Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Empty Rhetoric

No more of this nonsense;
Imposing the same strict restrictions on unhealthy food and drink as tobacco will curb the country's obesity scourge, an Otago University researcher says.
Says a professor of marketing. Mind you, I'm not a snobby about sources but it might explain why this (ir)rationale is attractive to this prof. This nonsensical line is  of course being peddled a lot right now and it will not do people.

Food simply cannot be turned into cigarettes;
"Tobacco is a very unambiguous product because it is uniquely harmful - some foods are closely analogous to tobacco as they offer no nutritional benefit and the research evidence suggests changes in food supply, particularly the widespread availability of inexpensive, palatable, energy dense food have contributed to, if not at least partly caused, the rising prevalence of obesity.

Yes tobacco is "unambiguous" in the way it taxes the body, food isn't. The psychology behind smoking is another thing altogether and that has been erased to make smokers look like self destructive idiots. In order to shame them to stopping-let's face it. Having said that, there is no known part of the body nourished by tabs, yet sugar provides calories, which are the primary nutrient human bodies need.

In fact don't all beings require energy of some sort to exist?

It is not the only nutrient required, but it is required. You'll exist a whole lot longer on honey than on vitamin pills. Oh and to the silly response that not all food is necessary. That misses the point. We are designed around the necessity of taking in energy, pathologizing any aspect of that is as senseless as it is superfluous.

In order to make this kind of false equivalence-a ubiquitous big bear of the whole crusade-one has to pretend food is something other than it is, and human beings are other than they are. No thanks. Your stupid is your own, do not impose that on others.

We can see how bad it gets when we ignore human nature with something that's not necessary to life, like smoking or drugs. How much worse still with something that is? What is the point in shaming food and people for consuming it? That achieves something similar to shaming sex and people's sexuality and sexual organs, possibly worse and more destructive.

I'd advise people to read testimony from, for example, PWA who feel repulsed by human dependence on food. We simply cannot regress human knowledge for a supposed health campaign that has already had a tremendous amount of influence and failed to show anything but introduce new problems.

If you want people to reconsider drinking their calories, campaign on that. Note, it would have been better never to have mis-labelled liquid food as, "empty calories." That's exactly the basis on which they've been marketed, as a substitute for water.

When I reminded myself they were food years ago, my attitude to them did change subtly. I did start feeling it was okay to insist on water, even when greeted by perplexed reactions of how can anyone turn down this lovely soft drink for boring old water?

I'd often felt it odd to drink food with food and at times did crave water instead as it was tasteless and would not undermine my appetite for food I was more interested in.

It was more about matching my appetite better. I prefer to eat my calories. I'm not even a fan of soup!

Now if these people insist on interfering in people's actual choices, rather than anything hard like dealing with underlying problems in economies and food environments, then they should operate on an honest basis?

Those who  insist on tinkering have a duty to make any campaign enlightened, positive and above all empowering. Because we are not dealing with acquired habit. We are dealing with appetite which is an innate part of human functioning. They cannot and must not pretend otherwise.

The campaign against smoking is hardly a model for that. The decline in smoking is not the same across the whole of societies. In those under most pressure the least. So I personally am not overly enamoured of ignoring this.

Carelessly adding more stigma to the already stigmatized is an abuse of power. If you can do nothing to help don't make things worse. Theses differences become a reason to further pathologize and discriminate against people who are even less shielded from the idea of themselves as lacking control. Invasive micromanagement of their lives is waved around.

If you wish to make inroads there, you need to meet the human need to be uplifted and enlightened. Reason must prevail, not the ceaseless indulgence of the food cults and their dubious beliefs.

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