Tag Archives: obesity

Lack of Variety in Diet: Another Cause of Obesity?

food

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the importance of eating a rich and varied diet.

Earlier this week, the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists hosted a summit called IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation. Chief scientific officer of MicroBiome Therapeutics, Mark Heiman, gave a particularly insightful speech that summarized his research regarding human diet over the latter half of this century.

Heiman claims that in both developed and undeveloped countries, a loss of “dietary diversity” has led to alarming increases in obesity rates, as well as Type II diabetes and gastrointestinal problems. For example, we’ve been consuming an inordinate amount of carbohydrates such as rice, maize, and wheat—which make up an average of 60 percent of our daily calories.

He also discourages “fad” diets in which certain nutrients are eliminated completely, limiting one’s nutritional intake. “Like any ecosystem,” Heiman said, “the one that is most diverse in species is the one that is going to be the healthiest.” Food that are high in carbs and fat are the cheapest to manufacture, and therefore cheaper for us to buy. Especially over the past 50 years, obesity rates have been rising most prevalently in countries that are consuming more junk food. But the facts cannot be ignored: human beings need variety in their diet to function more efficiently. The potential health benefits from doing so are enormous, the most obvious being greater life expectancy.

An easy-to-remember way to eat a more richly-varied diet is the more colors on your plate, the better. You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of fat and carbohydrates, but remember: all things in moderation. Avocados are a great example of foods rich in “good fat”, or unsaturated fatty acids, and their consumption can even help lower cholesterol levels.

 

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

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“Fed Up” – New Documentary About Childhood Obesity

Fed-Up

Julian Omidi discusses the new documentary film “Fed Up,” which is about the obesity healthcare crisis, particularly childhood obesity.

The food industry is making us fat, according to a recently released film exposé.  “Fed Up,” a 90-minute documentary by the team of filmmakers who produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” explores the food industry practices that could be actively contributing to our current obesity health crisis, with particular emphasis on the toll both the practices and the crises are taking on children.  Even products marketed as being “low-fat” are misleading and contributing to the problem, since they contain more sugar than their full fat alternatives.  It is the world’s addiction to sugar that is causing the massive obesity epidemic, but the food manufacturing industry is nevertheless wholly reluctant to yield.[1]

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other major organizations in processed food production have a tremendous amount of political influence, which not only affects the foods sold in the United States, but also all over the world.  According to the documentary, in 2003, the Bush administration stopped the publication of a World Health Organization report that advocated the calories in the human diet contain no more than 10 percent from added sugars with the threat of pulling all funding.

The federal program to combat childhood obesity, “Let’s Move,” might also have felt the power of food manufacturing lobbying interests.  Again, the documentary posits a theory that the presidential administration could have been influenced by the food industry, and moreover may have backed down from making meaningful changes.  While the beginning of the anti-obesity initiative seemed to promise that childhood obesity would be attacked from every direction, the food industry wanted to appear to partner with the “Let’s Move” program, which would have taken off much of the outside pressure to significantly change its manufacturing and marketing strategies.

Among other revelations from the film, childhood bariatric surgery as an anti-obesity option is being discussed and even embraced by the medical industry.  While the idea of performing surgical weight loss procedures on teenagers would have once filled medical professionals with horror, today it isn’t uncommon.  The adolescent obesity problem is so severe that many medical professionals and parents are willing to risk the potential for nutritional deficiency in growing teenagers by agreeing to gastric bypass surgery.

Ultimately, the convenience food industry has effectively changed the public mindset about what real food and convenience are.  Since we’ve convinced ourselves that cooking whole foods is more expensive in terms of time and money, is it possible for us to disengage ourselves from prepackaged foods and go back to preparing food from scratch?  According to “Fed Up,” we might have to sacrifice a bit of time and comfort in order to ensure our own health and the health of our children.

Once we’ve gotten used to relying upon ourselves for our food and not large corporations, we might be able to combat obesity in an effective and enduring way.  This new film might be provocative and even divisive, but if it asks us to ask difficult questions about ourselves, our habits and our futures, it can only lead to more discussion on a critically important topic.

By Julian Omidi

 

[1] Morgan, David: Documentary: “Fed Up” With Rising Childhood Obesity CBS News 5/9/2014 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/documentary-fed-up-with-rising-childhood-obesity/

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