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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Capitalism and anorexia

The diet industry would not be a multi-million pound industry, if it worked.  Nor would exercise videos or any other associated guff to do with "achieving the perfect body" and, by implication, the perfect life.  The present obesity "crisis" is, to my mind, good PR on behalf of the diet industry and media hysteria about the decline of our health, especially when you consider that the number of patients admitted to hospital for obesity is half of those admitted for starvation/medical problems arising from an eating disorder in 2006/7 (latest figures available).

The Fairy Blogmother has written asking for help to protest against the Atlanta "sugarcoating obesity" campaign and I have willingly signed on

I am reading the Lask/Frampton book at the moment and I have been blown away by David Wood's first chapter.  I particularly liked his take on obesity and capitalism.

"Industrialisation has brought with it mass productions, which in turn has brought the need to encourage consumers to consume, to consume more and to consume still more.  The idea that at some point one might feel satisfied with what one has got is not one that sits comfortably with the corporate need to achieve continuous and never-ending growth in profits.
...
But how does this relate to neurones?  In any complex nervous system, there will be circuits dedicated to control and regulation.  In complex organisms, such as humans, although many of these systems are innate, many need to be learned.  This is almost certainly an evolutionary adaptation that allows flexibility and therefore increases survival value in environments where conditions vary."
...
We now know that learning at the neural level involves physical changes in the structure of proteins involved in synapses that determine how easily or not an action potential will be created in postsynpatic neurone (neuroplasticity).  The more a particular neural net is activated, the more easily it becomes activated in future."

With me so far?

"It is at least worthy of serious consideration that thinness is overvalued as a sort of antidote to a constantly increasing underlying fear of dysregulation in postmodern societies.  This fear is connected to, and exacerbated by, the fact that over the vast majority of time in which our brains have been evolving, we have had to find ways of dealing with scarcity and lack in order to survive.  Evolution through natural selection has endowed us with powerful behavioural systems whose goal is to maximise energy input.  We are highly sensitive to lack and behaviour that decreases the intensity of hunger is highly rewarding.  Indeed, the need to have effective systems aimed at maximising energy input was so important that it is much easier to answer the question of which part of the brain is NOT connected with eating and food (answer: almost none of it) than to decide which part is concerned, as these processes are widely distributed over the whole central nervous system"

Now, why couldn't I have put it that succinctly?

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