The sated body

untitledBack in the fifties people ate when hungry. Now we eat to pass the time and make our lives bearable… A terrible ennui has settled on our lives. Where does it come from?

Relentlessly our jaws move up and down mastication huge portions of salt/fat encrusted nuggets or swallowing sugary slurpies. When the backlog of this food overflows back up into our throats, only then we chuck it out but… before long we again start the process of queuing at the take-away, obediently assuaging the commercial captains of take-a-way empires… and so it goes on, day after day. Relentless endless chewing, it passes the time.

According to the statistics, about half of the world goes hungry and yet half of the world’s food production of 4 billion tonnes a year gets thrown out. It doesn’t make for cheerful reading and what makes it even less cheerful is that even though half the world goes hungry and is malnourished, the same goes for the other half. They are just bigger but also undernourished. Overfed but undernourished. It’s a neck on neck race between the underfed and overfed. One wishes that each party would meet half way and make for a better and healthier world for all.

The above article by Dr Margaret Chan, of WHO and Director General writes: “In many cases, highly processed foods are the cheapest and most convenient way to fill an empty stomach. The world certainly needs to feed its nearly 7 billion inhabitants. But we do not need to feed them junk food,” she said.
“In the absence of urgent action, the rising financial burden of these diseases will reach levels that are beyond the capacity of even the wealthiest countries in the world to cope.”

It makes for grim reading.

It seems that finally the issue of junk food might have to be tackled the same as smoking. Is it not really a furphy to say that our choice in eating and food ought to be left alone and that education on good dietary habits will sort it all out? It hasn’t worked so far and the problem is getting worse.

The might of the multi corporate are no match for the mums and dads flat out fighting the television advertisements urging kids to eat coco pops for breakfasts and Big Macs for the rest of the week gurgled down by 3 litres Coke bottles. They win out no matter what. I noticed the logos of Big Macs appearing on public school sport uniforms during school sport. Amazing! For the big boys the football fields are festooned by huge alcohol advertisements. Sport and alcohol together with Big Macs, surely they are an oxymoron?

In Australia cigarettes are now only legally sold behind closed cupboard doors and without their brands allowed to be recognizable by packaging. So all cigarette packaging look the same with warnings of dire consequences on the outside still very prominent. Laws are in place where smoking outside on cafe and restaurant terraces is permitted in special designated tables away from the general areas. Smokers are nervous and looking decidedly forlorn and lonely, some stifling sobs and moans. Many feel they are looked upon as the pariahs of society. Jails in the NT are stopping the sale of tobacco and cigarettes but prisoners are given patches for those that ask for them. It’s going to be a tense time with guards on the alert.

Experts reckon that obesity is a worse problem than smoking, so…does it not follow that similar actions to smoking will finally be taken against junk food? It stands to reason. Does it not?

When we were young and skinny, food was what one ate to relieve hunger. A piece of cake or cordial drink was for birthdays, special celebrations or Christmas. Now youngsters walk around with a Coke in one hand and an I/Pod in the other. If a whim takes them they cheerfully chuck half a full bottle of coke in the park and no one blinks. I don’t see hordes of thirsty people going for that bottle nestling itself between the gnarled roots of an old oak tree. What used to be a reward or something to really look forward to is accepted as being the norm and for every day. They yawn as the Big Mac quarter pounder is chomped down into an already sated body.

Will they ever find the errors of their choices? “If thou wilt needs damn thyself” of Othello springs to mind. It’s not love though that they seek; it’s just junk food and it is a killer.

With the heavy rain of late, our creek at the back of our town is flooding but it has flotsam of take away food containers forming a dam across the water together with polystyrene shopping bags. Sooner or later this dam will break and a stormwater will finally take it all to the big river and then into the ocean.
In the meantime half the world goes hungry.
It is unfair.

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19 Responses to “The sated body”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Drats Gerard! I had a long comment re” what I call the obesity factor from eating all that junk food and over eating. (It accidently erased when the cord come out of my laptop). Obesity is everywhere. Even the affluent it seems are prone to overeating and lack of exercise. I do not understand what Is in the minds of people. I see the young and obese in the grocery store riding around sitting in an E-cart to grab more junk food off the shelves. They are so overweight that someone must get the items off the shelf. I also note facial expressions. Most of them look as if they are mad at the world. The other ones look as if they are happy has a lark. I figure that the sight of food makes them giddy.

    World hunger is such an immense issue and I don’t see a lot of hope for resolution. We in develped countries take food for granted and people that have money to buy food do not care about the starving children of the world or in the city where they live.

    I wish I knew the answer but I am fairly certain that at some point if governents do not put some form of population control into place then we all might be struggling to stave off hunger. Over population is the root of many things. From crime to wars. Too many people is the same as the overcrowding of animals. Somebody is going to be pushed from the trough or bullied unitl they retreat into a corner. That is what is happening to the poor and downtrodden.

