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Don’t Blame Coke or Fast Food for Obesity

There is a recent protest going on because a number of parties are angry that Coke is sponsoring an established website, familydoctor.org. Concerns rose because Coke, soda, McDonalds, and a host of other fast food have been blamed for the rising in obesity pandemic on developed countries.

While I agree that taking too much sodas and fast food directly contributes to an expanding waistline and development of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis, I beg to differ that these are the necessary evils.

Yes, having a trusted health website being funded by Coca Cola appears to be a conflict of interest. But look at it from another angle- these funds can contribute to further improvement of the site, and provide the much needed research funds required to come out with more findings. Every site and blog’s got to survive- and we all have to have sponsors since not everyone is a book writer and can earn a comfortable living from royalties of a best-selling book.

I’ve been there. In 2007, this blog started as my personal journey to beat sugar addiction. I had thought sugar was bad, and it was evil- I am bad mood, suffered from constant food cravings and unable to lose weight because of it. So I cut down sugar in my life- despite having a naturally sweet tooth. But it did little to change my life- because the problem is with my willpower. And the lack of willpower was because I was running away from myself, and not willing to face up to some inner issues and conflicts. But it was not doing me much good- because all I did most of the time is to scrutinize labels in supermarkets and limit the food I can take- which is tough because I come from a nation where carbohydrates have been the stable diet in the culture and tradition. It’s stressful to look at sugar content in the food labels and deprive yourself totally from the food that you love while everyone around you is enjoying it. It’s not emotionally healthy to develop some inner resentment when others are happily gulping down food that are in your ‘forbidden list’. This not only goes for those who are on a no sugar diet, but on high protein, organic, no-fat, or other diets that cuts off major or common food groups.

Unless you can say honestly vouch that you are perfectly fine, that you are cool if others do not follow your advocated diet, and that you’re not ‘bad’ if you slipped up- else, it can make you more uptight, stressed and basically, not a fun person to be around. For yourself personally, there’s more inner stress and unhappiness- even though you may have a nicer figure but it cannot get rid of cynical show-tell lines on your face. All these stress can lead to illnesses like cancer- that explains why health buff gets cancer and high cholesterol despite doing ‘everything right’.

There are factors that make a person overeat- and it is often due to some unresolved or unaddressed issues. Everyone knows that sodas, cigarettes, fast food and junk food are bad for health if taken excessively.  And yet people chose to be addicted- for reasons that only they themselves knew.

In Malaysia, it is mandatory that cigarettes company print out real pictures of pus and damage due to smoking such as giving birth to a baby with health problem, throat and lung cancer (yes, the gory pictures are being shown on the package itself). Not only that, Dunhill, Malboro and other cigarettes companies are prohibited by the law to sponsor any main events or even publish any advertisement on the papers and billboards. Cigarettes are very expensive too. And these companies have to pay a ridiculous high amount of tax to the government. With all these deterrents, you would have thought that the number of smokers would drop drastically and the number of people with lung cancer will reduce- well, it dropped just a little because of the price. But the gory pictures never put the smokers off because they knew they stand a much higher risk of getting lung cancer- yet they are not able to kick their tobacco addiction- probably because of inner issues.

When I was travelling, I drank Coke because it helps to relieve heat in the body. It can relieve cough and fever if taken correctly (I would write about this in future articles). Coke has come to the rescue a few times when I was far away from home and sick with a fever or coming down with a cough. Thai people absolutely love Coca Cola and Pepsi- it’s difficult to find any restaurant or drinks store (market, roadside, high end) place in Thailand that do not have Coke or Pepsi. And yet they do not suffer from the host of health conditions and obesity that Americans seems to face.

In my opinion, the best would be to look within. It takes courage but facing your inner demons a little at a time will break you from lifelong self-defeating habits that can bring you discontentment and unhappiness. Don’t blame the Coke or fast food. Don’t blame money for ruining our lives- these are all lifeless objects. It’s how we consume or use them that destroys us.

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