Not the 9 o’clock news: Food companies want you to buy food

There’s a lot of noise, these days, about how food is killing us. Evil sugar is the overlord, but it has many minions in the form of pizza, and pasta, and bread (whither French culture!), and if we are to believe the noise, indulging in any of these is going to lead us to much nastier place than the world of Despicable Me.

The latest, a Guardian piece called “Fat Profits: how the food industry cashed in on obesity”, is a good reminder that articles that are very earnest, and very long (is it me or are things actually getting longer, as if we somehow have more time to read?) can also be nonsense.

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No, *this* is why you’re fat

So I finally got round to watching the first episode of The Men Who Made Us Fat, the three- part BBC documentary currently screening on BBC 2, presented by Jacques Peretti. As its name suggests, it tells the story of how obese people became so through no fault of their own. In an only slightly novel twist on this now-tired ground, we are encouraged to not just blame high fructose corn syrup, but the men who made HFCS happen (legislators, scientists, farmers), and who helped to convince people to consume so much of the stuff (Mad Men).

If you haven’t read or seen much to do with obesity (fat chance!), you’d be in for an engaging tale that would fairly likely convince you that high fructose corn syrup is the problem, and that we are powerless against its evil charms because it is addictive and toxic – not to mention that it’s in, like, everything. At least in the US, that is. HFCS has made its way across the pond in some products, but the Brits’ main problem is with eating too much normal sugar, which like its sibling HFCS, is addictive and toxic. Oh, and they also eat too many fish and chips and pies and stuff. And they probably also drink too much beer. This is the second part that we’re not responsible for: we live in obesogenic environments which conduce us to getting fat because there is too much cheap, calorific food around, and our caveman brains just can’t say no.

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