By the end of this decade, diseases stemming from poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices will top all other causes of death worldwide. At the same time, there are no effective policies in place to tackle the most pressing problems such as the obesity epidemic and other so-called non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are now affecting billions of people around the globe. Even in developed countries, these challenges are not yet fully understood and are not met with the necessary countermeasures to prevent further deterioration, experts say.
There are plenty of people who must avoid gluten for health reasons. But there are also many who only follow a gluten-free diet because that’s the message they are given in the media, from daytime TV shows to celebrity endorsements. Experts warn that it would be a mistake to adhere to a gluten-free or wheat-free diet simply for better health or weight loss.
Fast food seems to be losing its grip on America’s eating culture. The industry’s behemoth, McDonald’s, is struggling with reportedly significant drops in profits, leading to the recent resignation of its top executive. The reason? It’s called the “Chipotle effect.”
If you are confused about dietary fiber, you are not alone. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds are all excellent sources. However, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, all of these foods are consumed below recommended levels in the so-called Western diet.
The warnings have been loud and clear for a long time: High levels of sodium (salt) intake are hazardous to our health. Especially the so-called “Western diet,” which is dominated by processed foods, is notorious for its sodium content that is often obscured in hard to decipher nutrition facts labels and ingredient lists. That makes it difficult even for health-conscious consumers to keep their daily sodium doses down.
Starting in 1980, two government agencies – the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) – have periodically released new recommendations based on their latest findings, which over the years has lead to well-known icons like the Food Pyramid (1992), MyPyramid (2005), and MyPlate (2011). 2015 is the next due date. But despite all these efforts, obesity rates and related health problems have soared in this country and elsewhere, and don’t seem to abate any time soon.
An advisory panel to the USDA is scheduled to submit new recommendations that not only address healthier diet choices but also concerns about costs to the environment. According to press reports, an early draft of the recommendations suggested that reducing animal-based food intake in favor of greater plant-based food consumption would not only be healthier for consumers but also the environment and would be more sustainable than currently prevailing diet patterns.