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Ruta Mave: Are we eating ourselves to death?

Monday 18 March 2024 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: Are we eating  ourselves to death?
Ruta Tangiiau Mave. Photo: CI NEWS

In the Pacific, large people denoted wealth to eat and store fat for times of famine from cyclones. In European societies poor women were fat while, husbands were thin. But rich men were fat and rich wives thin. Now rich or poor everyone is fat, writes Ruta Mave.

Who remembers this little ditty? The cows and the sheep and the birds and the horses were mooing and baa-ing and whistling and neighing having lunch in the sun while Hugo and I were having none in the back seat we sat getting thinner. The rumblings cried give us Kentucky Fried time for dinner. So, Dad stopped the car. And Hugo said you go and I said no you go and soon he was back with a pack and then dad hit the track so we ate in the back feeling better inside. A drive isn’t funny with an empty tummy thank goodness for Kentucky Fried. This 1975 Kentucky Fried cartoon advertisement featuring two large obese kids in a car, regularly played on New Zealand television and had the nation singing it and buying it.

Back in those days, real-life versions would be called fat, fatso or tubby, but you can’t say that nowadays, it’s not PC – politically correct, proper comments or polite criticism? The movement away from fatty foods had arrived so Kentucky abbreviated its name to KFC to sound healthier, because of the promoted belief that fat in food creates fat in the body.

Fifty years ago, an American nutritionist Ancel Keys said dietary fat was responsible for fatness, whereas British nutritionist John Yudkin, said in his book Pure White and Deadly, published 1972 exposing the dangers of refined sugar causing fatness. It was economics that created low fat foods and diets, because sugar was the ‘white gold’ power house making cane plantations billions of dollars while enslaving millions of Africans as labour, more than cotton and tobacco. So, the sugar industry quietly paid scientists and supported institutions like Harvard to blame fat for the major risk factor in heart disease while dismissing any concerns about sugar.

When fat is eaten on its own it does not contribute to weight gain. Fat does not make you fat, sugar does. The addiction to sugar has created a steady health decline in the world’s population, with us Kukis - sounds like cookie - topping the list. Refined sugar has no nutrition and if eaten in excess is stored as fat. Eliminating refined sugars from your diet can lower the risk of diabetes and save your life.  

Which diet works? Ask Aunty Google, in 0.36 seconds you will get 59,000,000 different diets from vegetarians who only eat vegetables; fruitarians who only eat fruit; to paleolithic caveman diet – mammoth anyone? To kangaterian (yup it’s real). The ultimate diet is inedia or breatharians, where no food is consumed – not sure how long they live though.

According to World Health Organization, we are fat, with the fattest children in the world.

In 1960s, we were healthy, strong, fit with beautiful teeth. We lived healthily for centuries on tropical sweet fruits, dense taro, sea salt and fish with no diabetes affecting our health, heart or teeth. Now we can’t see our own feet. People say fruit has sugar in it, true, but also fibre and nutrition. Show me a fat fruitarian from fresh fruit not canned.

Drinking one can of coke a day will add six kilograms of fat to a person per year due to the sugar. If you drink larger cans of Mother or bottles of sweet coloured fizzy, then it will be more kilos.

When the missionaries arrived, we were eating organic, fresh out of the ground, the trees and the ocean. But they told us we had an unrefined palate so they introduced the refined sugars, fats, spice, salts into our food. Now we are stuck in a cycle of diabetes and obesity from choosing packaged processed foods, and they travel wanting organic, dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian food. We need to get back to eating fresh organic food.

In the Pacific, large people denoted wealth to eat and store fat for times of famine from cyclones. In European societies poor woman were fat while, husbands were thin. But rich men were fat and rich wives thin. Now rich or poor everyone is fat.

We need to say fat not obese, which sounds nicer, because we need to wake up and admit we are fat, and change, before we don’t wake up anymore.

Our health decline came when we became independent and stopped growing our own food. The greed for easy money and food, choosing, begging instead of working has led us to our present reality. We are dying young and our children are on a slippery slope to die earlier.

We have had the same government for years who have done little to support and encourage agriculture and good health and as a result we are the top in the world for being fat and third from the bottom for health care, but we have $1.7 million useless electric cars.