I heard a great quote today from a fellow Brit who’s killing it and making waves abroad, Alwyn Cosgrove.
‘There is a big gulf in our profession between trainers who can design workouts and those who can design programs. There’s a big difference between the two and the results you’ll get.’
This is VERY true and I believe there is even a huge inability in trainers who can even write good workouts. Even if they can they then lack the ability to interpret the parameters into something a client may or may not understand.
I’m going to go through what is somewhat of an ‘Idiots Guide’ to some training parameters and when they should in theory be applied. Take note I said ‘In theory’. Parameters are a way to adapt a workout in many different ways to illicit different end products. Those of you with a scientific background will understand controls and variables (something that alters and something that remains constant) those of you from a coaching background will understand the difference when we talk of something as open or closed chain. An open chain exercise is something that has variables out of our control, closed chain means variables in our control. Working with a human being means we are almost always dealing with open chained variables so what works for one WON’T work for another.
Parameters must be understood and controlled as even with the most indepth physiological analysis, MRI’s, Biopsies, bloodwork etc etc we STILL cannot get a full picture as to how an athlete will adapt to training program until he or she has done it. What we do know with certain training modalities and elite sport is that if an athlete doesn’t adapt to something accordingly genetically they probably aren’t in a position to excel. This is the sad truth of it.
Those of you that know me will know that I look heavily down on a LOT of people who blame genetics…..typically for laziness (easy get out of jail free card right). Remember though that for the most part people are generally ONLY trying to look better naked. They’re NOT trying to be Olympic level athletes. If you are and genetically you’re just not suitable for that sport or endeavour, trust me I’ll let you know my thoughts.
My point being is that when looking at aesthetically altering a physique for the better there isn’t someone who ‘can’t’ do it and when people say I’ve tried everything I assure you it’s either true and they’ve simply ‘tried’ and not concluded or they actually in most cases havn’t touched the surface or have no idea what it actually takes. Those of you that read my previous article will hopefully understand a little of what it takes and what sacrifices are needed to look like a competitive physique athlete.
SOME BASICS OF PROGRAM DESIGN (And s*** you may have forgotten)
This isn’t a definitive quide by any means, simply something to get a better understanding of what you’re trying to build or in some cases trying to read or understand.
A simple rule that you’re looking to build lean tissue and prepared to compromise on the function of the athlete to some degree the use of varied stimulus is critical in the long term. Looking at short term and understanding how someone fairly new to it all would best be served will remind us where parameters come from. ‘If’ they do what you ask of them will all come down to application, assessment and correction. There is NOT a single plan that won’t work. We must question when we start seeing diminishing returns and also what is the path that will minimise failure and maximise results.
We have two primary goals when looking at mass gain. Engage as many motor units within a muscle as possible and then fill the cells full of blood and sarcoplasmic fluid to make them swell, pump up and tear. The adaptation in simplified terms is the surface area of the muscle over time will grow to accomodate all of this. The motor unit activation is like taking a bag full of deflated balloons, and giving someone the ability to blow more of them up. The sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the actual blowing up of the balloons in the bag. The bag is like the outer sheath of the muscle which if enough balloons are able to be, and of course blown up the bag becomes hard and swollen. Make sense so far? For those of you who are slightly more scientific, Hyperplasia is adding more balloons to whats already in the bag.
So how are we going to do this. For the purists out there this perhaps isn’t going to rub too well.
In order to engage more of the motor units (balloons) to be blown up you have to lift with force production in mind. Added mass to the lift and/or acceleration. Slow intentional stretches with contractions at 65% 1RM just simply isn’t going to do this. Never mind the negative adaptive response to muscle fibres over time (fast twitch convert to slow).
The fact of the matter is that fast twitch fibres are the Rolls Royce of muscle fibres. Doesn’t matter what age they are they look DAMN good and their potential for growth is HUGE! Why shut all those good looking and useful fibres down when they can be part of building an AWESOME and somewhat functional physique.
Breaking a lift down and tempo.
A lift needs to be seen as a series of movements or points. We have the eccentric portion of a lift (the lowering NOT dropping), this is followed by a transitional phase which what I like to class as a pause, stretch or the stretch reflex point. The lifting is the concentric phase followed by another transition which is either a pause or contraction.
