Turning Food Into A Fetish And A Sport

by DavalosMcCormack on July 15, 2010

What does it tell you about a society when people would prefer to take a drug to help fix a problem that they themselves created rather than change the habits that caused the problem in the first place,  particularly when that drug comes with some dangerous, even potentially deadly side effects.

That’s pretty much the situation we are looking at right now. The Food and Drug Administration is about to consider three new drugs to help people lose weight. The FDA is looking at the first one, Qnexa, today, and will take up the other two – Lorcaserin and Contrave – in the coming months.

New weight loss drug

Qnexa weight loss drug

Not so nice side effects

That’s the good news. Kind of. The bad news, is that while some studies show they can help obese people lose weight, they also come with some really rather unpleasant side effects. Such as death! I wish I were joking but Qnexa contains the same ingredient that was blamed for causing fatal heart valve problems in people who took the drug Fen-Phen – which led to it being pulled from the market in 1997. So why would we think it was any safer this time around?

Even if they are safe they aren’t very good. Studies done by the drug companies themselves show they only help people who are obese – and we are talking super fat folks here – lose 5 percent of their weight. Five percent. And you have to keep taking it to maintain that weight loss.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell. In a nation where almost two thirds of the people are overweight or obese we have given up trying to solve the problem by dealing with the cause – a crappy diet and lack of exercise – and instead turned to turned chemistry to come up with a quick fix.  The problem is, the drugs they come up with aren’t quick, and they aren’t a fix.

So why are we going down this path? Because while millions of people around the world are starving because of a lack of food, in America we have turned food into a fetish, even a sport. In short, we have stopped thinking of food as a basic necessity and turned it into a commodity, and like all commodities – such as fashion and music – it has become an end in itself.

Food on TV

Take for instance the plethora of TV channels whose sole purpose is promoting food. Fancy food, high priced food, even entire programs of people traveling the globe eating disgusting things just for the heck of it. And all this in a nation where fewer and fewer people actually cook, where most people just heat up pre-cooked food they bought from the freezer section at the supermarket.

Think about it. How often have you sat down at work with your co-workers, all of whom are munching on take-out lunch food, talking about cooking shows they watched the night before. Yeah, you know who you are!

Hot dog eating contest

Hot dog eating competition

Food as sport

And now we’re turning food into a sport. ESPN covers hot dog eating contests as if they were legitimate sporting events. These are competitions where people don’t even pretend to taste the food they’re shoving as fast as they can down their throat. The goal is not to enjoy as many hot dogs as possible, it’s simply to force as many into you as you can in a given period. Winner takes all. Including, presumably, pepto bismol.

No wonder we can’t lose weight. We have completely lost touch with the role of food in a healthy society.

Losing touch, gaining weight

In the past people used food as a way to celebrate important events – such as Thanksgiving. Food was a part of the celebration. Nowadays, the event is simply an excuse for us to overeat. Tailgate parties at ballgames. BBQs just because the sun is out. Cookies and donuts because it’s, well, Friday. Any event is an excuse to eat.

We have created a gap between us and the role of food. And the drug companies are happily filling in that space, hoping to cash in to the tune of billions of dollars.What’s even worse, is that they probably will.

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