Arshid Malik

I must admit, solemnly, that I have grown obese and I don’t wonder why. I do not follow any workout routines and I always travel in my car. I eat a lot of cookies, cream filled cookies; in fact, truckloads of them every year. Well, I guess it is the cookies that are contributing to my obesity since I don’t eat much of the other nutritious stuff like raw vegetables and fruits, except for two cupfuls of rice in the evening since by evening my belly is bloated with cookies and cream and I am sure that both the cream and the cookies contain harmful chemicals. Now, why do I eat cookies, you might ask?

It is not like an obsession or some other kind of disorder but rather helplessness. All thanks to the manufacturers of cookies which have gone beyond finger counts. My kid buys cookies everyday and lots and lots of them. They come in pouches as you know. The kid buys cookies not because he wants to eat them but only and only because he wants to get the free surprise toys. The toys are the size of medium sized cockroaches but they are very crucial to the lives of children nowadays; they just cannot spend a day without collecting a handful of them. The kids relish the toys and abandon the opened packets of cookies. Now, since an average cookie packet sells for around Rs 10, it is disgrace to throw five packets into the bin every day. So what does a parent like me do? Eat them and eat them all. I don’t even like the thought of wasting Rs 50 on wasted cookies on an average per day. My conscience tells me, ‘eat them; eat them all’.

And this adds zillions of calories to my spurious diet and I am growing fatter and fatter. Oh yes, then there are potato crispies, corn rings, chocolate filled pellets and some kind of eggs and what not that carry free toys and kids want loads of them. I do not eat these other items for they are way out of my league and yes, the children prefer eating these instead of a regular diet. So while the kids are collecting the ‘memorabilia’, I am accumulating calories. Why is it happening at all, I ask myself?

The idea is marketing. Business establishments which manufacture ‘junk food’ for children make great money and spend some of it on promoting their products. Throw in an itsy bitsy plastic semblance of Spiderman or a Ben Ten alien into the Rs 10 pack of potato chips and you sell irrespective of what the packet contains. These people are robbing parents of their hard earned money, while making them obese, and the children get stuck to a junk diet and skip on all the food that is necessary for them to grow up fit and fine. And we cannot do anything about it, can we?

This is practically wrong doing. If the government is imposing bans, levying taxes and maintaining checks on companies that manufacture harmful products like cigarettes for adults, why is it not doing anything about the other menace that is affecting the health and growth of our children who happen to be the future of the world? Is it that the establishment has not comprehended the fact that all the junk food that is flowing into markets all over the world is a health hazard for children or is it that the establishment is happy with its ‘share’ of profits?

The question is that one, I have grown obese eating cream-filled ‘left-over’ cookies and two, I am really concerned about the health of my child and millions of kids across the world. It is a busy world and I guess very little number of parents have the time to argue with their children over the issue of avoiding junk food. Besides, even if you have the time to talk to your children, you can hardly beat their logic these days. When I told my son to avoid eating potato chips, he said, “Why don’t the shopkeepers stop selling them. They are adults and if they know that potato chips are not good for health, they should desist from displaying and selling them.” I was left dumbfounded and this is when I thought of writing about the issue. I understand that we have greater calamities at hand but that does not imply that we ignore what the highly commercialized market of junk food is doing to our children. At least the manufacturers of junk food could be regulated and disallowed to put freebies into the packets of junk they manufacture and market. That way, children would be less attracted to buy junk food and I would be able to lose some weight once the cookies stop piling up in our food cabinets.

This is a not a nuclear issue but it surely is a sub-atomic one, for our little ones are like sub-atomic particles bursting with energy. So while I want safeguards implemented by the establishment so that I can get rid of having to eat scores of calorie-high cookies every day and realign my kid who sits glued to the television, helplessly munching potato wafers, I also want to advise parents to form some kind of an association against the sale of junk food and the attaché freebies.


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