Jamie Oliver is NOT wrong. He is absolutely right to focus on diet. Here’s why. My rebuttal to this article in the Guardian.
”But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.”
It is not a matter of ignoring other factors, other than diet. Diet is the single biggest contributor to poor health. Nothing else comes close. Not exercise. Not even smoking. Giving other factors ‘equal emphasis’ is not a sensible strategy. The nutrition choices in schools, hospitals, prisons, care homes, and even in households, are ultimately influenced by government nutrition policies, which have been proven wrong, time and time again. We need to overhaul their nutrition guidelines and radically reconstruct our food environment. We’ve been following their dietary guidelines for 50 years and we’re just getting fatter and sicker.
”You cannot outrun a bad diet………tired cliché”
Exercising is not a simple matter of ‘burning’ the extra calories. The calories consumed have dramatically different metabolic effects, which determine whether those calories make us sicker, or make us healthier. This brings us back to the focus on diet. Fix the food FIRST. No-one is discounting the benefits of exercise, but the idea that you can consume just about anything ‘as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle’ is a simplistic and pervasive tactic, abused by Big Food, to promote their unhealthy fake foods.
”Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors.”
You are absolutely right. Obesity is complex, but the obesity crisis has very clear origins. Obesity has existed for centuries, but not as a crisis. Not as the pandemic it currently is. Something happened when the dietary guidelines were introduced in the late ’70s. As a result of the demonisation of saturated fat, we started consuming more sugar, more refined grains, and more processed seed oils. The trajectory of weight gain and it’s consequent diseases has been on the rise ever since. Our activity levels have not changed much. It’s the food that has changed. Again, it comes back to diet.
”ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health”
There is exciting research around the gut-brain axis and mounting evidence that gut health is directly related to mental health. What we eat, through the functions of our gut microbiome, could determine the state of our mental and emotional health. If we accept that our diet is the main determinant of our physical health, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate similar benefits to our mental health.
There is no doubt that increased physical activity in children should be encouraged. Unfortunately, such strategies at home and abroad have failed to halt or reverse the obesity trends in children. The focus must remain squarely on nutrition science and nutrition policy. The conversation should start with the identification of all the vested interests – Big Food, Big Pharma and Big Tech. Follow the money. The back story of our obesity crisis has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster….money, politics, power and greed.
Economics of Persuasion
The food industry will be unhappy about the prospect of further regulation from government. These companies are mandated by stakeholders to maximise profits. Sugar, vegetable oils, salt, and refined flour make up the vast majority of ingredients in processed foods. These ingredients are incredibly cheap, tasty and long lasting – a goldmine for food manufacturers.
Tax processed food if you actually want to improve health.
Everyone, from producers to regulators to consumers, must accept some responsibility in trying to stem this tsunami of obesity that we’re facing. Go ahead and ban deals on processed crap. Go one step further and introduce ‘buy one get one free’ deals on broccoli and avocados.
Jamie. You are right. More and more of us can see that this obesity crisis has been nothing short of a perfectly engineered, morally corrupt disaster.