Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

The weapon of mass destruction today is not a nuclear bomb it is a Big Mac!

By  Sep 02, 2017

I have to admit I was a little shocked and even disappointed but I wasn’t surprised. Reading the report that the most profitable restaurants in Croatia in 2016 was McDonalds, the world famous golden arches are continuing their march across the globe.

I am not surprised because a) they have the biggest restaurant chain in Croatia and b) they spend the most on marketing. I am not a great fan of the American fast food outlet, ok I might have one a couple of times a year, but that’s about it. But I seem to be in a minority.

At the turn of the 20th century, people were eating mostly simple, home-cooked meals. Around 2009, about half of what people ate was fast food, or other foods away from home. Now that is pretty shocking. I remember when I first came to live here 19 years ago and admiring everyone’s thin waistline and stunning figures. At the time I put this down to the amount of steps people walked up every day, but in hindsight it probably had a lot to do with what they were eating. Regular home cooked meals prepared with love and care by mum. Unfortunately these “golden days” are becoming more and more a thing of the past.

You can probably put some of the blame down to the pace of life today. People just don’t have the time to spend cooking, and if they do it’s increasing tough to gather the family all together at the same time to eat. I can remember walking through the Old City all those years ago and every other window had the aroma of a home cooked meal wafting through it. It made me hungry just walking a few streets. Now all I am meet with is the smell of old cooking oil from restaurants.

Now combine this modern diet with the lack of exercise we are getting and “hey presto” we have an obesity problem. In 19 years the population went from lean and sporty to lazy and overweight. Modern life just doesn’t agree with humans. We now spend hours in front of our computers (myself included) rather than doing physical exercise. We stare all day at our mobiles (again me included) rather than walk in the wilderness. And the only real muscle that the children of today flex is their thumbs and fingers as they bash away at a computer game.

I heard one sad article the other day on the BBC; it was about a phenomenon I had never heard of before. E-sports! Have you heard of that, well if you are under 16-years-old the answer is probably yes, if not it is basically the “sport” of playing games of computers. This is now big business. The recent FIFA interactive World Cup, a competition to find the world’s best computer football player, attracted a massive 7 million participants. There is now even talk about entering this “sport” into the Olympics. And the winner of this World Cup won an amazing £200,000! And how many calories did this 7 million players burn, I am guessing not very many. A plus B equals obesity. A being a fast food diet and B treating computer games as a sport.

But it seems that the biggest problem is that the problem is getting worse and nobody knows how to stop it. Forty percent of the world’s population today is overweight.

achines do work that humans once did, decreasing the amount of energy people use. And global trade means the reach of junk food has never been greater. Researchers estimate that excess weight caused 3.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015.

How long will it be before Dubrovnik has a McDonalds? They are making so much money in Croatia that before long they will make the step to open here, it is inevitable. And then the city’s youth (and quite possibly adults) will take another step towards diabetes. There were an estimated 422 million adults with diabetes in 2014, a rate of 8.5 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in 1980. Is it a tide that is proving hard to stop.

Whereas 30 years ago we were told that computers would do all the work in the future and we would be left with quality recreation time, this was clearly a false dawn. If anything the opposite has occurred and now we simply don’t have time to eat the right foods or to walk the dog. The weapon of mass destruction today is not a nuclear bomb it is a Big Mac!

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The Voice of Dubrovnik

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