C is for Cookie: August 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Obesity Crisis Outweighs Malnutrition Worldwide

A consortium in Australia met recently to discuss the global obesity pandemic. It's everywhere and not just in rich countries anymore. We know that the urban poor in North America are suffering - McDonald's is cheaper and quicker than cooking a healthy meal - but also the rural poor in countries like China are getting fatter. One in 6 people in the world are overweight or obese. That's over 1 billion fat people!!!! Read more here.

What did this gathering of the International Association of Agricultural Economistsd decide? Some of their recommendations are:
- subsidise fruits and vegetables
- impose taxes for unhealthy choices such as soda pop and sugary foods
- encourage more physical activity

These are great suggestions but I think it's going to be tough to impose "unhealthy taxes" on multimillion dollar corporations. If governments and consumers truly believe that eating garbage foods is making us sick, then we may be able to put pressure on fast-food chains and sugary cereal manufacturers to start making healthier food. We can simply stop buying the garbage they try to sell us. But this brings the control back into our own hands. Our health is our own responsibility, and we cannot place this blame on others. We have to take control of how we treat our bodies.

People know that I am a little piggy and I love my desserts. So they always ask me why I am slim. I have genetics on my side, to be sure. My parents are both fairly tall people and have thinner than average frames. But there are 2 reasons for my healthy figure, that are under my control:
1. I love my food but I eat it in moderation. If something is YUMMY delicious but very heavy, low in nutrients or high in calories I either eat it all by itself (with no other food) and make sure that the rest of my food that day is very healthy. Or I save it for a very special treat. A once a week kind of treat.
2. I am physically active every single day. I do not own a car and I walk or bike everwhere. I go to the gym three times a week, do yoga as much as I can, swim or go for bike rides. I like to move around and stretch and my body only feels good when it is being used in this way.

It's pretty simple really. We are so lucky to live in a country where we have so many luxuries. Our food is a luxury; so much more than simply fuel. It's tough to hold back sometimes from all the treats we see around us. But we have to, or we will make ourselves sick. Overeating means giving in to temporary greedy pleasures. It's okay once in a while, but doing it regularly means you do not care about your body or your health. Who feels good with a stuffed belly? Nobody. Who feels good with a body that can run up a flight of stairs without puffing, that can jump around and feel light? Everyone does.

We can blame the corporations for dangling unhealthy treats in our faces, especially when this food is what we're desiged to crave. We can blame corporations for taking advantage of the stress we're all under when they advertise that processed food is easier to prepare, tastier and makes our lives better. But, at a certain point we need to take responsibility for our own eating habits. We put food in our grocery carts, on our plates, into our mouths. We need to be sure that what we put there is what will make us healthy, not fat and sick.

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