Look around you when you're next in the petrol station and you'll discover you're surrounded by upwards of a billion kilojoules: not only chocolate bars, but doughnuts, energy drinks, pies and soft drinks.
I try to be a creature of habit in this loony bin we call modern life. I actually find my routine quite grounding: hang at the same cafe, buy my fruit and veg at the same greengrocer, walk the dog in the same park, wake up at the same time every night so I can stare at the ceiling stressing about everything I’ve got to do in the morning …
So when I fronted the counter of my local service station to pay for a tank-full of diesel, I didn’t expect the question I was asked when I presented my credit card for payment. “Would you like a [insert brand name of chocolate bar]? They’re on special at the moment and you get a second bar for only a dollar more.”
Deep breath. First thought: of course I’d like a bar of chocolate. I’m a girl, for goodness sake. Second thought: I’m meant to be a paragon of health, so he probably has some bet going with his workmates that he can tempt me with a choccie bar or two. Cheeky boy.
I looked around and realised that he was surrounded by upwards of a billion kilojoules: not only chocolate bars, but doughnuts, energy drinks, pies and soft drinks. Junk food had quietly crept into the space previously inhabited by ciggies and boldly taken up residence.
For an ethereal moment he looked like Saint Francis of Assisi, surrounded by benevolent animals, quietly mouthing, “Come on, try one. It won’t hurt you. You know you want to …” But that moment passed as the reality of the situation unfolded in front of me.
Is this the blueprint for the service stations of the future? Is “Would you like petrol with that?” set to be the script for tomorrow’s service station attendants?
I suppose with obesity now being the No. 1 public-health issue in Australia – eclipsing smoking, alcohol, drugs, the road toll, HIV – it is logical that fatty, sugary (alleged) foods should legitimately claim pole position over cigarettes in servos around the country.
Will we soon see legislation that restricts ambush marketing of unhealthy food products? Probably not. If the Australian Food and Grocery Council can sucker us into letting them self-regulate junk food advertising to our children (what, oh what, were we thinking?), I’m not hopeful that we’ll be seeing meaningful change any time soon. It took us more than 30 years to put the brakes on the tobacco industry, so I’m not holding my breath
Eat before you fill up with petrol. I know, it's ridiculous, but at least that way you can sidestep temptation.