Sometimes you read research and you wonder if this is a joke or not. Usually it turns out to be meant seriously. A new study has now shown that large supermarkets make us fat. Really?
This study says that if we shop less often we buy unhealthier food. But that’s quite a stretch and even if it’s true it hardly explains the epidemic of overweight. Another study “of eight similarly wealthy countries found only New Zealand and the United States had bigger supermarkets than Australia.” So that means that Australia ranked 3 of a group of 8 and that somehow explains why Australians are overweight. Not very convincing, but if you have a weird theory you need to make an effort to find things that prove that theory.
“In fact, the research found an almost-perfect correlation between how big a country’s supermarkets were and the number of obese people in that country.” I think there is also a perfect correlation between the amount of junk food that people eat and the number of obese people. And I can think of quite a few other things that will show this almost-perfect correlation.
“There are many potential ways in which big supermarkets might be bad for our health.” And then you get a list of things that are not remotely related to the size of the supermarket. If people want to eat healthy meals, they will buy healthy food, also when they only shop once a week at a big supermarket. And if you buy too much food you didn’t plan well. You can also buy too much food at a smaller supermarket. If people eat because they food is there, then they have a lifestyle problem, which cannot be fixed with a smaller supermarket. Most people use the car to shop, because the shops are too far away to walk. It’s a mystery what that has to do with the size of the shop. (Don’t you actually walk a longer distance in a huge supermarket?) And the last two on the list are just as bad in smaller supermarkets as in bigger ones. Why would people be tempted easier in a bigger shop?
The solutions that the researchers come with are just as nutty as the whole set-up of the study. There are many reasons for obesity. Too much sugar is the main one. Too much sugar is the second one and too much sugar is the third one. Then the list goes on with too much junk food. Also on the list (but hard to know how high) is the use of antibiotics. (Farmers use large amounts of antibiotics on healthy animals to make them fat quicker. Humans aren’t that different from cows and pigs. These drugs make us fat as well.) Lack of exercise has something to do with it as well, but it’s highly overrated. Exercise is important for health, but doesn’t have that much influence on your weight. And also somewhere on the list (possibly higher than we like to know) is environmental pollution with all kinds of chemicals that influence our metabolism. The size of the supermarket might support all the other unhealthy influences, but it’s not remotely a reason for obesity.
Why does a university produce this kind of junk science? You would think that they would like to have a good name. But obviously they don’t care. Or they really think that this scientific equivalent of the cheeseburger-with-cola has actually some value. It would be worth a study to find out why researchers make such fools of themselves, but I suppose the outcome of that study would be that these people will do anything, as long as they can keep their well-paid job.