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Frankenstein food

25 July 2009 915 views No Comment

Take a look at any grammar school class photos from more than 30 years ago and try to find the overweight and obese kids. There might be one or two, but rarely more than that, and most of those appear large-boned rather than soft and sedentary.

Those old photos prove the point that children in the United States — not to mention adults — were never previously as overweight in today’s epidemic-scale numbers.

It is pretty much the same everywhere, though some regions of the country (the South) seem a bit worse than others. Vermont fares well on most surveys, but maybe we are only talking about a range of from bad to worse.

For instance, nearby upstate New York had nearly 60 percent of residents overweight or obese, according to state health department and U.S. Census data compiled for U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in support of a proposal to ban trans-fats from school lunches and snacks.

What may be worse, though, is that even the “slimmest” areas of the state had around 55 percent overweight, Rep. Gillibrand said in an article in the Albany Times Union.

And assuming the figures are reasonably accurate, how well could Vermont be doing on this front? Aren’t we likely posting some pretty heavy numbers ourselves?

Trans-fat is one problem that should be dealt with, if only because it is considered a contributor to circulatory disease and its main purpose is to preserve packaged foods well past their normal freshness date to ensure

more profit for the producer.
Overall, the problem is that, for the past 40 or 50 years, Americans have been exposed to a dizzying — and in many cases sickening — array of fast-food and overly processed food, pushing us as close as possible to nutritional bankruptcy.

A decline in the average amount of exercise among children and adults plays a role, but only a supporting one. Better nutrition would mitigate many of the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and halt the massive, daily ingestion of what nutritionists call “empty calories,” such as in processed sugar drinks and doughnuts.

Beyond that, we have to make much more of an effort to keep these slow poisons out of the food stream, banning lab-concocted substances like trans-fats and making it more difficult to produce and sell garbage foods for the profit of mega-corporations.

Does anyone imagine the wealthy board members of these companies eat this stuff? But they believe it is OK for you and your family.

A reform effort should strive to reduce food additives and preservatives and level the playing field for those attempting to provide natural, nutritious or organic food. This should coincide with the reduction — or should it be elimination? — of pesticide and chemical fertilizer farming and mass production of meat and fish products in unhealthy environments.

We have created a Frankenstein food monster in this country; it is time to rise up like angry villagers and slay it.

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