Australia has a growing obesity problem

By Eco Guy 6:28am 9th April 2010
Australia has a big problem, obesity is now the #1 preventable cause of death..

According to this ABC report Australians are now more at risk of dying from being over weight (obese) than they are of dying from smoking related diseases..

What initially caught my eye about this was how the media was trying very hard to report the 'big problem' without being seen to be making a joke on the side (darn done it again, I must grow out of this, argh!).

Anyway onto the more serious stuff..

You ARE what you eat

I have a theory on how this has come about and it goes like this:
  1. Processed food manufacturers are in the business of making something (lets call it food) that people pay money for and eat - from this they produce a profit;
  2. Processed food in Australia has very little real regulations to conform to (apart from the obvious health & safety and processing/storage and packaging regs - what the food actually can be is not that regulated);
  3. Points #1 and #2 together create an incentive for processed food manufacturers to focus on producing the most 'addictive' (i.e. tasty) foods they can at the lowest cost point with the longest viable shelf life. This gives them massive scaling cost saving as everything is done in bulk;
  4. Point #3 creates a problem, often the cheapest ingredients have the least real 'flavour' to them - therefore 'cheap' flavour enhancers like salt and MSG are added to provide that flavour kick the product needs to sell;
  5. Point #4 has an interesting side effect. MSG can 'train' a person to like the MSG enhanced taste; whereas salt also increases thirst - in this way a person so adjusted will more readily like MSG and salt/water containing produce. This suits the manufacture as water is rather cheap to be putting in food, its the cheapest 'bulking agent' going.
  6. Point #4 via the salt with MSG 'hit' can also cause a 'thirst/hunger' combo reaction - i.e. you confuse or overlap a "I'm thirsty" response with a "I'm hungry" response - therefore making you eat when you didn't actually need to.
  7. Point #6 results in you consuming more food than you need; net result (with all other things, like level of exercise being equal) you will gain weight;
  8. Given Point #7, your body will require a larger energy input to maintain itself before getting hungry (or is that thirsty?) - Goto Point #6 and repeat, repeat, repeat
Now this may be a simplification of things - but the point is our body is just not designed to deal with 'super tasty' or 'super salted' products - it gets out of balance very quickly if the majority of the diet consists of such foods.

How to stop this?  Simple really, have some proper binding legislation to limit the amount of salt and equivalent acting chemicals that is put in all foods. This will break the 'cycle' and give people back true control of their thirst/hunger response. Without the ability to get out of balance less people will become obese and those who are obese will find it harder to be obese.

Related Content Tags: obesity, australia

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