February 4, 2015

A funny video depicts cleverly animated animals in the Savannah: they are all very round, and the caption asked by the Facebook page that shared the video was “Have you ever wondered how things would be if the animals also eat fast food?”

The video was funny but also sad, and the caption makes you think.

How many animals ‘in the wild’ carry extra weight? These animals were so round they couldn’t do what was needed for survival: running, hunting, drinking, picking themselves up if they fell down. While entertaining, once you get past the incongruity of these animals being so fat it makes you think about the effects of eating foods that the body is not designed to eat.

Too many humans are doing just that. With the incidence of overweight and obesity steadily climbing, and a fast food outlet available within a few kilometres of most of the population, eating foods we weren’t designed to eat has become far easier than feeding your body well.

It’s not just fast foods, either. Why is it necessary to have a biscuit (or three) with a cup of tea? Why do we need to buy so many packaged foods at the supermarket? Why are these packaged foods made with ingredients we don’t recognise as food? Why do our cooking skills or time constraints or energy levels prevent us from feeding the family healthy meals?

Food is not just about taste, although a significant portion of the population makes their food choices on taste alone. It’s surely not necessary to point out that food provides more than taste. Poor quality food fails to provide phyto-nutrients (mainly from vegetables and fruit), is insufficient or lacking many micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals), and the balance of macro-nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) is such that weight gain and health conditions are common.

While none of us need to hunt down our next meal, we do have different pressures and stresses and we need well-functioning bodies to enable us to cope. Eating naturally-produced and minimally- (or un-) processed food means that our bodies and our brains function optimally. Our children develop properly, and with less disease and better concentration than if they were eating poor quality foods.

Ignoring the problem, either on a population level or in your own home, won’t help change to occur. If every household looked at their cupboard and shopping trolley and eliminated food in packages, there’d be less of a problem with overweight and obesity.

Simplistic? Yes.

Possible? Absolutely.