Posted on May 13, 2013 by admin
In this 2011 study, the number of Subway restaurants was linked with higher obesity rates in 26 advanced economies – The study was published in Critical Public Health (De Vogli, Kouvonen & Gimeno, 2011). In my opinion, this is a fine example of why the myopic focus on the “evil” Sugar-Sweetened Beverage industry or “Big Food” is doing more harm than good in the reputable fight to curb obesity. If we are ever going to introduce public health initiatives that work, we still need to focus of improving the ENTIRE food chain instead of looking for the perfect villain. We need to remember that even our favorite “Healthy” foods or “Good” companies are also part of the problem. The blanket pass we give to companies whose marketing machine is able to spin our perceptions to the point of ignorance of fact often baffles me. Let’s face it, if I make bad choices at Subway, I will gain weight. If I eat out too often, I will gain weight even if I never drink regular soda. If I do not portion control at Whole Foods, I still gain adipose tissue and put my health at risk (including diabetes) no matter how many trees the company hugs or humanely the animals are treated before slaughter. Finally, if I fail to become physically active, my health and weight suffer. The tendency to give companies with green signage and the word Whole or Organic in their marketing a pass in the obesity discussion is astounding. Equally astounding is the fact that when Coca Cola points out that caloric balance is still important, that portion control and moderation are necessary and that human’s require physical activity (which by the way could be quoted from every obesity professional’s treatment manual including those of some vocal food industry critics) we attack them… We need to sit down as colleagues with the food industry, no matter what sector they represent. We need to discuss how their marketing at times misleads the public into making unhealthy choices. However, we should also point out in an unbiased fashion, based solely on fact, what they do right or the parts of what they do that are moving in the right direction. If a food company supports portion control and physical activity in their ads, and we attack them, what message are WE delivering to the public. We need all the help we can get to convince the public to eat less and exercise more. The research still says that even in the face of metabolic challenges and hurdles that change the rate and extent of weight loss….calories in and out STILL MATTER. Human beings still control a large part of the weight picture through their choices. It is time for objectivity to enter back into the discussions of public health in obesity. Call out the misinformation, highlight the good information, and stop chasing headlines and personal notoriety through blame.