At least that is what an advertisement titled “Break the Habit”, recently shown in Australia and now making the rounds on the Internet, wants you to believe.
Syringes And Burgers
I would have loved to give you the link to its video on YouTube, but it has been taken down, so all I can offer is a description: In the beginning you see a little boy sitting at a kitchen table, scribbling whith his crayons. His mom walks in, puts a fast food bag on the table, produces a syringe, heroin and tourniquet from it and proceeds to put the latter on her son’s arm. A caption then reads: “You wouldn’t inject your children with junk – so why are you feeding it to them?”
Junk Food is like Child Abuse?
Catchy, isn’t it? The producer behind the video, Henry Motteram, went even further and told ABC Australia that not resolving the signs of childhood obesity is “tantamount to child abuse”.
Oh, please. There is one striking difference between heroin and food: I have to eat food to survive, but I don’t need to inject heroin. Nor is fast food dangerous even in small doses, as biochemist Dr. Rosemary Stanton points out in the above article.
I do not doubt that through intelligent marketing and sales campaigns junk food giants influence consumers to unhealthy decisions, but marketeers like the above agency sell a message just as flawed as the advertisements that make sugary cereal look healthy – they only come from the other end of the spectrum.
Organic Foods And Calories
For many people it has already become a dogma that “junk food makes you fat, organic food doesn’t”, where in reality an organically produced food can have as many calories as any other.
Fresh Healthy Vending, an upstart company that produces vending machines supposedly containing “healthy” snacks and advertising these especially for sales at schools, can serve as a practical example here. They decribe their offers as follows:
The Fresh Healthy Vending mission is to provide consumers with fresh healthy snack and drinks as an alternative to typically unhealthy junk foods found in traditional vending machines (…)
This is flanked through the use of promotional blogs that collect every scary message about obesity out there and repeatedly link to the supposedly “healthier” alternatives on the main site.
One of these supposed alternatives are their “Back to Nature” chocolate cookies, made with organic milk and sugar, no less. Yet they still contain 170 kcal per serving size, with one of these servings being 24 g. In comparison, a 34 g Oreo cookie has 160 kcal.
Organic foods are a big market. Some of the people and activities behind it may be filled with the best – perhaps just misled – intentions and maybe we can even count the heroin ad in there, but there also is a lot of money involved. If the field of educating people about nutrition is left to those that have financial interests or a lack of knowledge in it, it won’t matter if they produce organic or non-organic foods, the result may be the same: obesity.
Picture courtesy of Justin Cozart.