How the government helped make the country fat and unhealthy

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not the governments fault that the vast majority of us eat nothing but junk food and way too much of it. And then don’t exercise enough. Yes that is certainly true. I won’t argue that point. What this has more to do with is how the claims the government has made in what is supposed to be in our best interest has really only been in the interest of their friends in the various foods that they prop up.

Of course this is nothing new. There are plenty of people who make a good living pointing out the different ways that government fails us. And usually while telling us it’s for our own good. This is just one of the easiest examples to point out. If you ask any serious, honest nutritionist about the Food Pyramid that was introduced in the 70s but gained major prominence in the 90s they will all tell you it’s wrong. Only the reason will change. For example, if you ask the Keto people they will tell you it’s straight up upside down. That we should be eating far more fat and almost no carbs whatsoever. In the sense that we eat too many empty carbs they are certainly correct. But most nutritionists will tell you wrong simply because every body is different. There should not be big, clunky food guideline to follow because that’s stupid.

In hindsight it seems very obvious. And yet, for my entire childhood and a bit into my adult life, this is exactly what we all did. Because the almighty USDA said that was what was best for us. And you know the schools all used those guidelines to build their school lunch programs. With what we know now about the negative health effects of something like soda, it’s a wonder there aren’t a ton of lawsuits from people my age suing the schools and the government for the health problems people my age are having.

Now whether you believe that the government did it on purpose or not is somewhat irrelevant. One thing is for sure. Thanks to the government subsidizing corn, we made some bad decisions that have negatively affected generations. There are two major ones that stick out to me in particular. The switch to using corn to feed the animals in major food factories and the switch to High-fructose corn syrup. I would argue that these two things alone are the major reasons why America is the joke of the world when it comes to obesity.

I don’t think there’s anyone who has researched factory farming has come away thinking that it is really the way we should be treating these animals. But that’s a different argument for a different time. But in order to feed these animals as cheaply as possible we starting using corn based feed. So why is this a bad thing? Well there’s an age old expression that illustrates this perfectly. “You are what you eat.” Studies have shown that cows that are pasture raised i.e. grass-fed have up to five times the Omega-3s, have more vitamins, like Vitamin A and E, and nutrients such as creatine an carnosine, and is richer in antioxidants. Thankfully, there are more people who are talking about this and so you are seeing more and more options for healthier beef. And as a bonus it’s been shown that grass-fed beef tastes better.

Now that’s just one example. The same is now known about many of the other meats that we eat. And where was the government in all this? I thought the FDA was supposed to protect us. Well if we want to understand why that’s impossible, lets take a look at how they handled seed oils. That would be oils made from pressing seeds, hence the name. Examples include corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil and peanut oil. The FDA has this thing called GRAS. What is GRAS you ask? It stands for Generally Recognized as Safe. What it means is that if something has been used long enough, by enough people it is now GRAS. So in other words, there is a lot of food that we have been using that has never even been tested by the FDA. And now, there are studies showing that seed oils could be responsible for not only obesity, but also cancer as well. Now this may or may not be true. We don’t know. But that’s the point. We don’t know because no one checked. And no one checked because all the FDA really cares about is “is it toxic?”. It was just assumed it was safe because everyone was eating it and no one was dying outright. It’s kind of crazy when you really think about it. They never looked at the long term effects. According to a study as far back as 1993 it was shown that rats with a diet high in Linoleic Acid(higher in seed oils) they gained 16% more weight than the rats in the olive oil group and 36% more weight than the tallow group. In my opinion this also makes a strong case for the Keto people but anyway. They repeated the study in 2017. Same results. In fact, diets high in Linoleic acids have also been linked to negative effects in the follwing:

  • Immune systems
  • Eye lenses
  • Insulin-secreating cells (higher risk of diabetes)
  • Reproductive Germ Cells
  • Neurological Development
  • Cholesterol(Higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, etc)

So what about the other reason? The change to high-fructose corn syrup(HFCS). Well this is a major problem for two reasons I beleive. First, it allowed manufacturers to add it to a number of foods that sugar would have not worked as easily and/or would react differently with the other ingredients. Check your processed foods. You may be shocked to see what has HFCS added to it. And two, for reasons that are not entirely clear to us yet, the body does react to these two sugars differently. For example, A study with rats given sugar water and HFCS showed that the rats that had the HFCS gained more weight, especially around the abdomen. There are two theories as to why that is. The first has to do with HFCS getting into the blood stream making it more difficult to break down. A theory that may be true but I’m leaning toward the second one. There have been studies showing that when you are consuming processed products with HFCS in them, the ratio of fructose to glucose is altered, changing the way the body breaks them down which results in a craving for MORE sugar. So while either HFCS or sugar are both bad for you for exact same reason. The fact that having HFCS makes your body want it more and more is what is likely leading to our over consumption of sugar. Leading to obesity. Leading to more health problems.

If we had an honest, responsible government you would probably find health warnings on most of our food packaging similar to the ones on cigarettes. Imagine seeing this on your food:

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Eating high-fructose corn syrup in large quantities causes Obesity, Diabetes, Inflammation, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and Heart Disease.

I wonder how many people would stop eating it if they saw it. Would it make a difference? Who knows but it really could be there. None of those statements are false. But it does illustrate my point.  That just because something is approved and promoted with the blessing of the FDA and/or USDA doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you.

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