Time to consider junk food controls

As if we needed one, yet another study has been conducted on the availability of junk food and what effects it has on making people fat.

As if we needed one, yet another study has been conducted on the availability of junk food and what effects it has on making people fat.

The new study, conducted by scientists at the University of Western Ontario, yielded results that hint towards what common sense should already tell us – people who live in neighbourhoods with a high density of fast-food restaurants are more likely to be fat.

It makes sense really.

If people have fast, convenient, cheap food readily available, they are more likely to eat that then spend time and effort making healthier meals themselves.

Availability of junk food and obesity have been linked before. In January, a study by Harvard University suggested that those in low-income neighbourhoods are more likely to be and stay obese.

The rationale behind the Harvard study was that these neighbourhoods are populated with people who often lack transport and the means to do their grocery shopping at supermarkets in commercial areas and other stores that offer healthier fare.

Instead, they do their shopping at convenience and corner stores, which are usually full of less healthy foods.

It’s fair to say, in our opinion, that we have reached a point in our society where we can agree that obesity is a problem and that the availability and the cheap cost of junk foods are substantial contributing factors to that problem.

But, somehow, we have not yet reached a point where we agree that controls need to be put in place to manage the availability of junk food in an effort to combat the problem of obesity.

Smoking is another trend that society agreed long ago was unhealthy.

Today, to discourage and prevent people from smoking, developing health concerns and taxing the healthcare system, there exist a number of controls regarding the sale, advertisement and consumption of tobacco products.

Why haven’t similar controls been placed on junk food?

It’s not for lack of ideas. Some suggested controls for junk food that have been proposed include a junk food tax and restrictions on fast-food advertisements.

Not only have such controls on junk food been proposed, but programs and campaigns to promote healthier food choices have been suggested as well.

Lowering the prices of things like fresh fruits and vegetables as well as running informational campaigns aimed at educating people on preparing healthier meals would also go a long way to getting Canadians thinner and fitter.

Research and studies such as these are only valuable if something is done with the information obtained by them. Obesity already costs the Canadian healthcare system an estimated $4 billion to $7 billion. It’s time to stop researching and start doing.