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July 24, 2019 | Phones and Junk Food: Two Addiction Epidemics Needing Attention

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel ( Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog:

I take public transport wherever possible and, in doing so, have the opportunity to observe the epidemic of compulsive phone and junk food consumption.  A large and growing body of scientific studies connect the two in brain chemistry and the rising tide of diet-related illness, anxiety and depression.

Yesterday I had a two and a half hour train ride behind a mom and child about age 8.  I could not help but notice that throughout the ride, they consumed bag after bag of different junk foods virtually non-stop while scrolling through electronic devices.  I was reading, but the mom’s phone was facing me through the seats so I could not help but note that she scrolled social media and continually took selfies in various facial expressions which she reviewed and revised throughout the ride.  The daughter was wearing headphones over her ears and watching a laptop.  Verbal communication between the two of them was nearly nil.  (On a separate issue, near the end of the ride, the train conductor delivered a colourful plastic bag of throw-away plastic ‘kids club’ junk to the child, but I digress.)

This is not to be critical of this mom and this child; the pattern of behaviour is widely common today.  But being a student of addiction and sobriety programs for years through my immediate family, I know what compulsive behaviour looks like.  It appears obvious that junk food and phone addictions need awareness and treatment like any other.

The role that regulation and policy plays in this area is, as always, uncomfortable to define.  But we have rules around the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and gambling, especially when it comes to minors. We are clearly in need of more education and behaviour guidelines in this area as well.  Implementing productive policy responses is difficult to be sure, but mounting social and sick-care costs are too expensive to ignore, and there must be a responsibility on adults to lead.

Italy is making news today with proposed initiatives in this area, see Italian MP wants to treat phone addicts like drug addicts and send teens to rehab.

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July 24th, 2019

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite

One Comment

  • Richard says:

    You are providing us with an excellent example of a collectivist mindset — which is very problematic and at the core of so many issues. “There ought to be a law” against this or that — that’s a collectivist mind. Rather than coercing people into obedience in your personal code of acceptable behaviour, why not try and persuade people so that it’s a voluntary thing, rather than say… having the GOVT force people into rehab? You are advocating for a system of totalitarian control, whether you know it or not – despite glimpses of a free market thinker at times. Study the difference between collectivism and individualism … I have no doubt once you do, you will abandon collectivist attitudes. But just so the point isn’t completely lost, I too think it’s tragic at what some kids and adults eat, their addictions to their phones, the damage being done to them with EMF exposure, etc etc. Part of it comes from the lies and deception on a global scale about things like GMO, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, central banking, and on and on it goes. We need to expose the truth, and help persuade others…we shouldn’t be advocating for more laws, rules, regulations to restrict our behaviour. The biggest challenge is uncovering the truth and getting ‘the useful idiots’ to open their eyes, listen, and act accordingly, so we can stop perpetuating the insanity.

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