Saturday, 9 July 2011

The triangle of hunger

Experts are predicting the number of obese children is set to increase, with a severe risk to their health, and with 500,000 children who may be at risk of developing life-threatening liver disease because they are or will become overweight.

As the saying goes; ‘we are what we eat’. 

I therefore thought it a good idea to reconsider in the light of new concerns about our children's health, and in particular the modern diet, to probe once more this subject of which I have blogged about in the past. 

A third of  all our children, it is now laid claim are overweight or obese, and despite the many stark warnings from professionals about the effect on their health, the numbers continue to rise. 

I have a habit on this blog of often simply saying; that if you want to know what’s around the corner, what’s coming our way, then look towards the land of the free, or rather is it the land of the fat?” Well I suppose that is somewhat discourteous to our American cousins, but its not meant to be. However in many respects it is seen to be true and lets just hope that when it comes to the incidence of obesity that it doesn't take a hold as it has over there, where a fifth of the population in all but one state, are now obese. America has become dramatically fatter in the last six years alone - in 2005 just one state had an obesity rate of more than 30 per cent, today there is a dozen or so.

In today’s age of convenience, fast food needs no introduction, every high street has its own McDonald's, Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Everyone, sadly from a 2-year-old toddler to your 60-year-old granny, seems to enjoy it and at every given chance they get. And why not? After all its very seductive and I must say very addictive, so much so that some people that I know live on it. They live life in the fast lane in London, they work and, the food is for them at least affordable, readily available just at any time of the day, a drive through or a phone call away. what more could you ask for then?” 

Well, plenty,” “for fast food is not all that good really, it has no nutritional value and is not balanced and, therefore, very unhealthy in the long run if consumed on a regular basis. The fast food that looks so mouthwatering and tempting is loaded with calories from refined sugar and fats  (especially, the artery-clogging saturated and hydrogenated fats, which are repeatedly reheated to high temperatures for frying purposes). To make matters worse for the consumer, the food is also high in sodium, coming from common salt and other additives. Recent scientific studies have shown that high-calorie foods rich in fats, refined sugar and salt could reconfigure the hormones in the body in such a way that you end-up craving for such food. 

The situation is worse in the case of children who from a very young age are enticed and get hooked and, such children grow up to be obese adults who may never have felt the advantages of being a healthy weight, not to mention that life may end prematurely and untimely for many. 

Food is something everyone needs, every day as we know, how it is produced and who controls it, are important issues. The way it is marketed has big effects on our health and economics too. In some parts of the world, absence of access to food is the real tragedy, while in the US, what I like to call the power house of world  consumerism, unhealthy eating is cited as the second biggest biggest killer after smoking.. In an age of ‘convenience’, people in the West are eating more processed and fast food than ever, and 60% of the population is considered obese. 

We should consider, what the market does to our food, and what it does to us. We can start by understanding that no one anywhere on this planet has to starve of die from the lack of it, and yet there are thousands of families as I write walking and have been walking for days in search of food, in what is called the triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet. It’s all to easy for me to sit here and talk about children so skinny, malnourished and dieing which is becoming commonplace in this corner of Africa. Half a million of those children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions, with long lasting consequences to their physical and mental development.  

What can I do, what can we do is a question I often ask myself, but truthful, there is very little that can be done other than to donate in kind to some sort of relief or charity. But the problem is that this never seems to bring about the solution and resolution to theses 'repetitious' humanitarian disasters; catastrophes that should not be happening, if only the world was not the place it is. I don’t consider it extreme in the least to say that there is something seriously wrong in and with our world, when millions and trillion's are wasted on wars and weapons of such terror and destruction, on these very needless wars in far off places, whilst our governments at home allow large multi-nationals to poison the populace.

When I think upon these problems that we face, I for one understand that capitalism is a system which sentences the majority of its people to poverty, it is a restrictive system; and no more so than in the food we consume immoderately or from the absence of it. Its economy is economically inefficient and politically anarchic. It is a destructive system. That is a massive indictment. But it is supported and proven by the massive evidence provided by the everyday workings of capitalism itself.

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