I considered writing my own commentary to the article below, but it explains pretty clearly a point I have been making to patients and friends for a while. Don't assume everything being sold as food should be eaten. The people putting out these processed "foods" could care less whether their product kills people, as long as you don't drop dead right away. Read on...
What? Poverty + Malnutrition = Starvation AND Obesity?
Written by Jill Ettinger
John Robbins wrote in his seminal book The Food Revolution
that there are as many people on the planet currently suffering from
obesity-related illnesses as there are those suffering from
hunger-related illnesses. And, ironically, both have two critical
factors in common: malnutrition and poverty.
While it may seem impossible that obesity sufferers are as nutrient
deficient as individuals without enough food to eat, it's true. A 2007
study titled "Poverty, obesity, and malnutrition: an international
perspective recognizing the paradox" found food insecurity's
contradiction is that not only can it lead to the more common vision of
the gravely malnourished sufferers of undernutrition, but also, overnutrition,
which the researchers estimate that by 2015 will take over as the
leading cause of death from noncommunicable diseases in low-income
communities, surpassing the effects of undernutrition.
Starvation has long been the poster child for poverty and
malnutrition. Literally. Sally Struthers brought the issues of
malnourished African children to television sets throughout the 1980s,
begging Americans to help relieve their suffering while the millions of
couch potatoes watching the depressing commercials snacked their way
into their own malnourished state.
Particularly in the U.S., a growing number of obese individuals
(one-third of all adult Americans, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention) and a rising rate of families struggling to find
food parallel. According to Feeding America, in 2010 14.5 percent of
American households were food insecure. Often, the two are affecting the
same individuals (three of the top ten states with the highest obesity
rates and highest poverty rates are the same: Alabama, Arkansas and
Mississippi). How can this be?
Overnutirition leads to the obvious diet-related illnesses
like obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, but it's also a
breeding ground as well for vitamin deficiency generated illnesses like
chronic skin conditions, poor vision, gout, mental disorders, digestive
disturbances and even certain types of cancer. What happens is this:
When healthy foods are substituted with mere empty calories in
fast/processed/frozen foods—often the only choice in low-income
neighborhoods (and in many school systems)—the body stores much of the
useless stuff (trans fats, processed sugars, refined grains and flours)
in the body as fat until it can determine what—if anything—can be done
with it. Hunger persists because the body has not filled its nutrition
quota for the day. That's why you may have noticed that you can eat an
entire bag of Doritos and still feel a voracious hunger—because your
body actually received very few nutrients. That can certainly pack on
But further compounding the issue are the number of chemicals (from
pesticides applied to the crops to the additives, artificial flavors and
preservatives added to the finished product), called endocrine disruptors,
which have been shown to cause obesity and diabetes, among myriad other
health issues. Making it difficult to lose weight, these chemicals
throw off the body's hormonal systems that regulate insulin distribution
and the body's ability to metabolize.
Inexpensive processed foods are nutritionally inferior to fresh,
whole fruits, vegetables, grains and even organically-raised animal
products. Diets lacking in these—whether other foods are present or
not—inevitably lead to malnutrition and the slurry of health issues
common with both starvation and obesity.
And what's more, experts suggest there is enough food on the planet right now to
feed everyone healthy, nutritious food. But multinational corporate
conglomerates that dominate the food industry, distribution and even
health care, have made it increasingly more difficult to allocate food
where its needed most, and make the perceived cheap, tasty, processed
stuff more accessible than pure, fresh, whole foods.
If we are to combat the issues of malnutrition in our country and
around the world, we can start by opting out of the corporate food
system, growing our own, supporting local food manufacturers and sharing
these resources. We can help to support educational and charitable
organizations that bring healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables to the
nation's sprawling "food deserts." And we can help to heal our
soil—where many of the vital nutrients originate—by always choosing
organic and non-gmo foods.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger