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Sex, food, obesity, Fast food

The Uncensored Hot Dog: What Does It Look Like?

 By Dr. Gifford Jones

“How much do our kids know about sex?” is a question parents often ponder. But how many ask, “What do our children know about food?” A study conducted by the British Heart Foundation shows it’s appallingly little. And the Foundation is using a shocking approach to change this situation.

The Heart Foundation Study revealed that 40 per cent of 8—to-14 year olds did not know that French fries were made from potatoes! One in 10 believed they were made from oil, eggs, flour or apples. And 33 per cent were unaware that cheese was made from milk. I recall a survey carried out in New York City showing that children thought milk came from the corner store!

To correct these misconceptions The Heart Foundation is challenging children with a Food 4 Thought Campaign. The major thrust is their web site http://www.bhf.org.uk/food I sug.gest you take a look.

The site shows “censored” stickers covering pictures of a hot dog, hamburger and chicken nuggets. Click on this and you’re asked if you want to see the uncensored picture. Another click and there it is, a not very appetizing sight. Rather, it looks like something the cat or dog threw up. And it makes one wonder, do I ever want to eat any of these fast foods again?

The web site has some positives to offer, such as educational hints on how children can stay healthy, how they should become involved by sending e-mails to politicians, demanding more school activities and healthy school lunches. And to generate teenage interest the site offers electronic prizes for the best essays on this subject and 5,000 pound prizes to purchase activity equipment for their school.

Like Canada and the U.S. the U.K. is awash in obese children. The prediction is it will get worse with another 440,000 added in the U.K. in the next two years. This increase in obesity among children has set the stage for the perfect epidemic of diabetes and heart disease. I predicted 25 years ago this would happen.

The implications for our own healthcare system of these two diseases along with an aging population are financially mind boggling.

Penny Ballem, British Columbia’s deputy health minister, recently reported on this gloomy financial picture. Today B.C.‘s health care system consumes 41 per cent of the budget. If health care continues to rise 8 per cent each year it, along with education costs, will consume the entire budget by 2117. This is a doomsday scenario with no money left for anything else.

A slow painful lesson will have to be learned by politicians and the rest of society. It’s that people cannot live for healthcare alone. And it will need draconian methods to get this idea across.

The British Food 4 Thought campaign is a practical start. At the same time we must get rid of other misconceptions.

In April of 2005, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a bombshell report. A study from the Centers For Disease Control concluded that being a little overweight resulted in a lower death rate. In effect, it was ok to be a little bit fat.

This is what every pudgy person wanted to hear. It was also news that food advocacy groups in Washington, supported by the food industry and restaurants, were waiting for. They insisted that “food police” must stop worrying the public about an obesity epidemic. But commonsense suggests this study wasn’t worth the paper it is written on.

Now a report from Northwestern University in Chicago should bring everyone back to reality. Dr. Lijing and his colleagues followed the health of 17,000 men and women for 30 years. They discovered that those who were overweight in middle age and without any other health problems, had an increased risk of dying from diabetes and heart disease after age 65 over those who were normal weight in middle age.

I admit I occasionally enjoy fast foods and now wish I hadn’t seen the uncensored picture. But for the sake of our children and healthcare system I hope someone brings the British Food 4 Thought campaign to this country.

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones



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