Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obesity in America: A Growing Problem (Part 2)

Why are 70% of Americans overweight and obese?

The simple answer is we eat too much and exercise too little (Note: hours in front of the television/computer is one of the best predictors of overweight). These are our choices and personal responsibility.
So, what’s changed?
Have we just become too careless and lazy when it comes to our own health? It certainly appears so. Again, personal choices and responsibility.
Don’t we care about our health and the health of our kids? If we do, then why are one third of our kids overweight or obese?
The irony is that we are a nation obsessed with health (gym memberships, home gyms and work-out equipment and dvd’s, diet books/plans, diet foods, and ‘health foods,’ vitamin sales, etc.). We spend trillions of dollars pursuing or medically trying to restore ‘health,’ yet we are the sickest nation in the world.
What could cause us to go so far astray?
Simple, corporate profits.
The primary mission of pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies and so-called health-care delivery systems, is current profits and annual growth. This system feeds on disease.
The primary mission of food companies, like that of tobacco companies, is to sell products. Food companies are not health or social agencies, and nutrition becomes a factor in corporate thinking only when it can help sell food.” This system creates disease.
As always, one need only to follow the money along the trail of corporate power through government influence, as supported by corporate ‘science’ and the purposeful obfuscation of the public by the media.
What has changed is what we eat and how much of it. And that is precisely what has been manipulated by the food industry. To generate sales, the food industry, by what it makes and how it markets, has encouraged Americans to eat more cheap, but highly profitable, processed calorie-dense/nutrient-deficient chemical foods (high in fats and sugars /total calories) and less of the less profitable whole natural foods (nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables).
In short, the profit margin on food is small. Therefore, the marketing imperative of the food industry is to get people to eat more cheap foods.
1. Palatability: how food engages all of our senses (taste, aroma, texture, visual appeal, mouth-feel, swallow-ability and. for fast-food dining, a clean, fun, family atmosphere). The precise sugar-fat-salt content has all been engineered to increase the amount that we eat, and how quickly we eat, chew and swallow it so that we can move on to our next bite asap. Nothing is left to chance.
2. Costs: government agribusiness subsidies (corn, soy, sugar, cattle and chicken) and the processing of these cheap ingredients into chemical foods keeps their prices low compared to unsubsidized farming and sales of unprocessed whole natural foods.
3. Convenience: creating and selling food products that can be consumed quickly and with minimal preparation. Nearly half of all meals are consumed outside the home (fast foods, snacking)
4. Public confusion on dietary/health advice: the language of the food industry exploits dietary recommendations to sell food products. A chemical processed food is promoted and sold using sales-driving pseudo-health claims so that a vitamin C and calcium fortified, omega-3and fiber enhanced Twinkee prevents cancer and is heart-safe as it is low-fat, has no cholesterol, no triglycerides and no trans-fats. Verses, say, an apple, a tomato, a pear, etc, which have no loud packaging or repetitive flashy marketing to honestly make those claims.
Marketing works, or the food companies would not spend $33 billion dollars annually to do it. Plain and simple. We have been so brainwashed by their incessant and pervasive ads and dominating presence in our schools and government that we no longer know what FOOD is. We believe that food comes from fast-food restaurants and in fancy packaging in the center ailes and frozen food sections of the supermarket and convenience stores. Our kids can no longer identify basic foods, and have no taste for natural foods.
The result has been astoundingly successful and profitable for both the food and medical-insurance-pharmaceutical industries, and completely disastrous for public health. We are sicker than ever, and we are poisoning and killing our kids at increasingly younger ages.
I strongly encourage you all to watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC and to support First Lady, Michelle Obama’s, initiative (Let's Move Campaign) to change the way we eat. Your life and the lives of your children are at stake.

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