You’d be surprised
Why is there an obesity epidemic among Thai monks?
Dr. Ludwig in the NYT: The toll of America’s obesity
Qui bono? Big Ag and Big Pharma.
Ancel Keys was primary in misleading the population regarding what to eat to stay healthy. He was wrong, but sites like Diet Doctor are putting us on the right nutritional path
As a result of my keto experience and seeing the huge benefits in my life I went on to study Dietetics and Nutrition at post-grad level having first taught myself sufficient biochemistry to apply for the course and satisfy the entry board ...I think also it helped that I was the only disabled person on the course ...they seemed to have been very accommodating towards me on the basis of my disability ...a whole different conversation ... but guess it ticked some boxes for them ( I know it’s a little cynical of me to say that ) !
Anyway, I recently purchased a small tin of mackerel fish in olive oil ...a great source of EFAs ... as always I checked the label ...again the label stated there was no sugar just fish and olive oil (we buy very few tin or jarred products so this does not slow down our shopping very much BTW).
I took a mouthful of the mackerel and couldn’t believe the sugar hit my hypersensitive tongue experienced ...this can’t be right I said ...so being the type of person I am I fired off an email to the company they replied that there is a small amount of sugar in the tin of fish to help with preservation but as it’s less than 0.5 mg they are not required to put it on the label ...
Of course, I challenged this by stating that oil would preservative enough for the fish without the need of the sugar ...needless to say their communication broke off...I heard nothing further from them.
So, yes there is the obvious added sugar in many processed foods but what one has to be careful of is the hidden sugars even in things like tinned fish. Fundamentally because of the labelling laws in UK ...any added sugars less than 0.5 mg do not need to be recorded on the food label ...
Ah! but that’s not much I hear some say ...well according to the labelling regulations it cannot be more 0.5 mg per item ...so if a company uses several different types of sugar derivatives ( which they frequently do...I believe there are around 69 different forms ) then it can actually add up a substantial amount of sugar without it having to put it on the label ...
Upshot, it’s unavoidable for a majority of us to buy the odd item in a jar or tin ...however, despite what it says on the said jar/tin ...there is still a very high chance that the contents contain hidden sugars ...especially in items you would never expect to find it in ...
As an aside, I went to an all boys Catholic School ( my wife says that explains a lot about me lol) and out of the 900 pupils ...we had one overweight pupil ...that was in late 70s early 80s...none of our teachers were over weight ...and I have looked at old school pictures in case my memory has become a little dodgy or biased but I can’t find any over weight pupils or teachers on them ...it would be very interesting to see a picture of current pupils ...but I doubt that would hold any real surprises !