I watched a very revealing YouTube video the other day on the DW Documentary channel, with the title Obesity and Corporate Greed, posted this summer 2022. The documentary was made by Sylvie Gilman and Thierry Lestrade. DW, the German public broadcast service, has some excellent documentaries on its YouTube channel.
The key theme of the documentary is that the obesity epidemic sweeping the world is not the fault of the individual, but rather the fault of the junk food and soft drinks industries. As a personal trainer in London with several obese clients, my view is that solution to obesity lies with both the individual and society, not just one or the other.
We live in an obesogenic society, the UK and the USA are among the worst. There are already 2 billion obese and overweight people on the planet. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be over 250 million obese children in the world.
Remember Michelle Obama’s campaign to encourage kids in the US to eat healthy school meals rather than junk food? Her plan was to call the campaign “Eat Better”, but under huge pressure from the junk food industry and the soft drinks industry, together with their powerful political lobby groups, the campaign was renamed “Move More”, switching emphasis from healthy eating to exercise.
This is one of the tactics of the junk food and soft drinks giants: to portray the obesity crisis as a crisis of too little exercise and nothing to do with the food and drink we consume. To this end, Coca Cola established the Global Energy Balance Network, which puts the blame for obesity exclusively on the individual for not exercising enough, not burning enough calories.
Sure, it is important to exercise and stay active, but no amount of exercise can overcome a bad diet. The main cause of the rise in obesity since the early 1980s is the profound change in the types of food/drink we consume, the portion sizes, and the frequency of our food/drink consumption.
(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and online nutrition coach.)