The control of all these portions is what we call TEMPO. Tempo is a series of 3 or 4 numbers outlining the timing behind each phase. Using a squat as an example a 2-1-2-1 tempo would signify a 2 count on the eccentric (lowering), a 1 second pause, stretch or stretch reflex, a 2 second lift on the concentric (lifting) and a 1 second contraction or pause at the top. At this stage it’s the coaches decision on how a lot of this is interpreted and relayed to the athlete.
Tempo allows us to keep athletes focusing on what we want the muscles and surrounding tissue to adapt to. It allows us to control the time under tension and when the muscle is under tension in the lift. There is also a difference between forced contractions within a lift and simply whats probably best described as an automated contraction, one that simply happens due to the lift itself and movement required.
A lift is a series of happenings within muscle tissue.
RECRUITMENT – The actual number of motor units and fibres recruited to complete the given task. Under stress or duress the body is capable of immeasurable levels of recruitment. The survival instinct should we call it. We call upon this in the gym environment through various means, targeting the two elements of force as aformentioned is one of them.
RATE CODING – This is, to analogise again the speed at which we go from 0-60mph. It’s the time it takes for an athlete to send appropriate signals to a muscle before it actually does what is wanted of it. A reactionary based phenomenon. The Olympic snatch probably being one of the best example of all three of these happenings.
SYNCRONISATION – This is how the muscle innervates nerves and systematically fires groups and bundles of fibres. This is the point where technical ability comes in and the simple fact that the human body will take the path of least resistance. When someones hips jack in the air early on a deadlift this is an example of not only a weakpoint but that the syncronsiation pattern is out. This is why technique is CRITICAL in strength and power sports and in bodybuilding prevents to some degree imbalances. The issue with bodybuilding is that the muscles responsible for knee flexion may be of a different fibre type to those responsible for hip extension. In which case using the same parameters for both movements may not be the best option for complete hamstring development and sometimes form has to somewhat override function. Make sense? Again what works for one won’t for another.
How we interpret and how we actually execute a lift will play it’s part on all of the above, not only that but the end product will be determined by it.
To put into a little bit of application and variations.
An Olympic Squat
The bar position is high in an olympic squat to allow crossover to a front squat. The hamstring engagement is less than a conventional squat as the knee position is slightly more anterior.
Tempo of 2-0-x-0. The lift will be executed with no intentional contraction at the beginning of the lift (unless activation is required to deal with any of the three happenings). The weight is controlled into the hole and with no pause and the stretch reflex occurs in the last few inches of the lift, allowing no pause at the transition phase and the rebound back up to the start position. You will see almost a ‘bounce’ from the bottom of an olympic squat.
Powerlifting or ‘Low Bar’ squat
Due to the lower bar position the hamstring engagement is much higher than that of the Olympic style squat.
Tempo of 3-1-x-0. Again no intent in the contraction but a slower descent allowing minor mechanical adjustments to be made on the descent. A pause at the bottom at which point the engaged hamstrings act as a brake (or a suit if equipped lifting), the stretch reflex occurs at about parallel for this style of lift almost preventing the lifter going too low.
The bar position may vary depending upon the mechanics of the individual and what particular emphasis is to be placed on the muscle.
Tempo of 2-1-2-1. The quads and glutes are intentionally activated at the top of the lift and slowly released to a transitional point (again depth dependant upon target area/s) the muscles are allowed a moment to stretch against the contraction, the lift is then executed with the quads particularly being contracted hard throughout until a partially flexed knee executed a full contraction at the top of the lift, the contraction being held on the second rep is executed. The intention being that throughout the entire lift muscle tissue is continually under tension. This can be done with almost any rep, tempo and set parameter.
Time under tension is the total amount of time that a muscle will be under tension during the set.
A tempo of 2-1-2-1 will be a 6 second rep, in a parameter with 12 repetitions will give us a TUT of 72 seconds.
It is commonly believed that the ideal TUT is about 20 seconds for strength training, 40 seconds for muscle mass and 70 seconds for muscular endurance. This would tie in with also the energy systems that would be relevant to that sport or activity. A TUT of 20 seconds for an Olympic lifter would be too much in most cases as crossing over into the lactate energy systems would result in muscular breakdown. When neural adaptation is a large part of what you’re attempting to achieve this is contradictory. This is where we cannot rely on anything that is specific, even with energy systems, merely guidelines.
