Healthcare vs. Processed Food Industry

John Commins, March 13, 2013

It's time for a food fight.

For years we've talked about the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial effects of overweight and obesity on our society.

This month, for example, the American Diabetes Association issued a report which estimated that the nearly 22.3 million Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes cost $245 billion in medical care and lost productivity in 2012. That represents a 41% increase from the $174 billion estimate in 2007.

The report blames the increased costs on the additional five million American adults and children who were diagnosed with diabetes in the five years since the last estimate was released, a 27% increase from the 17.5 million diagnosed cases in 2007. Another 79 million Americans now have pre-diabetes, which puts them at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind that the report does not factor the millions of people who have diabetes or pre-diabetes but who have not been diagnosed.

Just as the ADA was issuing its report, The New York Times published a disturbing investigative report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss entitled The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food. The lengthy piece is adapted from Moss' book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, which will be published this month.

Moss details how the processed food industry has hooked Americans on an unhealthy diet of fat, salt and sugar. His reporting is hardly a left-wing screed. In fact, given what he has uncovered, Moss can be annoyingly deferential to some of the more than 300 processed food industry executives and scientists he interviewed—people in positions of knowledge and power who put corporate profits above the health of the nation.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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