May 2, 2016
The full consequences of the food/illness/healthcare system take decades to manifest.
That America is in the throes of a systemic health crisis can no longer be denied. According to the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are overweight or obese. (Overweight is typically defined as a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. A BMI of 24.9 is not exactly featherweight; I would have to add 30 pounds to reach a BMI of 24.9. )
The health risks of being overweight or obese include:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (excess fat and inflammation in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol)
- osteoarthritis (a health problem causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints)
- some types of cancer: breast, colon, endometrial (related to the uterine lining), and kidney
Since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older. (Source)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported in 2015 that roughly half of all adult Americans are diabetic or prediabetic (also called metabolic syndrome).
If we add up everyone in America who is either suffering from or at risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and lifestyle-related types of cancer, it’s clear this is an unprecedented national health crisis that has no easy or cheap medical fix.
Why have we become so unhealthy? The answers come thick and fast: we are more sedentary as most work is now white-collar; the foods low-income people can afford are unhealthy; children now spend time playing digital games rather than playing outside; serving sizes of sodas and other high-calorie/low nutrition beverages have ballooned; people buy more convenience and fast foods and prepare fewer meals at home, and so on.
Two things are clear: there is no one solution to the epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases. Limiting sodas in schools and demanding better labeling of food are examples of reforms that are well-intended, but have so far had little effect on the expanding waistlines of Americans or their ill-health.
The second is expressed by the Chinese proverb: “Diseases enter through the mouth,” i.e. disease is a result of what we eat and drink. Since what we eat has an enormous impact on our health, if we want to tackle our health crisis in a manner that get results, we must start with what we eat and how our food is grown, processed and prepared.
Once we start examining our diet, we have to examine where our food comes from, how it is grown/raised and how it is processed for consumers.
A second Chinese proverb explains why we must start with diet: “When you’re thirsty, it’s too late to dig a well.” If we want to avoid lifestyle illnesses, we must start pursuing a new way of growing and preparing food now, not after we’re already ill.
The long lists of contributory factors to our growing ill-health distract us from the real source of our national health crisis: our food/illness/healthcare system is sick, and so it’s no wonder we’re sick, too. The only possible result of our unhealthy food/illness/healthcare care system is ill-health.
Understanding the Food / Illness / Healthcare System
To understand why this is so, we must start with the fact that we live in a highly centralized government/private-sector system that limits our choices to maximize the profits of corporate cartels: Big Agriculture, Big Oil/Ag Chemicals, Big GMO seeds (Monsanto et al.), Big Processed Foods, Big Supermarkets, Big Fast Food, Big Healthcare (what I have called sickcare for many years, because profits flow not from keeping us healthy via prevention but from keeping us alive when we’re suffering from chronic lifestyle illnesses) and last but not least Big Pharma, which is happy to provide medications that costs tens of thousands of dollars per patient per year to address the symptoms of lifestyle diseases rather than the causes, which trace back to what we eat and how we live.
Once you hear an alternative account of how we could be raising food and delivering it to consumers to prepare at home, you grasp the sickening stranglehold Corporate America and government agencies have on our food, diet and the resulting epidemic of ill-health.