Start to think about tempo and the ‘Intent’ behind your lifting. What is the purpose, muscular development, strength development, speed, endurance etc etc. Take your knowledge of energy systems and what you hope to achieve from the session and PLAN!
It always interests me when I see any female go through a gym induction – words like ”tone up” and ”fat burning” zone are often used which ultimately builds a very specific image in the clients head – ”must avoid heavy weights.”
Let me tell you this, doing 30 reps of each machine with 1 plate on will do jack s***!!!!! The body changes (adapts) due to new stresses – it is ”required” to adapt/change once it is exposed to stimulus it isn’t comfortable with.
As a female, if you want to get lean, slender or toned (whatever you want to label it as – you want to reduce body fat and retain muscle mass to create a firm/toned figure) then you are best off challenging the body.
Take 5 minutes in any gym and look at the female clients and you will notice often the ones in the best shape lift – that is certainly true in my experience.
By doing this you are going to trigger many processes which all ultimately help facilitate preferable changes. IF you want to train properly for fat loss/body recomposition here are my main points.
1) Lift heavy – work within rep ranges of 4-6 with compound lifts and rotate that with German Composition Training. In short, I would recommend 1 ”strength” week and 2 GCT training weeks (as a basic starter).
2) Work the entire body – compound lifts are your friend. Deadlifts, Squats, Bench press, overhead press and so on.
3) Be powerful – control the weight (I have little concern of women trying to cheat to impress others, unlike us men) and be explosive in the lift during strength workouts.
4) In your GCT workouts focus on time under tension – 4 second negatives are key, it means your muscles are working for longer, being stimulated for longer and as such creates a better reaction (calories burned!!).
5) Cardio – don’t EVER spend a whole night on the cross-trainer, ever. Resistance training is much more beneficial for body recomposition over ”cardio” and if your gym instructor tells you different then sack them!! Cardio will lead to your catabolising your lean muscle mass (which you don’t have much of!) which means your metabolic rate will decrease as will your ”anabolic” hormones. This is bad – in short you are training your body to become skinny/fat. The typical look many achieve when they stop eating anything meaningful and start renting a space in the gym!!! (cardio section!).
6) Not all cardio is equal – with female clients I prefer them to do interval based work. A simple 12-15 minute sprint workout twice a week is a great place to start, 15-20 seconds all out, 30-45 seconds rest and repeat. That will do it. . . . . . .
7) HeMan – hormonally you don’t have the capacity to get ”hench” like a man when you lift weights so don’t stress. You have approximately 1/10th the testosterone of an average man. To transform you want to elevate your natural testosterone levels believe it or not, lifting heavy helps with this!
Girls you know what to do, now get to it!
Over the last few years I’ve been thinking of ways in which to pick a fight and how it could conceivably be won. I am still in the process of bringing together a strategy but in the meantime I’ve been putting out a few feelers to see what it actually is I will be contending against.
The greatest part of it all is that I know if pitched right and intelligently I can get a lot of people to turn the ‘I’ into a ‘we’. Because of the sheer magnitude of the problem it is something that simply can’t be done alone it requires a united front of people all willing and prepared to make a difference.
A lot of you will be thinking right now that I’m looking and talking about the root of the problem, what we all see and that which is evident to all of us. This is the fickle side of it that actually drives many to change their lives for the better and has to be part of what is offered as almost a pleasant by-product.
One thing is for sure that a large percentage of the population wants to look better. If in the process of addressing this, other more serious issue become rectified so be it. It all comes in the sale of it for many. If I promise to make someone look better, by default they also end up physically and mentally in a better place….cool huh.
Am I talking about addressing the adult and childhood obesity problem or is it something MUCH deeper and a larger issue than we perhaps want to admit. I am very passionate about this and for those of you that know me you may understand why. I have stepped away from directly using social networking to discuss this as under that platform people don’t understand motive and to be frank anyone can spout any kind of bullshit in small snippets. People nowadays don’t want to hear the truth, they want soundbites, gossip and scandal, they don’t want facts or statistics they would prefer to choose what they ‘want’ to believe based on limited or confusing knowledge.
This is herein where the challenge lies. How do you get through to those that don’t want to listen or don’t see the value in change.
