Short Read: Mountain Dew mouth
A spoon full of sugar.
In J.D Vance’s book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ (a book all teenagers need to read), he writes about ‘Mountain Dew mouth’, were babies teeth rot away due to being giving bottles not filled with milk but with fizzy drinks. To many, such an idea will sound tantamount to child abuse, and I suppose it is, but then I suppose so is giving kids fruit juice, one deemed good, the other bad, separated by class, but all just marketing. Never the less, Mountain Dew mouth is not confined to Appalachia.
My mum – who’s not a hillbilly – told me how she’d put a spoon of sugar in my bottle, bottle feeding also viewed as ‘modern’ in the ’70s, when babies slept on their tummies, watched over by smoking mothers. She also started feeding me baby rice at three weeks old, when we now start at six months.
Hull, where I grew up, always comes out as one of the top ten most unhealthy places in the UK, something that it wears as a badge of honour; after all, what else can you do but own it? If you walk around, you won’t see that many children eating carrot sticks dipped in hummus like you would in upmarket Sheffield, but more Haribo and Coke. It’s a controversial view, but I’d say that just as crime creates poverty (not the other way round), shit food causes poverty (sorry to sound all Jamie Oliver). Just try drinking two litres of coke and an 800-gram bag of Golden Bears and then compose a symphony. What can we do about this? Nothing, because sugar is more addictive than opium, and if it comes down to a choice between real food and real drugs, the drugs always win (that why you don’t get many fat junkies).
And so I suppose along with a university education, nutrition is another modern class distinction, that just as once upon a time you were either salad cream class or mayonnaise, frozen food or fresh, now you poverty can often be measured in the weight sugar you consume, which for most people is around 70kg a year.
I blame Mary Poppins.
Nah, poverty generally causes shit food and significant evidence to show this - lack of access to better food, expensive local shops with poor choice, poor education re choices, and peer/family pressure. Leads to poorer health and people trapped in crap housing, unemployment/crap jobs, which is then effectively passed on to their kids. Cycle of poverty. That’s why the majority of malnourished (can be over or underweight) people I see are from deprived areas. It would be an oversimplification to think that giving people better food would take them out of poverty - multi factorial issues. Oh, and we still regularly see Irn Bru in baby bottles in West of Scotland - missing front teeth and high rates of full ‘baby teeth’ extractions under general anaesthetic.
Hmmmm... whilst I agree with some of what you say, there’s a difference between causation and correlation and you are linking diet to academic achievement without considering any other factor. I would also suggest that the swinging of the pendulum the other way (promotion of low-carb, high fat diet) to see equally as damaging as I would expect the associated levels of strokes and cardiovascular disease increase accordingly (and there is a causative link). Where will the loud voices that advocate extremes of diet be in 20-30 years? Strangely quiet or already pushing the next food fad. What the current dietary recommendations actually say is somewhere in the middle - but that’s not exciting enough and you can’t sell it (do you see a trend yet?). Furthermore, human behaviour is such that you can show people what they should be doing - but they probably won’t do it. Eg, no one in healthcare advocates a high sugar breakfast cereal but that’s what people eat (horse/water). Remember, commercial advertising budgets are likely higher than our public health allocations and government could do better to curb inappropriate advertising - but then you of all people Andy, might see that as censorship and restriction of choice by the nanny state? ;-) So, yes, it’s bad that people have poor diets, but to suggest that the actual, evidence-based recommendations are incorrect is ... er ... incorrect.