In a culture of blame-shifting we often look for someone to blame for our predicament. Being overweight is no different – who is to blame for obesity?
“It’s the fast food outlets – supplying us with fatty foods”
“Our thin-obsessed society is putting all sorts of pressure on even slightly overweight folks”
“The weight loss industry is to blame – after all if everyone was slim – they would go out of business”
Some will simply blame the overweight person – making generalizations and attaching unhelpful labels to the person. “After all” they say, “it’s up to us to manage what we eat and how much we exercise”.
There is truth in this, but it is too simplistic. Many overweight people have tried desperately to eat ‘properly’ to manage their weight – yet continue to struggle for years. There are a number of outside forces here that have more of an influence than we realise.
So Who Is To Blame?
The weight loss industry is large, with millions being spent every year by people looking for answers. Like any industry, it has it’s share of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. Many manufacturers of diet pills and weight loss supplements are certainly opportunists – rather than looking to treat the source (i.e. by eating right), they are trying to treat the symptoms. However we have found that most decent commercial weight loss programs have a genuine interest in helping people manage their weight. So it’s unfair to cast blame on the entire ‘industry’.
If we were to start looking for culprits, we might want to cast our eye at the food processing industry – that, coupled with savvy marketing experts, has snared us into eating so many kinds of processed foods that going to the supermarket is like walking through a nutritional minefield.
Get Them While Their Young
The Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently conducted a study of the magazine “National Geographic for Kids”. In 17 recent issues they found 51 ads for junk-foods – including a depiction of one meal that contained 590 calories (remember this is a magazine for children).
Many years ago a certain famous fast food outlet began calling its meals for children “Happy Meals” – creating an emotional response and attachment to certain foods – typically nutritionally poor foods.
Chemical Food and Clever Marketing
It’s not the weight loss industry that’s to blame – but the clever marketing tactics from the food processing giants that are misleading us. To make things worse – some popular weight loss diets have unfortunately associated themselves with snack food corporations, and severely reduced their credibility.
Is a low-carb / low-fat (take your pick) snack bar really that good for you? Take a look at the ingredients list – can you decipher all those numbers? Do you understand what a ‘partially hydrogenated oil” is?
What about those great ‘health’ bars for the kids – they even have the healthy tick on them (indicating they are recommended by the American Heart Association). On closer inspection those ‘healthy snacks’ are nothing but lots of refined sugar, some white flour, trans fats, and a host of other chemicals. But hey – they’re low in fat so they must be good? Right?
Finding the Right Food
It’s a nightmare. What exactly is good for you? Who do you believe? Next time you see those bright colors, and eye-catching ads – do your own inspection of the ingredients list – you might be surprised.
Recently we bought some cranberry juice for our young daughter who had a slight urine infection – knowing that cranberry has some useful medicinal properties. Like any frazzled parent, having time to stand and stare at the nutrition panel while shopping with children is a rarity. That night our daughter had trouble getting to sleep, and woke up 3 or 4 times in the night. This is unusual for her.
On closer inspection of the so-called cranberry juice – we discovered that only 30% is actually cranberry, and the rest is water and ‘high fructose corn syrup’ – a chemically altered sugar with a fair share of (anecdotally) noted poor health affects.
What Is The Answer?
If obesity had a simple cause, don’t you think we would have the answer by now? Good diet and exercise are the answer – but when we have large corporations spending millions to make us buy their food – it doesn’t seem so simple anymore. Go figure – profit in the food industry is made by either people buying more food, or sourcing/manufacturing basic ingredients at less cost. How does good nutrition factor in this? Are you starting to get the picture?
There is no miracle weight loss cure – no diet plan that will fit everyone. The only long term answer is understanding how your own body reacts to the foods you eat. Weight loss is not a 6 week program, but a lifelong commitment to good nutrition and lifestyle.