Diet and Health
Most Americans' eating patterns represent a public health crisis. If a new disease erupted that was one-tenth as destructive as most people's diets, there would be a massive public outcry to find the cure. It isn't just the poor who die of malnutrition. The average diet in the United States is so full of empty calories, dangerous fats, and chemical additives that a whole new type of malnutrition is being established. We are obese, overweight and dying in increasing numbers from conditions linked with dietary and related lifestyle patterns. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke - these are the killers of today. The minor" concerns, we would add, are that few of us really experience happiness, peace of mind, and good health. We suffer from:
- Tooth decay
- Allergies, in ever growing numbers
- Learning disabilities
- Skin disorders
- Weak nails and brittle hair
The list goes on and on. And each of these conditions is connected with what we eat, as well as how and why we eat it.
In 2003, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson reported that the United States was spending $1.4 trillion on "health" care annually. Thompson claimed that three-quarters of that amount was used to treat chronic illnesses that could be reduced through prevention. He further reported that 43 percent of the US population had some type of chronic illness, 17 million people had diabetes (a diet-related disease), and 50 million adults (25 percent of the adult population) were obese. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity among adults rose 60 percent nationally since 1991. "That is a dramatic increase in a relatively short period of time," said Donald Hensrud, a Mayo Clinic nutrition specialist.
Whether or not children eat proper foods, eat regularly, eat carefully, and eat politely has an effect on their health and their personalities. - National Education Association, 1940