Easter is just around the corner.

pexels-photo-190195.jpegEaster is fast approaching and the shops are full of amazing delights. There is even a cushion embroidered with a “Happy Easter” greeting for sale in the supermarket. I do like the cloth pennant and add it to my trolley. I know just the place to hang it.
I’ve recently read an article about junk food being easier to resist in plain wrappers. A Cambridge University neuroscientist called Wolfram Schultz has made calls for ministers to consider trials whereby fatty and sugary foods are sold in plain packaging.
Professor Schultz has spent over 30 years examining the neurons in our brains dubbed “the little devils” and he claims that food manufacturers use colours and pictures to hijack the circuits that lead to addiction.
From May last year our tobacco products are sold in standardised olive green packages. Australia has led the way with the tobacco ruling, they are already looking at the practise for high calorie foods.
Professor Schultz has evidence that once a person is obese it is a difficult route to to get back to normal.
Basically, our survival system is killing us. Deep down in our brain is an ancient piece of biology called the dopamine system. The dopamine’s job is to set off small busts of pleasure whenever we do something worthwhile. Over time we learn to behave in a certain way to keep these little bursts of pleasure coming. Fatty foods, sugary foods, gambling, alcohol all cause our dopamine to burst into action.
Several thousand years ago a little bush of sweet berries would provide a dopamine activation. It would keep us alive. We were hungry, our basic survival system would remember where that bush was and we could stock up on the sweet little berries. Our dopamine system now reminds us where the confectionary aisle of the supermarket is. We know the details of the colours, textures and images on our favourite bars of dopamine activating delights.
It all makes perfect sense and I’m very pleased that professor Schultz work has been acknowledged with 1/3 of a £1 million Brain Prize, known as the Nobel prize for neuroscience.
However, I stand at the entrance to the seasonal aisle at the supermarket and I try to imagine the goodies in olive green packaging. Would the egg shape still be allowed? Little green eggs in green boxes.
No shiny wrappers, or images of fluffy chickens. The lady next to me on the promotion stall, giving away little samples of Belgium chocolate wouldn’t be allowed. I pop my hand in my coat pocket and feel the foil surrounding the tiny gold bunny shaped chocolates that she has given me for my children ( I didn’t tell her her they were 15 and 23).
My conclusion is that Easter in plain wrappers would be wrong. Instead they should install a tight turnstile at the entrance of this aisle of delights. The obese customers wouldn’t be able to get through.
I will await next years brain prize in the post.

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