The U.S. industrial food and farming system, dominated by fast food restaurants and processed, chemical-laden food, has precipitated a public health crisis. Although nutritionists recommend that consumers avoid eating unhealthy junk foods, every day 75 million Americans ‘supersize’ themselves and damage their health by eating at McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants. Forty percent of American meals are now purchased and consumed outside the home, typically consisting of high-calorie, low-nutrition items such as soft drinks, French fries, and low-grade meat, laced with fat, cheap sweeteners, pesticide residues, chemical additives, and salt. We have become a Fast food nation of bulging waistlines and high blood pressure.
Recent studies link pesticide residues and chemical additives like MSG in processed foods and restaurant fare to hormone disruption and obesity. No wonder 60% percent of Americans are either overweight or obese. One in every three children born since the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Diet-related obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are now the nation’s number one public health problem, generating an estimated $150 billion in health care costs every year. Millions of youth and adults have literally become addicted to the chemically enhanced junk food served in fast food restaurants, school lunchrooms, and institutional cafeterias. In 1972, U.S. consumers spent three billion dollars a year on fast food – today we spend more than $110 billion.
The junk food industry, now under attack by public health advocates and parents, finds itself in a similar position as the tobacco industry in the 1990s. After decades of lies and industry propaganda, the truth is finally coming out: junk food kills.
Indeed, despite individual efforts by some states to tax soda pop, require healthier school lunches, or mandate calorie information in chain restaurants, obesity rates in the United States are growing. It is time for the federal government to stop subsiding, with billions of dollars of public tax money, the factory-farmed crops and animal products (corn, soybeans, cotton, dairy, and meat) that create the artificially low prices that prop up the nation’s junk food industry.
We need to subsidize healthy organic food, not junk food, and promote sustainable food and farming practices, instead of subsidizing factory farms and chemical-intensive farming and food processing. We need to provide physical education, cooking, nutrition and gardening classes in our schools, and ban or restrict the advertising of junk foods in the mass media. We need to teach children and adults alike to eat less meat and fatty foods and instead to increase their consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and home-cooked meals.
It is time to put a surgeon general’s warning on junk food. It’s time to come to grips with the fact that we have allowed the junk food industry and the mass media to brainwash our youth and turn them into fast food addicts.
Studies have shown that school organic gardens, salad bars, and healthy lunches improve the health and academic performance of students. Healthy eating habits and gardening skills nurtured and developed at an early age most often have a lifetime impact.
Read more: Natural News
3 thoughts on “Junk Food Plays Big Role in Obesity and Diabetes Epidemic”
Obesity and diabetes are serious issues and are influenced by myriad factors. Genetics, age, overall diet, and inactivity are among the converging variables that play a role. Our industry has taken important steps to encourage a healthy balance between calorie intake and physical activity. For example, we instituted national School Beverage Guidelines, swapping full-calorie soft drinks for low-calorie options in smaller portion sizes. As a result, the number of beverage calories shipped to schools across the country has declined by a whopping 90%. We have also led the way on clear calorie labeling so that consumers of all ages can make informed choices. Through education-based efforts, we believe Americans will increasingly embrace healthier habits, which includes a balanced diet and physical activity. This approach is capable of changing behaviors that add up to long-term health benefits in a way that regulation simply cannot.
-Maureen Beach, American Beverage Association