15 April 2013
Processed Foods and its Link to the Increasing Obesity Epidemic Lunchables, Twinkies, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, or even a trip to McDonald’s after school are just few of the memorable foods as a child that always seemed so exciting and delicious. As a child, I wondered why these scrumptious foods were always just a treat, but never an every day meal on my diet that I could enjoy. But what I did not know was the dirty truth behind these foods: what they are really made out of. Behind food corporation doors lies the truth about processed foods, what they are really made out of, and why these corporations keep producing these foods. Through the years, scientists have found different ways to transform this corn so it becomes more useful and cheaper to produce. As the corporations became more and more money hungry, the less they cared about the health of Americans and more about how much processed foods they could sell. Ultimately, this leads to the most increasing health issue America has been facing over the years, and to this day: obesity. According to HBO’s “The Weight of the Nation: Confronting America’s Obesity Epidemic,” over one-third of American adults (roughly about 36%) are obese, and about 12.5 million children and adolescents (ages 2-19), or 17%, are obese. Over the years, as processed food production increased, so did obesity because of money hungry food corporations increasing this productivity and government doing nothing to help stop the unhealthy lifestyles processed food has created. Background Information on Processed Food
Before figuring out why processed foods are a main factor to obesity, one must know what processed foods are and why they are bad. So what exactly are processed foods made out of? Michael Pollan goes into deep research about what these processed foods are made out of within his nonfiction book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. According to Michael Pollan, an average American consumes about one ton of corn per year, but not before being heavily processed by a processing plant, and then reassembled as soft drinks, breakfast cereals, or snacks (85). As Eisert 2
science progressively grew, so did the certain ingredients within processed foods. For example, high-fructose corn syrup is used in a majority of foods because it tastes exactly as sweet as sucrose. Pollan’s research states that high-fructose corn syrup today “is the most valuable food product refined from corn, accounting for 530 million bushels every year” (89). Because high-fructose corn syrup is easy to use and cheap to get, most food corporations use it to create the perfect masterpiece. For example, Pollan talks about how that the third age of processed foods “push[es] aside butter to make shelf space for margarine, replace fruit juice with juice drinks and then entirely juice-free drinks like Tang, cheese with Cheez Whiz, and whipped cream with Cool Whip” (91). With the help of high-fructose corn syrup, food alternatives can easily be made for the same satisfaction.
Because of these processed foods, obesity begins to increase. But how exactly does processed food cause obesity? Michael Pollan investigates the truth behind food science and it’s ways to get people to eat more. Pollan states, “The power of food science lies in its ability to break foods down into their nutrient parts and then reassemble them in specific ways that, in effect, push our evolutionary buttons, fooling the omnivore’s inherited food selection system” (107). Since an average adult can eat only about fifteen hundred pounds of food a year, food corporations are trying to find ways to “get people to spend more money for the same three-quarters of tof a ton of food, or entice them to actually eat more than that” (Pollan 95). So if a person eats more than normal, his...