How do we reshape our food environment so that it no longer works against us?

In many respects, it’s hardly a huge mystery, writes Bobo in ‘Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices: The Invisible Influences that Guide Our Thinking.’​  ​We live increasingly sedentary lifestyles and food is available everywhere, 24:7, which means we have to sustain superhuman levels of discipline to stay svelte.

And while we often tell ourselves that nutritional advice keeps changing (‘even the experts can’t agree’​), we all know we should stop smoking, move more, drink less, eat more fruit & veg, and cut down on soda, cookies and pizza, he says.

The challenge is following that advice when everything in our environment – the ‘foodscape’ – is working against us.

At base, framing weight management purely as a question of willpower and self-discipline is both unfair and demonstrably ineffective, says Bobo, an attorney with an educational background in biology, chemistry, environmental science and psychology, who spent 13 years at the State Department as a global food policy advisor before joining biotech firm Intrexon and setting up food foresight company Futurity​. 

If three quarters of the adult population is unable to maintain a healthy weight in a culture where obesity – despite its ubiquity – still comes with real social stigma as well as health risks, he says, you have to wonder whether the odds are stacked against us.

Education isn’t the issue: ‘In 1960, nobody knew anything about health and nutrition and yet nobody was obese’

“It’s pretty clear that it really comes down to environment and behavior​, not education​,” says Bobo, who spoke to FoodNavigator-USA for our upcoming weight management special edition.

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