Junk Food Adds Up

Junk Food Adds Up
Non-nutritious junk food has taken over the American diet – much to everyone’s detriment. Desserts, for example, at a shocking average 12.3% of calories, are now the most common single food in the national diet.

Sweets, soft drinks and alcohol currently make up nearly twenty five percent of the total calories consumed by adults in this country. When you add salty snacks and fruit flavored drinks, it adds up to almost one third of all calories. And that’s not even counting stuff like pizza, burgers, hot dogs, French fries, high fat dairy products and white bread and pasta.

Dr. Gladys Block, professor of Epidemiology and Public Health Nutrition at the University of California Berkeley, who published her most recent study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, was stunned by the results. “We knew it was bad,” said Dr. Block, “but we didn’t know it was this bad. It’s no wonder there’s an obesity epidemic in this country.”

Based on this landmark National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, (one of the nation’s largest health studies ever done), researchers documented the eating habits of 4,760 adults over a two year period. It’s now clear why, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 60% of U.S. adults and about 15% of children are either overweight or obese, putting them at high risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and certain cancers.

The research didn’t include the eating patterns of young people. “If I was to look separately at teenagers and young adults, it would be much worse,” Block said. “I really shudder to think what our national health situation is going to be 20 to 30 years from now when that generation gets older.”

Americans, for the most part, are simply overstuffed and undernourished. “Obviously we need to worry about weight,” Dr. Block pointed out, “but we also need to realize that people are eating a huge amount of food that has no useful micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. The message isn’t just to eat less, but to eat differently.”

Even if you take high quality supplements (which you should), to be truly healthy you still need to eat a good nutritious diet. If you’re interested in better health or improving your eating habits, you can begin by replacing non-nutritious food with more non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products, fish, and lean poultry.

It’s also important to get off the couch every once in a while for a regular exercise program. Begin by taking small steps. Each new step will move you forward and eventually lead to a healthier, happier, more vibrant lifestyle.

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