Fast food, prepackaged food products, diet books and diet programs are one of the primary causes of obesity rates in America. They have been around for ages and despite this, as of 2008, about one-third of U.S. adults are obese (NewsRx Health & Science, Abstract). By 2030, almost 90% of adults will be overweight or obese; projections show that 96% non-Hispanic black women and 91% of Mexican-American men will be affected (Anonymous, Abstract). The trends indicate that since about 1960, the overweight (BMI 25 or greater) have stayed in the 30-32% range, while obese (BMI 30 or greater) trends have increased almost three-fold (around 13% increased to about 34%) and morbidly obese (BMI 40 or greater) have risen from about 2% to about 8% (CDC, p. 4).
Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and countless other “fad” diets and low fat, low calorie diets only exist to line the pockets of book publishers and food sellers. Americans spend about $35 billion a year on weight-loss products (McNamara). Some diets plans do sometimes work, and can be used for short-term weight loss, however, people tend to fall back into bad eating habits; evidenced by the fact that nearly two-thirds of U.S. citizens are overweight or obese (NewsRx Health & Science, Abstract). How many times is the phrase “I need to get back on my diet!” uttered? No, one does not need to get back on the diet – that diet is the problem.
The weight-loss industry’s literature is filled to the brim with nutritional misinformation. The methods used are similar to known psychological and confidence schemes designed to keep customers repeatedly coming back to the profitable and unsuccessful diet programs for their entire lives. Many programs offer processed food products designed to be low-calorie, low fat and filling, but are actually unhealthy and dangerous, due to the amount of chemicals and sugar content. Diet books and programs should be strictly avoided, unless they preach a diet of mostly unprocessed foods and at least some exercise. On top of all this, the weight loss industry partners with the prepackaged food industry for a “double-whammy;” branding with major food manufacturers and national diet/lifestyle industries. These products throw the typical consumer into a tizzy about what to eat and how much, and which foods are healthy and which are not.
Food processors have to make a profit. High carbohydrate foods have the longest shelf-life and are easily stored on shelves or in the refrigerator at the workplace and prepared using a microwave (unlike any fresh vegetation, meat, dairy or fish). The food industries push “low-fat” and “healthy” foods to the consumer. The shelf life of fresh produce (the healthiest of foods) renders profitable distribution of these healthy foods impossible for food processors. To improve shelf-life, they must remove some of the fat content (which also makes a low fat version); doing so changes the flavor, so more carbohydrate (typically sugar) is inserted to compensate.