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The men who made us fat

I’m watching the second episode of “The Men Who Made Us Fat” by the BBC. I’m impressed. I’m used to seeing these kinds of programmes. I’ve heard most of it before, but I like the way it’s put together. I think it’s really nailing the point that we’re eating much more than we used to and that portion sizes have increased massively in the last few decades—often they’ve doubled.

What also fascinates me is the relative absence of other explanations. Nutrition alone isn’t enough to explain obesity. Of course, eating more is going to make you put on weight but we’ve known that for years. It’s just being explained in more detail. What’s lacking is any ideas of how to deal with it other than limiting advertising or pleas to eat less.

What I see is that life now is infinitely better than it was decades ago. Mainly because we have more choice, opportunity and wealth. We can choose to live like we did in the 60’s or before if we like. We can also choose to live any other way we want.

The challenge I feel we now have is picking the right lifestyle for the life we want to live. There’s so much information but much of it conflicts with other advice. Watching this programme I can’t help feeling it’s biased. It argues that other aspects of life such as activity levels don’t have an impact on obesity. That it’s solely down to what we’re eating.

The truth is that this is a very contentious area. A previous article of mine considering ‘nutrient intake over time‘ shows that government data actually records us eating less on average now than we did pre-war. So either the government statistics are wrong or the data in this programme has to be questioned.

As for activity levels. It’s actually very hard to find enough reliable research that paints a clear picture. It seems the show has just picked one study from one location to make its point. Ignoring other evidence to the contrary. Basically saying that children are as active as they used to be is an insufficient statement. What dates is he comparing and what populations. Inner city kids, which is what he showed, probably did have as much activity years ago as they did now. But most people lived outside cities decades ago.

The world population has moved en masse to cities over the last few decades. So the reality is that kids are now growing up in a different environment than they used to. Further away from the country and rural areas. Most likely further away from places where running around, being active are easy. But did the study he mentioned take that into account? I don’t think so.

Now I’m getting to the end of the programme and have had a little time to think about it I’m feeling it’s just biased like every thing I read in health. There’s no balance at all. He’s covered many areas but is carefully presenting his biased view. That’s a shame. As usual I was excited to see how it’s presented. I’ve seen a few good accounts of health recently. Maybe the third episode will balance things out.

In the end though the info about the food industry becoming big business I do believe. I like the way it is presented. What I want to do in this blog is show that this is simply our environment today. Humans, animals and all other life have been facing this kind of constant change and challenge since life began.

While we see it all as man made I only see natural evolution. I see the drive for big profit through capitalism as natural as the drive for more individuals of your own species. The same as trees figured out millions of years ago that using animals to spread their seed was better than using the wind. So they learned to live with and attract animals and use them for their own benefit. Companies do the same with humans and cash.

I’m seeing companies as, wait for it, a potentially new kind of life form. I know it’s a crazy notion but stick with me, in that they exist simply to consume money. In the same way that all life consumes a form of energy,. Humans consume calories and use atp to fuel their cells. Companies use money as their energy. Cash flow is their energy flow. Once the flow stops. They die. Just like we die when our energy flow in key areas like our brain or heart stops.

So the focus on the food industry and it’s business practices is useful because it’s describing our new environment. Something we as humans now have to learn to thrive in. As I said at the start of this post. We have it better than ever before so no one really wants to go back. So I think we need to learn how to live with this new world instead of against it.

What I’ll leave you with is the purpose of this blog. The two lifestyles I can think of that are well adapted to this new environment are ‘the healthy athlete’ and ‘the healthy child’. An exact definition of what I mean will have to wait for later. The main point being that they’re in balance with their bodies needs. I look forward to unpicking what this means in future articles. For now I encourage you to watch ‘The men who made us fat’ if only to learn about the new playing field of food in the 21st century

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