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Now We Know Why Americans are So Fat!
It’s no secret that Americans are, for the most part, fat and getting fatter. Why is that? Well, a new study suggests that it’s because we’ve been doing things wrong for a long time.
It’s not the fact that Americans don’t get enough exercise, or that we spend too much time sitting behind a desk, or that healthy food is too expensive for most people to afford. It has nothing to do with race, geography, or our socioeconomic status.
We are getting fatter because we are simply surrounded by tasty, easy to get, cheap food. From fast food joints to those processed snacks, the lead author of this study says junk food is just too darn tasty and too cheap. Find out tips to stop those junk food cravings.
Up until this study, researchers have mainly focused on the differences between groups of people such as between blacks and whites, or those who live in California versus those who live in Utah, between the rich and the poor. This study, however, took a different approach. Americans aren’t getting fat because they are too poor to afford good food, or because their Southern hospitality means cooking lots of fatty foods. People aren’t thinner because they live in Colorado or California. All Americans are getting fatter, and this fact cuts across the entire population of America.
The researchers who conducted this study found that although there are some differences between racial and ethnic groups, they are also gaining weight about the same as everyone else. The lead researcher, Roland Sturm, studied all the data that was available and published the findings in CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians. It concluded that everyone, and we mean everyone, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or ethnicity, is gaining weight at roughly the same rate. In order to solve America’s obesity problem, we must first figure out what has changed for absolutely every single American on this continent. What comes to mind is the food itself. Not only is it inexpensive compared to income, but it’s so damn convenient.
In America in 1930, more than 25 percent of disposable income was spent on food. The most recent data available now shows it’s a little less than 1/10th. Although it’s a great thing to have convenient, cheap food, our biology hasn’t quite caught up with this. It’s the foods that can be mass produced cheaply and that don’t perish quickly, such as candy, potato chips, and sodas that are some of the main culprits. Read more about reasons you should avoid diet sodas.
Throughout human history, starvation was a serious problem, so our bodies have this built in survival technique to help us stay alive. It’s called storing fat. Our social lives are also guided in the same way. Everyone is taught that it’s polite to offer guests food.
Although some researchers have suggested that the real problem is a difficulty gaining access to healthy foods. However, data shows that fresh produce, for example, has actually been becoming increasingly more available as well as affordable over the past 10 years.
Mr. Sturm agrees that while Americans could eat more produce, he argues that it wouldn’t make them any thinner. Because consuming more fruits and veggies wouldn’t replace the less healthy choices that most people make, they would simply consume those in addition to everything else they eat.
Although this study states that it believes that obesity is due only to low food prices, it does nothing to address the relentless marketing of these junk foods, nor does it address the information available from the Consumer Price Index, which states that the costs of fresh produce has gone up more than other food costs. It seems as though the real problem is that fresh produce is more expensive than cheap, high-calorie foods.
It’s fairly obvious that price does have a lot to do with what we consume. Check out any fast food location at lunch time. When hamburgers are one dollar and salads are 5 dollars, take a guess how many people are choosing that hamburger? If you aren’t sure, just take a look around the restaurant and take note what people are eating. You will probably find hamburgers outnumbering those salads 10 to 1.
Of course there are other things to consider besides the food itself. The fact that a vast increase in electronic entertainment as well as an increased reliance on cars for transportation, and a move away from more physical jobs to more computer and desk bound jobs is clearly another factor. It’s not that Americans are spending more time working and less time playing, it’s that they simply spend more time, overall, being sedentary.
We shouldn’t forget that the antibiotics we add to livestock to make them fatter are often transferred to humans who consume the meat. This means that we are absorbing these foods as well and, for some people, it can make us fat as well. Researchers in Denmark found that infants that were given antibiotics before they were 6 months old were much more likely to be overweight by age 7. This doesn’t mean we should never give infants antibiotics if they are truly needed as they could be life saving. However, most American children get as many as 20 or more, antibiotic treatments while they are still school age.
Speaking of school age children, most junk food marketing is aggressively targeting children. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that when children are given identical candies and cookies, some with cartoon characters on the package, and others without the cartoons, the children all stated that the foods with the cartoons tasted better. We need to make more efforts in America to stop targeting our children with ads for junk foods and candy.
Although this study might have offered up a new target, it doesn’t offer anything much in the way of reaching it. Sturm suggests possibly a tax on unhealthy foods. Although this doesn’t seem to have helped much with smoking, a small economic incentive might just push people in the right direction.