Why are our favorite foods making us fat?


by Scott White — 

The number of Americans who are overweight is at the highest level ever recorded.

The number of Americans who are overweight is at the highest level ever recorded.

Why is it that we crave coffee, candy, cookies and all the goodies that are so bad for us?

A visit to any location of the world’s most successful coffeehouse chain provides a clear glimpse into the American food addiction. As a nation, we’re now experiencing more disease, obesity, depression, relationship troubles and general life dissatisfaction than ever before. One of the biggest reasons for this is that our food — make that our fuel — is destroying us. Rather than eating healthy food that builds up and nurtures our bodies, we continually make nutritional choices that are decaying our bodies and slowly eliminating us from the human species; our poor nutrition plays an enormous role in our rising infertility rates. Yes, it’s that extreme!

Can you imagine what the farmers who helped settle our great country would think of us today? Once upon a time, there were no such things as lattes, instant breakfast shakes, frozen yogurt, pizza or protein bars. People actually worked hard to grow natural (organic) food for themselves and their families. Today, we have the luxury of not needing to farm and harvest our own food, but we’ve become so spoiled and lazy that we think it is too much work to visit a health food store, buy nutritional food, cook our own meals and eat healthy.

You might wonder, “Why are you being so harsh? I do all right. I exercise and eat pretty well … most of the time … OK, some of the time … well, maybe you do have a point.” Sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants to drag us out of our misery.

The truth is that your nutritional health is up to you. Commercial food companies do not have your best interests at heart — they employ food scientists and engineers whose job is to make them richer by getting you to consume all these so-called “great tasting” foods. How about calling them what they are — extremely addictive and void of nutrients.

Sure, they make us feel good, temporarily. But they ultimately are empty, even dangerous. Have you ever wondered why we have reached such a sad state that we are in such desperate need of immediate gratification? When did we relinquish control over fueling our own bodies, minds and spirits? Are we so desensitized to our nutritional needs that we are willing to endanger our lives and our children’s lives for the sake of another grande cappuccino or sugared breakfast cereal?

You are your children’s first role model. They mimic what they see you do. If you do not value nutrition, you are teaching them not to value it either. Poor nutrition stunts our mental and physical growth; in children, this leads to disease, obesity and poor grades.

In our fast-paced, frenetic, get-it-done-yesterday world, we have lost the ability to relax, nurture ourselves, eat well and savor our food. We have become addicted to caffeine and sugar because they provide the temporary high to get us through the next project, meeting, or extracurricular activity. And in our depleted, depressed emotional states, they give us momentary comfort and satisfaction.

However, when our bodies are stressed and run down, what they really need is time out for renewal and recharging, not another instant pick-me-up. Medicating ourselves with caffeine or sugar is a lot like attaching a rocket to a car that has run out of gas. It shoots you where you need to go, but then it quickly burns out — and soon you will need another boost that is even stronger and more powerful to achieve the same result.

Just as keeping your car regularly gassed, oiled and maintained is a much better strategy, continually nourishing your body with good quality organic fuel will keep you alert and functioning optimally all the time.

Next time you think about pulling into that fast food restaurant or visiting your neighborhood coffee joint, you might consider the nourishment factor of your decision. You can justify it with a comment like, “It is just this one time,” or you can plan for a healthy future and keep on driving to the health food store.


Obesity statistics

The number of Americans who are overweight is at the highest level ever recorded.

Data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey are considered the most definitive assessment of Americans’ weight because of the length and size of the study and because it accurately measured people’s height and weight. The statistics reveal that:

  • About 59 million adults older than 20, or 31 percent, are obese. Obese is defined as 30 or more pounds over a healthy body weight; overweight means roughly 10 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight.
  • Of adult women, 33 percent are obese, compared with 28 percent of men.
  • Of Black women, 50 percent are obese compared with 40 percent of Mexican-American women and 30 percent of White women. There is virtually no difference in obesity rates among men based on race.
  • About 15 percent of children ages 6 to 19, or about 9 million children, are overweigh


Scott White is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist located in Scottsdale, Ariz. swhite@personalpowertraining.net, or personalpowetraining.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 3, June/July 2005.

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