Emboldened by numerous studies, researchers believe that we should start putting warning labels on junk food, as we do with cigarettes and alcohol.
As things stand, retailers of cigarettes and booze have to print warning labels on their products, because, despite them making us seem interesting, they’re actually trying to kill us.
However, two studies by ‘The BMJ’ (the publication formerly-known-as The British Medical Journal prior to its midlife crisis) believes that we should start publishing warning labels on ultra-processed foods, inclusive of “soft drinks, packaged snacks, reconstituted meat, pre-prepared frozen meals,” with ingredients like “sweeteners, colours, preservatives, and food-derived substances like casein, lactose and gluten,” according to the English of the study.
The researchers believe that those foods advance the development of cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and general death.
“The nature of the cause is associated with the physical and chemical changes that happen to the food as a result of this high degree of industrial processing,” Mark Lawrence, who co-wrote an editorial on the pair of recent studies, told Australia’s ABC News. “It’s an independent risk factor irrespective of the presence of, say, sodium or added sugar in the food.”
Lawrence pointed at the recent study as evidence for the push.
“I think the front of pack labelling is the most tangible one at the moment,” Lawrence said. “It could be something as simple as, is this an ultra-processed food or not.”
David Katz for Time magazine backed up Lawrence’s musings, believing that junk food warning labels are a logical next step: “. . . unlike tobacco or alcohol, food is supposed to be good for us. It is supposed to be sustenance, not sabotage. You can’t smoke tobacco and avoid tobacco. You can’t drink alcohol and avoid alcohol. But you can eat food and avoid junk. There is, in fact, an impressive range of overall nutritional quality in almost every food category — so we could abandon junk food altogether, and quickly learn not to miss it.”
A 2018 study gave further evidence to this brand of thinking, with researchers of that study discovering that warning labels — particularly graphic, negative warnings — encouraged people to exercise self-control when selecting meals.
“We can really see a signature of deploying this self-control to resist unhealthy choices,” study co-author Stefan Bode of the University of Melbourne told Australia’s ABC News. “This is something we’re really excited about to follow up and see how this happens.”
It may bristle, but consider the above the further evolution of our thought processes. After all, we’re not too far removed from the doctor-endorsed cigarettes for your health nadir of the middle fifties.