Mark Bittman has a new op-ed at the New York Times today – What Causes Weight Gain.
If I ask you what constitutes “bad” eating, the kind that leads to obesity and a variety of connected diseases, you’re likely to answer, “Salt, fat and sugar.” This trilogy of evil has been drilled into us for decades, yet that’s not an adequate answer.
We don’t know everything about the dietary links to chronic disease, but the best-qualified people argue that real food is more likely to promote health and less likely to cause disease than hyperprocessed food. And we can further refine that message: Minimally processed plants should dominate our diets. (This isn’t just me saying this; the Institute of Medicine and the Department of Agriculture agree.)
And yet we’re in the middle of a public health emergency that isn’t being taken seriously enough. We should make it a national priority to create two new programs, a research program to determine precisely what causes diet-related chronic illnesses (on top of the list is “Just how bad is sugar?”), and a program that will get this single, simple message across: Eat Real Food.
Sounds great, but wait a minute, let’s look at that last paragraph again.
“A research program to determine precisely what causes diet-related chronic illnesses” – researchers like Drs. Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard have been doing this research for decades and can tell you exactly what is causing these illnesses. What we need to do is stop letting industry-financed “research” cloud the reality of what is causing our obesity/diabetes/heart disease/stroke/cancer epidemics.
“A program that will get this single, simple message across: Eat Real Food” – not going to happen. The government spends millions, if not billions, on marketing meat, dairy and egg products to increase consumption and far fewer dollars promoting healthy eating. The Farm Bill recently passed by Congress includes subsidies for the meat industry and favors producers of corn and soybeans, instead of healthy fruits and vegetables. Much of that corn becomes feed for cattle and other meat products or high fructose corn syrup which winds up in the “hyperprocessed” foods American’s eat. To find out more about how our tax dollars are being spent to fatten the meat, dairy and egg industry pockets, read Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon.
In the meantime, the crisis worsens – from a Reuters article: CDC report says 29 million Americans have diabetes
The number of American adults with diabetes has soared to 29 million with another 86 million at high risk of getting the chronic disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
The CDC report, based on data from 2012, illustrated a continued worrisome rise in diabetes, which can cause serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of toes, feet or legs, and premature death.
If the current trends continue, federal health officials predicted that one in five Americans could have diabetes by 2025 – and one in three by 2050. The CDC said more than 12 percent of U.S adults had diabetes as of 2012.
These chronic diseases account for the dramatic rise in healthcare costs to treat these diseases, while we spend very little on prevention. From Bittman’s article
In the United States — the world’s most obese country — the most recent number for the annual cost of obesity is close to $200 billion. Obesity-related costs are incalculable but could easily exceed $1 trillion annually.
And from the Reuter’s article
“We simply can’t sustain this trajectory,” said Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
The report said that diabetes and its related complications accounted for $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages in 2012.
I don’t know about you, but these numbers are frightening. Are we happy being Number 1, when it is being the most obese country in the world?
Want to follow Mark’s advice and “Eat Real Food?” Find the websites for the researchers mentioned above in the Nutrition links section to the right and start eating a whole food, plant-based diet. Do it for your health, the health of our nation, the health of our world, but just do it.