The can be no doubt that there is an obesity epidemic going on in America. Obesity is not only killing individuals, it is killing the entire healthcare system, as well. Make no mistake about it, this is a serious issue and, as they say, "something needs to be done."
Let's put it like this, when I was a kid there was always one or two "fat kids" in your schoolroom. Now days, well, I don't have to tell you about now days.
And that's the kids. You know about the adults.
Obesity is horrible for your health in so many ways, that it seems like our society has gone insane and is bent on suicide.
But whose fault is it, really.
Sure, we all have to take some personal responsibility for what and how much we eat. I am not about to absolve us of our own responsibility in this, BUT...
The truth is that like every other ill in our society, well, virtually every other ill, if you want the real villain in all this...point a finger at Capitalism.
Kenneth Rogoff, writing at Alhazeera, talks about Coronary Capitalism. I like that term. Here is some of what he has to say.
Obesity affects life expectancy in numerous ways, ranging from cardiovascular disease to some types of cancer. Moreover, obesity - certainly in its morbid manifestations - can affect quality of life. The costs are borne not only by the individual, but also by society - directly, through the healthcare system, and indirectly, through lost productivity, for example, and higher transport costs (more jet fuel, larger seats, etc).
But the obesity epidemic hardly looks like a growth killer. Highly processed corn-based food products, with lots of chemical additives, are well known to be a major driver of weight gain, but, from a conventional growth-accounting perspective, they are great stuff. Big agriculture gets paid for growing the corn (often subsidised by the government), and the food processors get paid for adding tonnes of chemicals to create a habit-forming - and thus irresistible - product. Along the way, scientists get paid for finding just the right mix of salt, sugar and chemicals to make the latest instant food maximally addictive; advertisers get paid for peddling it; and, in the end, the healthcare industry makes a fortune treating the disease that inevitably results.
Coronary capitalism is fantastic for the stock market, which includes companies in all of these industries. Highly processed food is also good for jobs, including high-end employment in research, advertising and healthcare.
Consumers are provided with precious little information through schools, libraries or health campaigns; instead, they are swamped with disinformation through advertising. Conditions for children are particularly alarming. With few resources for high-quality public television in most countries, children are co-opted by channels paid for by advertisements, including by the food industry.
Beyond disinformation, producers have few incentives to internalise the costs of the environmental damage that they cause. Likewise, consumers have little incentive to internalise the health-care costs of their food choices.
Global capital isn't only keeping us in the dark about all this, it is transforming the food we eat into something that is not even food and stuffing in down our throats.
You wouldn't think the water you drink could be a culprit in obesity, would you?
Alternet has reported that in 2006, Bruce Bloomberg at the University of California, Irvine exposed pregnant mice to a chemical called tributyltin, which is found in marine paints and plastics and often ends up in people through drinking water. Begley writes that he found that, "The offspring were born with more fat already stored, more fat cells, and became 5 to 20 percent fatter by adulthood."
Guess what? This was no fluke. Further research all over the world by scientists found that tributlytin and other chemicas affected people in the same way. In Spain, scientists, fjor example found that the more pesticides fetuses were exposed to, the greater their risk of turning into obese toddlers.
And then there ae those fabulous genetically altered foodstuffs.
The following is from the Black Commentator.
CORPORATE AMERICA FIGHTS TO KEEP THE PEOPLE IN THE DARK ABOUT THE FOOD THEY'RE EATING
BY JOHN FUNICIELLO
It’s time to blame the people. Again.
We’re told that we have an “obesity problem” and we’re told we have a high blood pressure epidemic and a diabetes epidemic, along with unusual cancers, especially among the children, and we’re told that we have many other problems. We have a problem with water (we soon won’t be able to find enough potable water for our teeming cities) and we have a problem with our air (in many places it’s not a good idea to breathe too much of it).
One aspect of our myriad problems is the possible connection between obesity and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the fight that is under way in
For many years, people across the country have become increasingly concerned about the way their food is raised, processed, transported, and retailed. In the past couple of decades, they began to be concerned about GMOs, which some call genetically manipulated food crops (and, even, animals). These crops have been rather mysterious (until it was time to market them commercially) and their origins were shrouded in laboratory research, apart from the farms and ranches where such “research” had been done for the millennia.
People who eat were told that GMOs would produce more food, using the same amount of energy and effort, and that in some cases would be immune to specific diseases and pests. It sounded like a miracle or, more to the point, it sounded like magic. As it turned out, it wasn’t so magical. In many cases, the GMO crops did not even produce as much as conventionally hybridized seeds. And their effects on humans and other creatures who consumed them is not known, although there is great evidence that there are many negative effects of consuming these foods.
