Battle of the bulge: US food corporations fueling obesity epidemic with addictive ingredients
With one out of three adults clinically obese and 40 percent of children officially overweight, the US is the fattest country in the developed world. The burgeoning public health crisis will see instances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer skyrocket over the next two decades, taking an already strained healthcare system to breaking point.
But with food manufacturers keen on keeping customers loyal while maximizing their profits, public health concerns are likely to be dwarfed by the bottom line.
“What these food scientists have done is that they’ve gone to a lab and they’ve created these chemical concoctions that are very sweet, very fatty and very salty. And they call that the bliss point. Meaning they’ve created addictive foods that are going to get consumers hooked and they’re going to keep wanting to come back for more and more foods,” Elizabeth Kucinich, of Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, told RT.
And while critics might also point toward issues of self-control, the foods which are least healthy are also the cheapest, although this reality is more a failure of government policy than an inevitability.
In 1980, no one had even heard of high-fructose corn syrup. But agricultural subsidies highly distorted market prices, bringing about the rise of cheap corn, which is a staple of highly processed foods like soft drinks and much of what one finds on the supermarket shelves.
Between 1985 and 2010, the price of beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup fell 24 percent in real terms, with American children consuming on average an extra 130 calories daily from soft drinks. If that wasn’t bad enough, a 2010 Princeton University study found that rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained substantially more weight than those with access to table sugar, even if their overall caloric intake was equal.