Monday, January 11, 2010

Should Junk Food Be Outlawed?

I thought Mayor Bloomberg was the only one trying to legislate good health. Apparently, it's an idea that has really caught on in Europe. Der Spiegel reports on efforts in the European Union to promote better health through taxing unhealthy foods.

'The Spanish government wants to ban excessive trans fats, Denmark will soon be taxing sweets and in Romania, Health Minister Attila Cseke has said he would like to see a tax on unhealthy food.

In Germany, too, there are some in Berlin who would like to see a government offensive against girth. In a Monday interview with the Rheinische Post, Green Party floor leader Renate Künast wants to ban advertising for sweets aimed at children.

"Aggressive advertising campaigns aimed at children 12 years and younger should be forbidden," Künast told the paper. "Food commercials, which are mostly ads for sweets, should not be broadcast during children shows. We need a ban."

I have mixed emotions when I read about health legislation. Middle age has brought me high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. I am quite short for my weight. My brother in law told be that my weight would be perfect if I were seven feet five. Nice guy.

When I was hospitalised with extremely high sugar, I turned a lot around. I have switched to whole grains and turned away from sugar and white flour. I am far from my ideal weight but my doctor has complimented me on managing my sugar well enough that he might cut back on some of my medication.

My motivation to work on my health came from a gut level realisation that I am mortal. Turning away from chocolate chip cookies and beer is not a negative thing for me. It is a positive expression of my love for my family and a desire to enjoy many more years with them. When I see others enjoying the foods that I can not, I am happy for them.

Aside from my wife, there are others who have helped me. My local supermarket carries canned goods that are low salt. Hunts has a no salt added tomato sauce. They also carry some no salt added spaghetti sauces. My favourite is the Eden Organic line of canned vegetables. I have a can of Eden Organic black beans that has 30 milligrams of salt per serving. That is a tiny fraction of what regular canned beans go for. They also carry whole wheat wraps and a few other items that make my life easier.

I like eating in restaurants. The ones that tell me what is safe for me and what is not are my favourites. Jerusalem II in Flatbush has a low carb pizza that is okay if my pressure is under control and I feel I can get away with a little salt. Carlos and Gabby's is another kosher restaurant that will substitute a whole wheat wrap for regular bread in their burgers and sandwiches. Even though it takes a little extra effort, they gladly substitute a salad for french fries. That makes a major difference, because french fries really crank up my blood sugar.

Carlos and Gabbys and Jerusalem II both show the caring and flexibility that I need to be able to take care of my health needs within the parameters of their existing menus. No one from city hall is on their case. They make information available to guys like me who have to watch what we eat. I think that more restaurants should be like them and like Empire Kosher Supermarket. Additionally, I think that healthy menus

In New York city, I feel health legislation is a distraction from some serious problems such as crime and overpriced housing as well as drugs and gangs. I think that the same could be said of London, Paris and some German cities as well.

I think that there is a role for government in promoting healthy choices. Restaurants that have provisions for diabetic, hypertensive and customers suffering from high cholesterol should perhaps get tax breaks. Both Carlos and Gabbys and Jerusalem II have items that are "diabetic friendly", as well as items that I can get away with eating without cranking my blood pressure. There are a lot of details that could streamline the task of promoting healthy choices. Programming registers, doing up menus with notations to guide consumers are helpful. There are probably computerised ways to compute calories, salt, sugar and other things customers care about These provisions cost a business owner money to put in place and to maintain. Any costs related to promoting consumer health should be taken off corporate taxes. But twisting business owners arms with fines and punitive taxes is a bad idea.

There is an exhilarating feeling when one taps into wellsprings of motivation to make positive changes in one's life. Some people never discover such a pleasure. Others actually shorten their lives with the bad choices they make. Most of us are a mix of wisdom and short sightedness. Educate people. Make good choices available and market them. You will save some lives.

The public has really shifted its attitude towards tobacco. With the right combination of education and marketing, government involvement will be largely unnecessary.

When I gave up smoking and started eating better, (still too much) it was out of love for my family and the desire to enjoy many more healthy years with them. Such motivation can come only from oneself and the love of family. The last time I checked, love and familial concern have not yet been nationalised. Let's keep it that way. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: