Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We need better food not more exercise adverts

Eating too much makes you fat. That's June's tip of the month on malehealth. Wow. Hardly going to knock MPs expenses out of the headlines.

Except that this research proves that just because a lot of people say something doesn't make it true. The research knocks for six the commonly held notion that the USA is fat because its citizens both don't do enough exercise and eat too much. No, it is purely the latter. Food alone is responsible. Lead researcher Dr Boyd Swinburn of the World Health Organisation says Americans have been eating much more but physical-activity levels haven't really changed all that much.

The trouble is with this thesis is that food industry don't like it. They have played the 'reduced physical exercise' card for all it's worth. It's their 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card. Talk about getting off the hook. Every hamburger ad, every soft drink commercial is accompanied by a strapline exhorting us to get active. Now we know that it's the mountains of crap food and fizzy pop doing all the damage. Voluntary organisations and government rightly keen to 'work with industry' now need to find the courage to demand that the food industry do more and that means changing their products and the way they sell them. The WHO research proves there is no alternative.

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