I am constantly reading up on Human Health and the effects of any chosen lifestyle. A while ago, I came across this documentary which had my jaw dropping and made such an impact that I am not sure I will ever look at Food the same way again.
I think the hugest thing that you can take away from this documentary is the fact that the International Food Industries (almost all of which originate in North America) have been actively, aggressively, seeking and entering emerging economies where they can sell their “nutritionless” food products so that they can stay profitable. They are exporting obesity, quite diligently, to us and rather than wait to learn for ourselves, we can learn from what is happening in all the other countries they have penetrated.
They do not set up office here (going through the stress of operating in Nigeria) because they love you or even care about what happens to you after you get hooked on their snacks and food products – they do so to make sure that their companies stay profitable. And guess where the bulk of that money they make here goes. Hint: Not even into growing your own economy or developing the health sector which they make you need.
I know a lot of our folks watch/hear these things with a feeling of disconnection….they think that Nigeria is so far away from the clutches of the International Food Industries that they cannot be affected.
That is not true. Even in Oke-Arin market in Lagos Island, you can find food products from companies like Kraft, Danone, Heinz e.t.c. Note that I did not call them food. That is because, well they are not. Let us not even begin to get into the brands we now get at places like Shoprite
We also know that certain companies have had a big presence here for years: e.g. Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi and all those Indian-owned companies around Oshodi that make the
N10 snacks and biscuits sold by Mallams and in traffic. Let us not even get into the nightmare that is flavored milk, sold everywhere. Even our older industries are complicit, churning out food products like Gala which are very low in nutritional value but are sold “to satisfy hunger”.
It gets even worse, Nigeria is directly mentioned in this documentary. Not only as an emerging economy but as an emerging economy that is targeted by the International Food Industries and as such a place that is experiencing an increasing Obesity problem. Obesity is high in EVERY country that these companies are present in. There is a direct relationship. The documentary does not claim that there was no obesity before they came but there is an accelerated spike in the number of obese people.
Naturally, obesity comes with all its attendant problems: Type 2 Diabetes, Stroke, High Blood Pressure, Colon Cancer, Sleep Apnea, Infertility, High Cholesterol and even mental health conditions. Please note that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list.
To make matters worse, these illnesses and diseases are not cheap to cure. This is not like a mild form of malaria where you can buy your medicine on the cheap. So, look at it this way, you enrich the companies by buying their products then you impoverish yourself by seeking treatment.
As far as I know, Nigerian legislation or even regulation does not really protect you or I, so as with most things, we have to be our own regulators and educate ourselves about the things that are out there. To be fair, none of these companies can make you buy their food products. You choose to.
One more thing that I would like to point out is that this is something that concerns us all. To use myself as an example,
- I am at a healthy weight.
- I have worn the same dress size (UK10) for more than 10 years. Although I have gone through childbirth, my stomach is close to flat and if I squint, I can still see my stomach muscles :).
- I work out. As a matter of fact, I woke up at 0400hrs this morning and worked out.
- I watch what I eat.
- I do not drink soda, ever (Debola and Jide, stop trying to tempt me, lol ). I used to in Uni – even drinking about 3 bottles a day, now none at all.
With all these you would think that I should not worry at all about Obesity in Nigeria. However, I do. And you should too. Not only so that you can educate others like your children and extended family, but also so that you can also maintain a sense of vulnerability and be alert.
I very much encourage you to watch the video. It about an hour long and I know that our internet data plans restrict us in Nigeria but it is well worth it. It may well change your life or those of the people around you.