Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Other Men Who Made Us Fat

Guardian journalist Jacques Peretti is currently fronting a three part tv series on BBC2 called “The Men Who Made Us Fat.” He names the men working in the food and agriculture industry, principally in the US, responsible for policy and practices that have made us fat. Peretti names food industry overlords like Earl Butz, who, working for US President Nixon, pushed farmers into industrialised production of corn, which became the feedstock for US cattle and the US food processing industry – it now pops up everywhere in the form of fattening high fructose corn syrup. Others include David Wallerstein, who invented Supersizing. But surely men like Butz and Wallerstein are only part of the story? The food we eat is one side of the equation calories consumed vs calories burned.

The calories burned side of the equation also deserves some attention – our lives are increasingly sedentary and exercise-free. This was something considered in the UK Government’s Foresight Report on our obesogenic environment in 2007. Not getting enough exercise, particularly through car dependency, has to be part of the story: on which, see this paper by Davis et al. So I’m looking forward to the follow up series: The Other Men Who Made Us Fat, featuring the likes of Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz, and Henry Ford.

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