The Food Advertising Problem
Food commercials typically capitalise on our desires and use our insecurities as well as sophisticated marketing techniques to persuade us to buy their products.
We see this in the fashion industry from companies who advertise zero-size clothing through to the car industry, alcohol, meat, and the list goes on.
They often target children or adults who have an addictive personality so they can sell their products more easily.
In the case of junk food, this can lead to obesity, diabetes and eating disorders.
The Health Survey for England 2017 estimates that 28.7% of adults in England are obese and a further 35.6% are overweight. Every. Third. Person. Statistically, this could mean that someone in your family is overweight or even obese.
Research carried out by BEAT, an eating disorders charity in the UK estimates that more than 725,000 people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder, but others put the number as high as 1.6 million. But many sufferers do not seek help, so it is likely that the real number is even higher.
The solution seems so simple: if you have anorexia, eat more and gain weight. If you binge eat, just eat less.
Then you see this:
Not long ago Oatly came out with its new ice cream. If you don’t know, Oatly is a Swedish company who makes milk alternatives like oat milk, yoghurt and ice cream. And they are advertising everywhere.
On social media, on walls, even in gyms.
Yep. they advertise an ice cream in a gym, not a low calorie, or high protein, less sugar version. A regular junk food. Well, there is no milk in it, it’s plant-based which is nice, but still, let’s be clear, it’s junk food, and they aren’t trying to hide this. They advertise it as a non-healthy product, and they don’t try to sugarcoat it, they say: hey look this is what it is, a non-dairy ice cream and it tastes good. They often have funny slogans like it’s milk, but made for humans.
And I guess they were trying to be funny when they wrote this as well, but no, this is not funny.
Let me paint a theoretical scenario here:
The patient goes to the doctor with chest pain. On screening, the doctor asks: do you smoke?
The patient says: no (whilst the truth is the patient is a chain-smoker).
So the doctor trying to figure out what is causing the chest pain, ordering more tests.
If your doctor knows you smoke, they can recommend further screenings and evaluations, and assign a more precise schedule of check-ups to catch smoking-related diseases, such as cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and heart disease.
People are afraid to tell their doctors the truth because of the social stigma surrounding cigarette use, and because they’re afraid to admit to themselves that they’re engaging in an extremely risky health habit. What’s more, patients may be hiding their habit from their families (who often share a GP) or their employers. Which brings us back to eating disorders.
Many people in commercial gyms want to lose weight. And yes, there is a small percentage who wants to improve performance, gain muscle and\or strength, be more flexible, but 80% are unfit with higher body fat percentage than the healthy range. Even fit individuals feel guilty after a cheat meal, a birthday cake or a party weekend.
And this is especially true for many of those who hire a personal trainer.
If someone wants to change their lifestyle, being honest to themselves is the starting point.
Being honest to the people who are trying to help them is the best they can do to make the first step of their journey.
During my consultations, I ask 3 things:
What is your training background
Have you had any injuries
What does your diet/eating habits look like?
I design a training programme based on that information. If my client fails to mention an old injury, it can lead to more injuries.
If the goal is weight loss, then quality nutrition is the most important aspect. A beginner cannot train intensely that they burn enough calories to ignite fat loss. But switching from junk food to healthier alternatives can save hundreds of calories.
Most of my clients write a food diary, and I check it every day. This is not for everyone, but even those who don’t track calories can openly tell me during the sessions what they have been eating.
People avoid telling their doctors/teachers/trainers the truth. People are afraid of being judged. Advertisements like this can create more confusion, more anxiety - and these things can lead to eating disorders, depression and other mental health issues.
This post isn’t about junk food. Eat ice cream, pizza or cakes if you want, just be honest with yourself and with people who are trying to help. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty. We’re here to help. Just make sure you tell to your personal trainer.
My name is Coach Gergo, hope you enjoyed the content of my post.
I’ll catch you on the next one.