Obesity rates in the US have increased at the same rate as gym memberships. Between 1980 and 2000, Americans doubled their fitness club memberships. However, during the same period, their obesity rates also doubled.
A decade later, two out of three Americans are either overweight or obese. Obesity has become the number one form of malnutrition in the country, and no group has been hit harder than children. Why is this? It’s the food.
Instead of eating whole foods—real foods—the contemporary American diet typically consists mostly of sugar, highly processed grains, and a montage of chemicals that are anything but food. Children are surrounded by these fake foods every day, which have a very different effect on their bodies than real food.
Refined, processed sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is very hard on your liver and most of it is stored as body fat. Eighty percent of the foods lining our grocery store shelves today contain extra sugar—and it adds up to disease.
Instead of placing blame where blame is due—with the food industry and its failed oversight—the blame is placed on fat people, tagged as lazy, unmotivated, and lacking in willpower or moral fortitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sugar has actually been found to be eight times as addictive as cocaine!
The US food system is taking an enormous toll on America’s mental and physical health, as well as the economy. Seventy-five percent of our health care dollars go to the treatment of chronic metabolic disease. The statistics provided by FedUpMovie.com reveal the gravity of this problem: At the current rate, 95 percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese within 20 years. By 2050, one of every three Americans will have type 2 diabetes.
What Can We Do About It?
Efforts to combat obesity—primarily through prevention—are beginning to gain traction. To realize real strides, though, positive change must come to all parts of society: from governments and schools, businesses and non-profit organizations, neighborhoods, and communities, individuals and families according to a Harvard School of Public Health journal. We need to change policies and create an environment where the default option is a healthy choice.
How Candy and Halloween Become Friends
Not to put a damper on the Halloween mood with what was discussed above, but wherever you turn this October, candy filled with sugar beckons. Americans will spend an estimated $2 billion on candy during the Halloween season this year. Here’s a fun fact from the California Milk Processors Board: “An average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar.”
If treats are a temptation you hope to avoid, October is the cruelest month. Given the ubiquity of candy at this time of year, it is hard to imagine that 100 years ago, Halloween looked quite different from the candy debauch of today.
The biggest difference was trick-or-treating. This seemingly timeless custom is actually a quite recent American invention. The ritual of costumes and doorbell-ringing appeared for the first time in different locations throughout the country in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that trick-or-treating became widespread on a national scale. And even then, candy wasn’t the obvious treat.
It was during the 1950s that candy made decisive inroads in dominating Halloween. Candy was easy to buy and easy to distribute, making it a convenient choice for Halloween hosts. Then, it wasn’t until the 1970s that candy came to be seen as the only legitimate treat. And while the candy industry reaped the benefits, the immediate impetus was not brilliant marketing so much as rising fears that unwrapped or homemade Halloween treats posed risks of tampering and poisoning. Commercially wrapped candy was the only safe choice.