Our country is overweight; Food Network needs a new image!

Watch the Food Network for a few hours of programming and count up the number of times a healthy eating habit is promoted. You won’t count very high.

Even with over 50% of the U.S.’s adult population overweight or obese (Wikipedia citation), healthy food and eating is on the backburner for the Food Network. As the premiere food oriented channel on basic cable, the Food Network should be more concerned with being the leading resource for good eating and lifestyle habits that can shape the country’s dietary future.
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Image credit: Flickr user wallyg

I have been watching the Food Network a lot these past few weeks, and one thing seems to bother me incessantly about their programming. It is greasy, sugary, fatty, and generally unhealthy! Now, I don’t think we should tend towards the fanatic side of “nutritionism,” but more like eating less processed foods and more whole foods cooked in less grease.

A quick rundown of the shows (This is by no means a comprehensive study or accurate list of statistics. It is just an estimate from data I have gathered from viewing experience and online perusing.):
# fatty, meaty shows = 8
# sugary = 6
# of hosts who are overweight = at least 6
NONE of the primary programs have health themes

My least liked show is “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” where host Guy Fieri goes to different, usually very greasy, restaurants around the country and stuffs his face. Although I do think the places he goes to often have a nice story and culture, I feel like the show still promotes the culture of big portions and greasy plates.

The main idea behind the philosophy of the Food Network is cooking and eating for pleasure and comfort, with very little thought for important lifestyle factors that affect health. For many of the network’s shows, tasting good and feeling good are made to seem synonymous with happiness. While I am not saying that this should be true, I disagree with the pathway by which we should reach this type of happiness.

I’m do enjoy watching the Food Network, but only for entertainment purposes and not culinary education (at least not for the most part). Why would I trust someone who does not look like they have a healthy diet? I care about my health, and would appreciate it if the themes promoted by television were more responsible than they are presently.

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4 Responses

  1. Millennium Development Goals: global hunger and undernutrition | science before breakfast says

    [...] My Thoughts on the Food Network’s image and role in food culture [...]

  2. chewbear says

    While that may be nice and true that he is helping small businesses, it doesn’t change what I think about his show or the need for the Food Network to change. There are plenty of small food joints that serve healthier food. He chooses places that are greasy and serve oversized portions.

  3. Rick says

    Gotta love Guy Fieri helping out small business with his show especially in these tough

    times. We went to Albuquerque only because of the show and we also saw James Taylor while we

    were there so an excellent road trip for the family.

  4. Nat says

    I found myself watching the Food Network earlier last week (this is what happens when I take four 6-hour flights in the space of one week), and I watched several shows, many of them cooking shows.

    One of the images that sticks in my mind the most is seeing Giada De Laurentiis (who kind of looks like Dori!) pouring olive oil into a bowl of pasta. She first poured what I thought was a normal, okay amount of oil in, and then she just kept going and going and going… ultimately pouring what must’ve been over a cup of oil into there! It was so disgusting.

    So I can totally relate to what you’re saying. They really need to work on emphasizing responsible and healthy eating habits over there.