Traditions, Values and Young People

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Health and Food: An Interview with an Expert




A group of students from the school at Mülheim (Germany) went to the local health authority and interviewed an expert on food and health. Here are the questions and answers:

Q. How have eating habits in Germany changed over the last 20 years?

A. They have shifted from unprocessed to processed food. That means there are more finished products, for example from potatoes. The demand for mean and sausage is also higher than before, which is problematic. Peas, beans and lentils are offered and sold less and less.

Q. Today, are there differences between the eating habits of children and grown-ups?

A. Yes, there are definitely differences. The key words are: much, fatty, sweet, salty. Children are influenced by taste, colours and advertising. Adolescents care about cool food – e.g. from McDonald's – and are influenced by friends. For adults, social status and health aspects are important.

Q. Is  there food today which used to be unknown?

A. Yes, there are dishes which used to be unknown, dishes from other cultures, such as döner, pizza and falafel.

Q. Do people today eat more fast food than before?

A. Yes, because more of it is on offer, and because people have less time and take less time for their meals. There are more schools which offer lunch and where the children eat, and women have to work and cannot go home at noon to cook.

Q. Was fast food different from now?

A. Fast food used to be pizza, chips (French fries) and frozen stuff. Frozen food has been available for a long time. Currywurst (a sausage eaten with a curry sauce) was eaten more frequently than pizza or döner.

Q. Has the quality of food changed?

A. Milk has a higher quality; it stays fresh a lot longer. Meat does not have so much fat today because leaner farm animals are bred. The customers demand this lean meat. There used to be less labeling concerning fat. But people eat more hidden fat today. In a Bratwurst (fried sausage), one third is fat.