It’s a complicated subject on all manner of levels. I’ve explained before that it’s a relatively simple concept to grasp but much like a students reluctance at times to look at a ever dwindling bank balance ignorance sometimes isn’t the easiest option. We live in a time in which we know more about education, health, science, food and human physiology. We also sadly live in a time when this knowledge can be capitalized into monetary profits. The more the gap grows between what the average person has as a base of knowledge and what science tells us the more people out there will capitalize on this fact. If we continue to eradicate basic human skills such as exercise and even food preparation from educational curriculums we are at danger of trying to force learning when it isn’t the level of teaching that’s the issue yet is often the scapegoat when parents look to why their children fail in academia. You will understand what I mean as you read on.
A lot of things remain simple but we feel we need science to compliment and often confuse them. In the process of this we leave the lay person with a lot of questions as to what’s right and what’s ultimately wrong. When billions of people believe what they do is right turning the tide becomes inherently difficult.
I’m not saying that I’m right and those billions of people are wrong. I’m saying that given my line of knowledge I feel I, alongside many others are in a better position to guide and influence what comes after us. I’m not going to tell you anything new, I’m not going to tell you anything amazing that I know and you all don’t I’m just going to spell out a few facts and you can then answer for yourself the educated path you should choose to adopt, an uneducated decision is almost as valuable as no decision at all.
What I’m asking is for you to indulge me, I’m not a wacky conspiracy theorist that feels everyone is out there to mislead, lie and deceive us, I will tell you this much though that the majority of the people out there making decisions pertaining to our health and wellbeing would take profit primarily over any actual positive health outcomes. The world is in the right frame of mind in many respects, ‘survival of the fittest’ but it is now wealth that deems your status. The uncanny thing is that dating back centuries and even to this day many countries deem and deemed obesity as a sign of wealth and prosperity. In the western world it is not the image of obesity that is the problem, it’s the simple fact that on that path we are shortening lifespans and creating inordinate physical and mental problems on the path to obesity.
The world has changed VERY fast when it comes to diets, health and the publics perception of it. So fast infact that todays societal habits and what the big monetary players have brought quite literally to the table is a shadow on what it was as little as a decade ago. Go back a further 20-50 years our knowledge has been warped and manipulated slowly and surely to believe in what we consume. We are consumers and THAT is the way we are referred to and treated when it comes to dietary and nutritional products (this is what many class as food when infact they are ‘products’ as far diverted from food as you would ever believe).
Think about that for a second. There isn’t a single large food manufacturer thinking of us as human beings, merely cash cows and consumers. If they can get their consumer to eat in the way they wish them to eat from almost childbirth to adulthood they have business and guaranteed their income and profitability for decades to come.
There are 14 of the world largest food manufacturers listed in the fortune 500. Combined revenue in 2009 was $244 Million. None of whom sell anything that remains in it’s natural state. None of the single ingredient foods you will have heard me speak about.
What if I was to tell you that practically every chemical deemed safe for human consumption is addictive. It’s safe as in small quantities it has been shown not to show any, what would be deemed as major side effects. These are the same rules that apply to medication. The things that list death as a potential side effect. Any of you that live in the US will know exactly what I mean in this respect. You have commercials that can legally advertise a drug that has a potential side effect of death. Why would you advertise a drug? Surely a drug would be prescribed in relation to a condition? It wouldn’t be prescribed based on you ‘asking your doctor if it’s good for you’, the tagline to a lot of these cheery adverts that will show lots of happy people living the American dream. Anyone outside of the US may be reading this and laughing but heres a good example.
We are consumers, that is the bottom line. No longer living and breathing organisms. Consumers that line the pockets of people who have no morality and will happily mislead and get us all to metaphorically drink the kool aid as soon as they possibly can. We are no longer human beings, only people that will spend money making ourselves sick then spend more making ourselves better. Create the problem and create the solution. In the process create sufficient devoted consumers that when someone questions what is happening they will be defended to the hilt without moving a muscle.
‘I’m not saying don’t buy their product and buy mine, I have no financial prerogative for writing this, it’s not a book, it’s a free article, blog whatever you want to call it. I am trying to draw attention to the simple issue. The second I was to publish something like this people perceive it differently and it will be questioned more’
I am not only interested in adult and childhood obesity. The problem stems further and further from simply being the overweight kid. We are talking about behavior, development, learning and also the impact on society.