    I liked this post a lot.



    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Good reply Yvonne,
      When the cost of obesity exceeds the profits by the large multi- corporates I think governments will act the same as they did with cigarettes. In England they are going to give food ratings and will raise taxes on junk food-snacks etc.
      An airline here is thinking on pricing flight tickets on peoples weight. We already get charged for over-weight luggage.
      Our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ is miffed as the torrential rain isn’t conducive for us to go and take him to town along the swollen creek behind our town-house.


  2. Patti Kuche Says:

    Big appetites, bigger profits. I guess we shall have to wait until we run out of water for the problem to be seriously addressed . . ..


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      At the moment it is raining as never before, buckets and containers are overflowing as we are holed up behind our windows looking at sheets of water falling from a leaden sky. Any good pictures coming?


  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Gerard I hope and pray that you remain safe from flooding and danger. Do be careful and do not leave your house lest you be caught in water that over takes your vehicle and washes you away. People try to drive over low water crossing here in central Texas and lose their life when thinkiing they are safe.

    Thanks for the nice reply to my comment. I surely hope that what you have written is the beginning of reducing (no pun intended 🙂 the problem. 🙂


  4. Andrew Says:

    Gerard, you do pick the biggest of problems don’t you! I don’t know what the solution is but the problem is plain enough to see here too. Locally we are also having a huge campaign to stop the irresponsible disposal of the packaging that goes with all the junk food. The main culprit though is the ubiquitous plastic bottle. Our once pristine beaches are now strewn with them. One camp says “the government should clear it up” the sensible people say “tackle the problem at source – don’t allow people to throw their trash away as they do”. We are in a society now that consumes without consideration of the consequences. The health consequences are inevitable. Perhaps legislation would work but that would require bold action by politicians. I suspect any uproar that came from the smokers would be dwarfed by the Big Mac crowd. Most things are ok in moderation but the barrage of advertising is unending. Still, advertising for cigarettes and alcohol is largely banned so maybe fast food will be next. I’ll drink to that.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A deposit on plastic bottles would be an answer to litter. Even a couple of cents and kids would go out and top up pocket money. Obesity is even more serious. I think it will follow similar health concerns that smoking caused.
      I thought that the HK crowd was really pollution conscious. Funny how we seem to hold other places in higher regards. Next you’ll tell me Hong Kong likes Big Macs more than Chinese noodles with a lovely sautéed fish dish. 🙂


      • Andrew Says:

        Some pockets of HK are pollution conscious, Gerard, but sadly not those who are in positions of power. They pay lip service. All mouth and no trousers. We went shopping today and passed a food court. You guessed it – the Golden Arches was stuffed to the gills with people cramming in soft, mushy cardboard masquerading as “fast food”. You can of course buy very good Chinese food but alas the evil empire lures young and old with cheap prices. On the bright side we spent 10 days in Cambodia recently and concluded it remains a Big Mac free zone. Let’s all move to Phnom Penh.


  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Gerard you do hit the nail on the head don’t you? Shamefully it is many time the overweight who drift in and out of the ice cream shops, fast food places, etc. I watched a rather large woman who wouldn’t even fit on her chair cheerfully order and gobble a large chocolate sundae. They are driving medical costs up for all of us with their problems stemming from eating. On a flight from Los Angeles last week, a very large couple about 60 years old squeezed in beside me. The lady could have used two seats on the plane. I don’t know what the answer is. Higher insurance costs? Raising the price of cigarettes didn’t stop dedicated smokers from buying them, so maybe the overweight would rather pay higher insurance than give up their calories?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A local airline in Australia is considering charging passengers by weight. It makes sense because having excess luggage is charged as well. How to do it though? Can you imagine being weighed in before boarding? Those overweight, ‘ to the left’, those ‘normal’, ‘to the right’. The overweight are given wider seats at the back, closer to the toilets etc.
      The future costs of fast/junk food will finally have to be sheeted home to the manufacturers. Choice by the consumers does not work as consumers seem to be powerless to resist the ads etc. Anyway, thank you for your input Sweetkayti.


  6. Office Diva Says:

    Now I’m just depressed and am searching the cupboards for a cupcake to make it all better. This is a very well-written piece. I work in a healthcare office where we see the end result of poor dietary choices (let’s not talk about what I sinfully ate for lunch today, in *ahem* a bit of a hurry. Forgive me). But I do know better, and am past the age when my body can handle the load of toxins. Time to clean up. Thank you for inspiring me—-once again, a well written commentary on the gluttony in our society. People are just trying to fill the holes in their lives, really. That’s what it boils down to (no pun intended). Mahalo.
    PS – Thank you for improving my vocabulary; I had to look up furphy. Now I have a new word to spring on some unsuspecting Texans. *smile*


  7. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you Diva,
    I am not a glutton for cup cakes, more of a salami and raw herring man. In a carnivorous shopping center about 80 km from here an enterprising soul sells all sorts of take away stuff including mugs full of salt pork crackling. I saw a large woman buy two of those. She calmly sat down and ate the lot with a large bottle of coke to wash it all down. She looked so happy!
    ps. I had fish and chips.


