Saturday, March 09, 2013

What Salt Sugar Fat Reads like

I read the book Sugar Salt Fat, and it's ripe for parody. Note: while many of the facts in this parody are exaggerated, and all quotes by officials made up, there is such a thing as 'exercise addiction' and a 'runner's high'. The exercise classes are real. The thing about kids 'twerking' also real.

The exercise industry keeps pushing more and more variety to get us hooked. Pi Yo, Soul Cycle, Pole Fitness, Zumba.. ever increasing ways to get us coming back. A member of the exercise industry admits "People don't want the same old class. We need to change it up and keep it fresh". When asked if he himself goes to these classes he says "I'm pretty busy so I don't go as much as I should."

We go to the lab. An important scientist shows me the data. Exercise lights up the same opiate pathways as black tar heroin. Once hooked, the same reward pathways as crack cocaine light up, leaving you wanting ever longer workouts at ever greater intensity. Heavy users have been known to run over a 100 miles a week, putting themselves at risk for lifelong foot problems and death. More and more people have been keeling over from exercise related causes, and many more are undergoing knee replacements and other surgery due to excessive exercise. The pushers in the industry are blase'. "Sure, some people injure themselves exercising. That's why we have labels warning you to consult with your doctor before trying a new regimen.". With that as cover, the carnage goes on.

The industry has even gotten to our children at younger and younger ages. From Pee Wee football to Mommy and Me yoga classes, children are being encouraged to take up exercise. During kid orientated shows such as SpongeBob and My Little Pony - exercise is being pushed by kid friendly characters such as NFL players who suggest exercise is fun, and healthy. The industry is creating child sized equipment such as hula hoops and jump ropes out of cancer causing plastic to hook young consumers. Research suggests children exposed to exercise are more likely to become heavy users as adults and to try more varied regimens. Children have a higher capacity for exercise than adults as any parent who has tried to keep up with a game of running around and screaming for no particular reason knows.

The industry has even infiltrated our schools with 'workout leaders' leading children in 'twerking out'- the better to encourage heavier and heavier use. With every park, tree lined street and school as a site for exercise, things seem bleak. It's a minefield with every turn leading you to biking, dancing and at extremes-  fucking around with a giant weighted hula hoop. What can we do? Nothing. The industry is omnipresent. All we can do is cut down on exercise time, and hope.