Mass Media & Childhood Obesity

Are we underestimating the effect of mass media on childhood obesity? According to a recent study by The European Academy of Paediatrics (EAP) and The European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG), it’s more serious than we thought.

A recent publication in the journal ‘Acta Pædiatrica’ discusses how we’ve been aware of the dangers since the early 1980’s and we still continue to downplay the effect on children’s health.

If you are obese as a child, you are more likely to carry this into adulthood. It’s simple psychology, you learn your eating habits in childhood, therefore changing them as an adult can be extremely difficult.

Furthermore, the study warns that the risks do not merely come from the sedentary nature of using mass media. In fact, the mere engagement with the material can create bad habits by absorbing its content:

“Childhood obesity development is not just promoted by the amount of sedentary time spent watching TV, but independently by the content of the programmes. The same is also true for the content provided by websites.”570

Social media’s influence on our lives is palpable. Are we just going to ignore the dangers, and stick our heads in the sand, or is there something we can do? It seems the academics and practitioners are singing the same tune they have for decades. It’s not the media’s fault, it’s the way we are consuming it:

“Mass media plays an important role in the current epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity, but it could also be used responsibly to promote children’s health…It is essential to encourage families to discuss how children can develop their abilities to filter information, analyse it critically and discuss the meaning of the information provided. “575

Trust me, I’m just as frightened as you are. If the media truly has this effect on us, I think we need to be more cognitively aware of what we are consuming, each and every minute. I’m with Carl Sagan, I promise to use my critical faculties because they are the only lens I have to understand the world around me.

Copyright © 2018 – All rights reserved


Mazur, A., Caroli, M., Radziewicz-Winnicki, I., Nowicka, P., Weghuber, D., Neubauer, D., … Hadjipanayis, A. (2018). “Reviewing and addressing the link between mass media and the increase in obesity among European children: The European Academy of Paediatrics (EAP) and The European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) consensus statement.” Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics, 107(4), 568–576.

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Food & It’s Surrounding Issues: An Introduction

Food & Climate Issues

During the final RTÉ debate on the 2016 general election, our incumbent Taoiseach Enda Kenny, could not answer a question put to him regarding climate change. When asked about the EU’s carbon emission targets versus our agricultural output Kenny, could not commit to either.

Our uneven production of greenhouse gases in the global north is increasingly causing devastation elsewhere. We need to meet our targets not only to avoid the hefty fines of the European Union but to avoid the devastating consequences to the natural world. The targets are not impossible. What is blocking our progress is our position as an agricultural nation, focused mostly on cattle rearing, and if we were to infringe on this part of our economy it would be irreparably damaged.

It’s a dilemma to be sure, but unlike many global issues with seemingly no solution, this one can be solved and to the benefit of the Irish public. The answer to the problem, however, is one most people don’t like discussing. It’s not just about reducing, reusing and recycling, it’s about a fourth ‘R’ word. We need to reinvent. We need to reinvent what we eat, how we eat and why we eat it. The results of this change in habits would produce positive effects on the global environment and to the individual.

All agricultural ventures require water, land and will inevitably contribute to greenhouse gases. Food is a huge industry, it must be considered in regards to sustainability. Cattle rearing is Ireland’s largest contributor to CO2 emissions so there is no doubt other food sources must be contemplated.

Food is a sensitive issue. Some people have too much, some people have too little, and overall we are all eating the wrong kinds. I have much more to say on this subject and this will not be my last discussion on food. So I ask you this, what if instead of eating so much beef and pork, we cultivated and ate insects? They require significantly less land and water and produce significantly fewer carbon emissions than cattle. They have many health benefits and can be treated as a sustainable food source.

I will continue this series in an attempt to justify my reasons for wanting us to eat insects, at the moment I will leave you with this consideration, we must think ahead, for the future of our planet. We must reinvent ourselves and that may mean eating cricket bread.

Copyright © 2016 – All rights reserved

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