A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 49% of all Americans will be obese by 2030. Approximately one quarter (24%) will be dangerously obese, researchers at Harvard and George Washington Universities conclude. That’s only ten years away.
This is a crisis that threatens our very existence as a nation. Along with skyrocketing financial health and other societal costs, there are profound national security concerns. You cannot have a strong and capable military if your citizens are too fat and out of shape to serve. It is clear that Americans are going to have to make serious changes in their eating habits and personal lifestyles. But the problem is far deeper than folks choosing fast food over a home-cooked meal. Government and big business approaches to industrial agriculture must be revised as well.
has noted, it has become politically correct to promote an “acceptance” of obesity these days. While that may sound emotionally sensitive, it is similar to telling someone who is about to put their hands on a glowing stove that they won’t get burned. It’s the opposite of helpful. “Carrying all those additional pounds raises blood pressure, puts you at risk for diabetes, adds stress to your heart – not to mention your back and knees,” Donner wrote. “We could wax eloquent about the deleterious effects of fat for an hour and it’s likely we wouldn’t hit on all the ways being overweight is detrimental to your body.”
Big Media: Don’t Worry So Much
Amazingly, however, even as the startling data about rising U.S. obesity rates are released, the mainstream media are mounting an Orwellian campaign to vilify healthy eating. “Orthorexia” has been a fashionable buzzword in establishment news circles for several years now. Popular U.K. website The Guardian wrote about it as far back as 2009, crediting a California doctor, Steven Bratman, with coining the word in 1997 and describing it as a “fixation on righteous eating.” Those who suffer from this alleged affliction are said to be overly worked up about toxins and unhealthy ingredients in the foods they eat. Isn’t that horrible?
Since then, articles on orthorexia have appeared in establishment media organs with surprising regularity. A quick search shows multiple references in recent months from a variety of prominent local and national sources. “When Efforts To Eat ‘Clean’ Become An Unhealthy Obsession,” reads the heading on a National Public Radio October feature. “Orthorexia nervosa: Obsessing over good eating,” is the title of a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review piece in July. The Chicago Sun-Times ran a story on it just in time for Christmas.
These articles all seem to follow a familiar template. Healthy eating is grudgingly conceded to be “not necessarily a bad thing,” as NPR put it, as long as it doesn’t lead to too strict a rejection of the foods commonly consumed today. The articles also usually acknowledge that there is no official clinical recognition of “orthorexia” as a diagnosed condition. Then after these small gestures comes the full-on dramatic portrayal of health obsessives being paralyzed by their compulsion. “Do you care more about the virtue of what you eat than the pleasure you receive from eating it? Do you spend more than three hours a day thinking about healthy foods?” the Tribune-Review asks with eyebrows fully furrowed. “Clean eating, when done well, should broaden your food world, not shrink it,” the Sun-Times chides.
It sounds very much like a corporate media party line seeking to keep citizens from worrying too much about the quality of food produced today. And with good reason. Food is big business. It is no secret that the American food supply is peppered with a dizzying array of heavily processed foods. A stroll through the middle aisles of any grocery store confirms this. But what most Americans fail to understand is that their own taxpayer money is going to subsidize the very unhealthy foods that have directly led to this burgeoning obesity calamity.
The U.S. government heavily subsidizes soy and corn, two products that are used extensively as cheap filler and sweetening additives by major U.S. food processors today. Corn is used to produce high fructose corn syrup, a ubiquitous ingredient in packaged foods. A 2016 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association pointed to these subsidies as directly fueling the proliferation of unhealthy foods in the American marketplace. “A large proportion of these subsidized commodities are converted into high-fat meat and dairy products, refined grains, high-calorie juices and soft drinks (sweetened with corn sweeteners), and processed and packaged foods,” the study noted. Obese government working on behalf of Big Ag lobbyists is creating obese Americans.
Big Soy Goes to War
With all this in mind, it is fascinating that The Washington Post expose on the Afghanistan Papers, internal documents on official U.S. government actions during the decades-old military entanglement in that Central Asian quagmire, touches on one of these Subsidized Staples. The U.S. made a major push to introduce soy into the Afghan food system throughout our endless war, but was frustrated by a basic grassroots native rejection. Afghanis simply did not want to eat bread and other foods adulterated with soy filler.
A 2014 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity had already revealed details of this targeted campaign. Documents uncovered by CPI found that the U.S. government spent $34 million in taxpayer money trying to push Big Soy on the residents of this war-scarred nation. “The Afghan diet reform effort, formally known as the Soybeans for Agricultural Renewal in Afghanistan Initiative, was overseen by the Agriculture Department (USDA) and implemented by the main trade association for the industry, the American Soybean Association,” CPI reported.
Afghanis were able to fend off the effort to inundate their food supply with abundant soy and the inferior food products that come with it, but Americans have not been so lucky. It is widely estimated that soy can be found in well over 90% of processed packaged foods and fast food sold in the U.S. today.
As we approach a looming obesity health disaster, it is sad to ponder that the average poverty-stricken Afghani is likely eating a far healthier diet than the typical American whose grocery cart is groaning under the weight of dozens of different food products that all contain cheap corn and soy thanks to the financial underwriting of our own government.
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