It is interesting to note the differences in children’s behavior over the last 50 years. The US national teachers survey showed the top 7 problems in school being: 1940
Talking out of turn
Running in the hall
Cutting in line
Dress code infractions
Increase in ADHD
The sharpest increase being shown between the 60s and 70s. The food industry funded numerous studies at the time to discredit the links being seen by doctors and processed food. No suprise at all that the idea was discounted. Since then many GPs have been angled towards medicating people based on symptoms rather than using intelligent deduction.
The links that lie between ADHD and diet again have strong links. ADHD has been blamed on poor teaching but again studies have suggested that bad parenting was a resultant effect of the initial bad behavior. Looking once again at the root of the bad and disruptive behavior would lead us to a better outcome and less burden on both parents and teachers as scapegoats for these issues.
There is enormous evidence that suggests that food additives and environmental chemicals are largely to blame. 1,2,3,4
Food additives have been used in increased levels since the 1960’s. All of these food additives have shown to cause irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbances in both child and adult populations. Add in the alarming amount of sugar in most of these foods you can throw hyperactivity and lowering of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) into the mix. BDNF is a secreted protein encoded by the BDNF gene. It is active within the brain and responsible for memories, both long and short term, concentration and the ability to learn. Any child with any disruption in glucose metabolism will slow down BDNF’s ability to function. Feeding a child a concoction of artificial chemicals, sugars and even caffeine will over time create an addiction to something that is impacting behavior, hyperactivity and neural shutdown.
Are the foods we are feeding our kids creating societal and behavioural problems as well as learning difficulties? The evidence is strongly in favour of this.
In a study conducted by the BBC it was noted:
‘Superintendent Peter Bennett of the West Yorkshire police organised a study with 9 children aged 7-16 with persistent anti-social, disruptive and/or criminal behaviours. They were chronic offenders, with an average arrest rate of more than once a month. All were hyperactive. Their offences included violence, criminal damage, theft, arson, and solvent/alcohol abuse. The children remained at home in the care of their parents while following a restricted diet. The health and behaviour of all nine children improved. After 2 years, two of the subjects had abandoned the diet, re-offended and been placed in care. Two had reoffended at much reduced frequency and violence. Five of the 9 subjects had not re-offended. Researchers concluded, “the [dietary] approach appears to work within an ethical, efficient, effective, economical and preventative paradigm without harm”’ 5
In 1996 the Wolney Junior School in South London banned additive containing snack foods from their tuck shops and fruit introduced instead. Within 2 years the school was listed as one of the most improved in the country. The success rate for 11 year olds in stage two English almost tripled from 23% in 1996 to 64% in 1998 achieving expected results.
To go back on the standardized debate quoting ‘it did me no harm’ and ‘everything in moderation’ these terms DO NOT exist anymore unless we are discussing REAL food.
‘When it comes down to nutrition. To quote or draw reference to a generation that you are not presently existing in is simply stupid’
Food has changed so drastically in the past few decades that behavioural and learning problems are and will continue to increase. Our values and morals are eroding. Are we just in endless pursuit of instant solutions to problems. Feeding children the same repeat and nutritionally devoid food eliminates the reaction that is given. Give them more sugar and more additives and their behavior will temporarily improve.
Is this all just people like myself perhaps scaremongering or claiming a problem that doesn’t exist. People hate to make change, it’s fairly evident when being in the industry I’m in but even the government corroborate the evidence. They just choose not to do anything about it as it means loss in profitability and offending the big food producers.
Even government funded research confirms the link between the chemicals put into foods and these issues. Research into a group of three year-olds found they were more likely to lack concentration, lose their temper, interrupt others and struggle to get to sleep when they drank fruit juice dosed with colorings and preservatives. The study used 227 children and for two weeks they consumed fruit juice with 20mg of artificial colorings and 45mg of preservative, which are equal or below permitted levels. For the other two weeks the same fruit juice without the additives. The report said the results showed the artificial food colorings and sodium benzoate preservative had ‘substantial effects’ on behavior. This is the tip of the iceberg as a child in the 21st century consumes considerably more than this study ever targeted, that is for certain.
The list below indicates the chemicals the government found to be associated with all of the aforementioned problems. ALL of which are permitted to be used within food.
