Did You See This?

I follow several different blogs, especially in fitness and nutrition, and I was somewhat shocked (and a little disappointed) to see this article, “America:  A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation” linked in a couple different blogs.  I should be clear, though, that I wasn’t disappointed that the article was linked, but that there is enough evidence to support an article like this.  In it, the author (Justin Stoneman) quotes several different research studies about the effect obesity is having on American society.  He credits the ADA recommendations to eat more carbs and less fat with the expansion of our collective waistlines, and mentions the scary prediction that by 2010, 75% of Americans will be considered overweight or obese.  Yikes.

Stoneman continues by quoting Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

This, according to Stoneman, is the prevailing problem with America’s food/obesity/sedentary lifestyle issues.  It seems that there is an element of pride around food – we all want to be “free” to make our own food choices.  No one wants to be a “slave” to calorie counting, or to give up precious TV time to hit the gym.  We deserve to relax, right?  But are we really FREE as we continue to gain weight and lose mobility, health, vitality, and so many other things that make life exciting?  Yet, this is the mindset shared by many Americans as they (we?) struggle to lose weight.  Everyone wants to be a bit slimmer, but no one wants to do the work to get there.  And there are a LOT of excuses – believe me, I know!

Stoneman takes this a step further with some insight into corporate America, the food industry, and the DIET industry and concludes that “an unhealthy America is, perversely, a very profitable America.”  Yikes again…  Check out this quote from the article:

“If I own a sock company, I need people with feet to maintain my business. Similarly, if I own a diet company (total combined U.S. industry value: est. $45-$100 billion), I need fat people. Luckily for the diet industry, the even more powerful food industry (estimated value: astronomical — U.S. food-based retailing alone >$1,200 billion) make their main profits from cheap processed foods. Foods which make people fat.”

So basically, our food industry is stocking our grocery stores full of crappy processed foods.  We eat them, and gain weight.  We then turn to the diet industry to help us lose the weight.  That can’t be right – where’s the impartial government regulation?  Oh wait – turns out that the American Dietetic Association is SPONSORED by food manufacturers.  The ADA is the primary (and one of the only) sources of dietary advice in this country.  More info from the article:

“With that in mind, who precisely is ‘sponsoring’ the ADA and the nutritional advice you receive?

My friends, it is a beautiful army. Partners (recent and current — and their latest annual revenue figures):

Coca Cola (revenue $31.4 billion), GlaxoSmithKline (revenue $42.5 billion), Hershey’s (revenue $5.3 billion), Unilever (revenue $55.8 billion), Aramark (revenue: $12.3 billion). There are even some ‘premier sponsors’: Mars (revenue: $30 billion), PepsiCo (revenue $44.3 billion), Truvia sweetener (revenue of parent company Cargill: $116.6 billion), Kellogg’s ($12.7 billion).
ADA ‘sponsors’ have combined revenues of over $400 billion.”

Oh boy.  Sounds like there are a lot of cooks in our government’s kitchen (big surprise, right?), and they all stand to profit from “official” guidelines.

 

So what do we do on an individual level?  Stoneman says:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Spot the devil. Uncover the scientific facts about fat and carbohydrates. Stand up for the truth. Or stay big, stay fat and stay stupid.”

And I agree.  We need to be aware that there is bias in almost all advice.  We need to remember to eat good, wholesome foods.  One of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is to avoid eating any foods that our grandparents wouldn’t recognize as “food.”  We need to increase our vegetable intake, too.  These are basic things – common sense – that could go a long way in helping people live healthier lives.

 

On a personal note, looking at the graphs and reading the statistics in the article scared the hell out of me.  Some of it is a bit alarmist (most journalistic health articles have some element of that anyway), but you don’t need to look far to see people making unhealthy choices and either feeling entitled to do so, or claiming it’s their only option.  One good decision leads to another, and I am going to continue to focus on that as I work on improving my own health.

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