Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Prosperity, thy name is "nemesis"-Great food inflicted health crisis staring us!

Umpteen number of treatise emphasize the uncomfortable truth that an average a denizen, living in any part of the globe with high income, consumes a diet that is drastically different from that consumed 50 years ago. The catch here is that the quality of the diet has taken a beating with more and refined foods, low quality carbohydrates, less and less of fibers, fruits and vegetables, more of fats of lower quality, predominating the food that is consumed day in day out. The result is there for every one to see. Diseases like obesity, CVD, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney ailments, liver problems, cancer etc have become common and billions of dollars are being spent to treat them, the only beneficiary being the drug industry. Here is a telling commentary on this vicious situation in a super rich country like the US which is revealing.

"Today, novelty dominates American food. Those yellow arches are now golden arches and we are now a nation addicted to sugar, fat and drive-through windows. Food is mere fuel, and we eat more of it in our family car than at our family table. For proof, look how we — you and me — have changed our food patterns in the last 40 or so years.
• In 1960, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, we spent 26 cents of our food dollar on restaurant meals; in 2013 it was 50 percent.
• In 1950, the standard soft-drink bottle contained 6.5 ounces; in 1960 it grew to 12 ounces and, in the 1990s, 20 ounces became the norm.
• In 1970, according to numbers in a 2011 article published by Grist, the U.S. "churned out 2,168 calories per day per person, 402 of which came from added sugar and 410 from added fat ... or, combined, about 37 percent of the total."
• In 2008, the U.S. produced 2,673 calories per day person (" ... powerful evidence that [America's] cheap food policy ... succeeded ... ") of which "added fats and sugars [grew] to 459 and 641 calories, respectively, a 35 percent jump over the 1970 level ... "
• In 2013, according to Harvard University, Americans spent "an estimated $190 billion treating obesity-related health conditions."
• Also, in 2013, U.S. organic sales (which USDA does not track) totaled an estimated $35.1 billion, an 11.5 percent increase from 2012 but still only 18.4 percent of the amount spent we spent to treat obesity-related health problems that year. 
What's it all mean, fellow foodies? According to that brief survey, most of us ate less sugar and less fat when we ate more fresh, local food at home 40 or 50 years ago than what we buy and eat (mostly) in town today. Also, most of us were skinnier and healthier (as were our parents in comparison to us today) and all of us had more neighbors and more "community" — local banks, medical care, grocery and clothing stores and the like — than almost any of us have anywhere in rural America today. In short, we had it very, very good — despite Grandma pushing the pickle beets and lima beans every chance she got. Little wonder, then, that a new food culture, a foodie culture, is taking root across the U.S. now."

Though the above study, analyzing the hard data is considered reliable, there is no cogent answer as to what can be done to redeem the world from the curse of bad food and distorted food culture which are slowly but surely making the quality of life progressively deteriorating. While many blame the industry for this sorry situation, some blame will have be apportioned to the government regulatory agencies who have allowed this situation to develop by shirking their bounden responsibility to protect the lives of the citizens. Where does the consumer come in this complex scenario? Of course it is the weak will power and weakness for tasty foods abandoning the health concerns (similar to tobacco and alcohol) on the part of the consumer that is driving this insane rush towards health catastrophe staring at them! Unless consumers, regulatory agencies, health experts and the food business get together to deal with the crisis, this sordid "death dance" will continue unabated!

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