According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 71.6% of American adults were overweight and obese in 2016. The numbers have been climbing for over 30 years. This has been called “The Obesity Epidemic” and obesity has recently been classified as a disease.
But who is really responsible?
There are no exact numbers for the amount of overweight/obese people in the United States prior to 1950. I’m certain some people were overweight, but there was no mention of obesity. In the 1940’s, the first drive-in restaurants became popular and fast food was becoming popular. By 1950, 33% of adults were overweight and 9.7% were obese in the United States. The numbers rose slowly and steadily until 1980. Through the 80’s and 90’s, the number of overweight/obese people in the US climbed sharply. Surely, drive-ins and fast-food establishments couldn’t be the only reason.
The 1980’s was the Me, Me, Me decade. We wanted what we wanted, and we wanted it now. Credit cards were becoming the way of life – buy now, pay later. And it seems that’s what we’re doing. The 1990’s was the electronic decade. PC’s, mobile phones, email, game systems all kept us sitting, glued to our screens. Exercise was something we scheduled time for (or not). We no longer walked to the arcade, the post office, or to a friend’s house. We played games on the computer with people across the country instead of in the street. Processed foods hit the market in record amounts. Meals were cheap and fast, eaten on the go, and the family dinner was gone.
In 1999, there was a meeting of the giants of the food industry – Pillsbury, General Mills, Nestle, Kraft, Nabisco, Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, and Mars – to discuss the obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. James Behnke, chief technical officer at Pillsbury, gathered these rivals in the industry to caution them about the possible backlash of the unhealthy and fattening foods they produced. Stephen Sanger, CEO of General Mills, made some valid points about our lack of exercise, our poor choices, and that the food companies were giving the consumer what they wanted. Many of the companies offered low-fat, low-sugar products for the people who wanted them. The companies also had a responsibility to their shareholders. Bottom line – money!
Billions of dollars have been spent on the science and technology of processing foods that make us want more and more and more. Salt, fat, and sugar are the key ingredients of processed foods that make them irresistible. A certain amount of sugar makes us feel the happiest, the amount of fat that makes our mouths water for more, and the salt for a burst of flavor, all combined in carefully and scientifically measured amounts to turn off our brains. Processed foods account for more than 70% of the food we eat.
Billions of dollars are spent on advertising and marketing these processed foods. What color package, what size, what price, and the language used to advertise are all carefully considered. Words like snackability, crunchy and melts in your mouth with cute and fun spokespeople like the M&M’s, the minions, cartoon characters, and movie characters motivate us to buy those brands. Eye-level marketing and marketing to children create more demand for the products. They’re tasty, they’re fast, they’re convenient, and they’re cheaper than cooking. That’s a lot to resist.
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, an investigative reporter for the NY Times, investigates the science and practices of the food industry in their efforts to control what we eat. While Moss doesn’t discuss the subject of obesity, he does explain the food industry’s responsibility for their part in the obesity epidemic. Moss says that, ultimately, the responsibility is the consumers.
We, as the consumers and the decision-makers, must take charge of our eating habits, exercise regimens, and purchasing power. Foods that are nutritionally packed to meet the needs of our body combined with intermittent fasting to reset appetite and insulin sensitivity can stop food cravings and help us lose weight.
For more information about nutritional cleansing for weight loss – drop us a line, or call 912-289-8085.
We’d be happy to help you reach your goals.