The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

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

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 06: Junk food sits on a table as British Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver announces a partnership to attack state-wide obesity
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 06: Junk food sits on a table as British Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver announces a partnership to attack state-wide obesity

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!

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in