The problems with what we eat are many. As a population, we eat a lot of junk," or empty calories. We eat highly processed foods, chemical additives, irradiated and genetically altered foods, "bad" fats . . . and more.
Snacking and eating out, particularly at fast-food restaurants, have become great American pastimes, indicative not only of our love for burgers, tacos, and pizza, but also of a lifestyle shift in the population at large. Just take a trip to your local shopping mall and watch how many people walk along with food or drinks in hand. Many malls also have food courts in which one can purchase a slice of pizza, a deep-fried egg roll, a corn dog, and a sugar-filled frozen yogurt cone and consider that a "meal." In addition, modern food processing methods, such as milling, lead to nutritionally empty foods. While we may be eating more grain-based foods today than we did in 1975 - which sounds positive at first hearing - many of these "grains" are actually white-flour breads, pastas, and pizza crusts, or tortillas and corn chips. When these highly-processed foods are covered with melted cheese, moreover, they fill us up but don't necessarily do us a lot of good. As to fat consumption, we have cut our consumption of red meat significantly since the 1970s, but we have turned to another high-fat source as our substitute. During the 1970s, the average American consumed ten pounds of cheese per year. Today, the average American consumes more than thirty pounds of cheese per year. Twenty more pounds and a 200 percent increase! In general, even though vast segments of the population are always "on a diet," we are eating slightly more food - around three hundred additional calories per day - than we did in 1975. While that may not sound like a big increase, it is compounded by the fact that we are exercising less.