Today Is Food Day

Halloween hiperrealista

Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day is meant to unite Americans behind the idea of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Its promoters point out that, every year, several hundred thousand people die too soon, as a result of preventable diseases that could be greatly impacted by a more conscious diet:

What’s more, the way our food is produced is all too often harmful to farm and food workers, the environment, and farm animals. The American food system has created a diet of cheap, salty, overly processed packaged foods, high-calorie sugary drinks, and fast-food made of white bread, fatty grain-fed factory-farmed meat, and French fries.

Food Day boasts an extensive board of advisers and an equally impressive list of partner organizations. The Food Day website also offers an excellent resources page and a chance to take the Eat Real quiz and find out how far from ideal your diet really is. Meanwhile, these are the recommended strategies to prevent childhood obesity by bringing children onto the healthy eating track:

1. Find out where kids are at, and start there.
2. Live it, don’t preach it.
3. Show, don’t tell.
4. Arm kids with the consumer skills needed to make sense of a confusing food marketplace.
5. Make connections.
6. Engage all the senses in food discovery with growing, cooking, and tasting!
7. Make good eating great fun.

Just in time for Food Day, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced the debut of a new initiative that will focus on both prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. The Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight intends to:

[…] provide pediatricians and other professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to provide care that begins with research and ends in real results… lead the academy’s efforts in providing pediatricians, families and communities with evidence-based resources to help prevent and treat childhood obesity…

The Institute will be funded by the usual mix of government and foundation grants and corporate sponsors, and that aspect, as usual, makes Dr. Pretlow a bit uneasy. The AAP is largely financed by Coca Cola, and soda is definitely associated with childhood obesity. Now, this new subdivision will be mainly financed by the Nestle corporation, makers of all kind of processed, messed-around-with foodstuffs, many of them chocolate-based.

Chocolate just happens to be the substance that sets off the most severe and prolonged cravings among young people who are trying to break their addictions to hyperpalatable food. Cravings, as Dr. Pretlow has stressed on many occasions, are a hallmark of addiction. He mentions an interesting fact:

Naloxone is a medication used to treat opium addiction. It also cancels cravings for chocolate. Naloxone is now part of a new drug for obesity, Suboxone.

Unfortunately, Americans don’t seem to take all this information as seriously as it deserves to be taken. Of course, sometimes not taking a problem seriously can actually help — because we see the absurdity of it. A fine example is found in The Onion, a satirical publication that once published a piece called, “I’m Like A Chocoholic, But For Booze.” This was back in 2000, proving that the magazine was way ahead of the curve as an early adopter of the food addiction paradigm.

The imaginary character describes his wife Emily:

She’s got to have her little bowl of Hershey’s Kisses in the living room. She can’t go shopping without bringing home some chocolate ice cream or a chocolate-cake mix. She’s even got a funny little sweatshirt that says, ‘My Name Is Emily, And I’m A Chocoholic.’

And then goes on to admit:

To be honest, I’m a bit of a chocoholic myself. Except for one small detail. You see, instead of being addicted to chocolate, I’m addicted to booze.

The reversal of expectation is where the humor lies, but the serious subtext is that all addictions are basically the same, stemming from underlying problems that need to be fixed. Otherwise, the afflicted person is likely to just transfer from one thing to another, like the unfortunate bariatric surgery patients who, supposedly cured of their addiction to food, then go on to become addicted to alcohol, gambling, or something else. The Onion piece even includes a seasonal reminder:

Halloween was Emily’s last big bender. We only got three trick-or-treaters the entire night, so the whole big bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups went straight to her. (Or straight to her thighs, as she said!)… Yes, those chocoholics are a funny sort. But they won’t hurt you — as long as they have their chocolate, that is. Or, in my case, booze!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “About,” FoodDay.org
Source: “Foodplay’s 7 Strategies to Turn Kids on to Healthy Eating,” FoodDay.org
Source: “American Academy of Pediatrics Launches Institute to Battle Childhood Obesity,” PR Newswire, 10/20/12
Source: “I’m Like A Chocoholic, But For Booze,” The Onion, 11/15/00
Image by a_marga.

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Childhood Obesity News | OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say | Dr. Robert A. Pretlow
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