U.S. life expectancy falls at 50th place internationally.  Our life expectancy is below that of Australia, Canada, Jordan, United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Puerto Rico.  While we have much shorter lifespan, we surprisingly outspend each of these countries on medical care by thousands of dollars. The key reasons are:

  • Nearly 60% of the US population is overweight.
  • The number of children and teens who are overweight has tripled over the past three decades.
  • Almost 20% of 4-year-olds are obese.

The main culprit in this ever escalating health problem is a whopping 47% leap in the daily caloric consumption by Americans during the past three decades — mostly high calorie, chemical laden, highly processed, low nutrition foods.  We are actually eating ourselves to death.   

Acceptance of obesity is so prevalent that overweight clergy, construction workers, fire fighters, medical professionals, prison guards, and police officers are becoming a common sight.  Take a look at any 30 year old TV show with a studio audience and you would have to look hard to see an obese person.

Instead of fighting obesity with good nutrition and exercise, we are turning to costly medical procedures to do the job. The American consumers are getting fatter and sicker each day, but instead of finding a solution, big business is cashing in.  An example is the gastric banding process which places an adjustable band around the stomach to limit its size. This procedure is becoming popular among obese teens. Another terrifying development is the need for jumbo coffins which have to be hoisted by cranes and transported on flatbed trucks.

Our national obesity rate is projected to reach 42% by 2030. Unless specific steps are taken to change the eating habits of the affected population, America’s health problems and resulting chronic disease management costs are sure to skyrocket.

Collective Nutrition Ignorance

  1. 45% of our daily calories come from fat and 21% from added sugar.
  2. Today, a person consumes about 220 pounds of meat per year; during the 1950’s, meat consumption was 144 pounds per year.
  3. The recommended daily limit for added sugar by the American Heart Association (AHA) is 5 teaspoons for adult women, 9 teaspoons for adult men.  The average American consumes about 130 pounds of added sugar each year – about 23 teaspoons daily.  Most will adamantly deny they consume this much sugar.
  4. Children in the U.S. have their sugar consumption skyrocket to an average of 32 teaspoons (about ¾ cup) per day.  The maximum recommendation by AHA is 3 teaspoons per day. Imagine that; their growing bodies are forced to deal with ten times the high limit of sugar consumption. Their vital organs are under full assault.
  5. Americans eat two to three times the daily recommended limit of salt. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 50% of adults suffer from high blood pressure.
  6. 90% of Americans do not meet their daily recommended fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption.  They do eat far too many processed foods.
  7. Average Trans fat intake is 5.8 grams a day (maximum recommended is 2 grams) – however, it should be zero.
  8. A study by Harvard researchers show that people who eat one serving of processed meat every day have a 51% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  9. Most school lunch program fall woefully short of the nutrition needs of our children.
  10. 1 in 3 Americans born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes if current trends

When it comes to the quality and quantity of foods consumed by children whether it is at home, in schools, or restaurants, loving them to death has taken on a very literal meaning. Our supermarkets, school cafeterias, fast food restaurants, and TV commercials incessantly push unhealthy highly processed foods that are slowly poisoning millions of children and setting them up for a life of declining health.  Are the profits earned by flooding the market with junk food so important that the very future of the country is of little concern?  Why don’t the parents, who profess great love for their children, care about their well-being?  Health experts are now asking whether America’s children will be the first in the world’s history to live shorter lives than their parents.  Important questions for all to consider:

  1. Can an unhealthy America remain wealthy, productive, and a world power?
  2. Will the inscription on the Statue of Liberty eventually read: ‘Give me your fit, your healthy, your robust masses’?

How concerned are you about the current dismal state of nutrition in supermarkets, homes, schools, restaurants, cooking shows, and food commercials. Have you taken any steps to combat the malnutrition all around us?  Have you voted with your dollars by making healthier choices when given the option?  What advice would you give to our readers, especially families with young children?

© 2012 Gopal K. Kapur