I have spent my career doing puzzles. As an independent strategist, I take disparate piece of data and make sense of their effect and relationship to each other and my client’s business or industry. The outcome generally provides strategic growth plans or risk mitigation strategy as markets shift.
By nature, I am a curious person and the “shape shifting” of the average American has always interested me.
Several years ago, I happened to see a visual depiction of historical consumer expenditure by category illustrating the changed in the average household expenditure in the US since the early 1990’s. The graph itself was ordinary in nature but given I follow macro trends for a living it forced me to connect two disparate points. One, I was looking at, and one that I am very much aware.
What I saw left me speechless and prepared me for the fight of my life and the life of my family; the battle of the bulge, one fight I fully intend to win.
As one might expect during the go-go of the late 1990’s and early part of the last decade Americans on average spent more in almost every category except food a mere 7-8% from one generation to the next, yet as a population we double and/or tripled in physical size.
If you dig deeper and factor in food inflation be it rising prices or shrinking packages and an overabundance of processed food the real increase is actually negative! Elizabeth Warren in her speech Collapse of the Middle Class found that food expenditure in and out of home to be 18% less than 25 years prior. You can watch her video on YouTube; she makes the point about food expenditure around 17 minutes (http://youtu.be/akVL7QY0S8A).
McKinney, the relationship of increasing obesity and decreasing food expenditure over the last 25years should startle you. When I see numbers like these, I have to ask why?
If we are not consuming exponentially more, it has to be what is in the food vs. the amount we consume. If I can be frank, when we look at high levels of obesity you have to realize that in order to maintain high levels of weight you have to eat a lot of food. The average American makes around $45,000 a year their food budget alone has limits.
Dr Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, has an video called Sugar the Bitter Truth and brilliantly explains the dangers of fructose and high fructose corn syrup (soon to be relabeled as corn sugar on packages.)
I encourage parents particularly those with young children to take one hour and watch this video. What you learn may save your children’s life and make dramatic improvements in your own. It is compelling and provides information on why we are experiencing this current epidemic. (Below)
Once you understand why you can begin to make changes that will have a positive effect on your family’s health and help them understand the impact of their choices. Knowledge is power, and you cannot go beyond what you do not know.
If you are compelled to make change you can find a list of non-high fructose corn syrup brands here http://highfructosehigh.com/no-hfcs/ In addition you can email your favorite brands and ask them to replace the HFC with natural sugar. Vote with your wallet. Even though sugar is fructose, seventy five percent of sugar beaks down in your intestines as a posed to HFC which passes the digestive system and becomes fat in the liver.
FYI artificial sweeteners they are not the answer. Eating more naturally is the answer and you will feel fuller faster on real food than any processed artificially sweet snack. I will save the realities of Aspartame and Sucralose for the next story -it is a shocker.
Making change can be difficult; it starts with awareness and conscious thought about what we are eating. McKinney, do not take your health for granted. Get the information you need to make informed decisions. Do not expect change to happen overnight. Dieting is not a phase or bi annual event; it is a life style that you should be able to maintain your whole life.
To your good health McKinney.
Dorothy Allan is President, 247/Family Doctor, and an independent strategist