Western Diet and the Obesity Epidemic.
March 29, 2012 Admin 1
The Western Diet is infamously rich in processed meats, an abundance of sugars such as fructose and sucrose, vegetable oils, chemicals and additives. A reliance on processed foods with low nutritional value has become the norm rather than an exception and the knock on effects are manifesting themselves in an alarming manner. Regular visitors to the Lucid Nutritionist may know we have already looked at various aspects of the dangers of processed foods on this site, from luncheon meats to high fructose intakes. Somewhat late in the day, an important new trend emerging in the awareness of the contribution the western diet is making towards many debilitating diseases and to the ensuing obesity epidemic. Western Diet and the Obesity Epidemic.
This could be occurring for several reasons. First of all through sites such as this one, people can read about foods in a way the mainstream media, with its corporate interests, would never dream of reporting. Secondly, governments and health care directors are realising that the rampant increase of disease with major links to poor dietary intake is not sustainable, and the strain this places on health care systems, such as the NHS in the UK is increasing exponentially.
Anyone with a keen eye on nutritional development and dietary approaches, will already know the key to promoting health is by prevention rather than treatment. We have three fundamental barriers to promoting health through good eating plans. The first is the education of consumers and individuals as to what foods are healthy and those that aren’t. Secondly we must promote how to prepare these foods and be able to consume a diet that is affordable. Thirdly, and of equal importance is bringing attention to foods that are promoted as healthy but are anything but, and an excellent place to start on this subject would he here.
Most food manufacturers and corporations play on the ignorance of consumers to peddle products which are perceived as healthy but often are quite the opposite. One such technique used is sometimes referred to as added value. This can mean several things in the food industry. In basic terms it is referred to as raw materials processed in a certain way using the ingredients, technology and some expertise. For example, puffed wheat cereal or rice cakes fall under this heading. Wheat and rice are both valuable foodstuffs, but their value by weight is vastly increased by being used to formulate other products, like a cereal. In essence they take a foodstuff which is essentially relatively ‘healthy’ and process it in a way that deems it potentially detrimental to health by long term consumption.
With added value products, things like low quality vitamin and mineral premixes are often used to convince the consumer the product is of even more value. Although there are approximately 98 essential nutrients human beings need to have in their bodies at any one time to prevent nutritional deficiencies, there only exists about a handful in the world of processed foods you actually ‘need’. These are, in no specific order : iron, calcium, vitamin C, ‘B vitamins’ (inc. folic acid), fibre and vitamin D.
In essence, the marketing people and unfortunately many health care ‘professionals’ will assure you as long as you get any of these, usually from a high processed breakfast cereal, nutritional difficulties will be a thing of the past. Although we need things like selenium for among other things the production of the master antioxidant, glutathione, we probably won’t be seeing this added to any breakfast cereals in the near or distant future. Why ? …because nobody has heard of selenium, but they do know that calcium…’helps give you healthy bones’.
Diets such as the Mediterranean or Nordic diet do originate from regions considered to be in the western world, but they are devoid of nearly all the foods known to be detrimental to long term health. As we progress further into the 21st century, the promotion of alternative eating systems like the aforementioned diets will become much more mainstream. Otherwise, as discussed earlier in this article, the debilitating effect on the national health of westernised countries will have profound economic impacts. Even though those involved in the treatment of these diseases profit by sales of pharmaceuticals, the effects of a nation of obese or diseased individuals will have profound impacts unless addressed sooner than later.
A possible outcome of not addressing the quality of the western diet alongside prolonged misinformation could be a large majority of the workforce drawing similarities to the ‘Stomach Battalions’ of WW2. With debilitating diseases through poor diet, greatly reducing the ability to work.
Dr. Robert Barrington, has also tackled this topic in more detail with the article ‘The Western Diet :The Cause of Obesity ?’ This can be viewed here.
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