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As the ever-growing obesity epidemic has made clear, it’s quite easy these days to put on excess weight — and quite difficult to take it off. Indeed, a stunning 40 percent of American adults — more than 93 million individuals — are obese.
The average American now weighs at least 15 pounds more than 20 years ago.
Most people who are overweight or obese want to lose their excess body fat but find doing so extremely challenging. The reasons why are complex, and (as has been explained in Second Opinion before) are not always a matter of individuals failing to have enough self-control over the calories they consume.
Still, the bottom line is that we Americans are taking in more calories than we did in past decades. The average American downed 2,481 calories a day in 2010 — 23 pecent more than in 1970.
As an article published Thursday on the online news website Vox points out, however, we’re not consciously choosing to overeat. Our excess calories result, instead, from social, cultural and commercial interests that have gradually created a society-wide food environment that encourages gluttony without us even noticing it.
In the article, Vox reporters Eliza Barclay, Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina outline — with backup data and some great charts — seven ways in which our current food environment encourages overeating.
Recognizing these influences on our eating habits may help us resist them. Here, in brief, are some of the ones highlighted in the article:
Barclay, Belluz and Zarracina end the article with a discussion of new tactics that health officials have begun to experiment with to transform the current food environment.
One is the taxing of junk foods — a policy that helped reduce the number of people using cigarettes. Another is putting warning labels on unhealthful food products, such as sugary beverages.
But while getting people to eat less junk food is important, so is getting them to eat more healthful ones. That means making fruits and vegetables more affordable, accessible — and visible — to consumers.
“To this end, nonprofits like Wholesome Wave have been working with government to offer fruit and vegetable subsidies for the poor, and even experiment with produce prescriptions (which are essentially vouchers handed out by doctors to patients with problems with food access),” Barclay, Belluz and Zarracina report.
“The status of fruits and vegetables also needs to be lifted up, so that we can see these options in our foodscape instead of only billboards for greasy hamburgers and candy,” they add. “Here, too, there’s movement. A number of celebrities and even Olympic athletes have been working with nonprofit organizations and grocery stores to appear in colorful advertisements peddling everything from apples to tomatoes.”
That may be movement, but it seems miniscule when compared with what’s being spent on by the food industry on marketing junk foods.
As one expert acknowledged to the Vox reporters: “Transforming the food industry is one of the real uphill battles that will have to be fought over the next few decades.”
FMI: You can read the article on the Vox website.
Original Article: How America's current food environment makes it easy to become obeseNEXT ARTICLE
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Obesity is the condition in which excess fat has accumulated in the body (mostly in subcutaneous tissues). clinical obesity is considered to be present when a person has a BMI of over 30 (Oxford Dictionary of Medicine). It is becoming increasing common i...
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism ...