Understanding the Cause of Obesity: How to Identify Toxic Foods

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Currently, two-thirds of American adults are overweight and one-third obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That means that 58 million are overweight, 40 million obese, 3 million morbidly obese, and all are at serious risk for virtually all chronic disease.

Why is everyone getting so fat?
There are several identifying factors behind the recent surge of obesity, but one of the major contributors is toxic food choices.  Diet-induced diseases, including obesity, account for the largest burden of chronic illnesses and health problems worldwide.  The current Western diet, characterized by foods that are highly processed, deficient in nutrient quality, and high in energy density, has Americans fat and sick as ever.  More Americans each day are forsaking healthy home-cooked meals, and are gorging on calorie-rich, nutrient-poor snacks, sodas and sweets when the dinner bell rings.  In fact, 90% of the money Americans spend on foods goes toward processed foods.

Why are processed foods so toxic?
Very simply, your body is unable to express optimal health when it is fed unnatural food.  Your body knows exactly what to do with food that grows from the ground and is found in nature, but it becomes confused when faced with mechanically altered foods.

The modern convenience foods of today – sugar and white flour products with hydrogenated vegetable oils – are key factors in the alarming rate of chronic degenerative diseases, learning disabilities, and dental disease.  These denatured, processed foods do not provide sufficient nutrients to allow anyone’s body, especially children’s, to reach full potential of health, nor the proper functioning of the immune, nervous, skeletal, digestive, and reproductive systems.

At the heart of the problem:  Sugar.  Refined sugars, or simple carbohydrates, provide no nutritional value to your body other than to provide calories.  When we consume processed carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar, it is absorbed rapidly into our systems and needs relatively no digestion time.  Our blood and cells get flooded with sugar, and the result is a physical disaster.

Many researchers believe refined or processed, high glucose foods are the major dietary cause of all degenerative disease.  The sugar surge depletes, replaces and uses up important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It quadruples adrenaline output, inhibits immune functioning, lowers metabolism, raises cholesterol, and increases triglycerides.  The glucose that is produced from refined foods gets stored as fat.  The conversion process not only causes fatty deposits on your body, but also in your cells, on your arteries, and on your heart.  Fat is even deposited in your liver, kidneys and other organs.  The constant bombardment of blood sugar raises your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, premature aging, and cancer.

According to the USDA, people consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat no more than about 10 teaspoons of added sugar.  USDA surveys show that the average American is consuming about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day.

What are some characteristics of non-toxic foods?
• Been around for thousands of years and eaten by your ancestors
• Grown from the ground or tree
• Animals that graze freely
• Variable quality
• Spoils quickly
• Requires preparation
• Vibrant colors, rich textures
• Authentically flavorful
• Strong connection to land and culture

What are some characteristics of toxic foods?
• Produced, manufactured, and likely only been around for a short period of time
• Made in a laboratory or factory
• Animals that are raised in captivity and fed unnaturally
• Always the same
• Keeps forever (ever seen a twinkie go bad?)
• Ready for instant consumption
• Dull, bland
• Artificially flavorful
• No connection to land or culture

Here are a couple more suggestions:
• If it didn’t exist when hunter-gatherers were around, it’s probably not food.
• If it’s wrapped in layers of plastic, cardboard and foil, it’s probably not food.
• If it requires heavy advertising to sell it, it’s probably not food.

Be sure to check out the The Top 10 Never Eat Foods list.

Remember, addition is the first step toward making lasting change.  So find some foods that fit the non-toxic criteria, and give your body what it needs to be healthy, age gracefully, and feel great.


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From The World Health Organization (WHO) on controlling the global obesity epidemic:

The Challenge

At the other end of the malnutrition scale, obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible – yet most neglected – public health problems. Paradoxically coexisting with undernutrition, an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world. If immediate action is not taken, millions will suffer from an array of serious health disorders.

Obesity is a complex condition, one with serious social and psychological dimensions, that affects virtually all age and socioeconomic groups and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries. In 1995, there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide and another 18 million under-five children classified as overweight. As of 2000, the number of obese adults has increased to over 300 million. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the obesity epidemic is not restricted to industrialized societies; in developing countries, it is estimated that over 115 million people suffer from obesity-related problems.

Generally, although men may have higher rates of overweight, women have higher rates of obesity. For both, obesity poses a major risk for serious diet-related noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. Its health consequences range from increased risk of premature death to serious chronic conditions that reduce the overall quality of life.

The response:  making healthy choices easy choices

WHO began sounding the alarm in the 1990s, spearheading a series of expert and technical consultations. Public awareness campaigns were also initiated to sensitize policy-makers, private sector partners, medical professionals and the public at large. Aware that obesity is predominantly a “social and environmental disease,” WHO is helping to develop strategies that will make healthy choices easier to make. In collaboration with the University of Sydney (Australia), WHO is calculating the worldwide economic impact of overweight and obesity. It is also working with the University of Auckland (New Zealand) to analyse the impact that globalization and rapid socioeconomic transition have on nutrition and to identify the main political, socioeco-nomic, cultural and physical factors which promote obesogenic environments.”

:: Report of the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (Geneva, 28 January – 1 February 2002) – WHO Technical Report Series No. 916

Scientific background papers: The background papers prepared for the joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases (Geneva, 28 January – 1 February 2002) have been published in Public Health Nutrition, volume 7, number 1(A), February 2004

For more of the facts about the globesity epidemic, check out these obesity statistics.