Obesity isn’t healthy and it can be costly to the individual and the public because of the costs of treating it and associated problems.
There is evidence it’s a growing problem and it’s getting a lot of attention from researchers.
That would be good if the research resulted in evidenced based solutions, but is this science of politics?
Health advocates are drawing battle lines against “Big Food”, claiming drastic intervention is needed to stave off a diabetes crisis in New Zealand.
As adult obesity nears a third of the population, individual responsibility for diet and exercise is clearly not enough, said Dr Gabrielle Jenkin, an Otago University of Wellington health academic who is co-ordinating a seminar today in Wellington.
Government policymakers were reluctant to legislate against “Big Food” – industry powers such as Fonterra, Coca-Cola, Heinz Wattie’s, fast food chains and Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets, she said. Many so-called nutrition research bodies were sponsored by Big Food, she said. Dietitians New Zealand, for instance, stated on its website that it is backed by Unilever and Nestle.
Jenkin said “tainted” research was presented at select committees as unbiased fact. “They’re corrupting science.”
She claimed Big Food was more powerful than Big Tobacco, and likely to be more aggressive if policy turned against it.
The industry put the onus on individuals to fight obesity, so governments tended to promote diet and exercise rather than legislating against unhealthy food, she said. . .
Big Food is a statement based on emotion and politics not science.
The theory of weight gain or loss is simple – just get the balance between energy in and energy out correct.
The practice as anyone who has tried to gain or lose weight will attest, is far more difficult.
Food is different from other substances like alcohol or tobacco, we need it to survive and any particular food isn’t good or bad in itself.
Some is more nutritious and some has little if any nutritional value.
But anything in moderation isn’t going to cause weight gain and legislation elsewhere hasn’t worked:
. . . Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:
“Denmark’s tax on saturated fat, introduced in 2011, was an economic disaster. The Danish tax was abandoned 15 months later and did little, if anything, to reduce harmful consumption. Worse, it was estimated to have cost 1,300 jobs. Why would New Zealand want to repeat this mistake?”
“Taxing the Kiwi tradition of a warm pie and can of coke won’t reduce obesity. The overseas experience is that fat taxes merely lead to compensatory purchasing and brand switching.” . .
Obesity is a serious problem and it needs serious, evidence0based solutions not emotion and politics.