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Blog Posted in avatar   Allen Small's Blog

Coming to your neighbourhood - Junk food Jury

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By Allen Small
Posted Jun 7, 2012 in Health
It's an Orwellian world when food can be redefined as being pathogenic - causing disease. But that's exactly what three experts from Alberta (of all places) advocate. They are redefining what we normally consider as "junk food" and calling it disease causing, not unlike having the action of viruses or bacteria.
Here is a quote from the story in the National Post: "It's really just a nomenclature to attract attention to the fact we have a problem here and something needs to be done about it," said Dr. Norm Campbell, a University of Calgary cardiologist and co-author of the paper. "It will hopefully ... result in an evolution of our food so it's again a source of health, not a source of disease."
Dr. Campbell thinks that government should be regulating the kind of food Canadians eat. He compares this to regulating highway speed limits or air traffic which he says are government interventions that Canadians tolerate. Campbell goes on: "Why regulate crime? 'Oh, it's a murder, they shouldn't be allowed a second chance.' Well, the food industry kills many thousands more than that murderer ever had a hope of doing."
I guess Dr. Campbell did not consider how many more people might die IF, there was no food industry. It's a broad and unfair accusation. It's exactly the same as saying the manufacturers of military equipment are guilty of the deaths caused by their products. Wait, don't bother writing to argue that one, I won't print it. It's simply not true.
Campbell's statement is just inflammatory, and amounts to posturing for the media. Driving on a highway and flying in an airplane are voluntary activities and regulation is required and accepted by the owners of cars, highways, and airplanes. Eating is not voluntary, it must be done to live. How is this similar? Who owns your body?
The Post story goes on to recall an article in last year's Journal of the American Medical Association that suggested some obese children be taken from their parents temporarily by child-welfare officials, and a more recent article in Nature that suggested age limits be required for the purchase of sugary soft drinks. Maybe a license should be required for having children? Oh, sorry, you say don't give them ideas, right.
Of course eating any kind of heavily processed food ALL the time, is probably not a good idea, though I have never seen compelling evidence that shows a direct correlation between 'hamburger - fries' consumption and longevity.
The scientific paper by the Albertans published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology does "not make clear" the role of junk food "in diseases ranging from heart disease to high blood pressure and diabetes." But the paper "recommends labelling ingredients such as saturated and trans fats, sodium and simple sugars as pathogens when their volume exceeds what the body needs." Hmmmm, volume exceeds the bodies needs, eh? I recall this horrible chemical, known to kill thousands, either alone or in groups. It's the volume of this stuff that does the killing, maybe it too should be labelled. I'm talking about the dread chemical, dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO), better known as water, definitely a killer.
All kidding aside, knowledge of proper food consumption does not spring into our minds at birth. It must be taught and learned.
Our primitive ancestors ate what was available to them. If it grew from the soil, or crawled, walked, flew or swam, and was edible, it was eaten. It mattered little what was eaten, just that it was. Humans are omnivores, their diets are functions of their environment and as diverse. Our primitive ancestors adapted to what was available and so did their bodies. They needed no knowledge, and no labelling, to advise them. What regulated their diet? Was it tribal rules, pronouncements by the experts? No, their diet was controlled by scarcity.
Abundance, the lack of scarcity, is the problem today and that's only true in parts of the world. Here in North America, abundance, convenience, laziness, and marketing have conspired on our population to create the so-called obesity epidemic. Do you really think someone biting into a [i]Krispy Kreme[/i] donut is starving, or are they doing it just for the momentary bliss? That person might have chosen an apple, a carrot, but did not. It was choice. Do you think advising people of the fat and salt content of the donut will discourage the choice? Maybe, but must [b]Big Brother[/b] supervise this, or can it be done with education? Should we also build barricades to keep people from jumping into road traffic, and nets to keep them from falling out of building windows? No, these things are taught and learned, and so to can proper diet be taught and learned. Even medical people will agree that a diet of junk food is tolerable if not desirable for an extended time. It's the AMOUNT of food consumed that is the problem. Should government also be regulating caloric intake? Is food rationing next?
Each expert that benignly suggests a new government regulation, forgets that a new bureaucracy needs to be created to enforce it. An on going expense is assured that creates a divot on the turf of the Canadian economy, sucking from the general treasury. This is how government grows and responsibilities are shifted from individuals to the collective. The end does not justify the means.
There are plenty of voluntary organizations that can and should use their resources to help educate the masses. Much as Lung Associations and Cancer Societies have and still are, railing against smoking, Heart and Stroke organizations can fight poor diet. Let people be responsible for themselves as much as possible.

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