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Home » The Harsh Reality of Ultra Processed Food: Chris Van Tulleken (Transcript)

The Harsh Reality of Ultra Processed Food: Chris Van Tulleken (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of medical doctor Chris Van Tulleken’s talk titled “The Harsh Reality of Ultra Processed Food” at Ri conference on 19 September 2023.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

Well, thank you all very much for coming. I’m impossibly honoured to be here at the Ri, I’ve attended many wonderful lectures here. I want to talk about food and about stuff that isn’t food. But before we do that I want to discuss a little bit about the language we use for this discussion, because I’m going to talk about the wide effects of this category of ultra-processed food on human health and on planetary health, but the thing that a lot of people want to understand and the thing that a lot of the research is focused on is weight and obesity.

We don’t really have the language to talk about this in a sensitive way, the language is still evolving and if we’re not really, really careful, a war on obesity very quickly becomes a war on people, because more than anything else we use the word obesity in its adjectival form. People are obese, so obesity and identity are conflated.

And so when we tackle obesity, if we say that food is the problem, the people who eat it can quickly become the problem as we see in this headline from the Daily Express. So what I want to do is use the framing of this, that people can live with obesity, we all live, many of us live with lots of problems and obesity needn’t be an identity, it’s an identity that people can put up and they can pick it up and they can put it down in different contexts. And the reason I say that and the reason I frame it so carefully is because we absolutely do have to have this discussion, because in the last decade poor diet has overtaken tobacco as the leading cause of early death for human beings and for animals on planet Earth.

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