The unhealthy face of our soap diet

June 5, 2013 by The Co-operative Food

Our lives have naturally become less active through the convenience of technology and the reduction in manual work. At the same time the real price of food has dropped and the availability of high sugar and high fat foods has increased. One consequence of our changing lifestyles and eating habits is that the incidence of obesity across the population has become a major national health concern.
It is now estimated that 25% of the population is obese, with all the associated immediate and future risk that brings. That’s bad already and the trend suggests that it will only get worse.
A recent study by The Co-operative and John Moores University Business School has found an unexpected factor that could well be influencing us in a negative way, and it has nothing to do with what’s on the shelves.
It’s our national addiction to the soaps!
Don’t worry, it’s not the soap operas themselves that are making the population put on weight, but watching our British soap stars with their bad food diets could be having a subliminal influence on what we consider acceptable.
The study looked at the four main soaps over a two week period paying attention to key factors such as whether people were eating healthy foods, what they were drinking, whether they were taking exercise, and who was smoking.
The characters of Coronation Street, East Enders, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale all came under the spot light. And what an unhealthy bunch they have proved to be!
You expect that life outside of the big cities is somehow going to be more healthy, yet Emmerdale’s Eric Pollard seems to be the worst of the lot. Even after his heart attack the temptation of the Woolpack is just too much for him, and then he carries on with the booze at home either hitting the red wine or the whiskey.
The beautiful people of Hollyoaks must have strict fitness regimes and a healthy food diet off screen to keep them looking good – but there’s not a lot of it going on for our viewing. We saw Theresa McQueen go to the gym once in a fortnight, but that was about it for exercise, 64% of their food was described as unhealthy, and 54% of their drinks were alcoholic.
Having read that much you might be surprised to hear that Corrie had the healthiest eating of the four. If there was an award for the best balanced diet then Fiz Stape would carry it off, but even then the show isn’t the best example for the nation.
While the study into the lifestyles of UK soap stars is light hearted, the message is a serious one. What we see on TV does influence what we consider to be acceptable, whether that’s regarding diet, or behaviour.
Psychologist, Dr Aric Sigman who is involved in health education said “Given the generally poor state of the nation’s health, it could be argued it’s a case of you are what you watch.”
What we all need is a balanced diet that replaces the energy we use, rather than giving us more than we need. That doesn’t mean that a treat, or a drink, are bad things, but exercise, moderation with alcohol, and getting our five a day all important factors in leading a healthy lifestyle.
The benefits to us include feeling better, looking better, having good amounts of energy and sleep, and hopefully leading a full and healthy life.
It’s not always easy, and when you’re rushing around you often grab what’s available without thinking of the consequences. Starting your day well with a wholesome breakfast is a good way of getting the day off to a healthy start. The Change4Life site has simple and straightforward advice to help us all eat better and cut down where we need to.
The soap story just leaves me wondering how bad the figures would be if they’d looked at Stretford’s Frank on Shameless! He’d be off the scale.

Casey’s Kitchen

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