I know what you’re thinking, haven’t we just had a Willy Wonka film come out not long ago? Well, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came out nearly 19 years ago! 2005 feels like yesterday… The original film came out way back in 1971 and still holds strong to this day, and the legendary children’s author Roald Dahl first published the book back in 1964.
The story of Willy Wonka is a classic, with memorable parts being ingrained into our culture, such as the rare golden tickets, or the Oompa Loompa’s with their bright orange face and wavy green hair!
Willy Wonka as a character has always divided opinion amongst parents, due to the promotion of unhealthy eating habits and his eccentric behaviour, and with each iteration of the character, various writers and directors change the character to make him even more whacky.
The new Wonka film will be released in the UK in early December, so e-Surgery thought it was the right time to tackle the biggest parenting issues of the year (apart from disposable vapes).
So first, let’s delve into the bonkers world of Willy Wonka!
Willy Wonka is the notorious chocolatier at the heart of Roald Dahls classic tale and is a character that is shrouded in mystery. After a troubled childhood, Wonka discovers his passion for cocoa and a joy for creating amazing and experimental chocolate and sweets.
His factory is set as a place of awe, a spectacle over the unnamed town it is set in, almost like a grand cathedral but for the creation of chocolate, not the creation of God! Wonka’s factory is the manifestation of his marvellous brain, and conseils a world of wonders beyond your imagination, one of pure imagination…
Wonka’s outfit is the pinnacle of his eccentricity, with a grand velvet purple long jacket and top hat being the first impression of his whacky character. He’s a mysterious, private person who keeps himself to himself, but is far from an introvert.
Willy Wonka embodies the magic of childhood fantasies, the allure of endless possibilities, and the sweet charm that resides in the heart of every chocolate lover’s dreams.
The Diabetes Epidemic
Type 2 Diabetes is sweeping the nation, with children eating less nutritious diets by each generation. The glamorisation of unhealthy food is becoming unfavoured amongst advertisers, so why do we give exception to the new Wonka film?
The statistics are alarming. Between 2021 and 2022, 4.3 million people in the UK alone are living with a diabetes diagnosis. This is staggering, and the number is only increasing each year. It’s estimated that more than 2.4 million more are at serious risk of developing type-2 diabetes due to having high blood sugar levels.
Our eating habits are often formed by our childhood behaviours, so by being exposed to films that glorify unhealthy foods, more specifically ones that are known causes of serious health conditions like diabetes, there is a serious discussion needed surrounding the implications entertainment like the Wonka film could have the younger generations.
Dental Health and Sugar Consumption
The other major health concern surrounding Willy Wonka is the damage his message of sweets and chocolate can do to children’s teeth. In a survey carried out by Public Health England, found that in 2019 just under a quarter of 5 years old had signs of tooth decay, with between 3 and 4 teeth being damaged. This is an alarming statistic that has only gotten worse over time.
The confectionary industry has been one of the main players in the development of cavities and gum disease amongst kids, due to the high sugar volume in most of the snacks on the market.
The Wonka film sensationalises candy to the kids he sells his chocolate to and the kids he invited to his factory. The same is done to children who are exposed to his story, so what’s to say this won’t be the same for the latest Wonka film?
Teaching children the importance of looking after their teeth will help them to form habits such as regularly brushing their teeth, eating a healthy diet and maintaining mouth hygiene.
In Tim Burton’s 2005 Wonka film, Wonka’s father is a dentist that stops him from having sweets when trick or treating and states “Lollipops – what we call ‘cavities on a stick”, which is given as one of the building blocks of his fascination with creating the world best candy. But maybe his father had a point…
Does Chocolate Have Its Benefits?
We all love chocolate, so it can’t be all bad… can it? Well, you might be surprised to learn that chocolate can have a range of health benefits. But it really depends on the type of chocolate you’re eating, as dark chocolate is known to have the most health benefits of all the various types. The holy trinity of chocolate, white, milk and dark, all have various qualities and most of us all have our personal favourite. Let’s take a closer look at each one and what effect they have on our bodies!
It’s everyone’s least favourite, so of course it’s the healthiest of the lot. Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of cocoa and has the highest amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants, which can help support your health by:
- Improving heart health
- Reducing blood pressure
- Promoting healthy blood flow
Dark chocolate contains compounds like phenylethylamine and serotonin which can have mood-enhancing effects. It also contains caffeine and theobromine which can create a mild stimulation and increase alertness and general cognitive function. In the Wonka film, dark chocolate isn’t very popular though, which isn’t surprising!
Some studies have shown a link between dark chocolate and the improvement of insulin sensitivity which can help combat conditions like type-2 diabetes.
