Ob­so­lete meals, modern obe­sity

Dishes which were fine to eat 30 years ago may now be too calorific for life­styles that are in­creas­ingly seden­tary, a new study sug­gests

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFESTYLE - By SARAH KNAP­TON

Glob­al­i­sa­tion has been a health dis­as­ter, cre­at­ing a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who ex­pend so lit­tle en­ergy each day that they no longer need to eat the same amount of calo­ries as their par­ents, a new study by the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics sug­gests.

An analysis of 30 years of data by the LSE has proven that the obe­sity cri­sis is largely driven by modern life­styles, which have al­lowed peo­ple to be­come so in­ter-con­nected that they barely need to leave their desks or so­fas to work, so­cialise or shop.

It means that tra­di­tional meals rec­om­mended by par­ents are now sim­ply too much for a less-ac­tive gen­er­a­tion.

Trade deals be­tween coun­tries have also caused food prices to tum­ble, cre­at­ing vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited ac­cess to un­re­stricted calo­ries for most peo­ple, while on-tap entertainment through tele­vi­sion, smart­phones and per­sonal com­put­ers has re­placed many tra­di­tional hob­bies and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Rec­om­mended calo­rie counts, which have been about 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women since the First World War, were set at a time when peo­ple nat­u­rally moved far more in their daily lives. But the new study sug­gests those counts may now be too high and re­searchers say that peo­ple need to stop eat­ing the way their par­ents taught them.

Dr Joan Costa-Font, one of the study’s au­thors, said: “Typ­i­cally, life in the 21st cen­tury might mean a com­mute into a desk-based oc­cu­pa­tion, and three or four meals a day, lead­ing to many peo­ple con­sum­ing more calo­ries than their life­styles re­quire.

“We still eat like our par­ents did, or worse, but we don’t move around nearly as much as they did. Peo­ple no longer have to visit each other to hold a face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion, they can sim­ply Skype. We jump in the car or the bus or the tube rather than walk­ing.

“As life­styles have slowed down and be­come more se­date, peo­ple haven’t amended their calo­rie in­take ac­cord­ingly. We should all eat

We still eat like our par­ents did, or worse, but we don’t move around nearly as much as they did.” Dr Joan Costa-Font, one of the au­thors of a Lon­don School of Eco­nomics study

less. The amount of food we eat com­pared with en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture is sim­ply too much.

“If peo­ple were as ac­tive as they were 30 years ago then rec­om­mended daily al­lowances of calo­ries would be fine.

“It’s very hard to change how you eat from how your par­ents told you to eat, but we should all eat less to­day. Maybe we could work out how much peo­ple are over-eat­ing and re­duce calo­ries ac­cord­ingly.”

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Food Pol­icy, com­pared the link be­tween glob­al­i­sa­tion and obe­sity, mea­sur­ing two kinds of glob­al­i­sa­tion — eco­nomic, which leads to lower food prices and in­creased trade, and so­cial, which has led to in­creased seden­tary re­cre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties.

Obe­sity rates have tre­bled in the last 30 years and the med­i­cal costs re­lated to over­weight con­di­tions costs about £6 bil­lion a year, with a fur­ther £10 bil­lion spent on di­a­betes.

The LSE study fo­cused on 26 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UK, be­tween 1989 and 2005, when glob­al­i­sa­tion ac­cel­er­ated in many coun­tries and obe­sity lev­els in­creased rapidly.

The au­thors found a strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween glob­al­i­sa­tion and obe­sity; a one stan­dard de­vi­a­tion in­crease in glob­al­i­sa­tion was associated with a 23.8 per cent in­crease in obe­sity within the pop­u­la­tion and a 4.3 per cent rise in calo­rie in­take.

The au­thors con­cluded that in­di­vid­u­als would need to ad­just to the less calorific de­mands of glob­alised life­styles to help mit­i­gate the ex­pand­ing world obe­sity lev­els and grow­ing over­weight pop­u­la­tion.

“It is prob­a­bly no co­in­ci­dence that the UK has one of the high­est rates of obe­sity in the world, while it is also one of the world’s most glob­alised, ad­vanced economies,” add- ed Dr Costa-Font.

The gov­ern­ment has faced crit­i­cism for not do­ing enough to tackle obe­sity and its Child­hood Obe­sity Cam­paign ear­lier this year failed to in­clude mea­sures such as ban­ning junk food sold at su­per­mar­ket check­outs and pre­vent­ing ad­ver­tis­ing to chil­dren be­fore the tele­vi­sion water­shed.

How­ever, from April 2018, drinks with at least 5g su­gar per 100ml will face ex­tra taxes, with a higher rate for those with more than 8g per 100ml.

Es­ti­mates from the Of­fice for Bud­get Re­spon­si­bil­ity sug­gest that the levy could add up to 8p to the price of a can of drink if all the costs are passed on to cus­tomers.

Min­is­ters have es­ti­mated the mea­sures could raise about £520m a year, which would be spent on sport in schools.

Pro­fes­sor Paul Dob­son, from the Univer­sity of East Anglia, said the gov­ern­ment needed to do more to per­suade peo­ple that they needed to cut down their calo­ries.

“The lower calo­rie burn­ing rates due to modern seden­tary life­styles is partly due to a shift to a ser­vice econ­omy and re­duced man­ual labour but also greater use of ve­hi­cles for travel rather than walk­ing and other tech­no­log­i­cal in­ven­tions that have re­sulted in less phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“The gov­ern­ment has to con­vince the pub­lic of the need to com­bat obe­sity. Un­til peo­ple un­der­stand the health con­se­quences of overeat­ing and be­ing obese then they will re­sist chang­ing their eat­ing habits.

“As we have seen with the Soft Drinks In­dus­try Levy, ap­ply­ing the threat of taxation un­less prod­ucts are re­for­mu­lated can be very ef­fec­tive be­cause in­dus­try has a clear choice: re­for­mu­late to avoid the tax, or do not re­for­mu­late and then pay the tax.”


Meals that were fine to eat 30 years ago may now be too high in calo­ries, a new study by the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics sug­gests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.