Saturday, November 27, 2010


Food industry in many affluent countries is blamed, probably with some justification for its relentless pursuit of profit, ignoring the harm caused to the consumer health by developing and promoting unbalanced and unhealthy food products. If the CEO of a multinational company is to be believed, it is not the industry which is responsible for to day's sad situation but the consumer who is behaving like a robot without thinking about the consequences of over eating and under exercising! It may be true that every consumer must have adequate physical activity to "burn" the calories ingested and lesser the activity lower should be the food intake. But tempting the consumers through mega sized serving portions with appetizing taste and flavor, that too at low prices, also plays a role in over eating and over weight amongst the population. Here is a critique on this issue, well received by many discerning observers.

"I have a friend who refers to the Standard American Diet by the acronym SAD. This is an apt description indeed. Think about it. We have more colorfully packaged choices on the shelves of our supermarkets, more new flavors of cereal, crackers, and chips than we know what to do with, more fortified, functional foods than ever. Yet, as a nation, we get sicker every year. Diet related diseases are epidemic, especially among young people. In fact, children today are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. And it's all related to our SAD. With all of our medical knowledge and wealth, how did this come to pass? According to Marion Nestle, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU and author of the classic book, Food Politics, the problem is that our heavily subsidized, highly efficient food industry produces too many calories – twice as many as we need. Because of this surplus, food companies must work hard to get us to EAT MORE. Hence the millions of dollars in advertising spent every year to get us to Supersize It. Though Food Politics was published back in 2002, it's just as relevant today. Besides advertising, the Food Industry influences our diets in many ways that most of us are not even aware of.

True America is a bundle of contradictions and incongruities, difficult to understand and the above narration explains to some extent as to why this country with all the wealth it has, cannot manage the health condition of its population. It is the grotesque policy distortions that seems to have contributed to the present sorry state of affairs vis-à-vis the quality of life there. It is easy to criticize the consumers for not exercising moderation in eating but over eating and putting on weight is a long term phenomenon, not experienced, immediately after eating. Though drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes are known to be injurious, why is that these evil practices are still continuing? Unless governments world over invest substantially on education at young age, inculcating right values and principles and discriminating between what is bad and good, it is unlikely that the food related crisis being faced to day will dissolve itself!


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