Junk Food Killing Kids?

We often hear about the plague of obesity from talking – head ‘nutrition experts’ on TV (the kind of experts who are expert at saying what they people paying them want to broadcast), but less is said about the other health problem caused by a diet of junk food. On a typical teenager’s diet it is possible to develop both obesity and malnutrition. On the flip side, you have malnutrition. According to the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur, Hilal Elver, Ph.D., the impact of processed food on public health is “alarming.”  As reported by Civil Eats:25

“Earlier this fall [Elver] told the United Nations General Assembly that, despite all the high-profile work being done around the globe to fight hunger and malnutrition, ‘the world is not on track to reach globally agreed nutrition targets.’

Addressing leaders from around the globe, Elver was not afraid to name the culprit.

‘Today’s food systems are dominated by industrial food production and processing’ … coupled with trade policies that result in ‘large food corporations … flooding the global market with nutrient poor yet energy-dense foods that are relatively inexpensive.’”

As explained by Civil Eats:

“Why the need for civil society groups to sue governments over the right to food? A significant part of what’s gone wrong, Elver explains, is that international trade policies have allowed large food corporations to sell lots of soda, fast food and other high-calorie, nutrient-poor products made with cheap refined grains, corn sweetener and vegetable oil … [M]uch of this production is also controlled globally — in terms of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides — by a very few large companies.”

It has long been known that a good, varied diet which avoids white sugar and processed foods containing chemical additives is essential for good health. But while these things are known, governments have for decades allowed big food corporations to literally get away with murder by marketing products which are high in empty calories and low on nutrition at children and young people.

According to Elver, lack of access to nutritious food is an indicator of socioeconomic inequality, and when a bag of sweets is cheaper than an apple, this inequality ripples out into our health statistics. As noted by Elver, “We now know that this kind of highly sugar intensive, saturated fat heavy and salty food really makes you sick.”

Elver also stresses that in order to protect and ensure there is an adequate supply of good quality food the global community must move away from the industrial model toward more sustainable systems. We simply cannot sustain a global population on commodity crops like corn and soy, and the United States’ health statistics is a perfect demonstration of what happens when you try.

With the rise of obesity has come a rise in the number of American children who suffer from type 2 diabetes. In a nationwide representative study between 2001 and 2009, researchers found that while the prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased, the rate of increase of the preventable type 2 diabetes was significantly higher than type 1.

Dr. Robin Goland, co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, calls these “big numbers” and went on to say:

“In my career, type 1 diabetes was a rare disease in children and type 2 disease didn’t exist. And I’m not that old.”

Indeed, once thought to be an exclusive adult metabolic disorder, in the past 20 years, type 2 diabetes in children has jumped from less than 5 percent of all newly diagnosed cases to more than 20 percent, and obesity plays an important role in this trend.

Childhood obesity leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes more quickly than in adults, and is associated with both metabolic and cardiovascular complications in children and adolescents. Severe insulin resistance is also associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality in young adults and a higher risk of hypertension, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic syndrome.

This rising tide of children suffering from obesity and type 2 diabetes suggests we can expect ever increasing indirect and direct cost of care and loss of life in coming years.

The root cause of most health problems can be traced back to a poor diet. Most Americans spend the majority of their food dollars on processed foods, most of which contain one or more of the three ingredients most associated with obesity and chronic disease, namely corn, soy and sugar (HFCS), all three of which are also typically genetically engineered (GE) and contaminated with toxic pesticides.

The processed food industry is responsible for creating a “lifestyle disease epidemic” the World Health Organization (WHO) says is “a much greater public health threat than any other epidemic known to man.” Just as agriculture has become one of the most significant environmental polluters rather than being a leading environmental steward, the food industry has become a leading source of ill health rather than a source of nutrition, health and wellbeing.

In my view, this is thoroughly unacceptable. Marketing junk food irresponsibly to kids and thus knowingly increasing diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease rates is unacceptable yet the big food corporations are allowed to get away with it by lax or incompetent regulators . The ever-increasing use of toxic pesticides   and herbicides that contaminate food a $£€ budgets to legal battles that block and defeat legislation and regulation aimed at improving the quality of the food supply and protect both the environment and human health is unacceptable, yet the Big Food corporations do all of these things as part of routine business. And they get plenty of support from politicians, but then they also allocate multi – million $£€ budgets for political donations so no surprise there.

The most effective way for us to  fight back is by changing our purchasing habits, going for home cooked foods prepared from fresh ingredients rather than pre – prepared meals or packaged food prducts. While there are “food deserts” in inner cities, most people are not forced to buy processed foods for lack of options.

Yet another factor driving disease statistics in the U.S. is the excessive exposure to toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals. According to one recent analysis, if exposure to certain household chemicals — including phthalates, DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and perfluoroalkyl — were to be reduced by 25 percent, it would reduce the rate of obesity and type 2 diabetes by an estimated 13 percent. According to the authors:

“The present study confirms substantial contribution, especially of mixtures of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, to adult type 2 diabetes, and large annual costs of medical care … Our findings also speak the need for a strong regulatory framework that proactively identifies chemical hazards before they are widely used, and the use of safer alternatives …

The European Union is actively considering regulations to limit such exposures, and the USA recently revised the Toxic Substances Control Act, but does not consider endocrine disruption. In the absence of such a framework, newly developed synthetic chemicals may emerge as diabetogenic exposures, replacing banned or substituted hazards as contributors.”

The right choices can make  a big difference in the level of exposure to toxic chemicals, and subsequently  in the long term to our overall healthour health. In one study, young girls who switched to phthalate-free personal care products lowered their phthalate levels by 27 percent.

Taking personal responsibility and seeking out non-toxic products appears to be the only way to really stay safe, as the chemical industry maintains a stronghold over government departments and regulatory agencies in both the U.S. and Europe. The French magazine Le Monde recently published a three-part investigative series in which it accuses the European Commission of ignoring the science on endocrine disruptors. The series has been translated and republished by Environmental Health News.

RELATED POSTS:

Food fascists and the obesity pandemic
Big Food Cartel Aims For Monopoly
Food comtaminated with toxic chemicals by food companies
Foood, health and cooking skills
Food crisis down to control freakery rather than shortages
Food giants promote bad diets
Food science fraud
GM crops will not feed the world
If GM foods are dangerous show us the evidence the Scienceology cult said. Here it is.
Health: Food and heart disease, the truth.
Big food lie, saturated fat not dangerous
Using fake science to sell GM foods.
UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way To Feed The World

Trans Pacific Partnership, Monsanto and Global Food Dominance
Big Smack – Junk Food Addict Splatters Boyfriend
The friendly face of junk food
Another dodgy meat in processed food scandal rocks government.
Supersize Snacks (make Scooby Snack like like health food)

Elsewhere: [ The Original Boggart Blog] … [ Daily Stirrer.shtml ]…[Little Nicky Machiavelli]… [ Ian’s Authorsden Pages ]… [ It’s Bollocks My Dears, All Bollocks ] [Scribd]…[Wikinut] … [ Boggart Abroad] … [ Grenteeth Bites ] … [ Latest Posts ] [Ian Thorpe at Flickr ] … [Latest Posts] … [ Tumblr ] … [ Authorsden blog ] … [Daily Stirrer Headlines]
[ Ian at Facebook ]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s