Dark chocolate is high in minerals including:
- Magnesium – Helps keep healthy bones and muscles, controls blood sugar
- Copper – Supports the immune system
- Zinc – supports growth of cells, heals damaged tissue and the immune system
- Iron – helps growth, development and making of red blood cells
Milk chocolate is the most widely consumed chocolate in the world, and it’s no surprise because it’s the tastiest (according to us). The biggest chocolate has their main product containing milk chocolate, whether it’s Cadbury, Galaxy, Mars, or KitKat, milk chocolate is the front runner in chocolate brands.
But can milk chocolate be healthy?
Well, first off, the majority of the ingredients in milk chocolate are not so good for our health, as they contain high amounts of sugar. But it does contain cocoa, at a lot lower percentage than dark chocolate, so the antioxidant effects can still be had from eating your favourite chocolate bar, but it won’t be as noticeable.
Milk chocolate is everyones favourite chocolate, and is the main product in the Wonka film.
The creamiest of all the chocolates, white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids or particles whatsoever, only cocoa butter, so sadly it doesn’t come will all the added benefits and health properties. One positive though is that because of this, it doesn’t contain any caffeine which makes it a more suitable chocolate fix for those who are extremely sensitive to caffeine and stimulants.
White chocolate does contain a high level of sugar, so it’s most certainly not a healthy choice of snack.
What are the moral lessons learnt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
The original story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did have a very compelling story within the wackiness of the tale. Stories can teach important life lessons, especially to children who are finding their place in the world. Roald Dahl managed to cleverly implement some amazing moral lessons that he hoped the readers would be able to understand and implement into their own lives as they begin to mature. Let’s take a look at some of the lessons that the original story taught us…
The Consequences of Greed
Possibly the greatest lesson that Willy Wonka teaches the golden ticket winner is to not be greedy. This is shown by his treatment towards Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teavee. Augustus falls into the chocolate river because he refuses to stop eating the chocolate, and eventually gets sucked up a gigantic glass pipe. Veruca is demanding and acts spoilt so Wonka chucks her down the garbage chute. Mike doesn’t stop obsessing over the television, so Wonka transports him to a TV screen.
All three of the kids have direct consequences for their ungrateful and greedy behaviour, and although Wonka is doing some pretty crazy things to them, you can kind of understand it!
The Importance of Family
The kids in the original story take for granted pretty much everything they have in their lives, with all of them coming from middle-class and financially stable families, apart from Charlie Buckett. The story shows that even though Charlie has very little in life, yet his world is full of love and connection through his family. Wonka spots this during his tour of the factory and notices Charlie’s close relationship with Grandpa Joe. The story shows kids how important it is to value those closest to you, which is a great moral lesson to teach young children.
Embrace Your ‘Pure Imagination’
As the classic song sung by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory says, tapping into your imagination can help inspire kids to dream big, create and innovate. Wonka’s world is full of creativity wherever you look, which for the children in the story and the ones reader or watching it, can be very inspirational when seeing the colours and inventions of Wonka, or even imagining them when they’re reading the book. The tale takes us through Roald Dahl’s creative mind and shows us what is possible if you put your mind to it.
Is Willy Wonka as a Good Role Model?
Well, Wonka is a confusing character to say the least. He’s known for his eccentric and unpredictable behaviour, and it’s hard for kids to know the difference between fantasy and reality with characters as fascinating as him. Some of his behaviours aren’t good to have in real life, so being exposed to a character like Wonka could influence your children, especially if they’re very young. Wonka does however give some valuable life lessons, such as having respect, manners, gratitude for what you have in life. It’s really up for debate, so it’s for the parents to make that decision.
Making the Decision About the Wonka Film
We know your son or daughter has probably seen the trailer or promotional poster for the Wonka film, which means you could be getting the constant questions of “Mum, Dad, can you go to the cinema!” and if you’re unsure it can be even harder to give them an answer.
We’ve tried to cover the topic as in depth as we can, from the perspective of healthcare professionals. If you decide it’s not suitable for them to see, then you can walk through this article with them to explain your reasoning, and hopefully they will understand.
We recommend speaking to your closest friends and family to hear what their opinions and perspectives are, as every one of us is different. Everyone thinks their way of parenting is the right way, but nobody is superior.
If your son or daughter is too young to sit through a long film in the cinema, or you don’t want them to see the glamorisation of sweets and chocolate on a massive screen, then you could always start by reading the original Roald Dahl book with them when it’s bedtime. This way they get the original story but without the intense confectionary propaganda!
Thank You for Reading
If you enjoyed this article, make sure you check out some of the others we have in our ‘Health Hub’ which can be found in the top right-hand corner of our homepage. We have a wide range of interesting blogs covering health topics and conditions. Here at e-Surgery we also offer a completely free to use ask-a-pharmacist service which puts you in direct communication with one of our clinical team, who can answer a range of health-related questions. This means you no longer need to queue up or travel to your closest pharmacy to get an answer to many of your health related questions!