Part One – Fooling All The People
Article by Beth Porter
Chapter Four: Killing the Children?
When respected English physician, broadcaster and father of two Dr. Chris van Tulleken discovers there are no reputable studies of the daily diets of British children, he uses himself as a guinea pig. And records it all for a TV documentary.
Van Tulleken’s area of expertise is infectious diseases at University College London. To monitor his self-study he consults his UCL colleague Professor Rachel Batterham, internationally lauded in the area of obesity and obesity-related diseases. She devises various metrics, including bodily organ function tests and a brain scan.
So begins van Tulleken’s month of only eating processed foods, [otherwise known as ‘junk food’] for every meal from breakfast to midnight snacks. He discovers manufactured foods are addictive, creating neural pathways to keep eating, hungry or not, and surprisingly similar to cravings for tobacco, alcohol, and abuse drugs.
When all the results are in and assessed, Batterham is not only shocked, questioning what she’s been feeding her own kids, but is so swayed by the evidence she pledges to apply for funding to study of the long term health effects of the diets of British children.
As part of van Tulleken’s study, he seeks the views of Tim Rycroft, former COO of the Food and Drink Federation and newly appointed Chief Executive of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Rycroft, a past master of P.R. speak, declares that the British food and drink retail sector has the welfare of its customers at its core. To deny people choice, he goes on, would be unfair in a democracy.
Let’s be super clear… when he says choice, he means cheap.
Then the doctor shows him the brain scans, the latest taken just before the meeting, with the pronouncement by Professor Batterham that just four weeks of his junk diet has re-aligned his neural pathways… and it might be permanent! Some choice!
What would that do to kids on a similar diet, asks van Tulleken? Doesn’t Rycroft agree it’s impossible to offer choice based on price and still protect children? What are your priorities, he asks Rycroft. And, on camera, Rycroft replies, “The priority is profit.” At least that’s no lie!
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