As we head into the big holiday eating season, many of us might be well advised to read Michael Pollan’s terrific book In Defense of Food (also available on Kindle). Pollan makes a strong case to revamp how Americans interact with what they eat, and some of his statistics are particularly alarming. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and 25% have some kind of metabolic syndrome due to weight. 54 million people have pre-diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes has risen 5% annually since 1990. Americans consume 300 more calories per day than we consumed in 1985. Considering 3000 calories puts about a pound on your waistline, those calories add up quickly. Basically we are eating ourselves to death, and the irony is that we aren’t even really eating food. As Pollan reports, we have turned over food production to mega-corporations that manufacture unhealthy faux food lacking nutrition and filled with empty calories.
Perhaps one way to cure the health care crisis is to educate people on what they should be eating, and revamping our food supply chain so everyone has access to healthy real food. The cost of diet-related healthcare due to our bad eating habits and fake food is estimated at $250 billion a year, and rising. And things are getting worse as obesity becomes an epidemic among children – especially minority children that eat cheap calorie-rich / nutrient-poor fast food. 50% of minority children born after 2000 will suffer diabetes. Someone with diabetes lives on average 13 years less than the norm, and incurs medical costs of $13,000 a year.
Pollan’s simple advice that begins the book – “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”