A blog about the latest developments in the food technology sector.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
THE OBESITY DEBATE -WHERE DOES THE BUCK STOP?
There is charade going on in some Western countries regarding the culprit responsible for creating the modern demon amongst their population in the form Obesity, now a common phenomenon that cannot be wished away easily. Food processing industry is the main target of many insinuating campaigns blaming it for offering to the public a bountiful basket of "bad" foods which are nutritionally imbalanced with sugar, salt and fat as predominant constituents in them. The other two stake holders, government and the consumer community seem to be happy to apportion the blame for obesity to the industry while conveniently forgetting their own responsibility. Where does the truth lie? It is true that industry spends a lot in luring customers through mouth watering advertisements but what else one can expect from the entrepreneurs engaged in food processing determined to earn maximum returns for his investments? Voluntary restraint does not work because of the intensely fierce competition in the market and it is here that government and consumer must step in to evolve healthy practice of making and eating food.
"The food industry spends over $1.6 billion per year in the U.S. to market their products directly to young people. The overwhelming majority of these ads are for unhealthy products, high in calories, sugar, fat, and/or sodium. On television alone the average U.S. child sees 15 food commercials every day, or approximately 5,500 commercials a year. The food products advertised most extensively to children and teens include high-sugar breakfast cereals, fast food, soft drinks, candy, and snack foods. In comparison, children see fewer than 100 ads per year for healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and bottled water".
Can the parents shirk their responsibility in training their kids to eat healthy foods from early days? Increased rate of divorces and women taking up jobs, it is not easy to devote as much time as required to care for a child and no wonder such kids spent more time watching television where they are bombarded with highly glamorized images of junk foods, day in and day out. A distorted society can never ensure proper feeding of the children making them vulnerable to wrong eating practices and habit forming to indulge in calorie dense and fat rich foods with high palatability. Whether government in such a situation should use its regulatory power is an issue requiring deeper consideration, especially in a democracy. Probably increasing dangers posed by the obesity epidemic, may force many governments to put in place restraining regulations that will discourage the industry from manufacture and promotion of unhealthy food products eventually.