I had already written a post about taste in the Twilight Zone, but a lot of people asked me to follow up on the spectrum and fertility articles. What about the children?
Adults are achieving more chronic degenerative disease than ever before, thanks to our degenerate diets and lifestyles. But what about the children, indeed? Unsurprisingly, they’re sick too. Over the last 3 decades chronic health conditions in the young have hugely increased. They now affect roughly 1 in 3 children (1-3); 1 unfortunate child in 20 has multiple chronic conditions (4).
Asthma, eczema and neurodevelopmental syndromes such as ADD, ADHD and dyslexia, referred to in the last post, are in the lead (5-7). Migraine is becoming popular (4). Hypertension, long considered to be an illness of middle and old age, now affects over 5% of children and over 10% of obese children (8, 9). Since 2002, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have risen by 25% and 50% respectively (10).
One common driver of all these conditions is chronic inflammatory stress. This is amplified by obesity which is, in all senses, off the scale.
20% of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are clinically obese (11). The above stats refer to the USA, but the situation in the UK is similar (12). Our kids face a deeply unhealthy future; for example, up to 2/3 of obese children are so metabolically skewed that along with diabetes and hypertension, they also have non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (13).
You can’t really blame the kids.
They are metabolically challenged by endocrine-disrupting pollutants that we discard into the environment, which prime them for weight gain (14). They are programmed for weight gain before birth, via maternal dysnutrition (15-21). Social media have displaced many forms of physical activity. And they are surrounded by toxic, ultra-processed, quasi-addictive garbage masquerading as food.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, breakfast cereals and yoghurts, salty snacks, sweet and sour confectionery … our children are drowning in unhealthy food options. Fortunately, our politicians can be counted on to make all the right noises.
In 2020, for example, the UK government put out a report with the stirring title ‘Tackling Obesity: Empowering Adults and Children to Live Healthier Lives”. It will gather dust in Whitehall filing cabinets, next to 2019’s ‘Time to Solve Childhood Obesity’, 2006’s ‘Tackling Childhood Obesity – First Steps’, 2003’s ‘Childhood Obesity’ and other similar reports.
They have all been ineffective (22-25). They make the same old same old recommendations. Most of them are never acted on anyway.
Reduce fast-food outlets near schools. Reduce portion sizes. Reduce sugar in foods and soft drinks … but do not reduce the food industry’s accounting loopholes and governmental subsidies, which enable them to sell ultra-processed foods 60% cheaper than basic produce (26). Do not reduce their ability to place product in children’s TV programs and social media and warp our vulnerable children’s minds and food preferences (27, 28). Do not, whatever you do, reduce their profits.
Welcome to the age of corporatism.
The public largely understands that the problem is a structural one, and believe it is the government’s responsibility to tackle childhood obesity (29). But when you read the government’s vapid posturing (‘We must allow children to grow up free from marketing, signals and incentives to consume unhealthy foods and drinks’), you can see that politicians, many of whom are in the pockets of industrial lobbying groups, will never support any meaningful action.
There will be no cavalry charge over the hill, from the left or from the right.
If we care for our kids, we have to do it ourselves. Children need to grow up free from ultra-processed foods and free from the marketing of such foods, because ultra-processed food is the new tobacco. The modern diet, which contains increasing amounts of ultra-processed food, kills more people than tobacco (30).
The use of insidiously effective cartoon media characters to promote high-sugar breakfast cereals and other unhealthy foods to children (31, 32) should be banned. The advertising and sale of ultra-processed food to children in general, should be banned. The use of bliss-point research to design quasi-addictive foods (33-36) should be banned.
Our children, who we want to see grow and blossom, will never achieve their true potential when they grow in such poor soil. So ban everything! Or persuade (or force) the multinational food companies to re-engineer their ultra-processed foods to make them healthy – which is technically quite easy to do.
In the meantime, there is evidence that encouraging our children to eat a less ultra-processed diet will undo much of the harm (37-38). The traditional herb Caralluma fimbriata can be very helpful in reducing appetite (39, 40). The validated extract is Slimaluma (41).
Exercise or other strategies that activate AMP-Kinase provides synergy (42, 43) – so persuade Joe and Joanna to participate in some kind of sporting activity. For children who can’t or won’t exercise, the traditional herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum mimics most of the effects of exercise (44, 45) including weight loss (45, 46). The validated extract is ActivAMP (47).
Our children could be leaner, stronger, happier (48), smarter (49-51) and healthier in every way. With a little help.
Next week: How to acquire good taste; a cookbook for humans.
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