In Britain today, over 12 million people are classified as obese, which works out as 25% of the entire population.
Back in the 1970s, only 3% of the population was obese. By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 1 in 3. The statistics make for some shocking reading and with this growing problem, health experts are warning that we need to take action fast.
One possible way is to ban ads for junk food, in the same way that cigarette advertising is now banned. Professor Graham McDonald a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival strongly believes this is the way to go.
What we eat is now the biggest cause of death. Processed foods and soft drinks are full of salt, which puts up your blood pressure, full of fat, which puts up your cholesterol and they are full of calories from sugar and fat. This is what causes us to become obese. We need to ban all marketing of unhealthy food.
He lays the blame firmly at the food industry. We can see his point. Marketing cheap unhealthy food at a time of austerity is only going to make the problem worse, yet unbelievably the Food Standards Agency are not required to consider nutrition or health as basic requirement for food.
Instead, the food industry is allowed to engage in high profile advertising campaigns in order to sell their products, regardless of the health risks. We are all falling for it.
As Professor McDonald said,
A Big Mac, large fries and coke has the calorie equivalent of 18 oranges or 11 bananas.
I challenge you to eat 18 oranges.
I could eat a Big Mac now and go out and have a two or three course lunch two hours later. That is the problem.
Leaving the Food Industry in charge of the nutritional requirements of the population, seems to us, like leaving a fox in charge of the henhouse or a banker in charge of your pension fund. They have their own agenda and it is nothing to do with your health and well-being, only theirs.
So should junk food ads be banned from advertising? Should unhealthy food come in plain packaging and carry a health warning, like cigarettes?
We feel that anything that helps stem the growing tide of obesity is probably a good thing but we cannot see the all powerful food industry agreeing to rein back the advertising voluntarily. We cannot see a law being bought in to ban junk food advertising either.
The blame for obesity is always levelled at us the fat shamed consumers and not the food industry.
The sobering fact is that unless we change our habits and ignore this glossy and convincing looking advertising, 1 in 3 of us will soon be obese.
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