Unhealthy northern communities

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 45, No. 3, April 2003, Page 115 Letters

It is perhaps presumptuous to draw conclusions from short acquaintances, however as the late Dr Kenneth Evelyn observed, whilst one swallow does not make a summer, one swallow is one swallow.

The article “Diabetic blood sugar control: An urban/rural comparison” [BCMJ 2002;44(10):537] refers to the Bella Coola Medical Clinic having a nurse “who is actively involved in providing diabetic education to parents.”

I recently had the good fortune to spend 5 days in Bella Bella which, apart from being an island, has much in common with Bella Coola. The most striking feature of the population was the gross obesity, especially of the children. I believe the cause was patently obvious. Everywhere one saw youngsters with vast bottles of sweetened carbonated beverages upon which they sucked as they walked. In many cases they were lugging along large bags of candy or crisps.

A visit to the Band store was revealing. The store was filled with shelf after shelf of junk food. A rough measure, by counting the number of shelves and pacing out their length, confirmed that more than one-third of the space was taken up by rubbish foods attractive to children. The few vegetables present offered little choice and appeared to be little in demand judging by the checkout. It is interesting what one can observe in an idle moment. Talking of which, a little lad was struggling home carrying an open bottle of pop and a jumbo-sized package of crisps, also open. Thus laden he stumbled and fell down on the road. Immediately a scramble ensued with a donnybrook involving four ravens, each the size of a barnyard fowl, a mangy-looking hungry cur, and the boy. The dog triumphed, but not before the ravens had snatched a good helping. The real loser was the child, who in the melee, spilled his bottle.

No doubt the pros and cons of various treatments of the ill effects of these dietary follies will be material for many more erudite papers in the years to come.

—H.E. Woolley, MD 

H. Ewart Woolley, MD. Unhealthy northern communities. BCMJ, Vol. 45, No. 3, April, 2003, Page(s) 115 - Letters.

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