Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Easter Obesity

Easter has changed a lot in the past two thousand years. Nathan Lynett discusses the role of food in the Easter experience.

Nathan Lynett
The FET, Tuesday 27th April
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How many chocolate eggs did you eat this Easter? A recent survey says that children between the ages of ten and fourteen consumed an average of thirteen Easter eggs this year. That’s a whopping five-and-a-half pounds of chocolate.

For those of you unfamiliar with imperial measurements, five-and-a-half pounds is roughly the same weight as a laptop computer. A sobering thought. “What’s that?” I hear you cry, you readers with experience of midwifery, “the same weight as a small newborn baby?” Yes. Yes, indeed.

When I was born I weighed five-and-a-half pounds. A modern-day festive snack, to be wolfed down over a long weekend. However, unlike the thirteen-egg Easter feasts of today, I did not contain 650 grams of fat. You would have needed to eat about three of me to keep up with the times.

It seems that Easter, once a celebration of fertility and new life, has degenerated into an excuse for gluttony, following hot on the heels of binge-filled Christmases and alcoholic New Years.

Where can we turn? To the Church? Apparently not. Even Christianity has been tainted by the “super-size me” culture. A study of paintings of the Last Supper has shown that the amount of food depicted has increased by two thirds over the last thousand years. The result could hardly be called decadence, but the message is clear nonetheless.

But is this such a bad thing? Would we really prefer to be eating like the apostles, with a few bits of bread and the odd potato? Thirteen Easter eggs is an awful lot, especially when consumed in the space of four days, but the occasional waffle?

While obesity is responsible for reducing life expectancy by an average of six years, it could potentially save millions of lives. In the USA weight issues now comprise the leading medical reason for the rejection of potential military recruits. A group of prominent officers have recently described this as a serious threat to national security.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Could we scoff our way to world peace? Up until now the wave of obesity emanating from America and sweeping across Europe has been looked upon with horror. But what if it continued? To Israel, to Iran, even to North Korea.

Have you ever seen obese people at war? It’s called sumo wrestling. Very few people die from sumo wrestling and everyone gets to eat as many Easter eggs as they like.