In this post, I ended with a graph showing the rising energy consumption (through food) in the U.S. I’m going to pick up right about there, with some stats from the National Center for Health Statistics that reflect the effects of the increased consumption, namely: 62% of Americans were overweight in 2000, compared to 46% in 1980. Today, the number is 69%, and about half of those people are obese.
SEVEN OUT OF TEN PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ARE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE.
It is quite shocking, I must say. Now, why is it like this? How come calorie consumption is increasingly exceeding energy expenditure?
1 – People are not aware of how much energy is in the food that they consume (what does 200 calories look like?), and 87% of people do not care about it either (The Food Marketing Institute, 2002)
2 – The labels that display nutritional content are misleading and shaped as to target what (49% of) consumers do care about – the fat content. Unfortunately, a package can say 99% fat free, meaning BY WEIGHT, while the percentage per SERVING can be a radically different number (half, 60%, 70%).
(By the way, most foods needn’t come from a box.)
3 – Prices have gone down, while income has gone up.
4 – New products designed for convenience are dominating.
(Sometimes it can be really messy to bring 5 fruits in your bag, not to mention that it takes up a lot of space, which is why you can make your own granola bars and then just bring two fruits! Yay!)
5 – Advertising. Did you ever see a carrot ad on TV? How about one for McD followed by one promoting dietary supplements?
6 – There is an abundance of GM corn and soy, and also of other grains that are used to make … a lot of things. According to the USDA, Americans eat more grains than ever, but only about 7% manage to meet the recommendations for whole-grain foods. The demands are for breads (make your own!) and other in-store bakery items, grain based snack foods, cereals, and fast food.