  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    We drive to Half Moon Bay (an hour or so away) frequently just for the fish and chips! When in London, there is a particular pub we like which serves really good ones too along with very good beer. Bad I know, but at 85 I deserve it! However my granddaughter who lives in London on occasion, prefers a white tablecloth atmosphere with good wine! But what do the young know? Seriously, they didn’t used to even package the kind of “stuff” they put out now. We moved to Connecticut when I was 10 and lived in an apartment over a small mom and pop grocery. Their children got to drink bottled pop! Unheard of in my family. The first time I drank an Orange Crush I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It would have been saved as a very special treat for us.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, fish and chips are often worth a long drive. It used to be wrapped in newspaper and this gave it a special unforgettable bouquet that somehow still lingers fondly in my memory.
      Today I would not have my fish&chips come within a mile of newspaper. If you are reading this Mr. R. Murdoch. Shame on you! See what you have done?


  9. Dejan Says:

    Both my grandfathers were overweight / obese and neither certainly fit your “obese person’s profile” described in the blog. They just liked to eat, that is when they had food, which was not always the case. Both have experienced periods of famine and one even had his health ruined for life in the German “work camp” during the 2nd WW. I remember once reading an opinion on the fashion of dieting from the mouth of a former concentration camp victim. He thought that all people who deliberately go hungry for looks or “health” are not quite right in their heads. (This is from memory, he might have not used those words).

    What I want to say is… While I recognise the obesity problem particularly among the young (and I shudder at the sight of a whole bunch of school kids eating high calorie meals at a fast food restaurant, like I saw yesterday), likewise I am not at all delighted with the fitness/health hysteria and the multibillion dollar industry that goes with that. I wonder could we not strike a balance, and enjoy our food while we have it, and also learn to love our bodies the way that they are without having to look like those darned “celebrities”. I also don’t think that there is a direct analogy between tobacco and food, as there is no safe level of smoking, while certainly that applies to food (and even to alcoholic beverages).


  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thanks for your input.I agree that there are those desperate to fit the ‘ideal’ body image and go through all sorts of costly unhealthy diets or starvation to achieve this. In fashion magazines I was shocked to see how some looked indeed as having just come from a WW2 concentration camp, except for the fashion items clinging to their skin and bones frames.
    I am sorry if the piece came across as being intolerant of differences in body shapes. I am wholeheartedly in favour of enjoying food and also know that some can eat their hearts out on everything without putting on weight while other can get chubby on just thinking about a biscuit. Genetic factors play a huge role in that.
    The problem of obesity is a serious health issue which has only arisen since the advent of fast food which is generally also regarded by many experts on health as ‘junk food’.
    I agree that the fitness industry is ludicrous when the promise is on ‘weight-loss’. By and large it doesn’t seem to work and if done for weight loss many resort to previous weight when they stop using the rowing or cycling equipment. A good hour long walk daily would probably achieve the same
    I lose weight just looking at the enormous rocket like equipment that is now being sold. Massive flywheels and huge rowing equipment that is so intimidating it would not look out of place in an open cut iron ore mine in the Kimberleys.
    Anyway, I enjoy food and wine in moderation or even in excess sometimes but I keep fit, walk, cycle, swim and play plenty of outdoor chess.


  11. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Diet with some form of exercise is useless. Walking a dog is the best exercise out there! Better yet, chase a frisky JRT around for awhile and I guarantee you can eat all you want! Just not junk food and milkshakes! We all know people who seem to be on a “diet” constantly and still don’t get it.


  12. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Another similar point of view, but not so similar.

    I wrote about the UN and food on world environment day.

    The western world consumes too much meat, which in turn consumes too much ground and too much water. How difficult is that to understand?

    How difficult is it to understand that food production of whatever type (ready/made, junk food or meat) is serious money?

    I’ve been borderline BMI far too skinny for most of my life and have finally flipped the line although am probably less fit now than ever. Delete ‘probably’. BMI is a variable guideline at best.

    When I worked in the health service a colleague wanted us to prioritise obesity as a problem that we needed to provide surgery for. I’m not into discrimination of any type but using public funds to cut people up because they were overweight didn’t seem fair compared with spending on cancer services, cardiovascular services, mental health services, older peoples services etc etc.

    There is an easy solution. Ban crap food and tell people to learn how to cook. I don’t think big business would like that.


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