Updated: Nov 24, 2020
It’s not your fault, but it is your problem, Part 1
It is 2019, and our health is not what we imagined as kids, running around unstoppable and untired. There may be a lack of mental agility, strength, speed, or simple vigor. Now we take pills for this thing, that thing, and some pills for reasons we forget.
The cause for this, mostly, is food poisoning. Not to mean Salmonella or E. Coli, but rather the accumulation of eating deleterious foods throughout the years and it finally taking its toll as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, high cholesterol, etcetera. This is certainly our problem, and it is our responsibility to solve it. However, the blame doesn’t fall on ourselves alone. We have been targeted from childhood to become hooked on these foods, and they are sold as healthy and fun.
Let’s briefly look at one example of food industry marketing, starting with a drink that I loved as a kid – Capri Sun. I loved grabbing an icy cold silver bag, ripping off the straw, stabbing the bag with it, then slurping it down as quickly as possible. It was called a fruit drink; therefore, it was just juice. What else could drinkable fruit be? Except that it wasn’t juice at all, and there really wasn’t any fruit in it. It contained only enough juice concentrate to allow the manufacturer to call it natural. Juice concentrate is what is left when juice has all the fiber, vitamins, and flavor removed from it until only the fructose remains. Sugary drinks like this have repeatedly been linked to childhood obesity. According to the CDC, 63% of children have at least one sugary beverage per day, and 20% have more than one. However, with juice concentrate, the manufacturer gets to write “All Natural” on the label. Capri Sun was forced into changing its label around 2007, but this trick is still being used elsewhere. Just recently, I was at Costco looking at fruit puree pouches for my kids, and the box had “all natural” displayed prominently on the packaging. However, looking at nutrition label I noticed “juice concentrate” high up in the ingredient list. That case went right back on the shelf because it didn’t contain the fiber and nutrients that I want my kids to get from their snacks. I’m sure that some well-meaning parent plopped that same case into their cart and smiled that their kids were getting a healthy snack. This kind of messaging is directed at parents to exploit the fact that parents strive to do what is best for their children.
However, it can be so hard to know what it means to choose what is best, especially when the packaging is designed to mislead us. At Beyond Medicine, we help make it easier to navigate this for parents and children.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll talk about the messaging targeting children.
Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss