Obesity: Food Addiction encouraged by Big Food Companies
Obesity is, at least in large part, a result of Food Addiction encouraged by Big Food Companies. Obesity is defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. Body Mass Index is calculated using the formula: Weight (wt.) in Kg divided by the square of height (ht.) in cm, OR (Body wt. in Kg)/(Ht. in cm)². There are several BMI calculators on the internet.
Obesity if often considered a defect of character rather than a disease, even by those who should know better: physicians. It is common to overhear physicians deriding their obese patients. “If only he would close his mouth, he would lose weight and be healthier.” “I told him I was not going to operate on him unless he lost weight.” Of course, they do not lose weight, and are denied medical procedures that would improve their health and their quality of life.
Obesity is not a defect of character. Obesity is like smoking. When Big Tobacco was pushing smoking at us and advertising how wonderful it was, our smoking rates went sky-high. Big Tobacco lied and got billions of people addicted to smoking. Big Food does the same. It does research on what additives to use to make food more addicting, lies about health benefits of processed food, gets us addicted to processed food, and makes us obese.
Big Food and Fast Food arrived in the USA in the 1950s
Big Food and Fast Food arrived in the USA in the 1950s. Before that, we ate home-cooked simple meals with seasonal or canned vegetables, whole chicken and fish, home baked bread, meat stews, seasonal fruit. The milkman delivered milk but not ice cream.Obesity rates in the USA among adults age 20 or more were 13.4% in 1960-62 (that is about 1 in 8 adults). Now (2009-2012) they are 35.5% (1 in 3 adults)! This is data reported by the CDC and derived from the National Health Examination Survey and the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey.
McDonald’s was formed in 1955. By 1958 McDonald’s had sold 100 million hamburgers. It started TV advertising in 1966. The Big Mac was introduced in 1968. It has 540 calories. In 1975, it added the EggMcMuffin, and fast food invaded breakfast! By 1979, there were 5000 McDonald’s. Pizza Hut opened in 1958. It started TV advertising in 1966. By 1968, there were 310 Pizza Huts in the USA and more than one million diners had eaten there. There were a 1000 Pizza Huts in the USA by 1972, 2000 by 1976, and 3000 by 1977. Just on Super Bowl Sunday in 1990, Americans ate more than 1.3 million Pizza Hut pizzas!
In April 1999, Big Food executives met in Minneapolis. Pillsbury, Nestle, Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Mars – the who’s who of Big Food. They came to discuss the emerging obesity epidemic and how to deal with it. A Kraft executive, Mudd, quoted Brownell, “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.” He proposed cutting back on salt, sugar and fat on their products, and changing how Big Food advertises. General Food’s Sanger responded, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition. Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.” And this stuff lines Big Food’s pockets and causes obesity! Big Food spends big money on trying to figure out what food additives are addicting, and then gets up addicted and causes obesity.
Having conquered the United States and other developed countries and caused obesity there, Big Food is now taking over the markets in less developed and developing countries. 75% of world food sales now involve processed foods, with the markets dominated by Big Food. This results in a switch from traditional, simple diets to highly processed foods, and the arrival of obesity in these countries. What are highly processed foods? Foods enriched in salt, sugar and fat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Of course, Big Food tells us processed food is good for us. Sound familiar? Big Tobacco told us tobacco was good for us, causing a worldwide addiction to smoking and killing millions of people. They hid studies showing tobacco was bad for us.
To quote Stuckler & Nestle , “This coexistence of food insecurity and obesity may seem like a paradox, but over- and undernutrition reflect two facets of malnutrition. Underlying both is a common factor: food systems are not driven to deliver optimal human diets but to maximize profits.” The arrival of fast food (Kentucky Fried Chicken and pizza) companies in Ghana is associated with a rise in obesity there. Big Food contributes to rising obesity in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
I see a lot of obese patients, since obesity causes sleep apnea. Obesity IS NOT a character defect. It is a result of a Big Food and Fast Food conspiracy. Maybe it will take a surgeon general who will call a spade a spade, and lawyers successfully suing Big Food, for us to switch back to healthy diets and healthy weights.