Sunday, May 26, 2013


To day's world is on a desperate search for the proverbial magical bullet for meeting the challenges of the epidemic of obesity in many countries, an out come of prosperity and never ending desire of the humans for leisure and relaxation. It is by now known that every creature on this earth has a mechanism to balance its body weight through the satiety signaling system embedded in its brain but due to many factors, mostly man made, this system goes haywire which causes over eating food much beyond what the body requires. It is the basic nutrition principle that if intake of calorie is balanced with outgo or expenditure by the body for the basal metabolic activity and the physical activity indulged, there probably may not be any extra body weight gained by any person. Unfortunately those who develop over weight consume or gorge on foods rich in sugar and fat, major food components that contribute calories for sustenance and day to day activity. Binge eating caused by cheap and highly palatable foods rich in the above food constituents is recognized as the main reason for putting on weight without the consumer being aware of it. Many countries try out different strategies to persuade the consumer to restrict calories and calories yielding foods but with very little success and food industry's aggressive marketing of such products does not help the cause. Latest strategy that is being proposed to curb food consumption depends on the "shock" factor by letting the consumer know the consequences of eating too much by including information on the label or the menu as to how much walking is needed to burn the calories ingested through the food served. Here is a take on this new strategy still under trial.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said clearly signposting healthy options and nutritional content helped people make informed choices when ordering food. But she added: "While displaying the amount of exercise needed to burn calories is an interesting idea, there's more to a heart-healthy diet than calorie counting. "Restaurants can also take steps to make meals healthier by serving appropriate portion sizes and reducing the amount of salt, saturated fat and sugar in their dishes."Whether eating at home or dining out, a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg is the best way to protect your heart." 

Whether this strategy will really work is very difficult to predict. It will definitely sensitize the consumer for some time but in the long run there is the possibility that he may learn to ignore such warnings. History is replete with instances of consumer insensitivity developing to such good intentioned warnings and consumers reverting back to their old habits. Cigarettes and Alcoholic drinks are classical example. It will be interesting to watch the progress of the new approach being tried over a longer period of time before coming to any definitive conclusion. 

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