Does your zip code matter more than your genetics?
In this section of Seattle Organic Restaurants, I'm going to talk about the obesity rate in different states in America. Studies show that 37% of Americans are overweight and 27% are obese and obesity can cause a wave of chronic diseases that can have negative impact on the health and well being of us as a nation.
"The fact is that the environment around us is so hostile that one can easily eat themselves into obesity"
How did high fructose corn syrup end up in our food supply?
At the end of the 18th century, we decided that if we wanted to be strong both militarily and economically we had to make food relatively cheap and inexpensive. During 70s and 80s, when farmers couldn’t produce enough corn to meet the public demands, the government made a decision to subsidize corn. Within few years, the farmers were making more corn than the public consumption.
In order to keep the government subsidy, the farmers decided to exploit the subsidy law and genetically modify corn in order to turn it into high fructose corn syrup. At the same time, the food industry found out that it was very cost effective to use both corn and soy in all their food products. The farmers also started fattening up their cows and chickens with hormones, GMOs, antibiotics and corn.
The fact is that in the last 100 years, the biology and DNA of human beings haven't changed much but the environment around us has definitely changed. In the last few decades, our food supply has become industrialized and our lifesytle has changed drastically.
More than 75% of Americans drive to work and most of the school children are driven to school every day instead of walking. Our physical activities have decreased significantly as a result of machinery life style. At the same time, the food portions have become bigger than ever and we are consuming more food than before. We are becoming so dependent on our emails and smart phones that we do not even walk in an office to talk to one another. The fact is that the environment around us is becoming so hostile that one can easily eat themselves into obesity. There are no more family meals and most families do not have time to cook. Today, Americans are eating 600 more calories than 10 years ago and sugary drinks are the number one source of calorie increase in our diet.
How can economy contribute to obesity?
The fact is that the rate of obesity is much higher in low income communities than rich or middle class commnutities. The truth is that your zipcode matters more than your genetics when it comes to obesity.
For example, children in poor neighborhood do not have a lot of physical activities simply because they do not have any gym, parks or safe places to play. A super market in a poor neighborhood sales chips, sodas and candy which has more sugar, fat and salt with no nutritional value. Unfortunately, many kids in low income neighborhoods are raised on soda or a bag of chips for a little over one dollar. The fact is that one out of three kids born after 2000 are obese in America. Life expectancy in low income communities is much lower than rich or middle class neighborhoods. As a matter of fact, the obesity rate goes up as income goes down and the most obese states are the states with the least income. Poverty is a man made problem, so is obesity and by looking deeply into the root of the problems we can come together as a community and make a significant change.