ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Supersize Us? Give Us Another 10 Years

The Indian middle-class obsession with food, weight and body image can be traced to the 1990s era of globalisation and consumerism.

I wish I could have recorded the conversation I overheard on the metro in Bangalore when four women in their e­arly 20s debated the meaning of junk food for the entire 13-minute ride. One of them was a silent observer, passing occasional wise remarks; two had joined forces to needle the fourth, the centre of attention, whose resolution to “eat junk food only once a week” had provoked the debate.

You may have guessed that the centre of attention (let’s call her CA) was fairly lean, while the two who were pestering her with one voice (call them P) were endowed with a certain embonpoint. “Does that mean you won’t eat out on the other days?”, P asked. CA vigorously argued that “restaurant food” like samosas and chaat was not junk but “real food”. P taunted her: “All that fried stuff, the oil, of course it’s junk.” Oil, fat, sugar, chocolate, butter, cheese, ghee, all qualified as junk, they said. “How can you say ghee is junk?” CA snapped indignantly. “My grandmother makes nice bhendi fried in ghee, and the next time she makes it for me and I call it junk she’ll give me two slaps!”

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