Obesity Epidemic in America, How Did it Begin? - My Bariatric Life

Patient Expert

****** This article  is part of  a series on Living Well after Gastric Bypass that covers diet, nutrition, and weight control. Read the first article in the series here.******** I have eliminated processed foods from my life, and just eat real food**

In the more recent years since I had my obesity surgery, I have become educated on healthy eating. It was extremely eye-opening, even shocking, for me to learn where my food really came from and its effects on my health and my life.

I am so far removed from the relationship with food that I once had. Never more will I stuff my face with processed convenience foods. Instead, I just eat real food (see #JERF on Twitter). What that means is I eat primarily things that can be hunted (meat/fish/fowl) or gathered (produce, nuts, eggs, milk).  I supplement my meals with  foods that have been minimally-processed such as olive oil, cheese, butter, Greek yogurt, coffee, raw honey, etc.

I have eliminated refined foods, fast food, red meat, sugar, saturated fats, starches, and grains from my life. I buy my fowl and eggs from local farmers who have raised the animals on humanely and naturally on pasture without the use of hormones and antibiotics. I buy wild caught fish from the fish market. I get produce from my Community-Supported Agriculture program and Farmer's Market that has been grown locally without the use of GMO seeds and pesticides. Whatever else I need, which is not much, I buy from the organic section (as much as possible) of my local supermarket.

Nowadays, if I dare to have even a snack, no less a meal, of highly-refined food it sends me straight away to my sick bed. Now that tells you something about food quality in the typical American diet

How did we get to where we are today - a fat, sick society with a fairly high standard of living?

Well, it sounded like a good idea... In response to our demand that our food is safe, cheap, and abundant, the American government has been a factor in the production, regulation, research, innovation, and economics of our food supply. However, the government's efforts to inspire, influence, and control what Americans eat have led to unexpected consequences.

Government has had a profound effect on the way farms are run and what they produce. The Department of Agriculture controlled the prices of farm commodities and subsidized five crops-wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton. Government embraced advances in food technologies and performed research on food production that increased yields.

New breeding technologies and chemical additives were introduced to livestock for rapid weight gain.

Despite the seemingly good that came of this endeavor, there were several unexpected consequences that have led to the fattening of America:

Subsidies helped glut the market with these crops and left the government with finding ways to use it. Processed corn is so prevalent in American food that you're likely to be eating it even if you don't know it. Roughly 90% of food on supermarket shelves contains high fructose corn syrup.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is making us obese and diseased

There is a correlation between obesity and high fructose corn syrup: The numbers of Americans that are obese have quadrupled in recent years -- at the same time high fructose corn syrup consumption has risen at parallel rates. Government subsidies make sweet food very cheap and thus more attractive to penny-pinched consumers.

Greater crop yields by modern cultivars and horticultural methods that enable us to grow more on a smaller amount of land or in irrigated matter rather than soil, are resistant to pests, and can be transported long distances, resulted in food that is significantly less nutritious. Today's consumers would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A as their grandparents obtained from one fruit.

The quality of our protein has suffered a similar fate: A chicken in 2004 contained more than twice as much fat as in 1940, a third more calories and a third less protein. The bottom line is, if you select for yield, crops (or livestock) grow bigger and faster but they don't have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same rate.

A number of conditions of our modern lifestyle contribute to our weight problem: sedentary jobs make us less physically active, we eat out more than in, and portion size has ballooned. But the inherent lack of quality of the food we eat also plays a significant role.

You can eat healthy for the rest of your life, beginning today

For a deeper exploration of how and why you should just eat real foods, please read my series on the Primal Blueprint Diet, beginning with the article below.

What to read next: Primal Blueprint Diet: Take the 21-Day Total Body Transformation Challenge!


Please give me a heart if you like this article and support weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!**** My Story...**

You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.