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Have We Turned the Corner?

Published January 27th, 2014 in Blog

In April of 2009, Springer Science and Business Media published findings on the correlation between soft drinks and fast food increasing childhood obesity. The study reported, children who ate fast food and drank soft drinks were more likely to be overweight, but they were also less likely to be unhappy. (I’m going to not comment on the unhappy portion of this study…)

The reason for this is the doping of the brain with feel good hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals are profoundly affected by sugar and the foods we eat that convert to sugar. Added to this are the vast amount of brain chemical disrupting ingredients found in fast foods like MSG, Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, dyes and others.

The old adage about a “drugged society is a controlled society” is being banked on by multinational food corporations as well as others who shall remain nameless for the sake of this article. Over the last ten years individuals have been slowly changing the obesity trends, not with more money or government regulations but through the power of knowledge. The internet has been instrumental in individuals like you having information on health and nutrition that was before only seen by a handful of odd people in lab coats.

These studies have looked at not only eating patterns of children but also of their families. There are a number of factors influencing children’s body weight, eating patterns and happiness. For example, mothers’ consumption of fast food and soft drinks predicted her child’s eating habits. Those children who ate fast food were more likely to also consume soft drinks. Children from lower income households were more likely to have unhealthy dietary habits and be overweight or obese.

Next we look at local food environments, a study in June 2009 illustrated more on this point released by BioMed Central. Living in an area with more fast food outlets and convenience stores than supermarkets and grocers has been associated with obesity in a Canadian study. Researchers have shown your local food environment can affect your weight. All the more reason for local food initiatives supporting small markets in neighborhoods for the elderly and poor to have access to – provided they carry real foods not just chips, hot pockets, pop and beer. An example is the Markets of the Umpqua in down town Roseburg.

This last week a study on national obesity revealed it isn’t economics that drive obesity or that have begun the turnaround – it is knowledge and everyday people taking back control of their food choices and that of their families.

The study, titled “Turning point for US diets? Recessionary effects or behavioral shifts in foods purchased and consumed” was posted at the online site of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“We found U.S. consumers changed their eating and food purchasing habits significantly beginning in 2003, when the economy was robust, and continued these habits to the present,” said Shu Wen Ng, assistant professor of nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and the study’s first author.

“These changes in food habits persist independent of economic conditions linked with the Great Recession or food prices,” Ng said. “The calorie consumption was declining at a rate of about 34 calories less per year among children aged 2-18 between 2003 and 2010 (vs. only 14 kcal/day among adults decline per year). The declines in food purchases after adjusting for all the economic changes was also at a rate of 34 kcal/capita per year among households with children between 2000 and 2011.”

Ng adds that this dramatic turn in dietary behavior is more likely the outcome of sustained and persistent public health efforts aimed at raising awareness about the importance of healthy eating, providing better information about food choices, and discouraging unhealthy dietary choices.

While noted that the specific contributors for these changes in behavior are not quantifiable, he suggested greater attention by the public and journalists to obesity overall, particularly to soft drinks and other high-calorie sugary beverages; and the changes made by food companies or retailers may have produced significant rises in the awareness among consumers about the role of food.

In order to take back control of your health and to have healthy vibrant children like previous generations, adults have to lead the way, not the idea of what ever keeps little Johnny happy. I couldn’t leave the dinner table without having first eaten my nasty vegetables, neither could my husband, and candy and soda pop was a special treat not an everyday food item. I expect that was much the same story for everyone living in rural areas during the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. Maybe that is why even today rural areas have some of the lowest rates of obesity over inner city’s.

It’s not time for a diet, it’s time for real food’s grown by real farmers.

To your good health

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