Crack is whack!
Maybe some of you are familiar with that phrase, coined by Whitney Houston back in 2002. Now, according to a growing body of research by respected medical and government scientists, we need to come up with something similar for processed foods. I did some quick brainstorming and came up with:
“Chips are the pits!”
“Twinkies are for dinkies!”
“Refined flour makes you sour!”
I’m sure I could do much better if I had a little more time.
Why do we need a catchy slogan disparaging processed foods, you ask? Because according to this article in the Sunday Denver Post, sugary drinks and foods can, “hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.” “Hijack.” Love that word.
So off to cupcake rehab I go.
As someone who freely admits to sugar demons, I could have told all of those scientists the same thing a looonnnnggg time ago. The way all of that frostingy goodness goes to your head is not normal. It takes hold of your thoughts and tortures you until you just can’t stand it, ahhhhh. I’ve never smoked, (or done cocaine!), but I imagine it really isn’t all that different. And apparently, science is starting to back me up.
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.” And as the article states, “brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.”
So what do we do with this information? What really strikes me is this statement by Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation: “This could change the legal landscape. People knew for a long time that cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.”
Intentional manipulation. That’s a scary, and–it seems more and more–startlingly likely description of what the food industry is doing to us, and more importantly, our children. After all, companies such as Pepsi-Co are in the business of selling us the sugary, refined foods we crave. In fact, 80 percent of that company’s marketing dollars are spent on coercing us into eating their chips, cookies and soda. Of course they’re intentionally manipulating us. But to what degree? That remains to be seen, but I think the legal, regulatory and health implications are huge, possibly resulting in sweeping changes to what food is allowed in schools and government offices, just as a start.
What do you think, readers? Do you want the government telling you what you can and can’t eat? I spend a lot of time thinking about these issues, particularly how they impact my kids, and I have to say, I would welcome more regulation of processed foods. I just don’t see another way out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into as a nation.