These scary links to Alzheimer’s won’t stop us scoffing junk food

Notebook: The mind-bending properties of chocolate biscuits and Strictly Come Dancing's brand new Olympic line-up


Will no one speak up for junk food? I guess not. Even if they tried to, we might not be able to hear them because all the excess face fat around their mouth would get in the way. No one healthy and attractive ever defends excessive eating, do they? Probably because: (a) they don’t do it; and (b) even if they did do it, we wouldn’t believe them.

Anyway. The latest salvo is that junk food causes Alzheimer’s. A report in New Scientist explains that some experts are even going so far as to rename the disease “Type 3 diabetes”. This is a huge story because of the recent history of Type 2 diabetes, the incidence of which has trebled in the past 30 years. The implications for Type 3 are obvious. It is looking as if this might be a problem of our own making and one which could escalate quickly.

Sadly, now there’s even less justification for poor food choices. And yet we continue to make them. Unfortunately, I cannot become the ambassador the junk food industry is crying out for as my own body is a wheezing, groaning apologia for its effects. Instead, though, I’d really like to push for this debate to be opened up. Unlike any packets of biscuits. Which must not, under any circumstances, be opened up anywhere near me.

Because the whole anti-junk movement has got stuck. We’re in a Catch 22. Most of us know we should eat better. Yet this does not happen. I’m not saying that from the point of view of someone who just wants any excuse to eat more fried onion rings. Although that would be nice. But the health warnings are having no impact on behaviour. “Look! Now you won’t just deteriorate physically, you’ll deteriorate mentally, too!” As a motivating statement, it’s not going to work.

This is because junk food is a symptom of a much larger problem. It exists only as part of another vast, spreading disease: the pursuit of profit over common sense, the endless expansion of the working day, the elevation of success (whatever that is) over contentment. Ever faster lives, ever bigger debts, ever bigger bellies.

Unless you are a measured, balanced and fiscally buoyant human being (and if you are, please do send me funds and your life philosophy), it’s no easy matter to resist the endless tide of quick fixes, cheap meal deals and BOGOF offers. Only yesterday I put back two packets of chocolate digestives because I had to acknowledge that not only did I not need two, I did not even need one. And yet my brain was screaming, “This food is virtually free. It would be wrong not to take it.”

My brain was screaming, “This food is virtually free. It would be wrong not to take it.”

If there is scientific evidence that junk food causes Alzheimer’s , that’s significant and we must act on it. But let’s not forget that junk food consumption exists within a context. And it is the context which is ultimately harming us. Being so busy or stressed that you can’t prepare fresh food cannot be much of an insulation against any kind of disease, mental or physical. This is what must change long before any kind of resistance to junk food can kick in.

Meanwhile, if we all get Type 3 diabetes, we can at least enjoy the scant consolation that it is the best kind to have. Because you almost certainly won’t know you’ve got it. Another biscuit, dearie?

Olympians go for sequinned success

This season’s Strictly Come Dancing’s celebrity line-up has attracted great excitement because of the inclusion of Olympic medal winners Louis Smith, gymnast, and Victoria Pendleton, cyclist. Will the Olympians wipe the floor with the other contestants? I wouldn’t be so sure. If the Games looked tough, wait for the Argentinian tango. Pendleton will be the most interesting to watch. Newly retired, she makes no secret of the fact that she never really enjoyed cycling that much anyway. She much prefers poncing around at fashion photo shoots. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she became an Olympic cyclist simply in order to compete in Strictly Come Dancing. Now let the real sporting contest begin!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The plan could lead to up to 15,000 people being operated on annually  

The obesity crisis affects the whole of Europe... apart from France

Rosie Millard
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'