Kurt Harris had a pretty pessimistic prediction over on the PHD blog yesterday:
The elephant in the room for fat loss is that for many if not most people they will never achieve healthy fat levels until they stop using food for stimulation and entertainment beyond their nutritional needs. …
But the resistance to [reducing highly palatable food & drink] is monumental.
For that reason, I predict there will be no progress made at large. There will be victorious skirmishes for a subset of the population that read PHD or maybe my blog and others, but we will not save the world from obesity any more than we will eliminate late industrial corporate capitalism or stop using petroleum.
Perhaps you’ll be surprised, but I tend to agree. It’s not just the bickering over just how many carbs that is the real issue; it’s that people live in a world where they work too hard, make too little money, and are pretty stressed out. But hey, no problem, here’s the food industry to help make it better … at least until tomorrow. Rinse and repeat!
Mark Bittman, who promotes a whole foods approach to health, shared his two cents recently in Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? in the NY Times last month:
Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald’s you can drive to Safeway. It’s cooking that’s the real challenge. …
The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch.
This is one of the challenges with a paleo or WAPF or ancestral approach. It doesn’t come out of a box and it’s nearly impossible to pick up on the way home from work. That’s a real challenge.
And then there’s policy
I’m not opposed to government intervention (won’t get my Paleo[TM] libertarian card any time soon), but while I don’t care for the conclusion of this article as far as personal responsibility, I think it’s spot on as far as public health/policy:
Based on our research, it seems that [policies such as a sugar tax] wouldn’t affect obesity rates in a significant way because the underlying factors they address are such small contributors to the rise in obesity rates.
One option then is to battle obesity by tackling each of its many factors, in a kind of death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy. But public policy is a blunt instrument, too ham-handed to pull it off. There are simply too many factors and individual choices.
The solution is instilling personal responsibility.
Instead, I’m cautiously optimistic that what may work is the hive mind of the Internet. We won’t always be arguing about the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis. With folks like Kurt, Paul, and others (many in the ancestral health space) we can keep on educating people about industrial food the way we educated folks about cigarettes. After all, the ad at right (click to enlarge) shows where we once were with cigs!
Of course, this is not an easy task (it’s probably pushing Sisyphean, pun intended). Look how many people still smoke. But if you consider the math (the first Boomer became eligible for Medicare this year), we are looking at a pretty scary couple of decades given lifestyle-related diseases and health care costs.
So, no easy fix, but it’s essential to trudge on!