(in sweets, drinks, takeaways, cereals and many processed foods)
- 102 tartrazine,
- 104 quinoline yellow,
- 107 yellow 2G,
- 110 sunset yellow,
- 122 azorubine,
- 123 amaranth,
- 124 ponceau red,
- 127 erythrosine,
- 128 red 2G,
- 129 allura red,
- 132 indigotine,
- 133 brilliant blue,
- 142 green S,
- 151 brilliant black,
- 155 chocolate brown Natural colour,
- 160b annatto (in yoghurts, icecreams, popcorn etc, 160a is a safe alternative)
- Preservatives200-203 sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
- 210-213 benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, cordials, syrups, medications)
- 220-228 sulphites (in dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages, and many others)
- 280-283 propionates (in bread, crumpets, bakery products)
- 249-252 nitrates, nitrites (in processed meats like ham)
- Synthetic antioxidants – in margarines, vegetable oils, fried foods, snacks, biscuits etc
- 310-312 Gallates 319-320 TBHQ, BHA, BHT (306-309 are safe alternatives)
Flavour enhancers – in flavoured crackers, snacks, takeaways, instant noodles, soups 621 MSG 627, 631, 635 disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ribonucleotides
These aren’t just limited to behavioural issues, any chemicals outside of this list will inevitably impact some form of development within a child. When we discuss nutrition I see the eternal debate between the vegetarian community and the meat eating community as to which we have actually evolved to eat. Frankly I do not give a c***p. I know how each reacts upon the human being, each having it’s pros and each having it’s cons but people will still dispute if we are truly meant to eat a meat or a plant based diet. In the grand scheme of things is this a problem…….absolutely NOT. It’s a strong debate and yet again one that merits further discussion but really with the state of things as they are who cares what a human consumes as long as it is what it is in it’s natural form. This in itself would be a start.
As human beings we have capacity to digest anything that comes from food. As consumers however we are regarded as able to digest anything that is a chemical, that all possess side effects beyond evolutionary physiology. They are able to modify what a human being thinks, feels and reacts to based on how these edible concoctions are constructed. In the process they create the subtle addictions necessary to create a loyal consumer. In the same breath they create emotional reactions that can be stemmed with further consumption. A child crying can be a strong influencer to any new parent, if the correlation exists between sugary processed food and a happy child they will continue to feed them this…..long term what is this causing though.
We live in a society that knows more about science, about human physiology and nutrition than ever before.
We have more illness than ever before in society.
Obesity now worldwide kills more people than malnourishment.
More people are dying in Britain due to being overweight or obese than anywhere else in Europe,
Around one in every 11 deaths in the UK is now linked to carrying being overweight.
4.6 million people 20-79 years of age died from diabetes in 2011, accounting for 8.2% of global all-cause mortality of people in this age group. This is the equivalent to one death every seven seconds.
There are 12 pharmaceutical companies listed in the fortune 500. Combined revenue in 2009 was $434 Million.
Almost all of the above revenue is taxable.
There are a million statistics I could throw in here but you’re hopefully getting the idea.
When did all these issues start to become a global epidemic?
Who knows but all we know is that the level of modern illnesses are now at an all time high, anti social behavior is growing at an alarming rate. We are bearing witness to society deteriorating rapidly and what links do we see? What commonalities lie across the board. Are we all being subtly poisoned to the level that it is so discreet that when behavior changes, mood alters even premature death occuring fingers cannot be pointed at things we have consumed on a daily basis for most of our lives? Not only that but they where ok’d by the government as once again ‘suitable for human consumption’
Why use Alcohol as an example? Alcohol on top of the issues I have already covered just exhasurbate the issues that have been created . We put individuals into this disrupted behavioural state then add alcohol, a potent social drug into the mix. Just to clear things up as some of you will be shutting off and muttering ‘get a life’ right now. I have no issue with consumption of anything provided it’s an educated decision and not based on a trend or what someone’s friends do. The pros and cons of anything need to be considered then a decision made. I consume alcohol on a social level but I choose not to allow it to disrupt my thought patterns or social control.
Alcohol accounted for 8748 deaths in Britain last year. Problem drinking costs the country and more importantly the tax payer £22 billion a year. By outlawing something that’s become so socially acceptable would create social uproar therefore much like smoking it will be drawn out until the cost to society exceeds the profit to the government.
