It is time we hold the federal government accountable for their role in manifesting the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics.
No matter how polarized our society can become politically, we tend to circle the wagons when we perceive a serious threat to our national security or quality of life. Recently I have come across a couple of different pieces from media outlets on opposite sides of the political spectrum that give me cause to appeal to everyone in lobbying our government to
- Promote a healthier diet that shuns added sugars and bad carbs; and
- Take ownership for their significant part in creating our national health crisis, by endorsing bad foods as healthy through the use of "bad science" over the past 50 years.
First, a little background…
In January of 2017, I started a blog series on The War Against Added Sugars that was inspired by Gary Taubes' recently released book The Case Against Sugar. The series ended in April of the same year with a fifth blog that focused on an epidemic forecast of two separate visions of what is to come.
- The first was a prediction of what our lives would look like if we continued with our current American diet, as well as the current trajectory of increased obesity rates and exploding diabetes rates.
- The second vision was how we could live longer, healthier and potentially more affordable lives if we made better dietary choices that drastically curbed our added sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrate intake.
In ensuing blogs, we also debunked the myth that a low-fat, high-carb diet was healthy for you. The uphill battle we have been fighting over the past fifty years is the epidemic rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes thanks to an American food system that has marketed added sugar and low-fat, high-carb products as "healthy."
Perhaps what we should have given equal attention to is the government's responsibility in using bad science to promote these products that dominate our shopping choices.
What prompted this belief was a recent interview with Gary Taubes on Reason.com called "How Big Government Made Us Fat." The interviewers, Zach Weissmueller and Nick Gillespie, gave Taubes the opportunity to revisit his recent book (as well as his other published works) to assert that "decades of government proof/nutritional advice attacking fatty foods and praising carbs was what led to obesity and diabetes" for millions of Americans.[i]
When asked why the government had such a blind spot, Taubes responded that sugar has been a powerful lobby since the 1920s and has been funding biased government research to knock out competitive threats like healthier foods and artificial sugar.
"Sugar has been paying for research since World War II. If someone is paying your bills over the past 20 years, you happen to like them. So in the 60s, they 'spun' dietary fat as the problem and not sugar."[ii]
What the scientists from both the British and US governments had known all along was that when a local culture shifts from a native diet to a Western diet, the rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity skyrocket.
- Taubes refers to it as a caloric overload of food with too much sugar, salt, bad fats, and nicely packaged, so they look attractive. It has caused obesity, which has also increased the risk of both diabetes and heart disease.
Because of the power of big sugar (and other food sectors), the government caved and developed this hypothesis that dietary fat was the prime suspect. This gave birth to the introduction of low-fat foods marketed as "healthy," and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and other federal government stakeholders declared these assumptions as truth. "Take yogurt," Taubes says in the interview, "a lot of the (good) fat was replaced with fruit and sugar."[iii]
- Weight loss specialist Peter Weintraub wrote a piece in the Huffington Post, called "Why You Cannot Trust the Government's Dietary Recommendations" (June 23, 2017).
"It's very well-documented," Weintraub writes, "that government bureaucrats and scientific researchers were bought off by members of the sugar industry in the late 1950s/ early 1960s to point the finger at dietary fat when looking to place blame on what was causing the higher incidences of obesity and heart disease across the U.S. population. Other industries like the grain and vegetable oil industries got in there as well…"[iv]
Weintraub goes on to describe these government initiatives as "obscene, considering the massive correlation between these recommended dietary habits and the great increases in obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease across the US and much of the industrialized world."[v]
In this same article, Weintraub refers to Taubes and the similar indignations of other health and wellness writers. One of them is Dr. William Davis, who in a separate interview with Taubes about his latest book, Undoctored, confesses that he endorsed these government-sanctioned diets to his patients in the early days of his practice, only to see a majority of them experience the aforementioned health problems as a result.[vi]
This potential consensus blaming government's complicity in ushering in our national health crisis should not be a big surprise considering that there are currently over 30 million citizens with type 2 diabetes and another 84 million with a pre-diabetic condition.
We or someone we love probably falls into one of these two categories. If we are truly engaged in this topic, we should be frightened for our children’s future, especially since global projections suggest a 54% increase in adults with diabetes by 2040.[vii]
I want to prescribe or implore you, to contact your elected representatives and to work hard at grassroots efforts to use real nutritional science and to come up with a diet that optimizes human function. Although, I am not sure how far that will go. However, I am optimistic that before any of that takes place, we must all become more intelligent on what we should be consuming, and my goal for this blog is to help individuals make informed choices to live their "best life."