How the American Government Spent $600,000 to Make Our Children Fat
In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. At this time, the â€œlow fat dietâ€ was in full force, and every package in supermarkets proudly proclaimed, â€œLow Fat!â€ or â€œLight.â€ The FDA stepped in and created guidelines for what terms like â€œlow fatâ€ actually meant. They also enforced a mandatory ingredient list on all food products as well. It wasnâ€™t until 1992 that the Nutrition Facts labels became a requirement on most packaging.
Following on the heals of the Nutrition Facts success, the USDA came out with this revolutionary new diet system called, â€œThe Food Pyramid.â€ Most Americans are well versed in the Food Pyramid system, and know how it works. It was a very successful government program that cost American tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The only problem with the system is that it is all a load of crap. Fifteen years of the Food Pyramid being pushed on children in public schools, and cute little animated vegetables on their Saturday morning cartoons has only succeeded in a rapid growth in child obesity.
Of course, the food pyramid canâ€™t be blamed as sole cause of obesity in children, but the government had an opportunity to set up a health education program for children and failed. It took them almost 15 years to realize that the food pyramid wasnâ€™t the grand system they thought it was, and in 2005 with a budget of over $600,000, they came out with a revision.
Keeping to the pyramid design, the new food pyramid, found at mypyramid.gov, comes in three varieties; an adult version, a young adult version, and a childrenâ€™s version. All three versions are the exact same, but each feature more appropriate cartoon characters and wording to suit the age groups reading the pyramid.
Though the pyramid has been updated, not much has changed. For some reason we should all be getting more milk in our diet than fruits. Is it that important that we have so much calcium in our diets? Why do we have to get them from dairy products? Calcium can be found in foods such as spinach, broccoli and some legumes. In fact, there isnâ€™t any research that proves that calcium is that important for the human diet. Many populations with calcium rich diets also have high levels of osteoporosis, because they are usually associated with high protein diets, which have been shown to cause significant calcium loss through the urinary tract.
Another problem with the new food pyramid is that they are still recommending huge amounts of grains in your diet, but that isnâ€™t completely the problem. A diet rich in carbohydrates is extremely important, but they only recommend getting 50% of your carbohydrates from whole grains. What your body really craves are complex carbohydrates (whole grain pasta, beans, grainy bread, etc). Their grain group includes simple carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread, yellow-type pasta, and even popcorn (whaaa?). Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly, and often have little to offer the body in terms of fiber, or essential vitamins and minerals.
There are a lot of other problems with the new food pyramid, including the recommendation for children to get their daily fix of corn oil. My point is that while they have tried to develop a simple health education system for people of all ages, they have failed miserably. If it is simplicity that makes it easier to learn about health, then the roadcycler.com â€œFood Rectangleâ€ shoud have no problem teaching people of all ages the things that really matter in your diet. If you want to learn more about our “food rectangle,” I recommend reading parts 1, 2, and 3 of my Cycling Nutrition 101 articles.
If the government wants to do something about the obesity problem in children, they need to approach it from an entirely different angle. A start would be to clean up what kids are able to consume at public schools. An average high school diet consists of a pizza or hamburger, a basket of french fries, some milk or soda, and maybe a treat for dessert. There has to be a push to completely renovate the food that is offered to children at school. There also has to be more nutrition education for children in middle and high school. These nutrition classes should be taught by experts in the field, not ones who have read up on the food pyramid handouts. Also, instead of dropping physical education programs from schools, it should be used as a primer to teach children the importance of staying physically active throughout their entire life.
Eating a healthy diet, and living a long healthy life doesn’t have to be so complicated. Anybody can learn to eat the right things, but they have to be taught the right rules to follow. I expect more out of the government and a program with such deep pockets. It is really disappointing that such a great opportunity is constantly wasted.