We Are What We Eat

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The article discusses the long-term negative impact of watching television on the diet of American adults and provides advice on encouraging teenagers to eat healthy. This article is relevant to my project on proposing ways to combat obesity in Singapore as it highlights an important but possibly neglected causal factor for unhealthy eating habits – TV-watching. As young Singaporeans are exposed to television shows and media sources just as American teenagers are, findings on their negative influence should be seriously considered for my project.

As the article was published recently on Jan 30 2009, the information is up-to-date. The author uses interview excerpts from professionals – Frederick J. Zimmerman from the Child Health Institute and Kimberly M. Thompson from the Harvard School of Public Health. Both institutes are highly reputable and influential in American health matters. Thus, they have the responsibility of presenting accurate information to the public.

In the article, Zimmerman states that heavy TV viewing, especially of food advertising makes a difference to children’s diets. I agree, as advertisements have the cumulative effect of portraying unhealthy food as desirable and this undermines efforts to encourage a healthy lifestyle. This potentially explains the result in a recent study by a Canadian medical publication where physical fitness programmes in schools do not appear to combat obesity . Such advertising promotes food that goes against recommended dietary requirements and in the case of Singapore, the negative trend presents an obstacle to the success of Health Education, Trim and Fit and other comprehensive wellness programmes in school. Furthermore, a report from UK’s Sustain, an alliance of campaigners for better food and farming, suggests that up to 90% of food advertisements shown during children’s commercial TV programming are products high in fat, sugar or salt. It is apparent that junk food advertisements are largely targeted...
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