More - and less - matters

06/04/2014 12:22:00 PM
Tom Karst

Tom Karst“More Matters” is the tagline for the Produce for Better Health Foundation. But shouldn’t it be, “More - and less - Matters”? This story  takes a critical look at the “one more a day pledge,” joking that the oath takers sound as if they “may already be choking on carrots.” The thinking behind the “More Matters” and “One more fruit and veggie a day” is that if we eat more of healthy items, we will eat less of less healthy options. But the story cites researchers who say it is not necessarily so.

Coverage of the Rand study quoted author Strum with the ominous quote: “The consumption of fruits and vegetables has increased during the obesity epidemic.” So, hmm, perhaps it is fruits and veggies that are to blame for the elastic waste bands in our slacks! At this point I’ll call “time-out” and interject, “Just think how big we would be without eating more fruits and veggies!”

But to continue, the authors of the report point out that people eat about 30 more pounds of vegetables and 25 more pounds of fruit per year than they did in 1970, and overall calorie intake from all food has risen from 2,100 in 1970 to 2,500 in recent years. The authors stubbornly point out that preventing obesity doesn’t mean eating more food, “regardless of how many nutrients it provides.” That is wrong. More carrots and apples will help trim obesity if consumers eat less french fries and 44 ounce Big Gulps with fully leaded Dr. Pepper. More - and less - matters.

This story answers “why rich women don’t get fat.” Men and women experience inverse effects relative to income and weight, says this study. Obese women rarely get corner office jobs, but obese men do more often.

A Rand survey says that Americans now have the cheapest food in history, spending only a tenth of their income on food, compared with 25% in the 1930s. Researchers say effective economic policies to curb obesity remain elusive. The article says that putting taxes on foods with low-nutritional value could lead some to eat better, as might subsidies or discounts for healthier foods. But popular support for such measures is weak. Denmark, the study says, imposed a tax on foods high in saturated fats in 2011, only to repeal the move a year later. No progress has been made in the U.S. to tax soft drinks or junk food, the study found. Here’s a thought: it is not the high cost of healthy food that is the problem; it is the cheapness of junk food. “We need to consider strategies that replace calorie-dense foods with fruits and vegetables, rather than just add fruits and vegetables to the diet.” Again, more and less matters.


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