When asked, most people think of the current health care crisis in the United States as a health insurance crisis. Although the lack of health care insurance is a problem, it pales in comparison to the real crisis – overall health. This crisis is not discriminatory. All segments of the population are affected.
Fingers have been pointed at many for this health crisis:
- Government: The lack of universal and affordable insurance
- Pharmaceutical Companies: The price of prescription drugs
- Health Care Industry: Current managed health care practices
- Food Industry: Unhealthy food choices for lower income individuals
Although each of these has a hand in perpetuating the crisis, none are the true cause. The real reason behind the health care crisis is an individual’s poor choices and lifestyle, mostly in the areas of food, exercise and stress. This leads to health related issues such as cancer, depression, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and most other health issues.
Whether we like it or not, we need to take personal responsibility for our health. This means taking personal responsibility to educate ourselves on the choices that will make a positive change for us and for those we love.
Here is a little reality check for you:
- 66% of adults are overweight or obese
- 34% of adults are obese
- 16% of youth are overweight or obese
Millions of dollars are spent to find the causes and solutions for obesity. The answer, however, doesn’t take millions of dollars to discover. All you have to do is look in homes across America, specifically in the kitchens and on the couches.
To understand this further, let’s look at a few statistics. In the last 100 years:
- Sugar consumption has increased from 5 pounds to 158 pounds per year.
- Processed grains consumption, such as chips and crackers, has increased by 62 pounds per year.
- Meat consumption increased by 60 pounds per year.
- Cheese consumption increased by 28 pounds per year.
- Soft drink consumption increased by 53 gallons per year.
- 500 calories per day have been added to our diets.
- TV watching has increased to 4 hours per day.
The answer to the obesity crisis, and the health care crisis in general, is simple – returning to a more natural diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, while avoiding processed foods, and being active every day.
The SAD Facts
In March 2004, a study co-authored by CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding claimed that, in 2000, obesity and physical inactivity killed 400,000 Americans; that is, obesity caused more than 16 percent of all deaths in the U.S. 4
Early in the 20th century, the American diet was quite different from what it is today. If you could peek onto the shelves at the local store you would find produce, living plants, seeds and grains. You might also find some home canned products. You would not find what is typical on shelves today:
- Hormone injected meat
- Processed foods
- Fast foods
- Junk foods
With these different food choices comes, of course, a completely different diet – the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). The foods found in the SAD diet have many imbalances.
- An excessive amount of certain foods such as meat, fats and sugar.
- Too little fruits and vegetables.
- Lack of nutrients in the food due to overcooking and processing.
Basically, when talking about your diet:
Lose: Refined flour, Refined cooking oil, soft drinks, coffee, margarine, and less or no booze is better.
Add: non-processed foods including: vegetables (fresh and lots of leafy greens), fruits, meat in moderation, and fish (not Long John Silvers).
In the end, don’t fall for all of the hype that you see on tv commercials and hear in the media. Here are 10 things that junk food makers don’t want you to know about their products and how they promote them.
Fast Food TV Advertising Has Direct Link to Childhood Obesity
A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research has shown that a ban on fast food advertisements could reduce the number of obese 3 to 11 year olds by 18 percent and the number of obese 12 to 18 year olds by 14 percent. The study is the largest of its kind to directly tie childhood obesity to fast food advertising on television.
Junk food makers spend billions advertising unhealthy foods to kids. (Promotions to entice children include the use of cartoon characters and free giveaways, as well as fun websites)
- 2. Food studies minimize health concerns associated with their products (In other words, a food company’s research is not really scientific. It is just another avenue of advertising to prove the value of their product)
- 3. Large food industry leaders give money to professional nutrition associations. (the American Dietetic Association accepts money from large food companies)
- 4. More processing equals more profits equals less-healthy food. (Big profits come from turning government-subsidized commodity crops like corn, wheat and soybeans, into processed foods and beverages)
- 5. Natural foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are more filling than their highly processed counterparts (Fresh fruits and vegetables have an abundance of fiber and nutrients that satisfy hunger easily)
- 6. Foods touted as healthy replacements for unhealthy foods are not as healthy as you would think. (a food company that sells both soda and sports drinks can keep their profits by “helping” you switch from one product to the other while making you believe you are doing more for your body)
- 7. Labels don’t mean a thing. (label claims are meant to distract you from reading the entire label and the contents)
- 8. Nutritional guidelines are confusing due to food industry pressure. (“Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake?” What?)
- 9. Food lobbyists are often funded by large food companies. (the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is a group that lobbies against obesity-related campaigns)
- 10. The food industry doesn’t like critics. check out (Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health)
In this country, modern medicine is used routinely for major surgeries such as bypasses and transplants. However, there is little attention paid to prevention. Seventy-five percent of health care costs are due to chronic diseases and only two percent are spent on prevention. To get healthy again, this will have to change and the change must start with you.
By taking care of your body now, learning everything you can to make good choices, and finding health practitioners that promote the prevention of disease, you will be well on your way to a healthier you.
These are just some of the facts and suggestions found in the first chapter of my newly released book : The Healthy Life Project. If you want to learn more, check out:
Health and Happiness,