Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Diet deceit

We posh middle class folk like to think we eat much more healthily than those frightful working class oiks, but it's not true. We've been exposed as hypocrites and frauds.

New surveys* have revealed that well-off households have equally unhealthy diets and their children are actually more likely to be overweight or obese. So much for that little delusion of superiority.

We middle class types like to make out we're busy stuffing ourselves with fruit and vegetables and wholesome, unadulterated food untainted by heart-clogging nasties, but we're a load of charlatans.

We come on so virtuous and sensible, but on the quiet we ignore those impressive bowls of grapes and peaches displayed for our visitors and sneak into the cupboards for a few squishy cakes and ready meals.

We say screw virtuous, I'm pissed off, today's a shambles, nothing's going right and I'm going to eat that entire packet of luxury chocolate brownies because then I'll feel much, much better.

Or we think, I've spent all day eating sensibly, I'm crammed with stuff the experts approve of, now I'm entitled to relax and have something unhealthy, I've earnt it. Where's that box of raisin fudge?

Even if we manage to avoid these noxious titbits at home, we get offered them outside. All my relatives believe a cup of tea goes hand in hand with the best of the local bakery, decked out with as much cream, sugar, fat and icing as possible. A blanket refusal is of course the height of rudeness, so a few tactful mouthfuls have to be consumed.

So I'm hardly surprised by the revelations of hidden hypocrisy in those swish suburban avenues. There's many a grubby secret behind the fragrant net curtains. Dietary deceit is the least of them - but that's another story.

* International Journal of Obesity and Food Standards Agency (UK)

16 comments:

Medbh said...

This reminds me of all the recent blogging done on reports that blame working mothers in the middle class for producing obese kids because they eat take away or in restaurants instead of toiling in the kitchen all day. It's horseshit.
But you're right, Nick. Most people eat garbage. Just look in their carts at the market. White bread, soda, meat, snacks and frozen dinners.

Gaye said...

I recently borrowed a book and had a quick look as it sounded interesting, book on eating according to blood type... As I read the rules I began to feel that familiary disillusion-type feeling bout it all. Left the book where I found it. Every year they change the rules, carbs bad for you, oh no sorry now it's good for you. Fat no no no, oh by the way you need fat. Don't eat eggs, don't eat beef, eat lamb, need to eat eggs... Bla bla bla.Diet books, programs all part of marketing, trend-building and ultimately profit-making. I agree also most people eat garbage. It is also difficult to find non-garbage material though. Even when you buy vegetables, you then have to consider organic or .... And what should be natural and therefore cheaper, i.e. organic, is the most expensive. On another note, I could not live on fruits and vegetables alone. I also love chocolate! I am bad...

bye bye bellulah said...

I'm working class, does that automatically make me an oik?

I've been doing some background work for an MSc in Research in Psycholoy dissertation on the way health professionals (often m/c) view their patients with regard to whether they are w/c, m/c, normal weight or obese. Looking at the tools that are used to educate people and how far they are designed by and for professionals and how the w/c could be engaged more in fighting the fat/associated health risks.

I'm looking forward to doing the study because I don't think we'll get very far with improving poor health burdens as long as health professionals continue to go down the you're stupid and lazy that's why you're fat, just shake yourself and get on with it route.

Not saying that eating a bit less, and actual food rather than processed mush, and moving round a bit more doesn't work - it does, but that approach isn't working.
And I wonder if people are sick of being told what to do by authority figures? And being looked down on by people who think it's a moral failing? It's only a problem when it causes a problem, like driving cars. Potentially very dangerous, actually very dangerous.

Just stop treating the victims of car accidents or obesity, maybe? Or only the stupid w/c ones I bet, somehow the Us will all miraculously develop thyroid conditions or serious psychological problems, or some other excuse so they can continue to use the cover of money and civilised behaviour to hide the fact they are human too.

Nick said...

Goodness I've touched a nerve here!

Medbh - the London Independent discussed the IJO article's reference to working mums doing long hours and pointed out that the real issue was not whether they worked but what their children were being fed - and often that was up to a childminder not the mother.

Gaye - True, the rules keep changing so you don't always know what you should be eating. Perhaps everything in moderation is easier than following the latest expert dogma. I ate mountains of 'bad' food when I was a kid - fat, sugar, salt in whopping quantities, but it didn't do me any harm at all. How to explain that?

