Food | Health

Junk Food: Is It The New Tobacco?

Junk Food

We all know what will happen to us when we cross that Licorice line laced with too many Oreos don’t we? We get fat. I’m not talking about a few healthy pounds (which, by the way, some of you too-skinny girls need) but the kinda fat that gets you ostracized and demoralized. Yet we indulge in junk food even though we’d be better off eating the leather soles off of our shoes.

Obesity Canada, an organization developed by a team of healthcare professionals, reports that between 10 to 25 percent of all Canadian teens are overweight. And it gets worse south of the border. The U.S. Surgeon-General warned that obesity had reached epidemic proportions: 61% of Americans are now significantly overweight. As a reaction to the disturbing reports, many special-interest groups have become publicly critical of so-called “junk food” marketers.

According to Strategy Magazine, Kalle Lasn, the founder and publisher of ADBUSTERS magazine, says junk food will be faced with the same pressures that now confront cigarette companies, which will eventually lead to government restrictions on advertising. So, should we expect to find warning labels and disturbing pictures on our potato chip bags and chocolate bar wrappers? Well, for now, medical experts in Europe are asking the European Union to ban advertising for food and drinks that are targeted at children.

In the United States, late last year a lawsuit was filed by the parents of two girls against McDonald’s blaming the fast-food giant for the stout stature of their daughters. Jazlyn Bradley, 19, weighs 270 pounds and Ashley Pelman is 14 and 170 pounds. Both girls regularly eat at McDonald’s and suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol: and they want McDonald’s to pay. However, the food chain’s lawyers said, “Every responsible person understands what is in products such as hamburgers and fries, as well as the consequence to one’s waistline, and potentially to one’s health, of excessively eating those foods over a prolonged period of time.” The suit was dismissed. But, the judge raised a good point and said, “Where should the line be drawn between an individual’s own responsibility to take care of herself and society’s responsibility to ensure others shield her?” Fair enough. But come on. Shouldn’t society be allowed to expect people to use some common sense? What next? We sue car companies because they promote driving over walking? Maybe we ban cooking shows because it makes food look so good we rush to our refrigerators and make ourselves a snack. We must take control of our lives.

Junk Food Hamburger Fries Illustration by Liscar Scott

Okay. That being said, all this pressure has led to some positive developments. McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada has invested heavily in its Lighter Choices menu and so far the line-up, including a veggie burger, chicken sandwich and salads has performed well. Frito-Lay recently announced its commitment to developing “better-for-you” snacks; it is eliminating trans fatty acids from Doritos, Tostitos and Cheetos, as well as producing Lay’s chips and Cheetos in “reduced fat” options. The snack manufacturer is also reportedly considering the notion of potato chips fortified with vegetables, like broccoli and carrots. Well, let’s not get carried away.

We make the choices, and moderation is the key. We need to develop a balanced lifestyle. So, go ahead, have a chocolate bar, eat some chips and enjoy your burger, but NOT ten times a day! And get off your butt and do something. Anything. Walk the dog, hit the gym, but get active. Use your brain as well as your mouth when you eat, and unless you’ve got some legitimate medical problems you should be okay. But, if you still feel that other people should have to pay for your bad decisions maybe you should consider suing your parents for raising a buffoon!

Written by Faze’s Thomas Webb

Illustration by Liscar Scott for Faze Magazine

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