Thursday, 7 June 2012

Diet and Destiny 2

So according to New Statesman it seems that fat is a political issue,

  • "In dense urban environments, it’s easier to be fat than healthy. A fear of crime can stop people going out. A world where poorer parents often have to work more than two jobs leaves little time. Leisure budgets are being cut. Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive, both in price and in preparation time. Take-aways are easy because children love them; they give exhausted parents a chance to apologise."
It is an interesting angle - but plenty of lean people live in urban environments.  Factor that in to the statement above and you aren't left with much that is plausible.  We get the token mention of 'fruit and veg' but what about the meat?

The last line is particularly telling; feeding kids with take-aways partly out of 'love' and partly by way of apology for some form of neglect from working long hours.  But the tragic consequence of this is undoubtedly obesity and a situation where suddenly the parent is encouraged to restrict the child in a calorie-counting, hunger-skirting dynamic that will be just as fractious and more immediately confrontational than any form of neglect arising from said parent working long hours.

Rowenna Davis does nail one of the big problems,

  • "In the health class I watch the instructor struggle to explain what foods are good for you when Capri-Sun looks like fruit juice. Beans and cereals are supposed to be good for you, but Heinz and Kellogs produce versions that are full of salt and sugar. It’s hard when sugar is disguised as glucose, sucrose or dextrose, and sold to you by a cartoon that you trust.
Yep, food that is "food".  Designed to look like food, but....well you get the drift.  Davis also mentions the possibility of a fat tax.  The biggest problem with a fat tax is that by 'fat' we mean saturated fat rather than 'food that makes you fat'.  The Guardian covered this story with a picture of a hamburger even though it largely mentions sugar in foods as a prime driver of obesity!  Dr Oliver Mytton and Dr Mike Rayner of the Department of Public Health at Oxford University examined evidence from around the world and found that,

  • [although] the less well-off are affected more by health-related food taxes, they may also ultimately benefit because "progressive health gains are expected because poor people consume less healthy food and have a higher incidence of most diet-related diseases, notably cardiovascular disease"
One has to wonder at the impact on gut flora of cutting back on such a fundamental foodstuff, particularly over a longer term.  And what of the association between saturated fat?  Well it appears that is a discrepancy between the scientific literature and dietary advice,

  • Results and conclusions about saturated fat intake in relation to cardiovascular disease, from leading advisory committees, do not reflect the available scientific literature.
There is something you can do that will benefit your health and the environment!  Eat meat from a welfare compliant source.  Fight back sitting on your butt at the dining table!

Oh no! Surely meat eating will ruin the planet?  Well the agricultural policy of the EU, and its approach to arable farming in particular, have ravaged the countryside leading to loss of valuable, biodiverse habitats to large scale monocropping,

  • According to [Andy] Gregory, who also serves as the head of species monitoring for the UK's Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (RSPB), a range of factors are involved. In the case of the grey partridge, he blamed the intensification of farming which had killed off the plentiful numbers of insects that they ate.
Next time you drive past a field of cows or sheep, stop to take a look at the bug life dwelling therein.

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