I'm Losing Weight On 767 Calories A Day, Part II
I'm addicted to The Food Network and thus am sadly aware of my consistent exposure to "food porn." Although I have been an all too willing victim, I have fallen into the trap set by the food industry in ensuring that I provide an inordinate amount of my disposable income to their coffers in exchange for ample amounts of flab.
A recent scientific study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention entitled "Actual Causes of Death in the United States" showed obesity and obesity-related ailments slowly overtaking tobacco as one of the leading causes of death in America today. The obesity epidemic in America isn't just a societal trend; obesity has deep cultural and economic roots, affecting every man, woman, and child. With over 127 million adults categorized as overweight and 60 million adults clinically obese, the direct long-term health care costs to individuals and the nation at large will be staggering.
Adding the costs of lost productivity, onset of secondary diseases like diabetes and hypertension, and lower quality of life for the entire family will place the financial burden on the nation as a whole not just the affected individual. The reasons for widespread obesity are manifold, including personal lifestyle choices, inactivity, convenience, and portion size, to name a few. One other more insidious reason for the impending obesity crisis is the corporate profitability of selling, marketing, distributing, and advertising highly processed grain based snack foods.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the primary government agency charged with overseeing the nation's agriculture industries and setting the recommended nutritional standards for the American consumer. The current daily nutritional proportions are represented by the long standing "food pyramid," with an emphasis on "starchy grains" as the foundation of a proper diet. However the USDA also subsidizes the production of corn and other grains, which are the largest component of the US agriculture industry.
A conflict is inherent between the need to fulfill the economic goals of industry and the need provide proper consumer health oversight for the average American. Despite attempts by prestigious educational institutions, such as the Harvard School of Nutrition, to propose a change to fruits and vegetables as the base of the pyramid for a healthier and lower calorie-meal plan, the USDA has steadfastly held that commercially grown grains should remain the basis for nutritional planning.
The marketing and advertising of these subsidized grain products has created a nation where the slightest twinge of hunger must be immediately snuffed out with a convenient pre-packaged treat. Our children are exposed to innumerable messages for instant oral gratification by commercial media advertising, focusing on cute entertainment and ignoring nutritional needs of developing young minds and bodies.
Does this constant bombardment of instant gratification lead to a form of addiction from the sugary, salty and high-fat content food products, which are purveyed as harmless treats for our unsuspecting children? Consuming high quantities of highly processed food has squashed the natural enjoyment that most children exhibit for fruits and vegetables before the introduction of pre-packaged convenient snacks.
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