Saturday, July 7, 2012


What is the purpose of eating food every day? Is it for satisfying the culinary needs of the human being or to maintain good health? Difficult questions indeed! Ideally a food should satisfy both but the million dollar question is whether such foods do exist and if so how easily they are available to the consumers? With the rampant epidemic of diabetes, CVD, cancer, blood pressure, kidney diseases, liver ailments etc affecting a sizable segment of population in almost all countries, humans are increasingly turning to medical sciences to save them from the impending catastrophe! It is least realized that the solution to the above situation lies in front of every body and what is required is to open the mind for practicing what is good eating! Tons of information is readily available and easily accessible to every denizen on this planet regarding foods which are bad, neutral and good. Both the education system and upbringing practices at home during early childhood have some thing to do with the wrong eating habits prevalent to day. Probably food industry is just catering to the needs of a society that wants more and more tastier and flavorful foods ignoring the fundamentals of good health and optimal nutrition needs.

It is scary to read the widespread prevalence of child hood obesity and diabetes Type I as well as Type II, among the kids in the United States of America where junk foods with very low nutrient density, wrong types of sugars, refined carbohydrates, high salt, high fat, low fiber are easily available at ridiculously low cost. An imponderable question is whether there is any relationship between wealth and diseases and if the US is taken as an example it may be a true assumption. But even in a country like India which is fast racing towards the top slot among the diabetics, the growing economy and higher individual incomes seem to be contributing to this undesirable and unhealthy situation. One of the questions frequently asked is whether there is any difference between a carrot that contributes 100 kC and a sugary beverage based on HFCS or white sugar that delivers same calories? It is difficult to make a common man understand that refined sugar is vastly more dangerous than those contained in natural foods embedded in the cell matrix. But the truth is so and sooner humans realize this "sweet" truth, better it will be for the world. 

Sugar is now being bracketed with stimulating substances like opium or tobacco which are addictive in nature and once hooked on there is no going back through out life. It is the brain which does this trick because of the action of refined sugar and its products on the brain cells, demanding more and more such foods whether biologically one needs it or not. More the calories ingested daily, higher will be the risk of developing the so called "life style diseases" mentioned earlier. What else one can expect when the families do not exercise their restraining power to keep sugary and fatty foods away from children during the early childhood. It is a calamity that the food industry trains its guns on this vulnerable segment of consumers by making their products sweeter, more colorful and flavorful as a part of the marketing strategy. What is intriguing is that food safety and health experts world over with their fingers on the power of influencing the industry, do precious little to counsel, cajole, persuade, or force the market to moderate their products quality with more emphasis on health rather than the palate. 

Having failed miserably to stem the rot that is spreading in the form of obesity and other food related health disorders, the focus seems to be shifting to use the medical route to address this Goliath of a problem. There are many quacks offering solution to obesity through concocted diets but no single diet has yet been proved to be satisfactory with controversies galore regarding their undesirable impact on body. Surgical intervention was always there but is generally considered as the last option for desperate people with advanced obesity syndrome. Now comes the news that pharmaceutical industry is toying with the idea of mass marketing of appetite suppressant drugs that can quench the craving for food. It is sad that humans are so stupid that ignoring the natural way of maintaining body weight through balanced diet and minimum exercise and indulge in binge eating ending up on a medicine regime to kill the appetite to save them from disaster

Will the safety authorities in any country approve a drug for weight reduction when proven alternate methods are known to be equally effective? If the present trend is any indication a time may come in the near future when over the counter drugs would be available for obese people to cut down on their body weight but the crucial question is whether such drugs even after their advent will provide a lasting solution to the health crisis that confronts many countries. It appears that such weight reducing pills work as long as they are taken and once the drug is withdrawn, weight re-gain happens in no time! What side effects these drugs will have on the body are still not known well and long term safety studies with humans only can bring out the facts. The health officials in the US where some drugs are being considered for weight reduction have done well so far in resisting the attempts of the industry to market them with incomplete safety data. The apprehension is that intense political pressure and strong lobbying power of the industry will eventually force the government to clear these drugs. A tragic event indeed!


1 comment:

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