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It’s Time to Take Action for a Healthier America

TOO MUCH TALK AND NOT ENOUGH ACTION

To emphasize the problems that our diet has to our health today here are three quotations 1. A partial quotation taken from the statement made by Senator George McGovern in the Publication of the Dietary Goals for the United States Press conference given on Friday January 14th 1977, Room 457 Dirksen Senate Office Building, 2. the full statement of Dr. D.M. Hegsted, Professor of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Mass1 from the same publication  and 3.  A quote from, “A global Response to a Global Problem: the Epidemic on Overnutrition”2.

1. Senator George McGovern:

The purpose of this press conference is to release a Nutrition Committee study entitled “Dietary Goals of the United States” and to explain why we need such a report.

I should point out from the outset that this is the first comprehensive statement by any branch of the Federal Government on risk factors in the American Diet.

The simple fact is that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years (85 years today) with great and often very harmful effects on our health. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking.

Too much fat, too much sugar or salt, can be linked directly to hear disease, cancer, obesity and stroke among other killer diseases. In all six of the ten leading causes of death in the United States have been linked with our diet.

Those of us within Government have an obligation to acknowledge this. The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully today we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans, through better nutrition……

2. Dr. D.M. Hegsted:

The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich – rich in meat, other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol and in sugar. There will be people who will contest this statement. It has been pointed out repeatedly that the total sugar use has remained relatively constant for a number of years. We would emphasize however, that our total food consumption has fallen even though we still eat too much relative to our needs. Thus, the proportion of the total diet contributed by fatty and cholesterol–rich foods and by the refined foods has risen. We might be better off able to tolerate this diet if we were much more active physically, but we are a sedentary people.

It should be emphasized that the this diet which affluent people generally consume is everywhere associated with similar disease pattern-high rates of ischemic heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. These are the major causes of death and disability in the United States. These socalled degenerative diseases obviously become more important now that infectious diseases are, relatively speaking, under good control I wish to emphasize that these disease undoubtedly have a complex etiology. It is not correct, strictly speaking, to say that they are caused by manipulation but rather that an inappropriate diet contributes to their causation. Our genetic make-up contributes-not all people are equally susceptible. Yet those who are generally susceptible, most of us, are those who would profit most from an appropriate diet. Diet is one of the things that we can change if we want to.

There will undoubtedly be many people who will say that we have not proven our point: we have not demonstrated that the dietary modifications we recommend will yield the dividends expected. We would point out to those people that the diet we eat today was not planned or developed for any particular purpose. It is happenstance related to our affluence, the productivity of our farmers and the activities of our food industry. The risks associated with eating this diet are demonstrably large. The questions to be asked, therefore is not why should we change our diet but why not? What are the risks associated with eating less meat, less fat, less saturated fat less cholesterol, less sugar, less salt, and more fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fat and cereal products – especially whole grain cereals? There are none that can be identified and important benefits can be expected.

Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension are diseases that kill us. They are epidemic in our population. We cannot afford to temporize. We have an obligation to inform the public of the current state of knowledge and to assist the public in making the correct food choices. To do less is to avoid our responsibility.     

3. A Bulletin of the World Health Organization published in December, 2002 states “It is estimated that by 2020 two-thirds of the global burden of disease will be attributable to chronic non-communicable diseases, most of them strongly associated with diet. The nutrition transition towards refined foods, foods of animal origin, and increased fat plays a major role in the current global epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, among other non-communicable conditions etc.”2

Clearly something is wrong with the current situation with many sick and obese people suffering needlessly. In researching my book I have come across a number of situations where people have said “I wish I had known this before I had started the treatment, the operation/diet as I would have approached it differently and probably saved myself a lot of pain and suffering”.

What we need is a Fruit and Vegetable lobby that would have as much money as the meat, fish and dairy industries and able counteract and dispel the myths that these other industries have presented over the last approximately 36 years since Senator McGovern made his speech .

I’m sure that if fruits and vegetables had labels we would be a much healthier and a richer Nation with no need grid lock between the two parties since this would not be needed as we would be the healthiest nation with the worlds’ best health care system operating at minimal cost. The population and industries would be much more profitable because of the huge drop in the personal and employee medical expenses plus the population would be living longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables has been talked about by this country for over 36 years yet over that period all we have seen are skyrocketing health care costs, deteriorating health with many people suffering and on more than one medication, which has, by this inaction resulted in the tremendous increases in chronic diseases and obesity the majority of which could have been prevented by the diet changes that have been talked about for the past 36 years yet all we have seen is the deterioration of our food supply and the decline of our countries health.    

Enjoy this video from Dr. Greger titled “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death”

Link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ

References:

1.     1. Dietary goals for the United States Prepared by the staff of the select committee on nutrition and human needs, United States Senate. U. S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C.: 1977

2.     2. A global response to a global problem: the epidemic of over-nutrition, Mickey Chopra et al Bulletin of the World Trade Organization 2002, 80(12)