I read an article recently by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker magazine, that amused and shocked me, all at the same time. In a survey done by a CDC researcher in the early 1990s, 33.3 per cent of North American adults are overweight. In the space of a decade since the 1980s, folks had gained more than a billion pounds. "If this was about tuberculosis, it would be called an epidemic", one researcher wrote. Since that time, people have continued gaining weight, and sadly, the proportion of overweight children and teenagers has more than tripled.
In the past 20 years, the cost of food has decreased. Fats and oils, in particular, are very inexpensive, as are soft drinks. Soft drinks have now become the number one food consumed in North America. Food companies have learned how to re-engineer foods to make them addictive to consumers. Fat, sugar and salt, in particular, have been blended in highly caloric combinations in the quest for "eatertainment" for the consumer.
A food scientist for Frito-Lay relates how the company is seeking to create “a lot of fun in your mouth” with products like Nacho Cheese Doritos, which meld “three different cheese notes” with lots of salt and oil. Another product-development expert talks about how she is trying to “unlock the code of craveability,” and a third about the effort to “cram as much hedonics as you can in one dish.” ... The New Yorker
About 40 years ago, the owner of a chain of movie theatres in the Midwest discovered that increasing the size of popcorn servings to jumbo-sized also increased sales. In addition, this increased the sales of soda pop. Ten years later, the same man was on the board of directors of McDonald's. He used the same philosophy there to increase the size of a bag of french fries and servings of soft drinks. A researcher from Cornell University discovered that people will eat everything that is put in front of them. They don't know when to stop. So when they have a large bag of popcorn, french fries, or serving of soda pop, they will consume the whole thing. "Give them a lot and they will eat a lot." Before the jumbo-sized french fries were introduced at McDonald's a regular-sized serving of fries was 200 calories. Now, the larger "regular-sized" serving of fries contains 500 calories. A small soda was 150 calories, now the larger "small" soda is 300 calories. Similarly, before the 1980s, a regular-sized bagel was 140 calories. Today a "regular-sized" bagel is 300 calories. In the past two decades, newer editions of cookbooks such as "The Joy of Cooking" have increased their single portion sizes in their recipes.
Food has become big business, and the more people eat and become addicted to fat, salt and sugar, the more profits are earned by corporations in the food business. According to the article in The New Yorker magazine, the extra pounds carried by Americans add ninety billion (yes billion!) dollars a year to the country's medical spending. "Obesity is inescapably confirming itself as one of the biggest drains on national health-care budgets." This is not just in North America, but globally. U.S. food corporations invest fifty-five billion dollars a year in food-processing and distribution facilities throughout the world. There is now a McDonald's on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. That is criminal.
For anyone who struggles with weight issues, and I think that is almost everyone at some point in their lives, this information is extremely interesting. The article doesn't mention the lack of nutritional value in these fast food items, but that's a given. Now, put down that Burger King Quad Stacker with four beef patties, four pieces of bacon, and four slices of cheese (for only $4.99) and that large bag of fries and jumbo soda pop, and step away from the table.