As an individual and as a content writer, this has been a bug bear of mine for years so I am just going to put this out there. Diets are probably the biggest cause of obesity. Let that sit there for a minute or two.
Yet again we approach the new year with a plethora of January publications offering diets with the promise of making us slim, toned, or happy. By promoting diets, they are totally missing the point and exacerbating the problem.
What about obesity?
Maybe it’s greed, maybe there are psychological triggers that cause people to overeat, but we seem to steadfastly ignore the causes. People overeat for myriad reasons best explained by the field of psychology, but those reasons are what we should be looking at if we are to help people achieve a healthy life.
The problem with diets
Magazines that constantly resort to mindless articles showing size 6 models in bikinis alongside a temporary regime restricting calorie intake, need to review what they are doing. And therein lies the problem, a diet is temporary. If you go ON a diet, by definition, you will come OFF it. Suddenly restricting calorie intake will ultimately make your clever body adapt to the reduction in calories, its single aim is your survival. While a diet causes one’s mind to be yet more focused on food, or lack thereof, the body makes all necessary adjustments to survive i.e. it will decrease the rate of metabolism to conserve energy. Going on a diet may cause you to temporarily lose weight, and then you come off your diet.
What happens next is a predictable downward spiral of yo-yo dieting. Your newly decreased metabolism means that calories are burned less efficiently, food eaten isn’t used for energy in the same way. As you begin to eat ‘normally’ your body will not metabolise the increased intake of calories, but will conserve it. People desperately believe they have to ‘get back on’ their diet to lose the new weight gain. And so it goes on.
The solution is to resolve what triggers excess eating and adopt lifelong, healthy eating habits, moderation, and exercise, but that doesn’t sell magazines.
Quality Content Production
Why am I talking about this? I am not a big reader of magazines, but I do receive ‘second hand’ mags. Every year I am dismayed by the unwillingness to tackle the real issues behind obesity. It is certainly more complex to analyse and address what drives people to overeat, but that is not an adequate excuse to ignore them and continue with the ‘sticking plaster’ solution of showing people what they ‘should’ look like and convincing them to follow the path of obsessing about food intake.
Journalists, editors, content writers et al, how about it? How about digging a bit deeper and supporting your audience to look inward, to analyse the triggers that cause them to overeat, to value themselves highly enough to be able to lead a healthy, sustainable lifestyle? It’s going to be harder, it will take more knowledge and research but it is surely a more ethical approach that is healthier for your readers.
The reality is, the diet industry is worth billions, this male dominated world, targeted towards women, has no interest in increasing awareness that diets are bad. There is money to be made, books to be sold, ‘diet’ food to be marketed, good health to be destroyed.
It’s time to change, the NHS is overwhelmed with the current pandemic, valuable resources being spent on obesity related illness are badly needed elsewhere. We need to be more accountable and responsible for the content we produce, lives depend on it.
As a reader, I choose to ignore it. As a content writer, I choose integrity, I write content for companies and causes that are worthy and I believe in. As a person, I choose kindness, we have a responsibility to each other and to the planet we are lucky enough to inhabit.
I wish you a happy and healthy year ahead.