The committee gathered a total of 971,126 signatures since last November, in preparation for placing the question on the ballot in this fall’s election. They needed 550,000 valid signatures to put it on the ballot; there is that kind of keen interest in the issue. Between now and then, however, everyone involved expects there to be a battle royal, with Monsanto and Corporate America spending whatever they have to, to defeat this measure. They do not want the people to even consider what the corporations have planned for their dinner (tonight, and on into the future).
As for blaming the people for our nation’s problems…the obesity “epidemic” could have something to do with the manipulation of the food-like substances that food corporations put on supermarket shelves. It is accepted that more than 80 percent of corn in the
So-called medical experts and others, many of whom represent the food and medical industries, like to blame a sedentary life and the eating of junk food (or unhealthy food) as main causes of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and other serious health problems. They also like to point out that the poor among us are fat. How can they be fat, if they’re poor, they ask? Usually, they don’t address the kind of food that is available in poor neighborhoods. There is some effort to change that debate, but it is very slow in reaching the national level, so that it might be an issue in a presidential election.
Often, the closest thing to a restaurant in a poor neighborhood is a fast food shop and there is no supermarket within several miles. There might be a convenience store, but all they offer is snack food, filled with corn and soy products, filled with poor quality oil and high fructose corn syrup (including the ubiquitous soft drinks). When this is the case in a neighborhood, it’s called a “food desert.” It’s hard to get raised healthy in a food desert and millions of our children are growing up in them.
All of this, of course, is not to mention the hormones and antibiotics that have routinely been given to cattle and chickens to make them grow faster (and, thereby, eat less feed to reach slaughter weight) and not to mention routinely giving food animals antibiotics, not just to keep them from getting sick, but also to make them grow faster.
The corporations that control our food system do not want people to think about the food-like substances they are being offered as food. They do not want the people to start thinking that it might be the food, itself, that is causing the problems. Certainly, the uproar that is under way over the labeling of GMO foods is an indication that people are, indeed, thinking about the food they eat and its effect on them.
Blaming the people for the ills of society is an old ploy for those in control. About 20 years ago, there was a problem with salmonella in the chicken that was being sold across the nation. At least some of the problem was traced to the way the chickens were being slaughtered and processed and, as part of the process, the finished chickens were dipped into vats that contained antibiotics, among other things. Some critics called the dip “fecal soup,” since the contents of the vats contained that part of the chicken viscera, as well.
When the chickens were prepared for sale, they were rinsed and appeared fresh and clean. To avoid any trace of salmonella or other contaminant, the
So it is with GMO foods. The general public does not know how GMOs affect humans, although there is plenty of evidence that it is not good, yet there is an inexorable propaganda and advertising (is there a difference?) drive by the food corporations to force us to eat those foods, simply because we don’t know what we’re eating. That’s why the fight over labeling in
It would be common sense not to put GMOs on the market, until there is proof that the eating of them will not cause harm, but that’s not how it works in this country. Rather, substances (chemical and comestible) are put on the market without testing to determine their safety and they must be proven unsafe. When billions of dollars of profit are at stake, there is little incentive to do any such testing and it isn’t done unless there is a crisis or a catastrophe. Since everyone eats, there is a possible catastrophe waiting to happen and, in fact, may be under way now, but we can’t see it or touch it or feel it. We just know that people have strange ailments and deadly diseases and don’t know why.
At the very least, we need to have GMOs labeled, so that we can make a decision about whether to buy those products, or not. In a country that prides itself on free choice, it should not be very difficult to make a choice about food. All that needs to be done is to require labeling, on raw foods and on food products that contain GMO substances. How hard could that be?
It’s time for the powerful profit-mongers to stop blaming poor families for their poor health and for obesity. It’s time for them to stop blaming all Americans for the “obesity epidemic” and all of the other epidemics that appear directly connected to the food they are forced to eat, food that is produced and marketed by a system that is controlled by just a handful of giant corporations.
Not knowing what you are eating is an unhealthy situation and, as a people, we have very little information about what we eat. It’s why the GMO labeling ballot initiative is so important in
We know that it would not solve all our problems, but it would be a good start. And, it would show that members of Congress can actually accomplish something. Tell them to do it.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former union organizer. His union work started when he became a local president of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s. He was a reporter for 14 years for newspapers in