Why is America taking a shift towards healthier food choices, and what it means for our country as a whole? In this year alone millions of Americans have been striving for a healthier diet, and to cut down on fast foods and excessive meat consumption. Meanwhile, the food industry has been trying to keep up with the new demand for better food options. Fast food chains have started offering healthier menu items, small restaurants have opened entirely dedicated to serving fresh, healthy foods. Over the last several years significant changes have been made throughout the food industry. The biggest trend in the world of food today has been trying to provide healthier food for consumers. Healthier options have been popping up all over the grocery store shelves and in restaurants. Throughout the industry, from small local restaurants to large fast food chains, efforts have been made to serve better food for customers. As well as many companies have made changes to the foods they produce. Adding fewer chemicals or less sugar. In the last decade or two the public demand for healthier foods has grown tremendously, and its clear that the food industry is at least trying to keep up with this new demand. Still people say that what the industry has done isnt enough. However everything the industry has done is obviously a step in the right direction.
One of the biggest epidemics in America today, and over the last thirty years, Obesity. America has the highest obesity rate of any country on the planet. In the U.S. around 40% of adults were obese in 2016. Thats over 90,000,000 people. It gets even worse. 18.5% of people under the age of 18 are obese. This has become a serious problem in the United States. Its no wonder so many people are looking for ways to solve it. There have been many potential solutions proposed, but yet the problem of obesity persists.
One of the most commonly suggested solutions is for the government to regulate the food available to consumers. Ideas like adding a tax to unhealthy foods or putting warning labels on them. Unfortunately, every time the idea of the government getting involved in what people eat gets brought up, it gets quickly shot down. A big reason for this is the attitude of the American people. Americans arent fans of government control, especially in the south. They like to believe theyre making all their choices for themselves, including choices about their diets. The issue is that when the U.S. government tries to regulate what food companies can or cant do, its easy to get confused and believe theyre trying to control what people can or cant eat. Alternatively they may believe the government is treating them like children, as if its saying theyre all irresponsible and cant be trusted with their own diet. Between the people, and the companies fearing loss of profit, passing laws of this nature is nearly impossible in America.
With no regulations on food companies, theyre free to sell whatever they can convince people to buy. These companies will advertise their products, even going as far as using science to figure out what colors to put on their signs. Convincing people who arent even hungry to buy their food. Advertising isnt everything though, even if they convince a person to buy a new product for the first time, it has to taste good. This is where the unhealthiness comes in. Companies focus on making is taste good. Just so that people will keep eating it, and in the process, continue buying it.
There was a time when nobody cared about healthy food. Look at McDonald’s, they were dipping their fries in beef fat, Yet the obesity rate was under 15%. Back then foods were all really high in fat, and everyone was fine with it. Ironically, the rise of obesity in the U.S. began when people started to think about what was in their food. A movement began for foods with lower fat content. This lead to companies obliging and lowering the amount of fat in their products. The only problem, removing the fat is removing the flavor. This meant the businesses that produced these products had to find a way to make the food taste good without so much fat. How did they do it? By adding sugar. Food companies started pouring in sugar by the pound in order to compensate for the lack of fat. All in the name of making the product taste good.
The human body works in an interesting way. When someone exercises, theyre burning Carbohydrates. When the body runs out of carbs to burn, it begins to burn fat. Sugar is a carbohydrate, meaning consuming a lot of sugar prevents the body from burning the fat. When the body doesnt burn that fat, it just sits there and builds up. This, of course, leads to obesity if not dealt with properly. With so many sugary foods and drinks out there, the carbs are essentially acting as a barrier, preventing people from burning fat. This means even though so many there are people exercising regularly, nobody is burning any fat.
Eating healthier is a national priority. Poor diet is one of America’s biggest health and societal problems that we are faced with, causing high death and disparity rates and soaring health care problems, such as diabetes and several other diseases. According to the CDC around 10% of the population of the United States has diabetes, and even more with pre-diabetes. If pre-diabetes is included, there are over 100 million Americans with diabetes. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes, formerly called adult onset diabetes. However that name has fallen out of fashion since the sudden rise in the rate of type 2 diabetes in people under the age of 20. This type of diabetes can be directly linked to obesity, and brings its own set of new problems.
Additionally the health crisis causes problems with governmental budget The Medicare and Medicaid program that provides healthcare to families that cant afford it takes up to four percent of the federal budget and five percent of the United States economy. Diabetes and other diet-related diseases are major contributors to the cost of these expenses. The annual medical and economic costs of the cost of diabetes alone is $326 billion, heart disease and strokes are estimated at around $316 Billion, and all obesity-related conditions combined, $1,42 Trillion. These costs are extremely difficult for the federal and state governments as well as for businesses, families, and individuals due to the rising cost of health care and the disabilities that come with obesity and its many related diseases.
Diet-related health burdens and costs also influence military readiness. Two-thirds of active duty military forces are overweight or obese, while 71 percent of young Americans are unable to joined the armed forces, due to many causes, obesity being a main disqualifier. Secondly the overall U.S. food system including farming and imports, supermarkets and retail, restaurants and cafeterias, and food manufacturers also reflects and contributes to profound disparities, especially among children. Minorities and the poor commonly have the worst diets, causing a vicious cycle of poor health, lower school performance, lost productivity, increased health costs and poverty.
Hungry for good food? as policymakers increasingly recognize the depth, and breadth of these effects, they are beginning to act, as of January 2018, House lawmakers created a bipartisan “Food is Medicine” working group. Dedicated to innovations within nutrition policy, and reduce diet-related health costs. Simply the existence of a group in Congress focused on Food is Medicine, which hosted multiple briefings for congressional staff on key legislation to integrate nutrition into federal policy, is an advance. On June 7, 2018, Congress instructed the U.S. Government Accountability Office to perform a comprehensive assessment and accounting of all federal policies related to food, chronic diseases and health care costs. The GAO is the government watchdog, providing independent audits of agencies and policies. The GAO has been asked to investigate six specific questions across diverse federal agencies and programs, including the evidence linking diet to chronic diseases, the corresponding national and federal health care costs, and the current strategies and missed opportunities to reduce these risks and costs. A series of GAO reports on food policy will likely come out in 2019 and 2020. The launch of this investigation represents a federal milestone for its scope and recognition of the opportunities in food policy.