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food and health

This is a new meaning of “rare”

Ten years ago researchers studying the health of more than 30,000 people in Bradford found that about 60% of babies in the Pakistani community had parents who were first or second cousins, but a new follow-up study of mothers in three inner-city wards finds the figure has dropped to 46%.

The original research also demonstrated that cousin marriage roughly doubled the risk of birth defects, though they remained rare, affecting 6% of children born to cousins.

6% is rare?

Well, yes, it is

So when, in debates about the pros and cons of the so-called “sin taxes”, commentators occasionally thunder on about killjoy doctors and politicians seeking to nanny the pleasure out of life, I struggle to hold my tongue. The director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Christopher Snowdon, is one such example. Prompted by the news that Liz Truss may be poised to overturn the sugar tax, he swiftly penned an online polemic condemning the “usual state-funded pressure groups”, “media dimwits” and “activist-bureaucrats” who want to propel Britain down the “road to serfdom” — as though freedom, fundamentally, is about our inalienable right to drink syrupy Irn-Bru.

Yep, freedom is indeed the ability to drink Irn Bru. Also, Chris, distinguished tho’ he is, ain’t director. As far as I know at least that’s still Mark Littlewood. I think the time will come but perhaps not yet…..

And if someone can’t get those facts right then…..

Small wonder nearly two thirds of adult Britons are overweight or obese. Even more shockingly, 14.4 per cent of reception-age children (aged four to five ) in England are obese, as are a quarter of 10 to 11-year-olds. Predictably, there is a strong association between deprivation and obesity. The highest rates of overweight and obese people are found in the most deprived communities. Reception-age children in the most deprived areas, for example, are twice as likely to be obese as those in the least.

All of which is bollocks. At which point, to revive my favourite theory, it’s central heating.

In health terms these statistics are calamitous. Obesity significantly increases our risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, tooth decay and premature death. It also costs the NHS an estimated £6.1 billion a year.

Nope, dying young saves the NHS money. For it’s a lifetime health care service, meaning that if it has to provide health care for fewer years then that saves it money.

Our alleged right to consume whatever we like is clearly spurious, or at the very least simplistic, in a profoundly obesogenic environment.

Yes, it is simple. We get to do as we like, that’s what freedom means. Fuck off.

Obesity will never be a simple matter of personal responsibility

Yes, it is. Really, now fuck off.

How a healthy attitude toward food makes us healthier

Food glorious food. Food is innately communal. It has the ability to bring many different cultures together, to share each other’s ethic cuisine, and gather round the dining table of the world in a daily ritual. National dishes are consumed with the pride and history of that country, whose ingredients used are reflective of ancestral struggles and ingenuity. For instance, Northern Brazilian dishes such as Feijoada stems from a history of subjugated slaves who were denied the more refined meats, and so they were forced to be creative to use the right amount of spices and cooking method to make the tougher parts (such as Pig tail, ear, nose) magically delicious. Certain types of food are healthy and others not. In many countries, obesity has ballooned (pun intended) to become a serious issue that has led to many calls for policy changes. These include measures such as a ban on sugary drinks or additional taxes on any foods deemed unhealthy. This is supposed to reduce the damage obesity causes, in rising mortality rates or strains on the health care system. While the culprit for this can be unhealthy eating choices and easy access to junk foods, the root of the issue stems in a cultural attitude toward eating.

The diet business is a million dollar industry, fueled by people’s hopes that there is a magic bullet for weight loss. The fact is that most diets fail and could have the opposite effect. Either the dieter ditches the regimen after a few days, has sneaky nibbles here and there, or altogether relapses after they shed the weight – gaining double months after. An often destructive pattern develops with the dieter, who thinks only in calories and their regimen, whereby they binge unhealthily the weekend before their ‘diet’ is supposed to start. Once their diet has begun, if they eat minimally or exercise, they use this as justification for ‘treating themselves’ to fattening foods. Even diet coke drinkers usually consume greater calories a day because they have adopted a mindset that they can enjoy that slice of cake guilt free since they have saved 150 calories drinking diet soda. The paradox is that the cake is 600 calories that they would have skipped if they did not make this false reasoning.

Keeping fit and healthy requires a lifestyle change and a shift in the individual’s mindset. It is often said that those in Europe, particularly the French and Italians, remain slender despite their enjoyment of food – even very fattening foods such as pastries and pastas. Of course, genetics may explain why certain groups are predisposed for certain weight ranges and body types. Further, there are credible arguments that trace the switch from wheat to corn as a staple ingredient in the food industry products as contributing hormones into people’s diets and hence making them bigger. Specifically, with the American food industry, there are stories of children reaching premature puberty because of increased hormone levels in the foods they eat. However, attitude toward food is essential. The tendency of Europeans or those in other parts of the world is to eat naturally produced food, with a smaller portion in comparison to those in the US, and savour what is eaten. Rather than gobble a huge chunk of cake in a take out box, a Parisian is likely to sit with a friend at a side walk café and slowly enjoy a sliver of cake with coffee. Properly sized meals are eaten with healthy ingredient at regular set times daily. This was famous documented in Mireille Guiliano’s book ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure’. However, the Japanese population has an even healthier mindset toward food and in fact is deemed the slenderest nation. The Japanese diet primarily consists of lean meat or fish, rice, sushi, and green tea instead of sugary soda. The non-obese mentality in Europe or Japan is also reflected in their clothing industry, with smaller sizes than in places like the US, and so becoming obese becomes a major inconvenience trying to shop for larger sizes. There are greater challenges to becoming obese for the European or Japanese rather than an accommodating culture that usually has XXL sizes available when shopping. This creates a great motivator, more than a sugar tax or ban, to watch your diet and weight.

While it is important for schools to teach children about nutrition, much of their lifestyle and attitude toward food begins in the home. A child can learn that it is important to eat their greens and limit sugar, yet if their parents feed them a junk food take out meal that is what they become accustomed to eating until they can independently buy their own meals. And by this time, perhaps the late teens, these eating practices are very well ingrained in their minds and bodies. A great way to appreciate food is to start watching cooking programs that show all the ingredients going into a dish. Learning about food in this way nurtures a greater mindset in thinking about what is being put into the body and its effect. For the foodie, there are also several mobile apps to browse recipes and even games. For example, foodies will likely enjoy online casino sites that contain many food themed slot games to savour. Slots casino such as Microgaming’s ‘Belissimo’ gives players a taste of Italy, Blueprint’s ‘El Jackpotto’ a taste of Mexico, Yggdrasil’s ‘Penguin City’ for Asian cuisine, and SunFox Game’s ‘3 Blind Mice’ a charcuterie board of cheese and meats. If that does not satisfy your hunger, the generous portion of chances for rewards of real money is sure to. The slot game are structured mostly as 5 reels, 3-4 wager rows, paylines, and numerous unique features. These slots are completely mobile formatted, allowing for gameplay during lunchbreak while holding a sandwich.

Eat to live or live to eat are not the best ways to approach food, and the solution lies somewhere in between. Meals should be enjoyable, and a healthy balance needs to be established. Those who continually worry about every bite they take are missing out on the experience of food just as much as those who mindlessly shove in their mouth huge forkfuls of junk meals. So do as the famous French phrase apparently coined by Marie Antoinette says ‘Let them eat cake’, but only a little slice a day.