The Weight Coalition carries out actions in three strategic intervention sectors.
A proper diet is essential to good health. Yet, people are cooking less, eating more, and fighting weight problems on a daily basis. Attesting to this is the fact that the average weight for the population as a whole has increased some 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) over the past 20 years!
The pace of modern life is such that family meals around the table are more and more of a rarity. This, in turn, is giving rise to other types of social problems. We now eat prepared meals -- be it by industry or in restaurants -- any time, any place, and often alone. Speed and ease of preparation are often more important than ingredients, calorie count or even taste.
U.S. food and beverage companies spend about $36 billion a year to promote their products. In addition to advertising, marketing strategies, too, incite consumers to eat more. Larger servings are meant to give the impression that we are getting our money’s worth. New products are launched at the rate of 10,000 a year in a circuit where products number more than 300,000. These new refined products are often high in sugar, fat, and sodium and have a high energy density. What’s more, they can be found everywhere: gas stops, drug stores, movie theatres, subway stations, and so on.
The time has come to create a food environment that fosters and facilitates sound eating habits. There are many possible solutions to the problem, including the actions taken by the Weight Coalition.
Even though we are conscious of the beneficial impact of physical activity on our well-being, health, quality of life, academic performance, and productivity, we still remain inactive.
In fact, Quebecois have never been more sedentary than they are today. And this is not necessary by choice. This means that we must look beyond individual responsibility in order to understand this social phenomenon and find a solution to this serious problem.
Many social groups that work to protect the environment and to promote sustainable development share the same objectives, albeit often for different reasons. The convergence of our interests, the complementarity of our arguments, and the coordination of some of our actions could contribute to transform our built environment so as to facilitate physical activity and energy consumption and, by the same token, improve the quality of life in our communities.
Making it as easy to walk, bike or take public transportation as it is to get around by automobile and facilitating physical activity and energy consumption in our life settings (e.g., school, workplace and municipality) are some of the solutions that need to be implemented in order to fight the current obesity epidemic.
Media and advertising are everywhere. They contribute to create social norms and shape in a radical way how we relate to the human body, food, and many other things. In particular, they convey a standard of beauty, both exclusive and unattainable, that celebrates extreme thinness and eternal youth.
Cultural pressures lead many men, women, adolescents, and children to take an interest in their bodies more for esthetic reasons than for health motives. According to experts, the promotion of this physical ideal as the only valid model of beauty can encourage harmful behaviours, such as serial dieting, and can have various repercussions on health, including a drop in energy level due to food deprivation, low self-esteem, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), and certain psychological conditions.
At the same time, in a world obsessed with slimness, being fat or considering oneself to be so turns out to be a burden at the social and psychological levels as well. Indeed, overweight adults, adolescents and children are all victims of discrimination.
Did you know?
Already in daycare, Quebec children 4-5 years old prefer to play with kids with a healthy weight than with overweight kids.
Such a context is conducive to the proliferation of weight-loss products, services, and methods (WLPSM) that promise miracles. Generally speaking, these products and services are not effective and some are downright dangerous, not to mention that they actually contribute to weight gain in the population. Indeed, studies have shown that the use of WLPSM was likely, over the medium to long term, to result in failure and the reversal of any weight loss. What’s more, they could have serious consequences for the physical and psychological health of consumers.
Yet, they are subject to no specific regulatory framework. We believe that the WLPSM industry should be held accountable for the claims it makes, that it should have to demonstrate the innocuousness of its products, and that a proper system of supervision needs to be implemented that includes harsher punitive measures.
Children are exposed to more than 40,000 advertisements each year. A large portion of these ads promote junk food, sweetened cereals, soft drinks, and treats. Highly processed foods are the focus of aggressive marketing and ubiquitous advertising.
In Quebec, the Consumer Protection Act prohibits advertising directed at children under the age of 13 years. Unfortunately, these rules do not come with sufficient supervision to guarantee that our children are truly protected against marketing and advertising.