Bellulah - Definitely not an oik, smarter than many upper class twits I'm sure. You're right, the crude lectures on diet aren't working for numerous reasons - aversion to authority figures, scepticism about the message, self-indulgence, peer group pressure etc. I don't know what the solution is, but the number of overweight people is a serious health crisis.

Medbh said...

On the CBC radio today they had a story on the newly released study that found that if you hang around obese people you are more likely to be overweight yourself. Wow, fat people get so much shit.

Nick said...

Yes I read that as well. I think the real message there is not that plump people spread plumpness but that we are all prone to copy others. Though as one newspaper said, in that case why don't we all copy thin people? I suppose simply because it's harder work than tucking into a box of chocs.

bye bye bellulah said...

Maybe it's because thin people don't want to hang around with obese people because they find them embarassing to their own image or too whiney, so all fatter people end up having to hang around together for want of company.
Or that fatter people find thin people are too offensive towards them or just dull or feel inferior and keep themselves away. It might not just be a copying or behavioural influence thing?
I haven't seen the report so I don't know what it claimed.

Nick said...

But isn't the point that thin people are hanging around with fatter people and getting fatter themselves? So why is it only a one-way process? There's a missing piece in the jigsaw here.

Medbh said...

The study blames fat people for infecting the thin with their bad habits of overeating and underexercising. It's warning thin people away from them in a manner of blatant prejudice. I knew a guy years ago that Mr. M went to grad school with and he used to say that all the time to his wife, that they couldn't make friends with fat couples. He turned out to be a cheating pig who abused his wife, btw.

Gaye said...

I don't get it. Why can't it be the other way around? If a fat person hangs out with a thinner one, they might feel disgusted enough with themselves and copy the thin person, etc? I am just finding this hard to deal with, the only reason why anyone should have a problem with being fat or other people being fat is for health reasons, not for fekking looks or any other hang-up they might have (i.e. lack of self-discipline, self-control etc)... And it is stupid to associate skinny with health. There are so many bad role models for especially young girls, they not only starve themselves to look like them, but also many youngsters start smoking so they keep their weight low. Honestly, it is ridiculous that fat / overweight people should cop so much flack. When I put on weight, it kills me not because I worry about what i look like, rather because I feel less mobile; have less energy and feel fatigue. Of course it goes hand in hand with lack of exercise. I find I eat crap food when I am depressed or stressed. It's another great topic for debate Nick. Thank you.

Nick said...

Medbh - dictating to your wife who to make friends with is pretty outrageous. I assume she left him after the cheating episode?

Gaye - yes, agree the only problem with being fat is the health issue. Likewise being too thin. But I'm shocked by these groups that actually celebrate being fat or being too thin as if the health issue doesn't exist.

Gaye said...

Oh yea, absolutely shocking I agree. Sometimes I am amazed how people can be so oblivious to that which is blatantly obvious.

EmmaK said...

I don't know if it's even that the middle classes are secretly eating greasy bacon and lard sandwiches, the reality which no one wants to touch on, is that if you eat too much of anything, apart from maybe lettuce you will put on weight. If you pig out on organic wholewheat bread and cheese made by Portuguese peasants you are still going to be as fat as the chavs who live on McDonalds.

Nick said...

True enough, Emma. Trouble is there's such an incredible range of mouth-watering food about these days, we're all tempted to eat more than we need. That's probably why people were a healthier size in the days when all you could get was porridge and turnips.

Gaye said...

People lived shorter, had loads of health problems and were still fat even when there weren't processed yummy foods anyways. Like Emma said organic potatoes, pasta, and beautiful gourmet style cheeses, or a big fat cow on a large skewer will still get you fat if eaten in large quantities. The problem is what makes anything yummy is the fat (butter, cream, etc) sugar and salt content in it. Take out the evil 3 and everything tastes more bland than ever. I am hungry, haven't had breakfast yet. Oh, I just thought, another reason for being fat and therefore unhealthy is eating infrequently as well as huge portions and skipping breakfasts and having huge late dinners, as well as eating crap, which most people seem to be doing at this age of modern rat race style life.

Nick said...

Agreed, people were just as likely to be unhealthy and fat in the days of traditional British food. Of course some of the poor health was due to the atrocious living and working conditions they had to put up with in those days. But still you've got a point, irregular eating and harmful ingredients will clobber you however organic and farm-fresh and gourmet the stuff on your plate.