We all know that alcohol and smoking can kill us, why do so many people across different generations see these things through different eyes. Hell, even alcohol is no longer alcohol and tobacco is no longer just tobacco, they have found ways to cut costs and appeal to younger generations and make them infinitely more addictive.
Why in the 80s did you all of a sudden find alcohol packaged as lemonade or wine coolers in familiar flavours to soft drinks? How many adults do you know would put down their beer or wine to drink a bright coloured and sweet soft drink? Do you honestly think their market was adult consumers or was it to target a once unaccesible market. I know pretty much all of my friends in my generation consumed alcohol below the legal age. It was a ‘turn a blind eye’ or ‘it won’t do them any harm’ kind of thought process. Until the invention of these a lot of teens never touched alcohol as in the forms it was presented in it didn’t appeal to their taste buds therefore they simply didn’t. The weddings or birthdays when parents would maybe allow you something it was often met with a clear no. as their taste buds didn’t favour the refined taste, much like coffee has evolved into all manner of sugary concoctions. Give them a sweet and familiar drink however and all problems are solved. The parents remember that it’s how they were brought up and only remember that they ‘did it’ (drank below legal age) they don’t remember how much they enjoyed it or if they did it a lot, only simply that they did. It’s a generational thought process. We did it therefore we can rationalize that it’s ok for our kids to do it.
Manufacturers were aware that these slightly younger consumers weren’t likely to consume beer etc in the volumes they would require for more profit so something closer to what they where familiar with and an easy way to increase alcohol consumption would work and increase profitability and even some addicts along the way. The taxpayer would gladly pick up the tab for the endless hospital visits, extra police manpower all caused by alcohol as after all it wasn’t their responsibility as long as the company saw profit why would they care.
in 2007, 20 per cent of school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking alcohol in the week prior to being asked; this figure is lower than 2001, when 26 per cent of pupils reported drinking in the last week
Understanding generational gaps.
If I hear ‘I did it and it did me no harm’ or ‘let them live a little’ when it comes to food I will tear my hair out. People seem to fail to grasp what has actually changed.
As much as people may wish to turn a blind eye. We live in a disrupted and disrespectful society far more today than even 10 years ago. We have generations of teens having children as it gives them homes and monetary benefits to potentially fuel their smoking, drug and alcohol habits. These are children raising children in the manner that they where brought up in and yes the problems lies deeper and certainly issues way beyond what I could write about in a short article.
In society there is a divide that exists, not through class but through upbringing and expectancies. You go to any low income area in the UK and what do you find. You find fast food, off licences (liquor stores), newsagents that sell lottery tickets, cigarettes and more junk food. You find bookmakers, gambling stores, nail salons, hairdressers and more recently pawnbrokers and money lenders. All of the things you would perceive useful only to those with disposable income. These areas are also often rife with drugs problems and societal problems. Why?
People are brought up with expectancies and negativity. They see solace in ‘fixes’ things that make them live in hope (lottery tickets, gambling) and give them momentary feelings of elation (beauty treatments, tobacco, alcohol, fast food, sweets, candy etc) and when the money runs out as consumers the solution to that problem lies in the same area. Create more debt and people need more of these ‘fixes’ or a way to ‘forget’ or disregard their issues, keep going and off the back of it we have children and teens fending for themselves on the streets. Society over time becomes sympathetic to their behavior and deem it as acceptable, as adults from the previous generation see similarities and rationalize with ‘oh we where like that as kids’…..you sure about that? You played outside as kids right? Would you let your kids freely do that now?
The trends push towards the dietary issues and it Becomes a vicious circle. Disrupted kids with behavioural problems being brought up around a society with the exact same issues. Those that step away from that culture , it’s dietary and habitual undertones will be those that succeed and create a new norm.
It’s like what I say to people starting on a diet plan. If it’s in your fridge or cupboard at some point physically or mentally you WILL eat it, simply because it’s there. Why will these stores and shops never close? Because there will always be money coming to spend at them. Make bad food cheaper and more convenient for babies, children and adults it frees up cash for the rest of it.
Where do I see the most horrendous dietary practices? In these exact areas
Is it potentially a large part of the problem…YES it is.
To take a look at a particular generation and compare to what we have today will show us that even over such a small amount of time how things have changed.
