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American firms thrive on poor eating habits

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POSTED September 14, 2017 1:22 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
You sound like a person who is pretty health conscious.  I was so glad to see the article on Sept. 13 titled “Fix health care: Focus on food. “
I graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.S. and an M.S. in Health Science with a minor in Biology. I taught high school health science for 10 years before coming to the Merced County Office of Education to be a health services coordinator for 24 years before retiring. I was happy to see the long article in the Bulletin. I recently read a book titled “The China Study” by T.C. Campbell and T.M. Campbell II (revised and expanded edition), as well as “The Good Gut” by J. Sonnenburg,  E. Sonnenburg,  and Andrew Weil M.D.  I had already purchased and watched the documentary titled “What the Health?”  I highly recommend all of them to you and your readers.
As we know the cost care in the U.S. is stated in the article as being $3.2 trillion per year.  We are admonished to eat more fruits and veggies as well as less salt, processed meats,, red meats and refined sugar.  The author, Dariush Mozaffarian accurately points out that health care costs are crippling to the productivity and profits of American businesses.  I find it amusing that profits and businesses are more important than those suffering and dying from cancer, stroke, heart attacks, kidney disease as well as massive numbers of obese Americans.  However, he leaves out that some businesses such as the pharmaceutical and health care industries are reaping huge profits from treating and prolonging, not curing these health conditions. He may be leaving that critical information out because those same industries possibly provide funding to some of his research at Tufts University.  He correctly points out that doctors are not adequately trained in nutrition and that nutrition is virtually ignored by our health care system.  The question  “Why aren’t they?” needs to be asked, but he doesn’t ask that or explore the possible reasons for their lack of adequate nutrition education. 
The author asserts that nutrition research across all agencies is only about $1.5 billion per year compared to the more than $60 billion that industry spends to research drugs, biotechnology, and medical devices.  I think it is very interesting that so much is spent to find drugs and devices to treat the ill effects of diseases caused by the eating habits of Americans, with the top causes of poor health largely ignored.  His expressed solution is to subsidize the cost of fruits and vegetables which only produce paltry results as well as to have a government-led initiative to reduce salt in packaged foods.  The food processors then just adjust other ingredients such as fat and sugar to maintain satiety.  The author falsely claims that not enough funding and research has been done. The China Study mentioned above has 49 full pages of documentation of research into diet and disease. Each chapter of the book has research specifically dealing with the topics of that chapter.  Nutrition and diet has been extensively researched and studied.  We just aren’t getting all of the information about it.  And this particular article, though long, leaves out some very important information, namely the issue of how much and where we get our daily recommended amounts of protein. 
The very serious and real issue is that we have a food industry that promotes meats as the best source of protein.  So far as quality protein goes, nothing could be further from the truth.  Packaged lunch meats are poisonous to our systems in ways that no author such as Mozaffarian want to talk about.  And the cost to the environment of huge factory farms growing pork, beef and chicken is something they seek to keep out of the public eye. The amount of water used, the amounts of solid and gas wastes created are enormous, and those huge farms are generally located in the neighborhoods of black and hispanic populations.  Huge profits are made by housing animals in horrible conditions designed to produce as much as possible in as little space as possible.
The author suggests that wellness programs are one possible solution because they can generate about $3.27 billion in lower medical costs and $2.73 billion in less absenteeism.  And who reaps the benefits of greater production and lower company insurance costs?  The one bit of information I really liked was the proposed “Better Health Rewards” program that would reward seniors (why only seniors?) for achieving lower weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.  Those who have better eating and exercise habits and maintain good health should be rewarded with lower health insurance rates if they have fewer resulting health problems. 
I began a strictly vegan diet (organic is good, but it is not nearly as good as vegan for your health) and after only 28 days I had my blood tested and compared to the last time I had a blood panel done by my doctor.  My cholesterol went from 187mg/DL to 142 mg/DL, my healthy HDL cholesterol went from 70 to 78 mg/DL, my LDL (lethal cholesterol) went from 105 down to 53 mg/DL went from 58 mg/DL to 50 mg/DL.  I had a significant bone spur on my left radius that is completely gone now. I had a large leakage (per my orthopedist) at the last joint of my right thumb that got larger then smaller then larger for over three years.  It has completely gone away and has not returned.  And these are just the things that can be seen.  All of this is the result of eating strictly fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, whole grain bread, cereals, soy protein products, and almond milk.  I have eaten no dairy, no fish, no poultry, no lunch meats and no red meats of any kind.  I won’t say it has been easy, but it has definitely been well worth it.
The food industry, with the aid of the government does everything to keep the public eating all of these things.  We even have publicized events such as hot dog eating contests, where the winner gets paid for eating dozens of hot dogs in a specified time. We have big “Baconfests” where people eat huge amounts of bacon, we have huge chili cook offs, barbeque cook offs, all you can eat crab legs, cooking shows, recipes with tons and tons of cheese, etc.  Is it any wonder that we have a huge problem with obesity in all ages, higher and higher rates of diabetes, kidney disease, high rates of cancer, heart attacks and strokes?  Is it any wonder that our health care costs are huge in the U.S.?  American capitalism thrives on all of this behavior and then hypocritically gripes about the “high costs of health care” and our inability to take care of the health needs of all of our citizens. 

Mike Killingsworth
Manteca

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