John Block Reports from Washington
John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.
We Eat Too Much
May 29, 2009
Combating obesity in the U.S. cannot be dealt with unless we understand how we got where we are today. A lot of organizations have jumped on this problem to further their own interests or just to push their own philosophy on everyone else.
We’re all aware of the lawsuits against McDonald’s and the widespread criticism of “fast food.” There has been an assault on corn sweetener in soft drinks. Reality is that corn sweetener is just like sugar. Speaking of sugar, there is proposed legislation to tax soft drinks that have sugar or sweetener in them. They may even tax orange juice which is high in sugar. The organizations that want to do away with animal agriculture point to fat as the problem. They say that fat makes you fat. All of these loud voices screaming about what we are doing wrong fail to acknowledge up front that the real culprit is the number of calories. Calories – it is that simple.
The number of calories on the label should be big and bold. The rest is of less importance.
So, why do we eat so much? We eat too much because it tastes good and food is cheap. We spend less than 10 percent of disposable income on food. Contrast that with the cost of food in developing countries where they spend as much as 50 percent of their income on food. They don’t have the money to overeat.
I have been in many countries – rich and poor. Europe is gaining weight faster than we are. Go to Africa and you won’t find many overweight people. I was in Cuba in March. They’re not overweight there. I haven’t been to N. Korea, but I’ll bet they’re skinny there.
It all boils down to this. The rich countries have solved their hunger problem with an abundance of cheap food. And that has created another problem – obesity.
Therefore, do we tax all food and make it a lot more expensive? Of course, we’re not going to do that. The government is proposing all kinds of legislation, but that won’t do very much good either.
The simple answer is – we need to have more discipline to control how many calories we eat and get more exercise.
Won’t be easy.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington, D.C.