Cambridge UK 21/04/2016: Cambridge-based Nutritionist, Susan Krueger, has written a novel describing a working woman’s struggle to control her weight. During the healthcare conference she has organised Emma, already confused by the conflicting advice on diet and nutrition, is subjected to a year’s worth of health scares in the space of one afternoon. She had to run the gauntlet of pop-up food vendors during her commute from Cambridge into London. Lunch started with sandwiches on the run and ended with snacks from the conference buffet bar. (The queen thinks the world smells of fresh paint – for Emma it’s coffee, freshly-baked bread and bacon.) She knows there won’t be time to cook in the evening and will make do with a ready meal; letting a food company decide how much sugar, fat and salt she needs as part of a balanced diet. However, with each presentation comes a growing realisation that her trust in these companies is misplaced. The conference becomes a journey along the full length of the food supply chain until the discussion moves on to body image and fat shaming and finally to personal responsibility. Perhaps, after all, the problem isn’t between the field and the plate but in the last 12 inches of the journey – between the plate and Emma’s mouth. ‘Overweight – So Whose Fault is That’ is the debate we should be having about our relationship with food told as a compelling story.
The inspiration for the book came from an agricultural conference. “Food simply appears in our lives and we seldom question what was done to it before it reaches the supermarket shelf,” says Krueger, “Even if we do read the labels we tend to take the manufacturer’s claims at face value. In few other industries are the quality and performance of a product so obscured by aggressive marketing.”
Krueger believes that improving our diet will require a multiagency approach. “We have to include not only organisations involved in the production and distribution of food but also employers and the catering sector,” says Krueger, adding, “The pace and structure of the working day in the internet age mitigates against a healthy diet. Some people, for example coach and lorry drivers, have little or no access to nutritious food during their working day. This, and the sedentary nature of driving, has resulted in above average instances of obesity and diabetes amongst members of this profession. The cost to employers through lost working days and drivers retiring early due to poor health is rising. The drivers themselves are not the only ones who would like this problem fixed.”
According to Krueger, Cambridge is already playing a key role in helping to improve the nation’s diet. “We have organisations such as Agri-Tech East whose members are at the forefront of research into food production,” she says “Also the MRC is researching human physiology and, as we saw during the recent science festival, the Behaviour and Health Research Unit of Cambridge University is trying to discover why we find it so difficult to make informed choices about food while shopping in supermarkets. On the other hand, Cambridge is also at the centre of the communications revolution that has removed most of the physical effort from our jobs. So gone is the work’s canteen, replaced by a vending machine full of snacks that provide a short-term energy boost. Here again employers can do a lot to ensure this new working environment is a healthy one with regard to diet and exercise.”
‘Overweight – So Whose Fault is That.’ (ISBN 978-0-9540977-2-1) is published in paperback on 22 April
It will be available from Amazon Books price £7.99
SUSAN KRUEGER is a nutritionist researching food chain efficiency and resilience and helping organisations improve the wellbeing of their customers and employees. She has also developed the YourFoodForLife program which provides people with 12 straightforward steps towards a healthy diet and lifestyle.