Obesity started increasing rapidly in the 1990’s in the United States and is still on the rise today. We still have much to learn like how to avoid having our brain and hormones crave the foods we know are making us sick. In truth, we not only have to fight ourselves to make daily conscientious decision to live healthier lives but we have to fight the giants of the food industry.
Did you know some of the biggest food companies in America where bought by tobacco companies in the 1960’s? It’s terrifying to know a company which made billions by selling us cigarettes and caused numerous health issues also made billions selling us food. As we got busier and busier going from one income households to two, they got busy making everything convenient for us. Convenient is great, in fact many household wouldn’t survive today’s life without it. It also comes at a cost, our health.
Would you be surprised to learn the CEO’s of all the major food industry leaders knew what they were doing all along. To them your health had a price. In fact, since the 60’s every time the public became concern about certain ingredients in convenience food the giants of the industry found a way to counteract it.
When fat became known as a leading cause for heart disease and whole milk consumption went down, they turned to cheese and started adding it everywhere. Fat is essential in making us eat more because unlike sugar, a food item rarely gets too fatty. In fact, when the fat is well hidden people tend to eat 10% more than they normally would if they were aware of the fat content. We don’t get tired of fat the way we do with sweets, making it a dangerous ingredient for our health. From the food industry’s perspective it’s the perfect ingredient, the more we eat, the more we buy.
When sugar became a concern they created fruit concentrate. We now know fruit concentrate is sugar extracted from fruit but sugar none the less and no more better for us. They also started incorporating other sources of sugar such as high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, cane juice, beet sugar etc. This way sugar wasn’t the first item on the ingredient list and the item appeared healthier. In some cases the sweet ingredient used instead of sugar wasn’t known to be sugar by the general public (dextrose, maltose, galactose, etc). When someone was actively trying to avoid added sugar they could buy this item which still contained added sugar without even knowing it.
Knowing this is frustrating if not enraging or even sad, after all most of the convenience food item we fight ourselves not to indulge on were scientifically design to make us overeat. It was done so knowingly so our health could make some men billionaires. It’s also enlightening, living with obesity isn’t a character flaw, it’s not a lack of self control, it’s not caused by being “lazy”. The obesity epidemic happened to us, it wasn’t created by us out of character flaws.
If you found this topic interesting, the book Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss elaborates much more on it.