To question the cult of ‘supersizing’.
by Ronni Lamont
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To question the cult of ‘supersizing’.
Preparation and materials
- If possible, download the credit section from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k0fs0 (‘The men who made us fat’);
or: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390521/ (‘Supersize me’);
- If you have any members of staff or students who have recently lost weight (extreme sensitivity required here!) ask them if they would be prepared to talk about how they did it.
- You could dramatize the opening sections of this assembly.
- If you go into many high street coffee shops, the person making the coffee will assume that you want a medium, not a small, cup of coffee.
If you buy popcorn at the cinema, you will be asked if you want large, rather than regular, or even small.
If you buy a burger, the posters ask if you want a meal deal, usually featuring large fries.
Next time anyone in your family buys petrol, look by the cash till – there is usually cheap chocolate there.
- The ‘supersize’ phenomenon began many years ago in an American cinema, and the manager there moved on to work for perhaps the biggest burger chain in the world, where he rose rapidly through the ranks as he introduced the supersize phenomenon to the rest of the world.
Supersize has become a bit of a status symbol. How much food you can eat has, in some strange way, become symbolic of how big and tough you are.
- Part of the trouble is that where food is concerned, we are out of touch with our bodies, and don’t recognize what and how much our bodies need. Another factor is the availability of so much food. Because we can graze all day, every day, we do!
It’s not just a matter of calories. Some uni students don’t eat on a day that they’re going drinking, thinking that the calories from the drink equal the number of calories from the food they haven’t eaten. And, numerically, that may be so, but our food intake gives us calories from a variety of foods, and each type of food brings particular nutrients.
Wine only has sugar calories, whereas a lunch will contain calories from protein, carbohydrates, fats and some of your 5-a-day fruit and veg – and your body needs these nutrients, and uses them in a variety of ways to keep you fit. Sugar, by contrast, gives ‘empty’ calories – just energy, nothing to keep your body healthy.
- So we’re getting fatter as a nation. Ironically, some get thinner, much thinner, as their relationship with food becomes problematic, sometimes leading to mental health problems.
Controlled dieting, with gradual weight loss, is good if you need to lose weight. Otherwise, controlling your intake is sensible, as gaining weight is so easy with all this good food around.
- So what can we do to avoid a ‘supersize hell’?
If everyone said, ‘No, small’ to the coffee shops, these shops would stop offering large cups.
If everyone said, ‘No, thank you’ to the chocolate in the petrol stations, the extra large bars of chocolate would no longer be displayed at the check-out.
If you want really to take control, write to the various outlets asking them to explain their marketing ploys.
In some cities in the USA, and in Scandinavia, supersize soft drinks are being banned because they contain so many sugar calories. We could try to get our government to adopt the same policy – write to your local council or MP.
And refuse to buy those huge drinks containers at the cinema and other outlets, such as theme parks.
Read the dietary guidelines on food when you buy it. Some food labels are colour coded, red, amber and green, indicating high, medium and low fat, sugar or salt content. Try not to buy the food coded red. That way you know that what you are buying is healthy food.
Time for reflection
We only get one body. How we treat it is up to each one of us.
We all need good food, regular exercise, our 5 a day and enough sleep.
Think of all the places that you go to where you will be offered large instead of medium or small. How could you politely ask for the small?
How could you regularly eat just a little more of the healthy stuff and less of the bad stuff – you know what I mean!
And thank God for the wonderful food that we have in this country – the fruit and vegetables, the meat and dairy products. We are blessed, and cursed, by this abundance.
thank you for all the food that we have.
Help me to be responsible in what I eat and drink
so that I may treat my body with the respect it needs.