India is experiencing some of the worst air pollution in the world right now.
Delhi doctors declare pollution emergency as smog chokes city, The Guardian, 7 November 2017
A 2015 study showed about half the Indian capital’s 4.4 million schoolchildren had compromised lung capacity and would never totally recover.
We don’t blame people for getting sick from breathing polluted air, but we blame them for getting sick from eating junk food. They make bad choices, we say. Right? No, I don’t see the difference between these two. In both, people are living in toxic environments. Just as air pollution is a public health emergency, so food pollution is a public health emergency.
It’s easy to see the link between air pollution and disease, less so the link between our food environment and disease. But everywhere (as with polluted air) there is junk food, food we are better off not eating – at schools, malls, restaurants, grocery stores, bodegas, street vendors, cafeterias, nursing homes. Marketing is so effective you almost cannot make it through a day without exposure to advertisements that exhort us to eat this stuff. There is peer pressure, family pressure, work pressure, social pressure. If there’s a function, there’s a cake. Am I right?
Look at this:
[Research published online July 2, 2012] by the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, found that people who consume fast food even once a week increase their risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 20 percent in comparison to people who avoid fast food. For people eating fast food two-three times each week, the risk increases by 50 percent, and the risk climbs to nearly 80 percent for people who consume fast food items four or more times each week.
Once a week! People call this moderation and say it has no health impact.
We are products of our environment. Some will have the choice to move away (literally and figuratively) from a toxic environment. Some won’t. The job of public health workers is to make the default choice the healthiest choice.