The Guardian recently had a piece dedicated to the problem of obesity in the West, and specifically here in Britain with an extract from “The Shape We’re In” by the Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley.
One of the main features of this abridged piece was about Britain’s heaviest teenager, Georgia Davis, weighing in at 200kg. In 2012, a team of 40 rescue workers had to break a hole into the 19-year old’s bedroom from the outside in order to take her to hospital for possible organ failure, at which point she weighed a horrific 400kg! Her family had run out of clothes that fitted her, and so instead covered her with sheets. Boseley’s included her story to show the extremes of unfettered access to junk foods. She claims that the failure of Britain’s food regulators coupled with the food industry’s irresponsible capitalist behaviour has led to food’s sugar content being unregulated. The costs to our health service, along with reduced efficiency of our workforce due to obesity are phenomenal.
Obesity is a result of varying factors ranging from poor socio-economic circumstances combined with ill-informed food choices, comfort eating due to mental health issues, to poor education about the ill-effects of inactivity. However, what Boseley intends to highlight in her book is the irresponsible silence from government ministers on the issue of sugar levels in junk foods and beverages. She claims that the reason why every single elected government has failed to curb the food and drink industry’s use of sugar-laced junk food is due to the lobbying groups that are loyal to the food industry and are insistent that the government remain passive on the matter. The reasons for government inaction runs no deeper than a financial one. Even the UK government’s own advisory body, SACN, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, fails to issue health warnings about sugary food and drink. The simple and rather ironic reason being that the health specialist on the SACN board is a paid health advisor to food companies, Coca-Cola and Mars.
From a religious perspective, being gluttonous is a sign of overindulgence in the worldly pleasures, and not being true to our Lord. As God says of the disbelievers,
“the disbelievers may take their fill of pleasure in this world, and eat as cattle do, but the Fire will be their home.”
Here, God mentions how it is those who fill their lives with eating and sexual pleasures alone whilst not doing any good in preparation for the afterlife that will make the Hellfire their abode.
Muslims should keep in mind whilst in this holy month of Ramadan that being gluttonous and having a large gut is not in keeping with the religion of Islam, and that was actually something very much frowned upon by the Prophet Muhammad. A companion once heard the Prophet say, ‘The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back,’ and that being enough to quench the pangs of his stomach.