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Why Economics Drives Most Food Options You Have

February 07, 2009 | 34,412 views
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American diet, fast foodBeing overweight is not just a disease; it’s a symptom of many other things that are wrong with your diet. And much of the blame for the current American diet comes down to economics.

In a $10 trillion economy, $1 trillion goes to food companies and $2.5 trillion goes to health care. Food companies, like any good businesses, are always seeking to increase the consumption of their product. But in food, there’s an unwritten law of marketing called potato chip marketing equations.

That means that 10 percent of your customers buy 90 percent of the product. You may go out and buy one or two bags of potato chips a month. But somebody else is buying one bag a day -- 30 bags every month.

When you add that extra 20 percent extra to your weight, you don’t increase your food consumption 20 percent a day. You double it to 200 percent a day. Your caloric intake to maintain 180 pounds is almost twice the caloric intake you need to maintain 150 pounds.

Think of that from the standpoint a food company. Food companies, as a result, market to people to make everyone part of their potato chip marketing equation. They spend their marketing dollars getting existing customers to buy more of their product.

At what point after two, three, four, 10, 12 bags of potato chips do they no longer taste good? How about McDonald’s French fries? All processed foods never get tiring -- they have chemically altered the food substances in that food to make sure you’re never tired of it.

The problem with obesity, which is ultimately caused by poor diet, is really an economic problem. And when people consume this terrible diet, they end up with all types of medical problems, and they go to the doctors for treatment.

But the medical companies are in effect in a conspiracy of sorts with the food companies. They’ve almost said to the food companies, “We’ll treat the symptoms of this bad diet. We will never treat the cause, your bad food.”
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Renowned economist Paul Pilzer has done an excellent job of revealing what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to food production and marketing in the United States. I encourage you to read the entire article by clicking on the link above.

Regular newsletter readers know that I’m fond of exposing how much the drug industry spends to manipulate and distort your perceptions about health care. Well they only spend $20 billion a year. The food industry is spending TWICE that much to convince you and your kids to choose highly processed convenience foods that will accelerate a massive decline in your health (and facilitate your need to use drugs to control your symptoms).

You can watch this terrific video series by Peter Jennings to find out just how the food industry is quietly sabotaging your health. For instance, 90 percent of foods Americans purchase every year are processed foods, and in 2006, 2,800 new candies, desserts, ice cream, and snacks were introduced to the marketplace, compared to just 230 new fruits or vegetable products.

Food marketers do a masterful job at making it seem like fast foods and junk foods are the obvious choice. They’re relatively inexpensive, they taste good, and they make fixing dinner a snap. No longer do you need to fuss with actually cleaning or chopping a vegetable. Simply pop their prepared boxes of food in the microwave and you’re ready to go.

What the food industry neglects to tell you is that there is a heavy price for consuming this terrible diet. It is one of the major causes of a slew of chronic diseases facing the United States. So for the sake of convenience or good taste now, you are trading the most valuable asset that you have: your health.

Why do You Eat so Much Junk Food?

As I said above, 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed foods. This is, in large part, due to the successful marketing of agribusiness They have also cleverly designed your food shopping experience at most supermarkets to increase the sales of higher profit junk foods, instead of farmer’s markets that display whole foods.

Another significant part of the food equation is that most American food crops are currently subsidized by the U.S. government: such as corn, wheat, soy and rice. Growing little else but corn and soy translates to a far higher likelihood we will eating more processed foods.

And then there are the food additives, chemicals added to the foods to make you want more. I found this to be one of the most interesting and spot-on parts of Pilzer’s article. When people struggle with food cravings and overeating, it is typically because they are craving something unhealthy like potato chips, French fries, soda or candy.

I doubt if any physician or nutritionist has seen someone come in complaining about their desire to gorge themselves on spinach and asparagus. It just doesn’t happen.

This is because your body will naturally crave a variety of different foods to keep you healthy. That is, if you eat unprocessed whole foods. Processed foods are typically chemically altered to increase the appeal to your taste buds, so they can override your body’s signals in your body that would otherwise tell you it’s time to stop eating and try something else.

These foods are pumped full of unnatural amounts of sugar, corn syrup, salt, MSG and many others, which radically increases the likelihood of becoming addicted to them.

In one study of rats fed a diet containing 25 percent sugar, they became anxious when the sugar was removed -- displaying symptoms similar to people going through drug withdrawals, such as chattering teeth and the shakes.

The researchers conducting the study found a link between opioids, your brain’s 'pleasure chemicals,' and a craving for sweet, salty and fatty foods. It is thought that high-fat foods stimulate the opioids, as when researchers stimulated rats’ brains with a synthetic version of the natural opioid enkephalin, the rats ate up to six times their normal intake of fat.

Further, long lasting changes in rats' brain chemistry, similar to those caused by morphine or heroin use, were also noted. According to researchers, this means that even simple exposure to pleasurable foods is enough to change gene expression, which suggests an addiction to the food.

Meanwhile, refined sugar, which is in just about every processed food out there, because it is cheap and improves the flavor of the food, has been proven to be more addictive than cocaine! Your body’s sweet receptors (two protein receptors located on your tongue), which evolved in ancestral times when the diet was very low in sugar, have not adapted to modern times’ high-sugar consumption.

Therefore, the abnormally high stimulation of these receptors by our sugar-rich diets generates excessive reward signals in the brain, which have the potential to override normal self-control mechanisms, and thus lead to addiction.

This is why, if you regularly eat a diet of processed foods, whole foods seem to lack flavor. You have become conditioned to think that these chemically altered foods are the norm, when in reality the opposite is true.

When you switch your diet to one focused on whole, unprocessed foods, such as the one I recommend in Take Control of Your Health, your ability to appreciate natural flavors will rapidly return. Suddenly you’ll experience how delicious fresh produce can be. And a piece of fruit will taste very sweet. Once you are eating this way, if you then eat a candy bar or a potato chip, you will frequently be shocked by the excessive sweetness and saltiness.

This is Not About Self-Deprivation

Many people feel that if they can’t eat their favorite junk foods, they are being deprived. In reality, the sooner you switch your eating habits, the sooner you’ll enjoy increased energy, normalized weight, a better mood and improved health overall.

Knowing this, many initially succeed at implementing an improved diet, but then fall back into old habits... and therefore, the "old" body.

Why?

This is largely due to emotional barriers or injuries that were never healed. This is why to truly succeed at revamping your eating habits, and breaking free from the onslaught of marketing messages telling you otherwise, I highly recommend you work on overcoming your emotional eating challenges.

There are clearly many useful and effective strategies in this area. In my clinical practice, I have tried a variety of methods, and have been exposed to many more (both traditional and alternative) but none have come close to the success rate I have experienced with the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. This form of psychological acupressure can help you to reduce food cravings, remove negative emotions and implement positive goals so that you are ready to make a change.

Remember, subsisting on junk foods alone is a surefire way to accelerate your aging process and compromise your health. (To get an idea of how quickly and dramatically this happens, watch SuperSize Me.) There is just no way around it -- if you want to reap a healthy life, you and your family need to focus your diets on fresh, whole foods.

[+] Sources and References

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