Obesity is plaguing this country at an alarming rate. It seems everyone is concerned but there does not seem to be any real change to help prevent or reduce this trend. I thought I would provide some commentary based on what I have learned in my journey to good health.
The individual? Of course, it is easy to blame the individual for gluttony and sloth; we are a county that believes in taking care of ourself and being responsible for our own behavior. I firmly believe we have the power to change. Our challenge is there is so much misinformation out there that people do not really understand why they are overweight, and in some cases, being fat is less of a burden than changing. When I talk to people and share my story, it is really sad that individuals do not truly make a connection between the kinds of food they eat and their own health and weight. There needs to be a way of properly educating the consumer. We can do this in school, public announcements, health care professionals and through government food programs. I do believe that individuals are ultimately responsible but they must have the knowledge to make good choices.
Food companies? Where do I begin here, food companies for years have been driven by profits and growth and they will do almost anything to get our attention and money! They market really bad foods to kids to such a level that kids will drive parents crazy until they get what they want. Several of the food giants are owned by big tobacco, does it concern anyone that a company that made billions selling us an extremely addictive products could also do the same with food! When food companies try to do better, they realize there is not as much money in truly healthy food. They hire specialist and spend million developing products that provide foods that we crave and this creates a viscous cycle that is hard to break. Their goal is to make the cheapest product that sells the most. Do you think this is conducive to high quality nutrition? They make food that is so devoid of nutrition that they have to fortify the foods so that they have some nutrients. Over 80% of the foods sold today are highly processed and refined, this means it has been transformed from a natural substance in to a product that that is dead and will sit on the grocery shelf for months or even years! If your food will last for more than a few weeks, then is it really good for you! Food has been so chemically modified that food labels today contain over 20 ingredients! Why do they need all these ingredients? In addition, do we even know what some of these ingredients are?
The Government? Our government is huge source of the problem because while they are saying we need to become healthier and take better care of our kids, they subsidized food to the point that junk food is cheaper and more available than real food. They take excess food that has been subsidized and give it to the largest institutions such as schools, medical facilities and the poor. If the government would get out of the food business and quit supporting the industries that are contributing to the issue then it might help level the playing field. When the beef and dairy industry have more say in Washington than fruit and vegetable growers, who do you think is going to win in congress! We cannot even get huge companies like Monsanto to properly label their GMO products (genetically modified organism).
Farmers? Our farmers today are almost completely monopolized and controlled by big food and government subsidies. Because the market is so manipulated by how subsidies are controlled, the farmer is left to grow as much product they can sell to make money. They have industrialized to the point that the food we get is lacking in quality due to the demand for more. Also, as big food dictates what the farmers can do and grow (or raise in the form of animals) it is very hard for the farmer to be the independent business person they used to be.
Doctors and Health care? Our health care system is being crushed literally by the weight of Americans. Obesity and the diseases caused by it are rising at such as rate that the Doctors are doing what they can to prescribe a drug and move on to the next patient. What is also very alarming is the typical health care professional has very little training in diet and nutrition. Our health care system is awesome at fixing patients, creating the latest technology to diagnose and treat ailments; however there is very little attention given to prevention. If Doctors truly came out and said we will not treat this patient until they make lifestyle changes to improve their health, then they would be sued! Do you think the obese person will visit a Doctor if he is scolded for his eating habits and bad health? The health care profession must make a profit and rarely would they turn away patients.
There are no easier answers and there are a lot of opinions about how we change this alarming trend. As consumers we must make our choices heard at the cash register. If we keep doing what we have done for the last 20 years then the current trend will continue and more and more people will be comes sicker and sicker! I encourage any one that reads this to learn more about how to take care of yourself. That does not mean read the latest diet book, but it does mean eating a more whole natural foods that have note been altered and transformed into something that will ultimately kill you!