One thing is clear to all of us now, and that is a junk food diet is one of the causes of obesity. Being overweight or obese is quickly becoming the major contributing factor to early death. Soon more people will be dying from obesity related disease than from smoking or excessive drinking.
Children cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol. Why? Because authorities have decided that these addictive substances that are aggressively marketed by influential brand managers are the cause of a lot of ill health. Many places have banned the advertising of tobacco and alcohol now, and in some shops these products cannot be on display where children will see them.
Junk Food Makes People Fat and Unhealthy
But what about junk food, candy, soda, chocolate and other calorie laden, sugary snacks? If these are a major contributory factor towards people becoming overweight and obese, which then may lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer or stroke, should they be sold to children? Should candy be advertised on television or even visible to children in stores? Why is one vice, such as smoking, consider to be so much worse than another – eating.
Over eating has been a known problem for thousands of years. Gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins. Smoking pipes and drinking alcohol have been around for as long as the Old Testament, but these never made it to the list of the most deadly sins a man can commit.
The US Department of Agriculture has recently given updated dietary advice, and it recommends that Americans should eat less salt, sugar and saturate fats and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Salt, sugar and saturated fat are the main ingredients of all forms of junk food. The relationship between food and health is clear. So, when will there be a seismic change in the regulation of the food industry?
Make Healthier Shopping Choices
Currently various governments around the World are trying to educate people to eat healthier and to learn how to make better and healthier food choices when shopping. The EU recently decided that all packaged food must display the percentage of salt, fat and sugar on the front where it is visible to consumers. Although there is regulation, the choice is still there for the consumer.
Whenever the issue of junk food comes up the final word is always that the public should be free to choose what they eat. But we have already accepted that it is wrong for children to walk into a store and purchase 20 cigarettes and a 6-pack of beer for their own pleasure, but we still allow them to purchase candy and soda which is just as likely to lead them to a future of ill health.
Advertising and Social Expectations
However, the real problem is advertising and society. The average person who says that they want the freedom to choose whether or not to eat candy or chocolate for breakfast fails to realise that they desire these things as a result of the combination of clever advertising and our natural love for sugar.
Evolution and Animal Instinct
The human brain craves sugar and in the days of hunting and gathering this was a healthy craving – those with the strongest craving had the greatest drive to find food. But we now live in a world of convenience and a 2 day hunt for meat (2 days of running, walking, searching and scrambling through woodland and over rouge terrain, with no food) has been replaced with a trip in the car to the local drive-thru where we are invited to “go large” and have a “whopper” and “big” meal to satisfy our hunger. The problem is that this trip to the drive-thru rarely happens on an empty stomach.
It is estimated that soon 70% of the American population will be overweight or obese (the latest figures are at 67% of the population). For every 10 people you meet, only 3 will be of a healthy weight. The lucky few that have not succumbed to the junk food lifestyle.