Sunday, 12 August 2012

It's Over.

It's the last day of the Olympics and I've just watched the final sporting event, the women's Pentathlon (Britain got silver, wahey!).  I'm really sorry it is coming to an end, it's been an incredible two weeks, I've jumped up and down screaming with excitement and even cried and I haven't even been to any of the events and live 200 miles north of London. 

But it ends this weekend and the aftermath will be interesting.  Like many countries we have an increasing number of overweight people and the government are talking about the Olympic success boosting sport in this country and children becoming more active.

There is a double standard at work here.  Most children are already pretty active despite all the scaremongering stories about them sitting on their back sides on the Xbox all day.  It is not just a case of getting more exercise but getting diets right is a big part of the problem.

There are far more overweight people in this age of industrialised food production than there has ever been in the past yet the food industry attempt to downplay this and put the majority of the blame on people's inertia.

The food industry generates a huge amount of money and they are currently adopting similar tactics that the tobacco industry employed a few years ago.  They claim there is not enough scientific evidence to support that food laden with fat,sugar and chemicals is the main cause of weight gain and say that people's lack of activity is the main problem.
But processed food makes people listless and inactive. This has been scientifically proven but pushed into the background by food industry lobbyists.

Meanwhile producers of processed foods try to gain credibility by sponsoring sports events like the Olympics, athletes are offered millions to endorse products like energy drinks which are basically flavoured water filled with sugar.

A few years ago the British government introduced the Five-a-Day plan to encourage people to try and the eat the recommended bare minimum of five pieces of fruit and veg a day.  One portion equates to 80 milligrams so the food industry then hijacked this idea and placed claims on the packaging of processed foods saying that these products counted as one of the five-a-day. However these products are also full of the usual fat and sugar and any health benefit is eclipsed by this.

To be fair, the governments hands are tied, the food industry is worth billions and they don't want to cause further economic problems by going after them too hard. It isn't as though people working in the food industry wake up each morning thinking about the different ways they can make people fat.  They are simply providing a product and will go to great lengths to sell them to us.  Just remember this next time the commercials are on.

Blimey, I was only going to write about having watched too much sport over the last two weeks. I knew it was time to stop when I found myself watching Men's Water Polo between Spain and Hungary.
Instead it has turned into a poorly put together rant about the food industry.
Looks like things are going back to normal now the Olympics are winding down.


YeamieWaffles said...

I agree with your points about the food industry Tony, things are sort of deceptive like how companies will brush up photos of their products so they look perfect to encourage people to buy them and I also agree with you on the Olympics as a whole, they have been awesome and I'm very sad to see them end. Let's hope tonight's ceremony is awesome.

Deus Ex Machina said...

I've got an interesting point of view. My boys have not been in any kind of school for over 10 years. They have not played any kind of organized sport in almost the same amount of time. No school. No physical education (or PE is what they call it). No school sports. No city sports. None. At all. My 15-year-old is 5'10" and weighs 115 pounds. My 17-year-old is 5'10" and weighs 160 pounds. Hmmm. My 15-year-old is a fucking beanpole. But so was his dad at that age. My oldest is a big, muscular, hairy MAN'S MAN. My youngest is a skateboarder. And a really REALLY good one. The kind you see on television. My oldest runs 5Ks and 10Ks with me several times a year. They both spend time playing video games. My oldest is also a musician and spends a lot of time with that, as well. I have NEVER made a concerted effort to force them to be busy or active. We have NEVER been on a diet. I see all of these commercials and fads and trends of shit like forced exercise for the sake of exercise and it just galls me. Why can't people just make it a point to be a naturally active person? ENJOY playing outside! Go get dirty! Go run for the PURE JOY of running. Slap and number on your shirt and go race like kids used to do at playgrounds. Go kayaking. Go hiking. Go live your life in the fucking sunshine. And stop buying FAKE FOOD for cryin' out loud. It's not a diet. It's choosing to eat real food that tastes like real food because the shit that comes in a box is... well... CELLULOSE for fuck's sake. My opinion? If people's "normal lives" already entail laziness and poor food choices, it's probably already too late. I wish I could find the article, but I read one recently that stated some awful statistic about the sustainability of significant amounts of weight loss over a person's lifetime. Something to the tune of more than 80% of people will gain it back and fall back into at least some of their bad habits. I dunno. I just chose not to develop them to begin with.

Azra said...

I've lived in London and been on holiday there thrice already and to be fair - I have to say that its one of the most health conscious countries I've ever been to. I often think people would be shocked to their core if they ever saw how lazy South Africans are. At least most Londoners have to walk at some point in their day. Here people fight over the parking spaces closest to the doors because those few meters are just too much to bear.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah the food industry is really trying to blind side everyone. All one needs to do is get off their ass every once in a while, do something because they like it and eat right, not at all hours and such and it doesn't matter what you eat, for most, you'll be just fine.

Tom said...

I thought the Olympics were great and I hope it was good for London too. I can't wait for 4 more years (I don't care for the winter Olympics.)

You made some great points about nutrition and activity. It's easy to tell people to just be more active and exercise more to stay at a healthy weight, but no amount of exercise can offset really bad nutritional habits.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Matthew: I know a photographer who sometimes takes pictures of food for magazines. These food items are carefully doctored with colourant and glycerine added to give a cooked and shiny look to them.

Deus Ex: I am always glad to see your feedback, your opinion is very important to me as I have a great respect for you. Your comment is a post in itself.

Azra: I'm amazed that you think we are health concious.

Pat: This doesn't rhyme.

Tom: My point exactly.

Janie Junebug said...

I never cease to be amused by McDonald's sponsoring the Olympics.


Amy said...

I like the unintended rant, it's so true. Kids will generally eat what they are exposed to. Mine used to be content to eat microwaved food, now that I'm cooking healthier meals, they want more of the good stuff. Healthy foods have to be an option or the bad habits will never change.

Nicki Elson said...

My sister in London has been absolutely Olympified---you should see her Facebook page. Glad the whole country had so much fun w/ it.

We do have one pretty good defense against marketing - our brains, which ought to be perfectly capable of looking at a processed bar of something and thinking "that ain't fruit."

Shaw said...

I can't believe the spice girls showed up...

Bart said...

congrats on beating canada at not winter sports

Elisa Hirsch said...

This is such a good reminder to eat healthy. I drink way too much coffee and eat more fast food than I should. I need to change--for my kids asap :)