Our History is Making Us Fat: In understanding why so many of us are overweight, Dr. Harlan Sparer suggests that we "follow the money"
Apr 01, 2015 08:50AM
● By Dr. Harlan Sparer
America is one of the world leaders in obesity. By some estimates, 25 percent of our population has a problem. A simple look around at our peers may be enough to startle some people into making changes. The true cause is more fascinating.
The solution can be understood by the age-old saying, “Follow the money.” We know that economics rules our healthcare system. It also controls what we eat. The U.S. government subsidizes agriculture and is influenced drastically by its lobbyists.
Historically, the 1950s accelerated a period of intense influence that started in the 1800s. The grange was a farmer’s union that wielded substantial influence in local and national elections in the 19th and early 20th century, when farmers could make or break elections. Farming became less generalized and began to organize into industry-specific lobbying groups, such as dairy, in the 1950s. An integral part of elementary education included detailed nutrition units with materials provided by agribusiness organizations.
As a result, milk was something everyone drank on a daily basis. Our diet danced to the tune of burgeoning agribusiness lobbying groups whose sole interest was money. Our minds and palates were cultured and developed in school and in the media for profit. Our comfort foods, while unhealthy, became locked in the limbic system (basic survival part of the brain) and eating unhealthy “junk food” became a way of life.
In the 1990s, this problem soared to epidemic proportions. Monsanto began the marketing of its pesticides and genetic modifications (GMO). Pesticide production and consumption increased exponentially. The effects of GMO and pesticide consumption by both feed animals and humans began to affect us through hormonal and enzyme disruption, both increasing obesity.
Another negative influence occurred when fuel prices soared, which led to cost-cutting measures for processed foods, a staple by then of the American diet. These measures included decreases in processed food package sizes and more notably, changes in the ingredients, to decrease production cost. Many GMO sweeteners and oils were added to processed foods, increasing human exposure to hormone and enzyme disruption.
The simple solution for this problem is to consciously eat organic food in a healthy manner.