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Junk food

Del: 09/02/2007

Cholesterol and business
: a well-arranged marriage, at least according to the recent data on the market of snacks.
They do not leave room for doubts and portray a growing sector, in spite of the acclaimed consumption crisis.

In fact, that of the junk food has become a niche on which companies are aiming at, with new products and strong advertising investments: according to some recent research conducted by the Università La Sapienza, in Italy the snack spots are double compared to the USA and since ’98 up to today they have increased by six times that; with the resulting rise of obesity and of the pathologies connected to it, especially among very young people who are the main snack consumers. But also adults undergo the effects of “junk food mania”: according to some recent research carried out by Riza Edizioni, one out of four Italians is victim of this obsession, that leads him/her to consuming snacks even four or five times a day.
An addiction that slightly affects 78% of Italians between 18 and 60 years of age, who – wherever they are and at any time- feel the need for a snack.

This demand supported by the capillary diffusion of vending machines and inviting offers, that aim at the binominal “taste” and “convenience” of the products, rather than on their nutritional characteristics.
To fight what has been defined a growing scourge, foreign companies and governments have been taking action for some time now.
Starting from the Clinton Foundation that together with the groups like Kraft, Mars and Danone, has drafted a program for the distribution of low calorie snacks in the American schools and a lower advertising traffic of snacks.

Even Disney has adhered to the anti obesity campaign, applying stickers on its characters with fruits in season. Much more intolerant are our French cousins, who since February 2007, for the first time in Europe, will apply the first anti junk food program, including anti obesity labels on their products.
A campaign that will cost the Government 47 billion euros, necessary, according to the plans of the Ministry of Health, in order to diminish in five years the rate of obesity by 20 percent. With respect to the such alarming data, in Italy instead there is a lack of initiatives capable of promoting healthy eating habits.

And the consequences are evident: 33.1% of the population is overweight, while 26.9% of the youth is obese, with peaks that almost reach 36% in Campania.
Numbers to think about, since more than 23 billion Euros per year, about 7% of the national health expense, is absorbed by the costs linked to obesity.

                                                                    Rossella Ivone


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