Medical Articles

America's Healthy Eating Problem

But what are you eating?

America has now surpassed every other nation as the land of overweight unhealthy people. Health gurus may tell you that maintaining your weight is a matter of watching what you eat and exercising. But what happens when you aren't told what you are eating?

Monday, the FDA started two days of hearings about whether to let AquaBounty sell the salmon it has genetically engineered for human consumption. Atlantic salmon were altered by adding a growth hormone from Chinook salmon. They consequently grow to maturity twice as fast as naturally occurring salmon.

Opponents to having them used for human consumption are concerned with the potential for unforeseen effects. Allergies to seafood can be severe, requiring hospitalization to prevent death in the most extreme cases. One concern is that these genetically engineered fish could cause greater than normal allergies in those who are already vulnerable.

The FDA already allows sales of numerous genetically engineered crops. This will be their first approval to sell a genetically engineered animal for human consumption.

Last night I watched "Supersize Me," a 2004 movie about the dangers of fast food, and McDonald's in particular, by Morgan Spurlock. For the movie, Spurlock decided to eat nothing but McDonald's food for one month. His physical health was tracked by three doctors, a nutritionist and a personal trainer. They all predicted that a month of eating McDonald's food would probably cause a weight increase and maybe elevate his cholesterol.

What happened was shocking. Within 20 days, Spurlock's blood work resembled someone whose liver was failing. He experienced depression, fatigue and chest pains. Over the course of the full 30 days, he gained more than 20 pounds -- and then took more than 9 months to get rid of the weight when he later returned to a healthy diet.

The point of Spurlock's movie was that fast food is very bad for your health and is likely a major cause of our nation's weight problem. Most people don't think about the nutritional content of the food they are eating. One of Spurlock's experiments showed that, while McDonald's does produce pamphlets with nutritional information, those pamphlets and that information are unavailable in many locations. Lack of good information occurs much more frequently in poorer neighborhoods.

Now, health gurus will probably tell you that a portion of salmon is much healthier than, say, a Big Mac, and for the most part they will be correct. But what about the nutritional value of a genetically engineered salmon and what about your right to know what is in your food and make decisions accordingly?

It turns out that the FDA has decided genetically engineered salmon is not substantially different from naturally occurring salmon. Because of that, they don't have to tell you that what you are buying (or eating) has been genetically engineered. In other words, you have no choice in this because you won't have the data needed to make an informed decision.

The food industry is big business and there are many new innovations, not all of them healthy, being made to our food supply. Organizations like the FDA, which are supposed to inform and protect us, often place themselves on a slippery slope of allowing poor nutrition and potentially dangerous products to slip through in the name of budget restrictions and corporate profits.

Preserve your healthy by making wise choices about what you eat. Preserve the nation's health by becoming an advocate for a strong and healthy food supply.

Keywords:

food, healthy food, food supply, food industry, food eating, food bad, food particular, food cause, food month, food decisions
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