Blog: "Food's the one that lost"

Catherine Sleep | 6 November 2006

There’s so much talk today about obesity, salt, trans fat, nutritional labelling and where the responsibility lies for helping consumers eat better that it’s easy to get bogged down. But just once in a while someone cuts clear though all the white noise and there’s a universal nod of agreement, and last week it was the turn of Boston University academic Juliet Schor.

“Food’s the one that lost”, she declared, explaining that, faced with a range of concerns about their children, most parents feel they have to prioritise the issues on which they can have an impact, and which are most immediately worrying. High levels of tobacco, prescription drug and alcohol marketing to children are perceived by US parents as more dangerous than food advertising, and they feel that food is a battleground they can neither fight nor win.

I’d take this further. Even the most conscientious parent knows you have to pick your battles when trying to bring your kids up right and teach them to make good choices. If you’re worried that your precious offspring is dabbling with alcohol or drugs, sorting out the amount of sugar they eat is going to have to wait. Inevitably, before you know it, they’re all grown up and out of your house, taking any unresolved problems along with them, and all too often this now includes poor dietary habits.

“Food’s the one that lost”

On a more optimistic note, two major food conferences just-food attended over the last ten days served to highlight the monumental efforts both lawmakers and the food industry are making to help consumers eat more conscientiously. A lot of good work is being done, and awareness is high of the contribution that all stakeholders need to make if we are to reverse the worrying trend in unhealthy eating.

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