If you’re between the age of 30-43 this was your childhood.
People started to lose the ability to handle and be able to prepare real food. Convenience food started to become readily available in supermarkets taking the emphasis off cooking and more consuming. With the invention of these came the first run of chemical additives to prolongue shelf life and add to the convenience.
Those who where kids during this time were starting to get introduced to convenience food but for the most part all food would have been prepared and made from fresh.
Sweets and candies where seen as treats as where things like coca cola, if you where lucky you would maybe consume a couple of things a week. Your parents would be default have only ever done this as it wasn’t accessible, no vending machines, garages sold very little besides, oil and fuel. Pocket money would buy a handful of sweets or a can of soda.
Your parents were perhaps subject to some of the sweets etc but they ate like adults, real, freshly prepared food and ate around a table as families.
Your baby food was food, pureed or mashed up, most of you would be breast fed and formula was little more than powdered or fresh milk.
There was very little in the way of chemical additives in your food and the era of ‘deemed suitable for human consumption’ was only in it’s infancy.
Most of your parents would have been in their mid twenties or early thirties and would have grown up with even less of the consumer focus. There was no bombardment of advertising, it was subtle.
Local produce, greengrocers, butchers and farmers still were the mainstay of the food people consumed. Over time these businesses would begin to lose out to the bigger players and the shift in quantity over quality began to prevail. The dawn of the supermarket began.
Food manufacturers at this stage started to realize that people loved both salt and sugar. This created and improved sales. The thought that a simple and cheap additive to food could increase revenue was born. Over the next 40-50 years the food manufacturers would push the envelope on what they could get away with for human consumption and minimize waste.
Looking at this shows how things are VERY different today. Food is a commercial thing, we eat out of enjoyment for the most part, not on a social level as it’s not a social event anymore. We consume food based on physical enjoyment and emotional enjoyment.
HOW ARE WE GOING TO IMPACT CHANGE.
‘When you can’t affect change from within, you have an obligation if you’re at all conscious to get out and try something different’
As long as these large manufacturers continue to pay taxes and turn profit the emphasis will always lie in consumer demand. There is the thought that it lies in schools and educating the children. It sadly doesn’t.
We are influenced across generations, not just a single generation. We are taught by those who came before us and learn from those same people. We also draw influence and habits from those people.
Without a multigenerational approach we will fail. Targetting schools and children is not enough. Without educating parents in both the rationelle and practice we will always endevour to fail. Parents from the past 2-3 generations need to be re-educated in foods and the preparation of foods. Nutrition is too advanced to expect people to learn in detail. HEALTH must remain at the forefront, this and both the behavioural and educational development of our future generations. Society is at danger of slipping into a period of self destruction and foods are playing a large part.
The value of local produce and value of farming practices needs to be re-emphasised. REAL food needs to be encouraged and stricter laws administered across schools and our educational systems with regards to what is permissible to consume and what is not. This CANNOT be focused on obesity as the by-product will be a lowering in obesity levels. This is NOT our issue, the issue is generations of people failing to actually to consume single ingredient foods and combinations of them. The majority of a westerners diet is processed, long life and packed full of chemicals. This trend must change!
There are many things that need addressed and I’m in the process of putting together an initiative to get this ball well and truly rolling. It still remains a roundtable of strategies and potential approaches but once again, as a united front I truly believe we can change this.
1. Weiss B. Food additives and environmental chemicals as sources of childhood behaviour disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1982, 21:144-152.
2. Needleman HL and others The long-term effects of exposure to low doses of lead in childhood: an 11 year follow-up report. New England Journal of Medicine, 1990, 322:83-8.
3. Jacobson JL and others. Effects of in utero exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and related contaminants on cognitive functioning in young children. Journal of Pediatrics, 1990, 116:38-48.
4. Feldman RG and others. Neurotoxic effects of trichloroethylene in drinking water. In ‘The vulnerable brain and environmental risks, vol 3, Toxins in air and water’, ed RL Isaacson and LK Jensen, Plenum Press, NY 1994, 48.
5. Report on leaked EPA document concerning dioxin toxicity, New Scientist, vol 166, issue 2240, p.19.
6.Bennett CPW and others. The Shipley Project: treating food allergy to prevent criminal behaviour in community settings. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 1998, 8, 77-83.