Marketing Sweetness

During my bleary-eyed morning web-perusing routine I read Is Sugar Really Healthier Than Corn Syrup? in Mother Jones Magazine (the answer is no). The author mentions that Similac, which manufactures infant formula, now has a sweetened variety. Hm. Bad enough as it is for us, why would we give it to our babies?

I’m very wary of marketing to infants, who are treated as potential consumers from the moment they’re born (most recently by Disney). If infants get hooked on sugar right away, they will be even better consumers of sugary products as they grow older, making it harder for parents to encourage positive eating habits. What we eat is important – it has a huge impact on how we feel and look and age. It’s even more important for little developing bodies and brains. I was in the airport in Cairo waiting for a flight and watched in horror as a 2 year old went through an entire roll of mentos candies, washing it down with a Pepsi. Then his mom gave him a bag of chips, and after that a candy bar. Living in Qatar last year I saw a country increasingly brought it its knees by a fast-food lifestyle. Diabetes rates are soaring in the Middle East. In fact, 6 out of the top 10 diabetes nations are in the Middle East and North Africa and $5.5 billion is spent regionally on diabetes related health care.

InshAllah people will realize that an unquestioning acceptance of what is marketed to them, whether sugar water in the US or fast food in Qatar, comes at a steep price. The loss of traditional foodways, severe health problems, and support for shameless global corporations are just a few that come to mind. Education is the only way out.

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