Who made me fat?

The views expressed in opinion pieces are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff.

Posted on January 10, 2023


An article from the Risk-Monger

Every day we are alerted: obesity rates are exploding. A diabetes epidemic is imminent. The crisis due to our lifestyles and our diet will reduce our life expectancy. And of course, the fast food industry is lining its pockets by killing us!

Is it really any surprise that in a world where we blame industry for everything (global warming caused by oil giants, chemical companies poisoning us, polluted factory air attacking our lungs , the banks which lend in an irresponsible way, the pharmaceutical giants which bribe our doctors…) we also accuse the industry of this epidemic of obesity? Nobody winces when we talk about how the food and drink industries have made us fat, clogged our arteries, and left us unable to make healthy choices. We all read the books, we see the movies, we scour social media until we are convinced that the food industry has behaved in a truly appalling way. Poor us.

This game of finding the culprit is so convincing that the States have gotten into it and are defending us with ideas of “anti-obesity taxes” which have recently paid off in Mexico. Perhaps some of the proceeds from these taxes could be spent investing in public gardens, fountains for joggers, safe sports facilities in urban areas and public health education through nutrition, but who am I to disrupt a grand campaign of accusations with facts? See how the Risk-Monger blog predicted the fatal fate of the danish anti-obesity tax.

The food and drink industry is not beyond reproach – it produces a wide range of foods and drinks that enhance taste rather than satiety, accompanied by very tempting marketing campaigns (I have a hard time resisting Belgian chocolate – a weakness responsible for at least 20 kg of my body mass). As always in this world, some in the industry have broken the rules (misleading labeling, poor quality ingredients and inadequate packaging), but these companies usually pay the price in lost trust, lost markets and as we often see , disappearance. Big corporations know they need to protect their brands with responsible practices and codes of conduct, while sleazy companies that want to make quick hits are tarnishing the reputation of the food industry with questionable marketing practices. To do business sustainably, the industry has no interest in deceiving or cheating.

To stay afloat, food and beverage companies must meet market demands. One of them is cheap food (and it seems the industry is being blamed for doing that). Another requirement is healthy food and the industry has complied with this with a wide variety of safe and convenient products, fruits and vegetables, whole grain pasta and a wide range of products with improved nutritional properties (the “nutraceuticals”) . None of these developments is due to state regulations or taxes. The food industry doesn’t try to poison people, it responds to market expectations.

But I’ve gained weight and I’m angry!

And yet I have put on weight and maintenance I am angry! Since the state is not taking responsibility and I’m certainly not going to blame myself for what I ingested or for my lack of exercise, then with the help of my friends who also refuse to control themselves, we agreed that the food industry (insert here the logo of the company you hate the most) is guilty and must pay the price (lawsuits, petitions, campaigns to exclude some companies…)

It works even better if these campaigns against the industry that poisons us can be linked to environmental destruction and adverse health effects (see campaigns against packaging wastechemical additives, the destruction of the rainforest by palm oil unhealthyinefficiencies in agriculture and food waste). Social networks are filled with these accusations campaigns and there is a large catalog of bestselling books and films (like food, inc. Where Supersize Me) to reinforce this confirmation bias.

What if industry provided a solution?

The pharmaceutical industry is looking for the holy grail of fat burning diet pills. We want effortless solutions – the panacea of ​​a pill. We call on surgical operations on our stomach, but the problem does not go away. The food industry offers us healthy alternatives, we have sports programs and enough information and yet we continue to adopt bad habits and blame others.

What if the obesity epidemic was due, not to our food, but to the way we metabolize it? Recent studies have looked at whether obesity is linked to certain types of bacteria in our guts. For example, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis published in the journal Science that having the right kind of gut bacteria has a noticeable influence on body weight.

If bacterial imbalances are the key to obesity, then the food industry may well come up with products that will allow us to rectify them (it’s either that or a fecal matter transplant…which doesn’t do too much desire). So, will we adopt a more positive attitude towards the food industry, if this one works to innovate to release products that will make me lose weight by rebalancing the bacteria in my intestines? I doubt. I’m sure we’ll protest against high prices or limited access (it’s the poorest people who make up most of the morbidly obese). Some will object to unnatural products messing with bacteria levels in our intestines (there will be widespread fears that the addition of bacteria could cause other problems). Organizations will mislabel or misuse the products they market and others, for obvious reasons of interest, will demand that they be regulated as pharmaceutical substances (biocides?). Oh and let’s not forget diet programs and bestsellers !

Then there will be the question of who to blame for causing the bacterial imbalance. Perhaps the cleaning products industry? Or maybe the use of antibiotics? Raise the fury!

I made myself fat!

Until we learn to stop blaming others for our weaknesses, we will remain children. It’s not the food industry that made me fat, there’s no doubt, it’s me (… in fact it was my wife but there it becomes complicated to accuse her !). The 20 kg I’ve lost (and haven’t regained) in the past five years are to my credit, but I’ve been helped by the food industry with easy access to high fibre, convenient fresh salads and clear labeling (voluntarily adopted by the industry). Running two or three marathons a year didn’t hurt either.

Those like the Risk-Monger who manage to lose weight can afford to be honest. Those who have not succeeded continue to feed their depression with an overabundance of sweets, sodas, snacks… and an unhealthy indignation towards food manufacturers. Don’t despair, the food industry will offer you an easier solution. Hopefully, those waging fear campaigns won’t interfere with innovations that are clearly in the public interest. And as for states that continue to tax certain foods and beverages, maybe…but hey, let’s move on.

Who made me fat?